Orange County’s only remaining permanent road course played host to the second round of the 2014 HB HPI Challenge Series on Saturday, February 1st. 41 Racers from San Diego to Bakersfield and in between gathered at Cal Raceway in Orange, California anticipating another exciting round of the HB HPI Challenge Series. Cal Raceway’s Charlie Barnes began track preparation on Friday afternoon to ensure track conditions were ideal for racers arriving Saturday morning. With a total of 47 entries dialed in, round two of the 2014 HB HPI Challenge Series was set to begin.
Visitors to the other sports facilities in the park couldn’t help but to be drawn in by the bright orange HPI Racing tent throughout the entire day. With chairs lining the track, spectators were able to catch a glimpse of racers in practice tuning their race cars. Under the HPI Racing canopy catalogs and DVDs were available, and many of park’s visitors took advantage. After practice and a brief driver’s meeting it was on to the group photo and, back for this and future rounds, the HB HPI Concours Challenge. HPI’s Kent Clausen was on hand to select the lucky winner of an awesome Falken Tire bobblehead doll and a HPI Scion FR-S body. Taking the win with his sharp looking Prelude was none other than former HPI Concours Challenge winner Nestor Rinonos.
Eager to finally hear the tone, racers were given two rounds of qualifying to determine who would take the Top Qualifier honors in the six race classes. Setting the quickest qualifying times in their classes were Edgar Arenas (Electric Sport), Chin Luc (Electric Pro), Johnson Thai (Electric Open), Todd Marshall (Nitro Sport), Nestor Rinonos (Nitro Pro) and HPI’s Thad Garner (Rallycross).
The first A-Main of the day belonged to the Electric Sport class which featured six novice drivers. The car of choice for many Electric Sport racers is the Sprint 2. In the A-Main, winner of round one Chris Rodriguez battled a hard charging Jeremy Dee who gave it all he could but could not make the move in the final corner on the last lap. Jeremy finished less than a second behind Rodriguez at the finish line. Jacob Dee, the eight-year-old son of Jeremy finished third with his new Sprint 2 Sport ’69 Mustang RTR-X.
The Electric Pro A-Main saw 11 HB cars battling it out from the start tone. Cal Raceway’s owner and race director Charlie Barnes was victorious with his HB TCXX after passing Chin Luc and round one winner Cody Secara.
Electric Open once again had the highest turn-out with 27 racers, which meant a racer in the C-Main had the opportunity to bump-up all the way to the A-Main if luck was on his side. Unfortunately for LeMar Todd, while he won the C-Main in convincing fashion he would not make the call for the B-Main. A broken part for LeMar meant the B-Main would only be a nine car field. After six minutes of holding off a charge from Doug Rebal, Eric Kim went on to win the transfer spot to the A-Main. HB Infantry Team Driver Carlos Franco and HPI’s Thad Garner qualified their HB TCXXs in the top 10. Carlos Franco would start in fourth and Garner starting from the second spot on the grid. Thad Garner made an inside pass on Top Qualifier Johnson Thai in the first corner as soon as the start tone went off. Garner proceeded to lead the entire six minute main event and ultimately finishing five seconds in front of Johnson Thai and eight seconds in front of Joven Madriaga. This would be the second consecutive win for the HB TCXX in Electric Open.
Nitro Pro and Nitro Sport ran a combined main, with Todd Marshall and Nestor Rinonos burning nitro for six minutes. Marshall is currently leading the points in Nitro Pro while Rinonos leads Nitro Sport.
The Rallycross class provided spectators with exciting action as four HPI WR8s slid through corners and aired it out off the jumps placed on the track. Thad Garner would take his second victory of the day with the Jerry Holsti finishing second and Nestor Rinonos taking third.