This Saturday's drag races were the second set of races in the Nitro RC series. In the week leading up, students were scrambling to get their cars together in time. Axles were rethreaded, wires re-soldered, a clever fix for a pull start that didn't quite fit, and a significant amount of carburetor tuning, ensuring each team would have just the right mixture of air and fuel.
The race they were preparing for was a 50 yard drag race. On race day, just an hour before the start time, Team Turbo finished assembling their car only to find that their steering mechanism wasn't working. They tried a few simple fixes before realizing they had over-tightened the hub carrier when installing new axles on the front wheels. This caused too much resistance on the balls that allow the wheels to pivot, so they quickly went back to work tearing off the front wheels to make the fix. At this point, the other teams had made their way to the track to start warming up.
JJ Racing was coming off a win and had picked up a sponsorship from Pipette Repair Service the previous week, so they were considered the favorite. They replaced all of their suspension springs to get a stiffer ride for this race, and their warm up laps were looking good. Purple Power had spent more time than any other team tweaking their carburetor, and it showed. They were doing wheelies just to intimidate the competition. Meanwhile, team Doubtful Confidence left their car unstarted before the race; partly as their own form of intimidation, but mostly for fear of breaking their rather delicate pull start.
The first race put JJ Racing against Doubtful Confidence. Once Doubtful Confidence started up their engine, you could see the fear in the other racers' eyes. The green flag waved and they came roaring off the start leaving JJ Racing far behind. It was clear that while JJ Racing had their car in a very reliable configuration, they'd need to get a little riskier if they wanted to win. Next up, Team Turbo went up against Purple Power. Purple Power took off while Team Turbo remained at the start line, engine screaming as the drive shaft had become disconnected from the transmission. Purple Power took the win, but not without losing a wheel.
The races continued, working through the double elimination bracket. As the pressure of the competition built, last minute solutions to problems began to get creative. Team Turbo tried a few tricks to keep their drive shaft engaged, but without time to resize the shaft like they needed to the best they could do was wrap the coupling in duct tape. It was a noble effort, but unfortunately didn't do the trick. Meanwhile, Purple Power knew the lost wheel was going to be trouble, as it was much worse than just a loose nut. They ran back to Vector Space to super glue the wheel and axle, only to find that it simply didn't have the strength. They were given the five minute warning when in desperation they caught sight of some trash in the parking lot, a water bottle to be specific. Jason ran over to grab it and began duct taping the bottle on in place of the missing wheel. "It'll act like a ski", he said. Everyone laughed, and then the green flag waved for the race against their powerful opponent Doubtful Confidence.
We were surprised how quickly Purple Power came off the start. The water bottle broke a leak but the car seemed to only get faster. I stood alone at the finish line, not expecting much of a race until I had to jump out of the way of what was the fastest ski car I've ever seen. The finish was unbelievably close. I couldn't tell who won, but among the commotion everyone seemed to think it was Doubtful Confidence, not our water bottle underdogs. Fortunately we had a camera on the finish line, so I ran it back to Vector Space to upload the footage. I had to slow it down frame by frame until it was clear, before emailing the image to Jordan, and running back to the race track. On my way I heard a unified burst of astonishment as Jordan showed them the photo of Purple Power taking the win. From that moment on, Purple Power took on a new name: Team Water Bottle.
Doubtful Confidence ended up coming back from the loser's bracket, defeating Team Water Bottle twice to take the win. As usual, it was an exciting day for Nitro RC racing.
Thanks to our sponsors for supporting these teams.