Western Grand Nationals - Portland, OR, July 23-29
So where to even begin?
The 2012 Western Grands in Portland, OR at the Alpenrose facility was, as always,
an amazing time. With a combined car count of over 300 cars, the competition was
fierce, and very fast. TEAM RICE was well represented, with about 20 cars in the
mix from Jr. Novice all the way to AA.
The practice rounds went very well, and we were expecting big things come qualifying.
It didn't quite work out as we had planned, though, as only six cars qualified straight
into the A-mains. But we are a group of racers, and figured we'd just get our money's
worth. (The live status updates of qualifying results can be found on our Facebook
page here: www.facebook.com/riceracecars) The quick wrap up of qualifying was 6 straight
to the A, 6 to the B, 3 to the C, and one to the D (No time on that one due to the
chain coming off during qualifying).
On to the races, starting with the D main. That car was surprisingly Tommy McCarthy’s
Light World Formula car, a car that we are always crazy fast in everywhere we go
(he won the B main and contended for the win at last year’s Grands, and won the Silver
State Winternationals this past December). Again, we were there due to the chain
coming off a lap into our qualifying run, which was a major disappointment after
being one of the faster cars during the practice rounds. We weren’t discouraged though,
as we knew we had the car and driver to get to the A. Well, our bad luck with that
car continued into the races, as a fuel issue caused us to not even make the green
flag on the start. We were obviously thoroughly frustrated with that turn of events,
but figured out the root of the problem and moved on. The next day, during the Jr.
Honda C main, Peyton Sias was looking really good and running up front, until an
incident on the track freaked out the poor guy a bit, and he ended up running 6th.
In the B-mains, Famous Rhodes was absolutely taken OUT of the race by the inside
car, on a very questionable move that literally almost ripped the right front corner
off the car, and stopped him dead in his tracks. He was OK, though (we mean it when
we say we have the safest cars anywhere), and The Team was so close to being able
to get him back out on the track, but needed just another couple laps under yellow.
So he was out in the Animal, but Peyton Sias (who was in that initial wreck as well),
was able to hang onto his car to leg out a 4th place finish for the last transfer
position, putting him into his first A-main at a Grands ever! In the Sr. Animal B,
Both Dario Retych and Matt Roberts were racing for A-main spots, and both ended up
making it, but not without some drama first (of course!). While Retych had a fairly
smooth drive to the front, Roberts had to come from the back literally 3 times, and
passed for the final transfer position on the next to final lap. At one point, Roberts
was leading the race and pulling away, when some back-running cars got into a pile
up on the opposite straightaway. Matt was lapping a car at the time (again, on the
opposite straightaway), and came out of the corner and hit one of the other cars
flush bumper to bumper, actually restarting that other car, and Matt kept going as
well, with no damage to his car. Somehow, and NO ONE could tell us why, Matt got
the charged yellow and had to go to the back with only a few laps to go. PLEASE tell
me how that is right. (I will tell you right now, you can’t. Because it’s not.) But
he was able to rally through the pack and as previously mentioned grab the last transfer
spot to make it to HIS first Grands A-main event as well. In Jr. Stock, Famous Rhodes
had a good time of it, and ran a very smart race, and ran a strong 2nd to transfer.
After the race we asked him why he didn’t push for the win, and he said he didn’t
need to win this race, just needed to transfer. Smart kid. And after doing a great
job and transferring from the C to the B in Hvy. 160, Harley “Stormin Norman” Rose
had a couple run ins with other cars, and ended up with a 7th place finish. But,
in his Hvy. World Formula car, he did an amazing job to run a very strong 2nd and
transfer to his very first Grands A-main as well!
In the A-Mains, Peyton Sias drove a great race and looked really good early on, until
our pre-race decision to lock up the car at the last second backfired on us, and
the car went away at the end of the race, and he finished 7th. It was a gamble to
be sure, but for the first race out in the AM we thought it was a risk worth taking.
In the Sr. Animal main, we didn’t have much better luck, as both Dario Retych AND
Matt Roberts got collected in the same accident while running 3rd and 5th, respectively.
But The Team cashed in in the Jr. Honda main, where Famous Rhodes absolutely DOMINATED
the entire field, lapping up to 3rd place. In a sense, it wasn’t even fair. Famous
is now a 3-time Grand National Champion, and he isn’t even 9 yet (Jr. Stock 2010,
Jr. Honda 2011/2012). I will post the video as soon as we gain possession of it,
but until then you’ll have to just take our word for how bad-a** fast that car was.
In the Sr. Honda race, Tommy McCarthy’s bad luck continued from his Lt. WF car and
into the Albatross, in which he had qualified 3rd. He fought a loose car the whole
race, and even after coming in and making an adjustment to the car during a caution,
he was only able to drive it back up to 6th. Kyle Mentch was also in that race (having
qualified 2nd), and finished one spot behind Tommy in 7th. Next up was Jr. Stock,
and Famous ALMOST had his second win of the day. After a race where he slowly gained
position after position, he found himself in the lead with 3 to go when a caution
came out. He fought valiantly and did everything he could do, but came up about a
car-length short and finished 2nd. Still, a very strong showing for him and TR. Our
next race was the B class, where Tommy McCarthy had broken the old track record by
over a half-tenth, and qualified third quick. We had problems with the carburetor,
however, and had to waste the entire warm-up and the first 10 laps of the race fighting
it and getting it to run, and in doing so lost his great track position and had to
start at the tail of a full field. But once we got going, the car was a bullet. He
moved up through the pack and found himself in 2nd place directly behind the leader
on a restart with 4 to go. We all thought for sure that he would put his patented
slide job pass on the lead car, the same pass that he used to win the 2011 Lt. AA
Western Grands. But it wasn’t to be, as he stayed in line and came home with a 2nd
place finish. In the very next race, his AA was extremely fast in the beginning of
the race, but got way tight towards the end and he ended up in 4th, ending our chances
for an exact repeat of our Team wins from last year (Team Rice won Jr. Honda and
Lt. AA). In our final main event of the day, Harley Rose was looking good in his
Hvy. WF car, and was up to 4th after starting 7th when a wreck ended his day.
Overall, did we have some bad luck? Absolutely. But were we fast and a contender
in nearly every single class? You better believe it. And we had an awesome time along
the way. Next stop is in Sacramento California for the Dirt Grands. See you there!