Factory Team / Race Events

Mark Smyka TQ and Win in Nitro Buggy at NEOC on Pro-Line Blockades

alone neoc nitro

So last weekend I attended the Horizon Hobbies Air Meet / NEOC race in Sanford, Maine. I last went to this race two years ago when it was at the same facility, and it was a great time with off road racing, on road racing and rock crawling. The air show included jets, planes, and helicopters.  There was a ton of stuff to do or watch.

We packed up the truck and trailer thursday night after work to get started on the three hour drive north. We arrived around eight thirty Thursday night and checked into the hotel, then tried to find some dinner (that was a tuff thing snce its a seasonal town everything seemed to close at eight) after finally finding a pizza place that was open. We sat down and ate while bench racing and all the trash talk was staring before we even saw the track.

dual pictures neoc

After a good night’s rest, we headed to the track stopping for the normal Dunkin Donuts coffee to get everyone awake. We arrived around nine AM and unloaded the trailer, setup our pits, and started looking over the track. Pictures of the track we saw online made it look huge, well that was not the case, it was about half the size we thought. So, I headed back to the pits to make some changes to put my normal setup on my Nitro Buggy.

We practiced all day Friday and I was really happy with how everything felt. I tried a couple different Tire setups and compounds and realized I was fastest on M3 Hole Shots but I only had a limited number of sets of them and they were worn out after 5-minutes, so I tried M3 Blockades and liked them, but needed a little more, so I switched to X3 Blockades and loved the way the car felt. I could push the car with out it getting loose.

We cleaned our cars up charged everything and packed up for the night. We hit a local steak house and all I can say is Maine cannot only make a hell of a lobster, but they can make a medium-rare steak like the best steak house I have been to.

Saturday was two rounds of qualifying and then a track side BBQ with a night fly going on after that. The first round of Nitro, I made a few small mistakes in the opening laps and fell back in the race order, but I started throwing down some really good laps to take the lead on the final lap and taking TQ for the round. In Electric Buggy my car was really good after two laps so I needed to be easy for the first lap or so then I could push it as hard as I wanted to. So that’s what I did and I ended up taking TQ in this class also. For the second round I made a small change in my Electric Buggy and all I did was mount new tires for my Nitro Buggy. Again I won both heats but could not improve on either of my first round TQ’s. After that, we cleaned our cars, packed up and headed over to the Horizon Hobbies tent for the BBQ and lobster dinner. I must say, no expense was spared for this meal. Drinks, dinner, desert, and everything was top notch. I didn’t see anyone leave the tent hungry or upset.

dinner neoc

After dinner we hung around for a while talked with other racers, talked with the race director a bit and gave him some pointers for the next event. Then the sun went down and the air show began. the last time I was at this race the air show was canceled due to a huge storm that was coming in, so I could not wait to see this one since I’m not a huge plane/helicopter guy I wanted to see how they can fly them when they can’t see them. I was impressed watching the show. It was like a laser light show going threw a cloud of smoke. I didn’t think they could do some of the things they did with the helicopters, it was awesome.

Sunday morning we were at the track after our pit stop for gas and Dunkin’ coffee. We set up our pits, I mounted some tires for the Main and got my cars ready for the third and final round.

The track was very hard now with a slight black groove in it and a lot of bumps now so I had to drive hard but smooth to beat the time I set in the first round. Right off the start I made a big mistake, sending my car off the track. So with that, I tried to make up for lost time, but as you know that never happens. I ended up second for this round but my TQ still held by a small margin over my friend and team Mugen driver Paul Quartuccio.

I cleaned my cars, changed my clutch and air filter and charged my receiver pack.

Nitro buggy was up first. I was starting on the pole and knew I needed a clean start so I was not mixed up in the middle of the pack because it was very hard to pass on the tight track.

The tone went off and I took off and never looked back, my car was awesome, easy to drive but had a ton of traction and held awesome corner speed I lead from tone to tone and was pumped for taking the win.

Electric buggy was the last race of the day and I had mounted the same tires that I ran in Nitro for my E-Buggy, So I knew traction would not be an issue. In this class we were all very close, so I knew I needed another clean start. The tone went off, I took off and I had a great start ’til I hit the up-hill back straight. When I hit the brakes my car made a weird noise and when I came out of the corner I could see something was wrong and my car only had three wheel drive, the corner marshal picked it up and saw a rock wedged under the front drive shaft and lower arm. He did everything he could to get it out and finally did but I was three quarters of a track down and needed to make up a lot of time, so I will say I drove the wheels off this car and made a hard charge to catch the leader. With twenty seconds to go I was two seconds behind him and  gaining but I just didn’t have enough time. I finished second to fellow Pro-Line driver Carl Doran.

All in all I had a great weekend taking two TQ’s, a win and a second place finish.

I would like to thank everyone that has helped me this year with my racing.

Mark Smyka