By Aaron Waldron
If you tuned into our broadcast of last weekend’s Silver State off-road race from the RC Tracks of Las Vegas, or even logged into Facebook over the last several days, you’ve likely heard about the drama surrounding the Pro Truck B-Main. If not, here’s a brief synopsis:
Joseph Quagraine (running a borrowed truck) finished third after quite the battle with Adam Drake and Aaron Gomez to grab the final transfer spot - it was actually a pretty great race. In fact, here’s the replay if you’d like to watch it:
After the race, Quagraine’s truck failed tech inspection as the fuel tank was found to be too big. He was granted a 15-minute cool-down period (which can sometimes solve the issue, as the plastic fuel tank will expand when it gets hot and then sometimes shrink when it returns to ambient temperature), but it still failed.
The truck was given a third try - only this time, Quagraine’s teammate and pit man Greg Degani filled the fuel bottle with ice water, which did shrink the tank enough for the the truck to pass. However, Ryan Maifield and Tim Long - teammates of fourth-place finisher Adam Drake - happened to be standing next to the tech table as this all went down, and figured out that the “fuel” was ice water.
Pandemonium ensued, someone actually drank the graduated cylinder of water/fuel residue (seems safe - doesn’t it?), and Quagraine was disqualified. The tech incident was recorded and shared for all of Facebookland to see - and then the video was deleted when the buzz about this whole fiasco blew up, but it's backed up on someone else's YouTube channel here:
(UPDATE - 3/22/17, 4:34 PM CT) - The video showing the tech inspection has been deleted at the creator's request.
In the end, Drake transferred to the A-Main, had mechanical issues before the first pit stop, and finished 12th.
Quagraine, who blogs daily on his site, wrote up a post about it (rather than try to delete his involvement). While he deflects a bit, instead of silencing his critics by simply saying “my tank was too big and I was rightly disqualified” and then moving on, his explanation makes some good points about how poorly tech inspection is handled at most races - and that this kind of “cheating” happens ALL. THE. TIME. You can read it here: www.thequagraine.com/2017/03/21/jqwatergate/
Bobby Moore called Greg Degani about the whole incident for his Loop Is Live podcast - the discussion starts at 16:00:
Naturally, the story has become fuel for social media fodder. Landen Lewis let someone dump a bottle of water on him (and screamed like a cartoon character) to “raise awareness of unlawful post techs” - I guess:
(This is totally irrelevant, but this is what Landen’s shriek reminded me of):
The fallout has been pretty much as civil as you’d expect; some people got mad at how Ryan Maifield and the Mugen guys acted, some people blew up the LiveRC chat room (and have continued ranting on social media) about how awful of a person they already thought JQ was and have called for him to be disqualified from the entire event and banned from the country completely, and the whole thing has basically become a joke.
Here’s the problem - this “joke” has totally overwhelmed any discussion about everything else about the race, both the good and the bad. Other than Quagraine’s blog, there’s been no talk about how to improve tech inspection - and there’s been absolutely no one even mentioning the fact that tech inspection itself is really the only difference between a “major” event like the ROAR Nationals or Silver State from a weekend club race.
There will almost undoubtedly be a greater number of people who comment on this story on Facebook to complain that I’m not super-mega-positive than there are those willing to address the fact that this race may have been a sign that the RC racing scene isn’t as healthy as we’d all like it to be. We’re not talking about how it’s easier to complain about OTHER people complaining than it is to see how trying to be “savage” on social media is just as damaging - if not moreso.
The industry isn’t talking about how Silver State - long heralded as one of the most important fuel off-road races that’s now being held at its best location yet - has shrunk precipitously over the last three years. We’re not talking about how these big races are where manufacturers - some of which seem to be struggling - are spending their money to sponsor, and send their sponsored drivers, and yet many are drawing smaller crowds. We’re not talking about ways that the teams, drivers, and tracks can improve.
No, we’re talking about ice water. And while ice might technically float, most of it stays below the surface…
Cover photo from: www.barkculture.wordpress.com/tag/ice-water/
Bottom photo from: www.fortytwothings.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/3-for-3/ice-water/