My take on what I saw and experienced -
To start I had mentioned earlier that in my opinion I had confidence in this race simply due to the people and facility holding the race. It is honestly what sold me on making the trip and participating (OK, Rowdy pushing me helped). Mike is a by the book guy and stays true to his word and that discipline and consistency is what it takes to be successful. It is the exact same principal that has made the IRRA® the gold standard in slot car racing in my opinion. Tom Thumbs tenth premier event, always a "must go-to event" for the majority of top drivers, you don't think he hasn't figured this out a little by now? Mike and his family have consistent structure and their attention to detail is impeccable! A great sign of this is his meticulous organizing of parts and supplies and bins as well as constant cleaning of the restroom. This event was extremely well thought-out and every damn worker/volunteer was obviously prepped on the itinerary because all were on the same page.
The voodoo magic in the room while everyone was breakin-in motors was pretty darn cool. I think I will hear Tom Adams break-in box in my head for a month, but I am good with it! I did not hear one complaint, not one across the pits. Everyone I talked with stated that their hand-outs equaled or outperformed what they had brought with them. I did not talk to either Wills however about what they ran in F1, but I will take a guess that they both were well-prepped with motors they brought.
What a lot of people quickly learned is that they stressed over getting six motors ready when the majority really only concentrated on three-four motors because that is all that was needed. The other perception was that you would have to thrash to get it all done on Thursday and that simply was not the case. You technically had three days at 1.5 hours each day to work on your Can-Am motors. Once the anxiety died and rationalism set in, the atmosphere was fun as always.
The only complaint that one could have was that you had to stand in line two additional times to get your motors out of impound, but even that was flawless and honestly I witnessed people in line introducing themselves and putting faces to the forum names. I know that I met a lot of great "Lazy Locals" that were incredible people while standing in line. Another great thing that I witnessed was Mike walking the pits and talking with everyone. Asking how everything was going and listening. All smiles and taking mental notes, really hard to find fault in his true objective with every square inch of this event.
The racing was great I thought in all the mains. The A Main guys were really pushing it in Can-Am and F1 and the deslots and crashes were signs that all these guys are actually human. Some of the top guys making the same mistakes that they shake their heads at us lower main guys for doing, LOL. Willy is a monster! He showed that he can just lay down the laps at will (no pun intended). He showed he has matured quite a bit and was well-prepped for this race. Brinkley's F1 qualifying was extremely impressive, but the performance Ricky Jr. put down in F1 was incredible. The car looked great on the track and he drove it perfectly.
And then there is Cap, the kid that you just can never count out. He too has matured and watching him dig and dig in Can-Am to pull it off after having some troubles was awesome. The podiums were younger due to the senior classes, but the standout to me is 17-year old Jimmy Williams. You have to pay your dues to get around Tom Thumb's King and Jimmy making all the As his second year there showed what this kid can to. This kid has the goods, that is pretty evident. And watching Matt and Ryan Bruce battling to make the semi together in the same race in F1 was a great moment. Matt may not have had the best weekend, but he should hang his hat on how he felt when they did the announcements, his smile was for sure a proud dad moment.
As always my weekend would not be, without the continued support and friendship of Rowdy always looking out for my best interests. Cap, Josh, and Tony P. always taking care of me no matter what I need. Big props to Mike and Cindy McMasters for not only pulling it off, but for successfully setting the bar in all aspects of hand-out racing. Their incredible staff - Jessica, Eric, Rick and Bill Fulmer - tech was spot on!!!. The ladies that feed us non stop and whomever the coffee elf is that keeps the pot percolating. The Bartos crew, The Boogie Crew, The HVR crew, the Bruce family, the No Fun Zone, the SERRA crew, The Chayas, Diana Dyckman, all you damn "Lazy Locals," and everyone else in the building, it was a pleasure meeting all of you and hanging out. Also to all the sponsors that contributed financially as well as materially, thank you! It is always fun to win something you were not expecting. I had a great time no matter how much Cap berated me.
To all those that wanted this event to fail, shame on you. We are all in this together, there is no way that handout racing is the end of retro.
See everyone next year.