This was one of my favorite races!
On Wednesday, Jan 6th, 2016, Shaun met up with our local crew in Albuquerque, NM and drove to Las Vegas, NM. I flew in the following day (the day they finished the track), and I was blown away by the track. It was tight, it was multilevel, and it was LighTrax! All the pilots looked nervous and Shaun was no exception. By Thursday afternoon, I had already seen three different promo videos on Facebook about this event with Shaun as the main focus since he had won XDC ONE. Upon seeing those videos, I knew Shaun was going to be even more nervous because everyone was probably talking to him about those videos. Indeed he was. He kept telling me how different this track was compared to XDC ONE and how there was no way he could repeat his win. All I did was chuckle. This video below was one of those promo videos.
By late Thursday, the track was ready for practice. Shaun had a total of three runs, and I'm pretty sure he got worse every run lol. Needless to say, he was not happy. Our dinner that evening consisted of him complaining about the track and explaining to me why he was not going to win. I was super tired, so I told him to stop complaining and try to have fun.
Friday was scheduled for the 4-inch race, and the day started with some practice. During those practice runs, Shaun was able to finish all of his heats without crashing. He felt a lot better, and became super focused. With that focus, he won the 4-inch race while setting fastest lap record.
Saturday was the main event. The day started out with some practice, followed by the qualifier race, and a single-elimination style race. So let me try to explain this single-elimination-type race because it is a little different from other formats I have seen. From the result of the qualifier race, top 3 qualifiers were guaranteed a spot in the final race. Then everyone again got divided into groups (grouped by their qualifying times, slow to fast) for another round of 12 heats. The winner of heat 1 got to "bump up" to heat 2, and so on. So everyone got another chance! Theoretically, someone from heat 1 could "bump up" all the way to the final race if they kept winning.
Shaun's qualifier heat was near the beginning, so he decided to do a steady pace to get a "time" onto the qualifier board. As other pilot's qualifying times started to accumulate the board, Shaun's spot started to move lower and lower. By the time the last qualifier heat finished, Shaun was ranked 5th. This meant that Shaun was not ranked high enough to be in the final race. According to his ranking, he was put in heat 12 in the second round. So in order for Shaun to be in the final show, he needed to win heat 12. This was easier said than done. Right before Shaun had to prepare for heat 12, we had just finished watching C.Fisher win heat 11. And this was not Fisher's only win, he had won heat 7, 8, 9, and 10. He was on fire!!
At this point, I was emotionally a mess. This is because I realized that not only was Fisher fast, but he had just accumulated the most practice on that track compared to any other pilot! In other words, he was coming in HOT. I did not talk to Shaun before this race because I knew he was probably thinking the exact same thing, and talking to him about it would only make him more nervous. So I stood against the wall near the Ring of Fire (the finish gate) and anxiously awaited for Skully to announce his famous "pilots, on your quad, as we go live in less than 5." Beep, and they were off. I held my breath as I watched Shaun pull further and further away from Fisher. I finally took in a second breath during Shaun's second lap but only to hold it again as I watched Fisher get faster. But by the time Fisher was half way through his third lap, I realized Shaun was already close to the finish line, so I exhaled. Shaun then went through the Ring of Fire as Fisher gave a final push and crashed. And just like that, Shaun was on his way to the final show.
This race was a race not everyone got to see, but it has been my favorite "behind the scene" story to tell my family and friends. The rest was history. Shaun won the final race, and the crowd went wild. The official result was 1. NytFury 2. BrainDrain 3. A_Nub 4. FPVProvo. Below is an amazing video by Team BIG WHOOP that captured not only Shaun's win in the final race, but the spirit of this entire event.
I hope this recap post was not too long. I will be writing a lot more posts like this in the near future. So please check back often :)