Cleveland indoor championships
Conzalez, George M
Team Trinity Takes the Gold
While many of you enjoyed a four-course turkey dinner over last year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend, hundreds of dedicated lyz-scale and touring car racers wrenched on their cars and prepared for one of the oldest racing events in RC. The 2001 Cleveland Indoor Championships (in Ohio) marked the 22nd year that this unique event has been held. What’s so unique about it? The Indoor Champs is the only race where the track is inside a hotel conference room, and the racers pit right in their hotel rooms. The event schedule is broadcast over one of the hotel’s TV channels, so the racers know when it’s their turn to race. Cool!
More than 460 drivers attended the Indoor Champs in 2001, including some of the biggest names in RC. you can imagine, the racing action was intense, and surprises were around every corner. Fortunately, we were there to catch the action, so you were able to enjoy the Thanksgiving festivities without booking a flight to Cleveland on the busiest weekend of the year. If you’re wondering how the event went down, read on; all will be revealed. A-MAIN ACTION
Top qualifier Jeff Durling got a bad start and adopted the caboose position behind the freight train of Scott Smither, Wayne Vince and Dana Bailes. After the first couple of corners, Bailes had worked up a good lead, but a battle for second between Vince, Smither and Durling was in full force. Bailes’s lead continued into the first 3 minutes of the race, but after four super-fast lo.9-second laps in a row, Durling was back in second and had his sights set on the leader.
The last couple of minutes brought many surprises. The leader, Bailes, clipped a board as he went through the chicane, and he dropped to fourth. This left Durling in the lead, but with Vince and Mark Adams-who had been flanking the leaders all along-riding his tail. On the next lap, Vince made a successful move on Durling and with only seconds remaining on the clock, he found nothing but open real estate in front of his car. Vince took home the first-place trophy, while Durling and Adams had to settle for second and third, respectively.
This was the event everyone had waited for, as evidenced by the huge turnout of spectators who jammed the compact ballroom track area. Team Trinity driver David Spashett sat on the pole position with his teammate josh Cyrul right behind in the second qualifying position. At the sound of the tone, io cars funneled into the first corner led by Spashett and Cyrul, followed by Mike Lufaso and Team Associated/Reedy driver Barry Baker. A shuffle in the second lap put Baker in second and Cyrul in third, but Cyrul regained his position on the next lap and didn’t give it up again.
Spashett had an enormous lead and laid down some incredibly fast lap times; just when it seemed he couldn’t go any faster, Spashett would better his previous lap time. His Trinity-powered Losi Triple-XS was on rails! Spashett and Cyrul kept up the pace, while Baker and Lufaso battled it out for third. At the tone, Spashett’s car flew past the finish line to claim the victory, and Cyrul’s car rolled in a few tenths of a second later to claim second. Lufaso and Baker took third and fourth, respectively.
Some of the best drivers in the world were represented in this class, but you wouldn’t have known it from the carnage at the first corner. After a terrible start, top-qualifier David Spashett found himself in sixth with a tweaked chassis. Barry Baker got through the pileup without a scratch, and he assumed the lead in front of Team Associated/Reedy driver Mike Blackstock and Josh Cyrul, who inherited second and third.
It was obvious that Josh Cyrul was on a mission because by the fourth lap, he was back in second and all over Baker’s tail. By lap io, Cyrul was in the lead after getting around Baker with an exhibition of raw power down the back straightaway. Cyrul now had control of the race, but that single burst of speed haunted him in the final seconds; Cyrul’s car slowed as his batteries began to go flat. Baker had gotten into trouble as he worked his way through traffic, and that gave Cyrul a little breathing room, but on the final lap, Baker made it through the pack and had Cyrul in his sights.
During the final lap the announcer couldn’t be heard over the screaming crowd. Cyrul’s car had slowed to a crawl, but the finish line was only 30 feet away. Baker flew around the last corner; in the straightaway, he buried the throttle trigger in an attempt to catch the leader. Cyrul’s car, however, had just enough juice left to roll over the finish line and claim the victory. Baker rocketed past the line to claim second; it appeared that Baker had enough battery power left to complete one more lap. Mike Lufaso rolled in shortly afterward to claim third. After the race, Cyrul nearly passed out because of the pressure. Now, that’s what I call racing!
After a rocky start, Dana Bailes led the way around the first lap with Scott Smither and Mark Adams glued to his tail. Halfway around the track, the top three cars tangled, and Bailes was out of the race with a broken car. This left Smither in the lead with Wayne Vince in second and Adams in third. Smither developed a huge lead, and Vince and Adams battled for second for several laps until Adams put on the pressure and passed Vince to regain the spot way behind the leader.
Smither wasn’t challenged for the duration of the race, although Adams was close enough to take advantage of any mistakes. First and second place were sewn up, but there was a battle for third among Vince, Jeff Durling and Mike Dunnigan. At the tone, Smither crossed the line first to take the championship, and Adams rolled in 3 seconds later to claim second, with Durling third.
After one of the cleanest starts of the weekend, top qualifiers Paul Martin, Frank Calandra Jr. and Eli Ezrow formed a train and led the pack around the course. On the seventh lap, Calandra made a beautiful pass on Martin to take the lead and then waved goodbye to his competitors. Calandra was gone, but his CRC Carpet Knife was easy to spot because of its blood-red– anodized motor pod. Martin held on to second place and closely pursued Calandra around every corner.
Calandra managed to keep Martin at bay for the duration of the race, but on the final lap Martin’s Trinity Switchblade was less than a car’s length behind the leader, and the cars crossed the line almost simultaneously. The lap-counting system clearly saw Calandra as the winner and Martin as second. Ezrow claimed third, but it didn’t come easy because he had been challenged by Bob Van Wagner and Chuck Lonergan during the entire race.
The 2001 Cleveland Indoor Championships was an awesome racing spectacle and one of the biggest races I have ever attended. The racers put on a first-class exhibition for the hundreds of spectators who dropped in to watch the action.
The concept of holding a race inside a hotel and pitting from the privacy of your own room is great. This is one of the longest-running races in RC, and it’s easy to understand why it has remained so popular.
Congratulations to the new champs, and thanks to the track crew for putting together an awesome racecourse. A big thanks to Trinity-the event’s major sponsor-for its generous support. Hope to see you all there next year.
Copyright Air Age Publishing May 2002
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