Canadian Nationals 2018 – 1/5th Scale Offroad RC Racing

How can a weekend of camping and racing be so disappointing and wonderful at the same time? Here’s how…

I’m a total newbie when it comes to RC cars. I’ve owned a couple toy ones as a kid but earlier this year, I saw some friends driving their 1/5th scale, gas powered RC cars, and took a liking to it big time. Before I knew it, I found myself owning a used and hugely beat up HPI Baja 5B SS 2WD buggy with a bunch of spare parts.

The outdoor, off road, racing community is pretty well established but needs some serious organization. There aren’t a lot of venues to race at and running an event takes a huge amount of work and lots of volunteers. Even just practice days takes a lot of effort by the land owner to make sure the track is in race ready condition.

A couple months ago, RC Acres finally opened for a practice day so off I went. Up until then, I was only running my buggy in the parking lot at my work trying to get down some basic driving skills. 2WD cars are the hardest to drive but that’s what I had and if I can get good with that, I can drive anything. The practice day at RC Acres was my first time driving at a purpose built off road track. I crashed a lot, broke some stuff, fixed the car and learned a lot. My next time out was the Canadian Nationals at Walton Raceway. I knew I was going to be way out of my league but hey…it will be fun. My goal was to just learn the track, work on technique and stay out of people’s way who have had years of experience doing this.

My HPI Baja 5B SS Buggy ready to race.
My HPI Baja 5B SS Buggy ready to race.

Friday was practice day and at first things went as expected…I crashed a lot and broke stuff. Easy repairs but there seemed to be an underlying issue with my buggy…It wouldn’t turn much. After some trouble shooting, it seemed that my steering servo was pretty worn out and it was time for a new one. Thanks to some help from Andrew at SkyCraft Hobbies, I bought a new servo and installed it. Then a new problem popped up. My receiver kept browning out. Tried different servos, checked the wiring, tried different receivers. Some of the most experienced drivers around were helping me find the problem and we were all left scratching our heads. In the end, it turned out the battery I was using couldn’t keep up with the load of my new set up. Once again SkyCraft came to the rescue and provided me a new battery. It looks the exact same but was made by a different company and problem solved…after 5hrs of troubleshooting. My Friday of practice was a write off and I only got 15min of track time.

Got hit by a Losi 5b Buggy and waiting for the ambulance.
Got hit by a Losi 5b Buggy and waiting for the ambulance.

Bring on Saturday. Time for practice, qualifying and some racing…but not for me. Since I hadn’t done any marshalling on Friday, I figured I would spend as much time doing so in the morning that I could. So when the first practice session started I went out on the track to marshall and I was the only one out there with about four cars were on track. That’s when things went wrong for me. A driver made a big mistake on a jump that I was standing near and his 5B Buggy came flying at me at well over 40km/hr. I had about half a second to react and tried to protect my ribs from the impact. My right arm and hip took the hit and it was a whopper.

I was helped off the track and the pain was intense in my arm. A huge thanks to everyone who came to my aid and tended to me and my injuries but it wasn’t long before they realized that I needed some proper medical attention and called an ambulance.

It wasn’t long before the paramedics showed up and they took me to a local hospital convinced that my arm and wrist were broken. The paramedics were great and so was the staff at the local community hospital 10min away. I spent half the day there waiting for x-rays and a final verdict from the doctor. The x-rays didn’t show any obvious brakes but they weren’t sure about my wrist. The choice was made to splint my arm & wrist and release me. The owner of Walton Raceway was nice enough to drive to the hospital to pick me up and bring me back to the track.

From here on out I was just a spectator, although I did still go out and do some marshalling, even though it wasn’t a smart idea considering the condition I was in.

The rest of the weekend was amazing…as a spectator. I couldn’t race and I couldn’t safely marshall, so I sat on the sidelines and watched. Buggys, trucks and…what the hell is a Horrman? Well it looked kinda funny but it won the 2WD class and the driver came all the way from Germany to do it.

We had drivers from all over Ontario, Quebec, several from Germany as well as the USA come to compete this weekend. Although I didn’t get to do any racing, I’m glad I stayed after I got hurt. It was a great weekend of camping, making new friends and watching some cool racing. I’ll make sure I’m ready for next year.

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