The 2017 Southern Nationals was a highly anticipated race for many. Living up to the hype from previous years, this special race drew in some of the top pro racers from around the nation making it the most competitive Southern Nationals to date. With drivers like Tekno’s Ryan Lutz and Joe Bornhorst, Agama’s Darren Bloomfield, HB Racing’s Cody King, Mugen’s Cole Ogden and Ryan Maifield, the Southern Nationals was set for fireworks during the A-finals.
The track layout was magnificent. It was fun, it was fast, it was big, and of course … challenging. Perhaps one of the best 1/8th scale layouts of the year, every lap was a joy. However, the conditions did change going from a butter smooth surface to bumpy and super dusty making it difficult for racers to nail the right setup. As the lap count grew, so did the number of bumps and craters adding to the ever-growing challenge of delivering a perfect lap. By the mains, the track was a monster, but still very fun and made for epic racing.
The 45 minute A-final of the Pro Nitro Buggy class was full of excitement and in the end, the separation was only 1.7 seconds between 1st and 2nd. Having TQ’d the class, Mugen’s Ryan Maifield built up a comfortable 15-second lead through the first half of the race until an unscheduled left rear tire change in the pits saw the Arizona speedster come out of pitlane in 2nd place. With a last minute decision to change his tire strategy, Maifield was short on time and rushed to get his tires mounted in order to make the start of the race. Having moved up from 13th on the grid to lead the race ahead of Maifield, Agama’s Darren Bloomfield was fast and pushing hard to defend his position. With pin point precision, Maifield would find a small gap and make a clean pass for the lead at the top step up jump in the far left corner. Just as things were going his way once again, