This past weekend the 14th running of “The Dirt” Nitro Challenge took place at the Fear Farm R/C Raceway in the heart of “The Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix, AZ. Team Associated/LRP’s Ryan Maifield was the big winner of the 45-minute 1:8 Expert Buggy main event with his Factory Team RC8.2 and LRP ZZ.21c engine. However, this victory, like them all, didn’t come easy for the Team Associated driver.
686 entries were greeted on the practice day with cold temperatures and threatening skies. As practice got underway it was only a matter of time before the skies opened up and hostile weather was unleashed. Turning from rain, to hail, to snow, the experience was like none other in the usual picturesque Arizona desert. Unfortunately, so much damage was done to the track that practice was cancelled and the racers went straight to qualifying.
Thursday was qualifying for the Truggy classes and eBuggy. In the Truggy class, Team Associated’s Ryan Cavalieri put his Factory Team RC8T CE third on the grid with the LRP-powered RC8T CE of Ryan Maifield joining him in the main event starting 11th. With main events on Saturday, the track was in prime condition for the 45-minute final. Working his way up through the field and running the fastest lap of the main event, Ryan Maifield found the podium to finish a respectable third overall, while teammate Ryan Cavalieri finished in eigth place.
Friday encompassed a full day of just Buggy qualifying. Starting at 9am and running until 1am, racers’ patience and stamina were both challenged along with their skills behind the transmitter. Learning from his Truggy qualifying day, Ryan Maifield took his Factory Team RC8.2 and LRP ZZ.21c engine to the second grid spot as teammate Ryan Cavalieri joined him in the same main in the seventh position. In the 40+ class, Richard Saxton, again with a LRP-powered RC8.2, started from fourth on the grid. First up was Saxton, who using veteran savvy and patience worked his way in to the third place position, placing him on the final step of the podium. Happy with his performance, Saxton relayed to his teammates how brutal the track had become since they were last on it Saturday night for the Truggy main event. As the tone went off to start the 45-minute final, Ryan Maifield capitalized on a mistake from Top Qualifier Jared Tebo to take over the lead and check out from the competition along with Elliott Boots. Less than seven minutes in to the race, Boots retired with a broken car and Maifield had built a commanding lead over the field. Clicking in to cruise control, the 4-time ROAR Gas National Champion circulated the track for the remaining 38 minutes, never threatened for the lead.
Running in tandem with the 1:8 track was a replica version of the 1:8 track scaled down for 1:10 vehicles. Team Associated had more victories on the 1:10 side, with Jake Thayer taking the win in 2WD Short Course Pro with his Factory Team SC10, Reedy Sonic motor, and LRP speed control, while Robert Black from OCRC Raceway dominated with his Factory Team GT2 in the retro Gas Truck category.
A special thanks goes out to the Fear Farm facility for hosting a great event, Kenny Brosch for making every race exciting, and to Joey and his Dirt Crew for an epic event.
For more information, visit www.teamassociated.com