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Old 05-26-2003, 07:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My Opinion on RCAA and this Moab event

Ok, we got our asses kicked. It became obviously clear to me that this sport has progressed to a new level of difficulty.

I decided to compete after spectating at the events for the last 4 years. I have watched the rigs get tricker and the events get harder. Based on my experience spectating and competing in a couple of events, I decided to build a buggy based on a proven chassis.

My thought process was this:
1. I can do these obstacles
2. A good spotter is paramount
3. A capable rig for the unlimited class is not only going to be more fun but also necessary in order to be competitive.
4. Once a buggy is done, it won't be as expensive as a Jeep bodied rig, hence I parted out the YJ and saved what I could after rolling it hard at Supercrawl.
5. I can do these obstacles
6. I can do these obstacles!

Now, I thought that Supercrawl was tough but do-able and fun.

Here comes reality check: This course scared the bejesus out of me. New rig, inexperienced spotter, limited experienced driver. I honestly had no business being there.

These are my observations and everyone can either agree or disagree so lets just agree that this is my opinion and everyone has one.

RCAA and Phil have decided to build courses that challenge the top 15-20 drivers. In my opinion, those are the only guys that could handle this course. Every one else that came just busted their butts to be ready for this event, fix what they needed to, took time off of work, drove all night or day, built a really cool rig only to come out and destroy it or at the very least do a great deal of damage to it.

I have to ask, will the other 50 competitors that make up most of this field continue to show up for these events? By making the courses this tough and DANGEROUS will you promote the sport or kill it in its infancy?

The top guys get support. I know of one competitor who's sponsor buys him a new set of skins whenever he needs them. Thats great for him and his team, especially since he is a winner. But, I gotta tell ya, for the rest of us... its going to get too damned expensive to self support.

I don't care if the winners finish an event in the negative points. Yet there seems to be a need to make the course so tough that no none will be in negative category. If they finish negative, does that mean that the course was too easy and boring? There is still a spread between first, second, third and so on. The winner with the lowest score wins! So what if they are so good at this that they are finishing with less than zero points!

Now, you might argue that every driver has a choice. One can choose to take cones and stay safe or avoid cones and risk a roll-over. This is true, but honestly, what self respecting COMPETITIVE PERSON will take the easy way out? Thats why they call us competitors! Most of the time we will try to beat the other guy and we know that the only way to do that is to avoid the cones! This is why we show up, right?

The promoters need to realize that without competitors you have no entry fees for payouts. Without competitors you have no sport, no fans, no money, no viewers. What if you had a NASCAR race with only the 5 or 6 guys that could actually win racing each other and no lappers to make it interesting? Yes, the favorites have the most fans, but if only 20 guys are competing the downtime of no action between obstacles will bore the average person.

I like challenges, but this last contest was a challenge to see who could avoid a roll the best or break down the least.

In case your wondering, I own El Jefe. It was a build up that was well documented on this board. I enjoyed sharing the trials and tribulations of building it and nothing would please me more to share the enjoyment of a build well done that resulted in a top 10 finish. Instead I will share this story of dissapointment.

I drew first run on obstacle A6. It had a tricky 6' drop in it. You had to straddle this wide crack and drop both front wheels off it at the same time. You must take out a cone that was in the middle of where your passenger tire needed to go. If you didn't take the cone, you roll or get lucky saving it. I was the first to go on this obstacle Friday morning. I rolled it there. First obstacle, first contest, first 60 seconds. Broke the hood and grill again. Bent the spreader bar on the drivers side down about 7" , right next to my head. Engine hydrolocked again.

While I was making repairs, Ranch Pratt and Phil Collard came to me, apologized for making the obstacle too dangerous and REVERSED the direction of the course. Now my nasty drop was a nasty but do-able climb. So I was the Guinea Pig. They told me that to be fair, I could do the obstacle again, no points. I said ok.

We made our repairs and proceeded to A7. As soon as we arrived, I was dismayed to find that we had to go immediately. Once again, I am first (in my mind since we hadn't had the opportunity to observe anyone else). Once again, I rolled. Hydrolocked again only this time the engine bent a rod. DNF'd the rest of the weekend because I forgot to bring my spare engine.

So, since the courses are what they are, my solution is to take a step back from this, learn what I could and make some decisions. I am going to take some advice that was given to me by a friend at the contest: Try some of the other "qualifier" envents such as NARRCA and check out Cal Rocs. What my team needs now more than anything else is practice and experience. And we will return when I feel we are good and ready.

