Even though it’s day 31 of the edit, with the exception of a bit of editing on the flight out to DNC I haven’t really touched the IFMAR edit. These past 10 days were purely about my 2nd sequel in the “Come Drive With Us” Series: DNC II.
The only work I did for the IFMAR movie this week was to do a couple interviews with Ryan Maifield and Ty Tessmann asking them a few questions about the Worlds Final; more specifically if there’s anything they would do differently. I also managed to get a critical story straight…and it’s going to be a bit of a bomb-shell 😉
20 Years of DNC
It’s truly amazing to me that “The Dirt” Nitro Challenge was run for the 20th time this year. It’s a real success story and show-cases the marketing genius that Joey Christensen really is. While the race started in Hemet California, for the past 10 years or so (I can’t remember exactly), the DNC has been synonymous with Phoenix Arizona.
My very first DNC was in 2013; I believe that was the 2nd year at Fear Farm; so that location is all I really knew, but I was introduced to a re-occurring DNC Theme…
The next year, I filmed my 2nd episode of “Come Drive With Us”. The weather that year was perfect so it made for an enjoyable filming experience. I returned (as a racer) for the 2015, 2016 & 2018 DNCs and even though some of these years were grueling, as a fan of this sport, I loved every minute of it. While qualifying at 2:45 am in 2016 wasn’t a highlight for me, I always understood the importance of this event and what it did for the industry as a whole.
“I don’t know why anyone who doesn’t have to be here would come to this race…”
– Anonymous pro-driver
While I completely understand this pro-drivers point of view, I do think there is a very simple answer to this statement:
Because it’s a chance to struggle along side the best drivers in the world for 5 days on an impossible track with equally impossible conditions and to see how fast the pro drivers really are.
It’s not all Unicorns & Rainbows
I absolutely love this race; it’s why I have referenced it over & over in my series. It is the “Anaheim 1” of R/C! So it makes me a bit sad to write this, but this 20th running of the DNC didn’t feel like a DNC to me. Don’t get me wrong, the race was well put together, and Joey and his crew did an absolutely stellar job; especially given all the challenges they were faced in putting on the Nitro Challenge. The Venue was also top-notch. While my feet HATED it, my Camera gear absolutely LOVED the asphalt pits.
Most importantly, this race (IMO) remains as Anaheim 1. There are just a few things that made this 20th running feel unlike any other DNC:
The Iconic Driver-Stand
Yes, this is a thing for me; and it’s most likely because I’m a photo nerd.
Granted, this structure was already gone last year and was replaced by a make-shift “Sea Can” style stand…so even last years DNC didn’t quite have the same feel to me…and maybe it’s the missing “Welcome to the DNC” banner…regardless, the loss of this structure takes just a little bit away for me.
Walking up the stairs of the old Fear Farm stand we were always greeted by the ceremonial “The Dirt” shovel; to our left was the staircase of broken dreams (drivers leaving the stand) and to our right were the hopeful few (drivers entering the stand).
Once on the stand, the track reveal made you realize that for the next 5-7 minutes…
…your life would be hell.
In years past this race drew in every media outlet in the industry. In addition to LiveRC, the O’Brien brothers & Riccardo Acciari of RedRC would make the trip as would Phil with Arno in tow from Neobuggy. It seems that Phil has moved on to bigger and better things, but it just takes away the grandeur of this race without the full ensemble of media folk. RC Car Action was missing and RC Insider has shut-down but Chris from CircusRC.com was there all the way from France for his very first DNC…but for me it’s just not the way it used to be.
Blown Out Track
“It’s the Nitro Challenge, not the Nitro Easy…”
While the track at every DNC I raced on was challenging, this one looked like the it was on an entirely different level of “challenge” than years past. It was beyond “Character” or “Personality”…I think it was even beyond “freaking rough” as Joe Bornhorst would say. I didn’t get to race at RCToLV when it got blown out; and while the 2016 Worlds looked horrific to drive on, the drivers of this years DNC said it was worse than that. It was so rough in-fact, that it drew more than a few comparisons to the Boulder Nevada Silver State Races of old!
When I shoot a full episode, I don’t race; and quite often I really wish I could have competed. Especially with tracks like the 2016 Southern Nationals track, the 2015 ROAR Nationals track or the Neo Race. I did not get even an inkling of desire to drive this year’s DNC track.
Still an Iconic Event
The weather sucked. The driver stand didn’t have the “Titanic-ish” grand staircase. The track was blown out…
…but the 2019 Nitro Challenge was still an iconic event. This is a race that I will always say every enthusiast of this sport absolutely has to race once in their life. This track, more than any other DNC Track from recent memory, really separated the top drivers from the rest of the pack.
While my first DNC “Come Drive With Us” featured Ty Tessmann winning both Nitro Classes, DNC II will show how Ryan Maifield accomplished this same feat. Of all the Veteran racers, at 32 Ryan continues to impress me the most. He quite literally gave a pants-down spanking to everyone in the Truggy main; in Buggy it wasn’t quite so painful for his competitors, it was still a decisive victory however. Even though he wasn’t the fastest driver on the track (Phend, Ongaro & Tessmann to name a few were all faster), his 94% consistency on this cratered track was unmatched and helped give him the win with a 1 lap cushion. Considering the field that he was competing against this was an amazing accomplishment. Adam’s closing thoughts on this topic are absolutely epic…but y’all are going to have to wait for the episode to see who he called out!!! #Sorry #NotSorry
While Maifield’s wins were impressive, the highlight for me was the 18 burnouts I did with my Hemi powered Dodge Challenger Rental Car! I currently have a C7 reserved for Silver State…but we’ll see if Budget will rent me another car…ever again…
Reno…next year we drag-race ’em!!!
*Photo Credits: Rugspin Graphix & Neobuggy.Net