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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

Elburn Charity Race 2016 - Clay Wins!

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

I could not be more proud of Clayton right now. At the Elburn Days Charity RC Race on Sunday, Clay overcame adversity and frustration early in the day and came back to win the Junior Division against some tough competition. Clay has come a long way in a very short time. His first real RC car race was just a month ago, using a borrowed Rally car from my friend Joe Krelle. Two weeks later, Clay was back racing with his own rig, a Traxxas Slash VXL, where he finished second in the first two heats and second in the Main Feature race in the Juniors division. So far, so good, but his biggest test was yet to come.

The Elburn Days Charity RC race is one of the largest local RC races. Elburn Days is a big community festival sponsored by the Elburn Lyons Club, which fell on Sunday, August 21 this year. Festivities included a carnival with amusement rides, food and live entertainment, mud volleyball, tractor pulls and of course a large RC race event organized by Hobbytown in St. Charles. The course literally carved out of the earth in dirt, with dirt berms to keep everyone on track and plenty of jumps to keep the race exciting. Clay had never raced on dirt before, so this was a new challenge for him.

The day started with yours truly racing the Slash in Heat 1 of the 2wd Short Course Truck Class. With a little extra juice from a LiPo battery, I managed to place 4th in my first race. But that's when the trouble started. Clayton's race was right after mine, so it would be a mad scramble to pull the transponder from my race (used by the computer to record laps/lap times), replace the LiPo battery with a fresh NiMh battery for Clay's race, and place a new numbered transponder for Clay. When we plugged in the new battery, the truck was unresponsive - the speed control was stuck in low voltage mode and we could not figure out how to get it to recognize the new battery. So Clayton missed his first race. We were all a bit upset, but you always have to be prepared for the unexpected in racing. After troubleshooting on the Traxxas website for the next half an hour, we managed to get the speed control sorted. We were back in action!

In Heat 2, there was a computer glitch and I did not get to see how I placed in that race. Clayton got first in Heat 2, which allowed him to qualify for the A Main in second place. Dad only managed to qualify for the B main, which meant I would have to WIN that race to qualify for the B Main.

I was up first for the B Main. After an early pile-up in the first corner, I found myself way back in the field. I was able to battle back to second place before my time ran out. I thought my day was done... until I got a bit a good news. The person that won that race got mixed up and was racing with a 4wd rig! So they got disqualified and I got moved up to the A Main event!

Clay was up next in the Juniors Division, which is open to kids age 13 and under. Clay was gridded in second place, right behind a fast 4wd stadium truck - the rules are a little more open in this class, so it is not uncommon to see 2wd and 4wd Stadium trucks racing buggies, monster trucks and just about every other kind of RC vehicle. Clayton battled back and forth between the race leader, but with some skillful driving he was able to pass and stay ahead for the rest of the race. Soon, he encountered lapped traffic, including a particularly pesky Traxxas E-Revo that kept crashing into him. But again, Clay persevered and passed for the win. He was super excited.

Right after Clay's race, again it was a mad scramble to swap batteries and transponders so I could give it a go in the 2WD SCT Main event race. The beginning of the race is always a challenge, as everyone piles up in the first corner - I ended up off course again! For the first few laps, I was able to hang with the 3rd place truck, until I encountered more traffic, and then things got a little squirrelly. I ended up in 6th place. After a long 10 hour day, it was time for the awards ceremony, where Clay was presented with his first place trophy! It was a wonderful end to a day that had a somewhat rocky start. Many thanks to Ben Ubben and his two sons Ethan and Jacob, who loaned us a set of tires for better traction on the dirt. Their experience and generosity has really helped with our introduction into RC Car racing. And many more thanks to the entire crew at Hobbytown in St. Charles - they always do an excellent job organizing these races, and were able to raise over $2400 for charity with this event. If we didn't have the RC car bug before, we certainly have it now!

Here is Clay with his Slash VXL right before the race day. Notice how shiny and clean both he and the truck are right now! Time to play in the dirt!...

The dirt course was massive, with some tight hairpins and a couple of big jumps which made for a real challenge. It was very hard to get traction - hard earth with a sprinkling of dust and dirt clods on top - very easy to make the truck spin out!

The final results! Clay’s first big win, in a very big event! His time is competitive against many adults who raced that day. All those years of racing around our cul-de-sac are finally starting to pay off. With a win in the Juniors Division, Clay will have to race in the adult class in his next race, which will be quite a challenge. Time to show some grown-ups who’s the boss of RC cars!

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