I hope there is still an RCAA by that time. I would also like to hear from other people if they agree with what I am saying or perhaps shed a different perspective on this. I heard a rumor from another competitor that most of this course was not successfully driven or attempted by the the designer. Maybe it doesn't matter. Guys like Bundrant, Jordan, and Johnny G prove that it doesnt have to be driven first.

The rest of us can only watch as the gap spreads between us and them..... They have had 5 years to evolve and newcomers haven't had that luxury. What we are going to have is 3/4's of the field will be a really good Sweet 16 caliber guys getting slapped around the course by Kobe and Shaq....
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Old 05-26-2003, 07:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The courses were definitely tough. I don't think they were TOO tough, though. And I didn't feel they were any more dangerous than anything that was at Supercrawl.

With that said, RCAA touts itself as the "best of the best". If you don't feel you are in that category, there are tons of smaller, more "little league" organizations that cater to less experienced drivers. EROCC, ProRock, NARCCA, CalROCS, Neuroc, CRCA, Avalanche Ranch, Moab Rocks, Moroc, the list goes on....

I think RCAA and UROC have elevated themselves to cater to the more experienced drivers, and therefore have the tougher obstacles. Obviously you wouldn't jump in a ring with George Foreman and expect to win - you'd go to the local gym and work your way up the ladder.

I'm glad you didn't get hurt, and I hope you get your rig fixed. It WAS pretty.
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Old 05-26-2003, 07:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Try some of the other "qualifier" envents such as NARRCA and check out Cal Rocs. What my team needs now more than anything else is practice and experience. And we will return when I feel we are good and ready.
You said it! I don't know about any of the courses there but I can relate to your experiences in my latest comp.- Neuroc. Some courses seemed impasable and some almost really were! But then there was those few guys that wheeled there rigs for a while now and know what they are doing who can school those courses. We had a new rig, new place, new experience, new everything and we had a blast just learning. But now you can bet that we will be thuroughly prepared for the next with our rig tweaked to the fullest and training. I don't if I can agree about Lances statement that UROCC is harder than a lot of other competitions (at Neuroc the lowest score by very seasoned competitors went well into the hundreds) but I can say from my little experience that if you want to play with the big boys then you better come prepared! Those courses are designed for your rig and they make sure it will push it to it's very extremes. I am just sorry that you were not fully prepared to enter those extremes. But like you said, go train and come back confident, then kick some a$$!
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Old 05-26-2003, 09:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Jalepeno, good point. However, this is my take. I ran all 14 courses in the unlimited. We rolled once which was my fault. Yes, those courses were nasty and impassable by anything less than a comp rig / driver. Phil probably did not run them, but has a pretty good idea what our rigs are capable of. Now, as far as experience, rigs ect. I do agree with you in part. However, I started wheeling 3 yrs ago and started competing last year. I probably have less time on a trail than every competitor in RCAA. However, I still came in 34th out of 60. For me it is being able to survive the comp and make obstacles that Tracy, Jason ect could not and did not make (B-7). That makes it worth it to me. Professional "Rock Crawling" is expensive and RCAA is the NFL. We all knew that going into it. I was lucky and did not break anything all weekend. There are always going to be drivers in any motorsport that get everything given to them. Be a better driver and your time will come. Now, take Bundrant, I never thought of him as a very good driver. Hell, last year he couldn't even make the top 10. Now give him the Nelson / Nelson Buggy and look what happened. This is why I dig this sport, It is the challenge to build a better rig than the $$$ guys have for less money and still be able to compete against them and even score better on certain obstacles. Who knows, eventually with enough wheeling time even beat them. The disadvantage that a non sponsored guy has is trying to find enough money in between comps to put our rigs back together in between comps and still pay our truck payments and mortgages. Good luck, and reflect on why you entered in the first place, I am sure you will be back. Take care RUN DOG
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Old 05-26-2003, 09:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Talked to Mike Bailey ( competes in UROC legends ) and he said that UROC was going to add a third class. One for the buggies i guess. Competing is wicked fun to watch and even funner afterwards when you're drinkin brew with the competitors. I just plain can't afford it.
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Old 05-26-2003, 10:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry to say but it sounds as if your thinking was, "If I have Avalanche build me this really cool rig I can just show up and finish in the top ten"

The people in the top ten have been playing this game for quite a while and they really know what they are doing. A lot of the top guys go to 3-4 comps per month.

Personally I'm glad to just be able to show up and wheel with all of these guys, weither we do good or finish dead last. Chalk it up to experience.

The small guys like us just need to keep showing up and doing our best. One day we will have the skills, and then watch out
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Old 05-27-2003, 05:04 AM   #7 (permalink)
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A lot of good points made....

I think Lance summed it up best.

