September 25, 2015

Alex Kosciuszek & Jason Ruona win at 2015 VONATS

Alex Kosciuszek & Jason Ruona win at 2015 VONATS

With a little Bon Jovi playing in the background, racers gathered at Wolcott Hobbies in Waterbury, CT, for the annual Vintage Off-Road Nationals. Organized by enthusiast Erich Reichert, the event draws racers from as far as Sweden each year to battle the 2-day event with a favorite car from years past or that freshly built unique retro build. Wolcott Hobbies built a friendly layout and allowed the surface to dry in order to level the playing field and create an experience that included a little sliding where the drivers could push the limits of the older models. A wide range of vehicles makes and models were in attendance and included but not limited to Tamiya, Kyosho, Team Associated, Traxxas and Team Losi. While everyone had their favorite, it seemed the 2WD buggy, truck and 4WD classes were among the most popular.

Alex Kosciuszek made an early impression with a rare RC10 Worlds built specially by Brian Kinwald for this event. The Team Associated buggy was on fire all weekend with Alex usually drawing a crowd to watch his qualifiers. It was clear, Alex was a favorite with the Kinwald built machine but a few other drivers looked to take down the local hero with some fresh cars of their own. The stadium truck class with large entry count was another class to watch as Jason Ruona traveled from Florida with his Fred Reep built RC10T to compete against a hotly contested field.

The Old School R/C and Extreme Hobbies crew from Nashville, TN, looked focused on the 4WD class piloting their Team Losi XX-4 buggies against heavily favored local Mark Westerfield and Sweden’s Tomas Karlsson also running the XX-4. The Classic and Heavy Metal fields provided a lot of entertainment with drivers pushing the limits of the Tamiya, Kyosho and Traxxas vehicles and just when tensions would get high, Erich Reichert was on cue with his Clod Buster to equal the playing field crushing everyone equally to draw laughs.

During qualifying in the 2WD buggy class, it was all Alex K. Rounds 1 to 4 were all TQed by the quick Northeast driver who was the first driver to not only run 19 laps but he accomplished the unthinkable 20 laps during round 4 with the RC10 Worlds car. Ruona qualified in the 2nd position and Tyler Falcone, 3rd. The Stadium truck class featured Ruona taking the TQ in each round of qualifying but it was a blistering 19 lap run in round 4 that secured his top position for the main event. Team Sweden looked tough in the 4WD buggy class through 3 rounds of qualifying until Mark Westerfield dropped a 20 lap run with the Team Losi XX-4 in round 4 to sit up top in qualifying for the 2nd year in a row.

A race break before main events allowed the large donation of prizes to be given plus showcase the JConcepts Concours d’Elegance section of the program. A large selection of prizes, kits and gift certificates were given to the drivers during a gathering where just about every racer brought home a gift. The Steve Semeraro memorial event took place where drivers took turns driving an RC car in the first person perspective through special goggles prepared by Erich Reichert. By only driving through the goggles, Caleb Stevens drove a combined 3 laps faster than all other competitors reaching of time of sub 1:30 seconds. The best part is all donations went to a great cause and toward Steve Semeraro memorial benefit.

Alex Kosciuszek & Jason Ruona win at 2015 VONATS
The center straight-away was lined with competitors for the Concours d’Elegance focusing on actual race vehicles, show/display vehicles and custom one-off build rides. Best paint was awarded to Kyle Batman with the pink / black hand painted and trimmed RC10. John Marcotte took down most Authentic with a 1984 original that was actually used and raced in competition and of course topped with Jay Halsey replica paint scheme. Best of show was won by Joe Berlenbach who seemingly pulled out all the stops with his RC10 outfitted with aluminum, mounted on a mirror and highlighted with lighting and custom paint job. Reinaldo Vega took the best build award for his dual RC10 buggies with mega vintage MIP 4wd belt and chain conversion kits.

In the 2WD buggy class, Kosciuszek with the RC10 Worlds Car was all business and took the lead early. With very little pressure from the competitors, Alex drove quick and consistent allowing the mayhem behind him to drive to an even larger lead. Jason Ruona, starting in 2nd was pressured early from competitors and lap traffic but eventually recovered to hold a commanding 2nd place. Mark Westerfield moved up into a podium position with a strong 8 minute drive holding off Robb Fumire and Tyler Falcone. At the finish, the drivers using the RC10 Worlds car took 1st and 2nd and Mark Westerfield with the Team Associated based Nix91 finished in 3rd.

Mark Westerfield, as he has done so many times, took the TQ opportunity in the 4WD class and swiftly drove away from the field. The race was on for racers 2nd to 4th and while Mark cruised, it was anything but cruising for the guys battling for the podium. Brandon Giles put on a great race and cracked a top 2 finish for his team while Tomas Karlsson finished with a well deserved podium position in 3rd. While the top 3 finishers all ran the Team Losi XX-4, 4th place went to a hard charging Reinaldo Vega who paced the field running the Yokomo.

Alex Kosciuszek & Jason Ruona win at VONATS
The Stadium truck class started with Jason Ruona off to a great start and maintaining a gap over 2nd place driver Joe Ellis. A small bobble by Joe allowed Jason to stretch the lead out to several seconds. The RC10T had the upper hand on the dusty track and continued to open a gap on the field.  The 8 minute grueling race finished as Jason got the extra lap and a victory lap for the driver from Florida. Joe Ellis finished a well deserved 2nd with the Team Losi MF2 and local driver Blake Wazocha 3rd with another RC10T.

Source: JConcepts []


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