By Aaron Waldron
Chris Tocco’s background in building motocross tracks was perfect for designing courses for RC cars and trucks, so it’s no surprise that the layout at RC Tracks Las Vegas is nothing short of awesome for an event as large as the Silver State. The 16-foot-wide lanes fill the 145’ x 200’ space with an entertaining mix of high-speed sections, technical corners, and plenty of air-time. Chris designed the layout and did all of the tractor work without getting too picky about measuring exact jump heights or lengths. “I did most of it by feel, but made sure the lanes were as wide as I wanted them to be,” said Tocco. Once he had the dirt piled in place and the basic layout determined, the pipes were laid and the finishing work polished by his track crew: Dylan Rodriguez, Eddy Fikes, Kevin Christensen, Max Kaye, and Troy Krentzel.
LiveRC Facebook account -- various pictures and results
LiveRC Twitter account -- breaking news and live race updates throughout the weekend
LiveRC Instagram -- JConcepts Pit Report account -- pictures from the pits
Right after finishing up turn-marshaling following an open practice run on Thursday morning, Ryan Pavidis - the son of AKA’s Mark Pavidis - gave a thorough rundown of the track’s different features. “The whole track is laid out really well. It’s easy to see, with no blind spots,” said Ryan, “Pit lane is really easy compared to other tracks, too. It’s wide, and the double coming onto the straight sets you up for pit lane.”
The first turn is a hard 90-degree left-hand turn that comes back toward the center before a gentle right leading to the first jump on the track - a simple double jump about six feet from lip to lip. “You have to get the first corner down to get through the switchback and hit the double straight,” said Ryan. The double leads into a large hill in the back right corner, leaving some drivers to experiment with different ways to tackle the obstacles. “I’m just trying to downside the double and stay clean,” said Ryan, who added, “you can over-jump the double into the big hill, but I don’t think you’ll make up that much time.”
The big rolling hill is slanted at the top, standing about four feet tall on the inside and over five and a half on the outside of the lane. It’s in the middle of the corner, too, so the cars are turning at some point - either before it, or going up the face. “I saw Cavalieri jumping off the top,” said Ryan, “but most people are rolling it to get set up for the next corner. If you’re trying to go too fast you might roll over or fly too far to the outside, but most people don’t seem to be having a problem with that.”
Following a left-hand 180 after the hill, the track sweeps to the right as it heads toward the drivers’ stand. The pipes are laid out like a chicane, but the lane is wide enough that the racers navigate through the section like one big corner. “You can see the groove through there,” said Ryan, “and you can carry a lot of speed. It’s easier than it looks.”
After the sweeper comes a tall tabletop-double combo, standing about four feet tall and both measuring twelve feet in length. There’s not much room between both obstacles, which emphasizes timing despite the jumps not being very big. Ryan said, “You would think that you’d need to go faster for both jumps, but it’s actually a slow section. Some people have been jumping from the tabletop into the middle of the double, but it’s too risky and probably not much faster.”
After another tight 180 to the right comes the biggest jump on the track - double jump spanning 35 feet. “The takeoff is really good, so you don’t have to go very fast,” said Ryan, though he noted that a lot of drivers were still casing the landing jump - which is nearly as tall as the takeoff. “A lot of drivers are trying to land it too perfect, so they end up bouncing off the top,” said Ryan.
After landing the double, the track turns to the left and heads into the back corner. “You go through that part wooded,” said Ryan, “it’s like a straightaway.” Having so many cars accelerating after such a slow corner already started to take a toll on the surface after just a few heats, though. “I think that part will get super rough unless they fix the bumps every night,” said Ryan, “It’s already starting to get ugly there.”
The straightaway ends with a roughly 18-inch drop-off before a banked left-hand corner. “In truck, the drop-off is all right,” said Ryan, “but the lip is starting to get rough, so it throws the buggies around a bit.” The berm ramps up slowly at first, but starts to get steeper as it heads toward the top - which is almost four feet tall. Ryan said, “I’m using the berm a little bit, about the inside half. You can really carry a lot of speed through there.”
After the berm, there’s a short straightaway into a tricky right-hand 180 that falls off camber on the exit. “That one is pretty tricky to get right. It’s the one part of the track that is hard to judge,” said Ryan, “A lot of people have been going too slowly, cutting it short, and hitting the pipe. But you push all the way to the outside if you go too fast.”
A small roller follows the off-camber corner as the track switches back to the left, setting the cars up for the final two corners. “The hardest part is trying to get lined up for the roller coming out of the off-camber turn,” said Ryan.
The double-apex left turn coming onto the front straightaway ends in a double with a steep angle between the takeoff and landing - it’s only about a four-foot gap on the inside of the lane, but it’s over twelve feet on the outside. “The double isn’t the hard part,” said Ryan, “it’s just important to get the sweeper right. If you go too far outside, you’re in the loam. If you go too far inside, you can’t do the double. And if you hit the double wrong, you lose a lot of time on the straightaway.”
The fastest drivers are completing all of that in about 27 seconds.