FWIW, Every time I go to a western comp (running UROC this yr) I look at it as going to college as an undergrad. I'm just thrilled to be there and be getting schooled by the best in the country. You never stop learning. (And I'm quite a bit older than some of my professors)

No offense but it takes more than a first class rig, if you find yourself destroying your rig and being discouraged you need to look at some of the other series and cut your teeth there.

If the top teams are making the obstacles without major carnage (A roll isn't major carnage these days unless the car is really wadded- even then you have to look at the design of the car) then the course is doable.

When the courses get so bad that most every top team is suffering from breakage or rolling in an attempt to make it then I would say (IMO) Phil or Craig etc went too far- but that's just me.

There is a phenomenon where some of the teams attempt to compensate for some perceived handicap by using just a bit more skinny pedal. This will usually not overcome the handicap but will put on a show and usually will drain your wallet and deflate your ego.

You've got to look at Skinny as an example too- aside from running over his tow rig, his driving has been steadily improving and his name has been higher and higher on the spreadsheets. Sounds like you are where he started mid season last yr. Good luck with the rest of the season.

BTW- you hydro locked because you took a chance and did not pull the plugs- something many of us have also done. Unless someone else hit the start button, you need to look in the mirror on that one.
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Old 05-27-2003, 06:41 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Interesting dilema for the promoters. Keep the courses challenging enough for the sponsor-backed teams and risk losing "new blood". Or, water down the courses & risk credibility. On the one hand, you want to be known as the place to see the "best of the best". On the other, if you run off the "also-rans", will there be enough action to keep the crowd entertained? Tough to find a middle ground.

I found something interesting with my mud race sanctioning body. At one time, the top 3 classes would have been "easy pickings", (and good money too) for a pro-caliber driver. And almost none of the pros showed up. As the pros have begun showing up, of course winning those classes has gotten tougher. Now, a guy who was pretty much guaranteed to go home with a grand in his pocket could get shut out of the money altogether. And what happened next? MORE pros showed up. Now, it's tougher than ever to win & still MORE guys are calling & e-mailing me from even FARTHER away wanting to know when the next race is. Competition breeds competition. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And as a competitor, that's what you want to do. You want to beat the best, so you go where the best go.

Right now, in rock crawling, RCAA is where you go to run with the best. And the guys in charge damn sure don't want THAT to change. But, can they maintain that status & still manage to encourage "new blood"? You can be sure they're wondering that same thing & that it's something that concerns them greatly (witness them apologizing for the "overly difficult" obstacle which they then reversed). And you can be sure they're working on ideas right now that will hopefully allow them to achieve that balance, without losing any credibility as the "top" sanctioning body in their sport. You can also be sure their competition is working just as hard to dethrone them


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Old 05-27-2003, 07:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank you all for your feedback. I agree with you guys. Please don't misunderstand me though. I didn't expect to win, I hoped to be able to crack the top 10, and based on all the events I have been to up to now, I thought that based on my ability, I could.

I know that just because someone can afford to build a nice rig it doesn't mean automatic wins. I knew it would be tough when I realized that with all the events going on from January through November that there were guys driving every weekend.

I am disapointed in myself for sure. And I am shocked at how far this experience has separated the top guys from a lot of the rest.

My primary goals going into this comp were 1. finish every obstacle and 2. keep the rubberside down even if it took hitting cones to do this.

There is a lot of newness with this rig for me: auto trans, Atlas, cutting brakes, wheel base, etc, etc. I think I would have done better in my Jeep, or least I would have had more confidence. The rig is ready, I am not. I need seat time.

Lastly, I see Rundogs point. No breakage and clearing obstacles that others failed is definitely a confidence booster. Kudos to you guys.

Lance, you and Mike did great this weekend, its obvious that some teams raise their intensity as the courses get tougher. You guys rose to the occassion and it looks like your getting used to your new rig. I admire and respect you guys for it.

So this weekend was ego check. No problem. I just wish I hadn't ruined my engine so that I could have continued on and gained more experience. So far though, in 6 outings since I built it, I have rolled 4 times. The only successful ride I had so far was on Independance just before coming to Moab.

Ever feel like you have 2 left feet and lots of bad Karma?

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. We will be back.
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Old 05-27-2003, 07:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: My Opinion on RCAA and this Moab event

Quote:
Originally posted by jalapeno

Now, you might argue that every driver has a choice. One can choose to take cones and stay safe or avoid cones and risk a roll-over. This is true, but honestly, what self respecting COMPETITIVE PERSON will take the easy way out? Thats why they call us competitors! Most of the time we will try to beat the other guy and we know that the only way to do that is to avoid the cones! This is why we show up, right?
I think the above statement shows that you are looking at what is right in front of you instead of the big picture though. Sometimes taking the cone is the best STRATEGY for the entire event, in order to keep the rig together. It beats pointing out on the rest of the courses, right?
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Old 05-27-2003, 08:03 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Re: My Opinion on RCAA and this Moab event

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I think the above statement shows that you are looking at what is right in front of you instead of the big picture though. Sometimes taking the cone is the best STRATEGY for the entire event, in order to keep the rig together. It beats pointing out on the rest of the courses, right?
Yes, strategy and knowing when and where. Only experience can teach you that. Its like Phil told me, "I meant for all of you to take this cone."
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Old 05-27-2003, 08:08 AM   #12 (permalink)
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To compete with the top ten guys in UROC and RRCA is going to take a bad ass rig, lots of money, and plenty of seat time in your rig. We have been doing these events since the very start. We have grown w/ the sport but the same top 10 people are usually still there. Our best finish in UROC(9th) and RRCA(12th). We where very happy w/ that. Now when we went to NARCA I let my brother drive and he won. We had 29pts, Harold had 40pts, and third had 169pts. There was no competition. We really get more about bragging on our 12th finish than the first in really a begginer series. Phil and Craig build some awsome cources and I think one or two are crazy at every event. But we seem to make most of them. You have to do this for fun. It cost a lot but everyone has to except they most likely aren't going to come in and win. Once we figured out that we had a lot more fun. We mess up and we go on. It dosn't ruin our day. There's too much beer to drink to not have fun. Congrats to everyone at RRCA!
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Old 05-27-2003, 08:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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To compete with the top ten guys in UROC and RRCA is going to take a bad ass rig, lots of money, and plenty of seat time in your rig. We have been doing these events since the very start. We have grown w/ the sport but the same top 10 people are usually still there. Our best finish in UROC(9th) and RRCA(12th). We where very happy w/ that. Now when we went to NARCA I let my brother drive and he won. We had 29pts, Harold had 40pts, and third had 169pts. There was no competition. We really get more about bragging on our 12th finish than the first in really a begginer series. Phil and Craig build some awsome cources and I think one or two are crazy at every event. But we seem to make most of them. You have to do this for fun. It cost a lot but everyone has to except they most likely aren't going to come in and win. Once we figured out that we had a lot more fun. We mess up and we go on. It dosn't ruin our day. There's too much beer to drink to not have fun. Congrats to everyone at RRCA!
I think a little of your spirit and attitude would go a long way with me right now! Thanks for the advice!
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Old 05-27-2003, 08:28 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally posted by jalapeno

Here comes reality check: This course scared the bejesus out of me. New rig, inexperienced spotter, limited experienced driver. I honestly had no business being there.

..., it won't be as expensive as a Jeep bodied rig, hence I parted out the YJ and saved what I could after rolling it hard at Supercrawl.

I think I would have done better in my Jeep, or least I would have had more confidence. The rig is ready, I am not. I need seat time.
I agree that full bodied rigs in the lower classes can be more expensive to maintain.
And I'm with you and still believe that body damage is the biggest problem ... but on the whole they usually roll and break less often.
Like they say, "It was fun ... until the next day ...
It IS definately a Catch 22 decision to move up and play with the big boys and girls. And the example of your recent experience is why I'm still running Mod-Stock, cutting my teeth and getting more experience and confidence ...
... even some of the lower class coarses still "scare the bejesus" out of me.
My new rig will be thougher but also Mod-Stock. I've been hanging around comps too long to think I could sucessfully move up at this point because I've realized it would be a lot more pain than fun ... for now. Even jumping into Legends is a big step for me!
Good luck in the next one.
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Old 05-27-2003, 08:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Good luck in the next one.
Thanks, and the same to you!
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Old 05-27-2003, 11:37 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: My Opinion on RCAA and this Moab event

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Originally posted by jalapeno
While I was making repairs, Ranch Pratt and Phil Collard came to me, apologized for making the obstacle too dangerous and REVERSED the direction of the course. Now my nasty drop was a nasty but do-able climb. So I was the Guinea Pig. They told me that to be fair, I could do the obstacle again, no points. I said ok.
The day Phil can pre-run and clear a course he designs I'll give him the pinks for my Freightliner, race trailer and all of the contents. At least Ranch had the balls to climb the hill behind b-3? and get Chris and Walker out when they broke. Phil was wetting the sand in his vagina. Don't get me wrong, phil's a nice guy and the courses kicked ass, but changing the course is bullshit when you have obvious SAFETY concerns that he should have seen.

just my 2 cents
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Old 05-27-2003, 11:49 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Most of the competitors that I have talked to LOVE Phil's courses, regardless of whether he drives them first or not. In fact I would say that he is one of the leading reasons why RCAA has stayed on top. If he can design those caliber of courses without driving them then he has a great understanding of what the competitors are capable of, cannot fault him for that.
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Old 05-27-2003, 11:59 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I like Phil the person. He told me he wanted us to run over that cone, he planned on having us all hit it. he didnt expect any dummies to try to maneuver around it.... I told him I thought it was doable but pretty hairy. I guess they had doubts about it to start and all I did was confirm their suspicions that it might be too tricky for a lot of us. Me anyways.
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Old 05-27-2003, 01:34 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Most of the competitors that I have talked to LOVE Phil's courses, regardless of whether he drives them first or not.
Harry,
I can't say for sure but I don't think I'm the only one who can remember 3 or 4 years back when courses were designed by people who COULD drive them. Times were determined by running the stage and averaging the times by the guys DRIVING them. RCAA has made the sport, Phil IS RCAA in design, spectators WANT carnage. But wouldn't a "I won't ask you to do what I can't" attitude be cool? If I know the line for the stage because I designed it, I have an advantage and should be able to drive it or have someone drive while I spot.

No offense, but I'm sure Ranch can build a rig capable of doing the test run. Safety and stuff isn't bad.
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Old 05-27-2003, 02:58 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Now, take Bundrant, I never thought of him as a very good driver. Hell, last year he couldn't even make the top 10. Now give him the Nelson / Nelson Buggy and look what happened. RUN DOG
Now that was a fawked up sore looser thing to say. Was that when he had a full bodied rig and no atlas? But even then, I don't think that even with his street rig he ever got as low as 34th place. Rundog, give credit where credit is due. Mitch got 11th place with no major sponsor. How do you explain that? Hey find what your weakness is, and stop .

Edit. As you probably know Mitch also got 2nd place at UROC, again no major sponsor.
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Old 05-27-2003, 03:24 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Phil is a sadistic bastard, and that's why he is able to build such great courses! He's always got an evil grin on his face at events. It seems to me that UROC & RCAA are in a battle to be the most extreme event. I can see a huge difference in events just 6 months ago, they are getting much harder.
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Old 05-27-2003, 03:27 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I only rolled twice on saturday. I thought The courses kicked ass! The way I see it, If at least one team can make the course, it is not to hard. People come to see carnage, as a driver I enjoy watching a clean run, but if you sent video of Redbull(Dustin), or my rollovers(Jason Tharp) or one of Jon Bundrants smooth runs to any television show producer, which one do you think would get airtime. Maybe some day I will be famous for being a great driver, but for now I am happy to put on a good show, and have fun doing it!
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Old 05-27-2003, 04:30 PM   #23 (permalink)
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jalapeno, I feel your pain. I myself have thought that some of the courses are too nuts to drive untill I actually get on them, that's what makes it fun. I am in the middle of a build up of my Bronco for competitions, I don't plan on competing this year at all, or untill I feel comfortable behind the wheel. I'm not like the guys in the top ten, I'm a terrible driver and need all the help I can get. Mike and Lance do well together going straight to Farmington with the new buggy and finishing as well as they did, that's awesome. It's not a poor mans sport to compete, go get some seat time and come back when your ready. Good luck.
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Old 05-27-2003, 05:18 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by ASH
go get some seat time and come back when your ready. Good luck.
right on!
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Old 05-27-2003, 07:33 PM   #25 (permalink)
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"JP JUNK", what the he_ _ are you talking about and what does Mitch have to do with this post? Mitch is an awsome driver with an awsome Jason Paulie built rig. Jon B. is now a pretty good driver. My point was last year he didn't even qualify for the "Super Crawl" and did not even run in RCAA. You can't count Cal Rocs ( I won there 2 wks ago). His old truggy was far from full sized. How the heck can you compare a perfect engineered buggy like the Nelson / Nelson buggy with the rest of the rigs in RCAA? I have seen Jon take some horrible lines that his buggy saved his ass. As far as my 34th place, well dic_ head, I have no Atlas, gave up 142 pnts due to rear steer, bought my 22RE for $800 in a junk yard and built the rig in under (2) wks, Other than that I started wheeling less than (2) yrs ago. Hell last year I was happy just to make it thru the start gates. That being said How did I even manage a 34th if RCAA is considered the best drivers in the U.S.? WOW dum as_, Then does that mean I am in the top 50 drivers in the U.S. after wheeling for under (2) yrs. I don't think so. And what were you driving? Jalapeno, stay strong you are in the right rig, get some seat time, just have fun, and keep competing. RUN DOG OUT
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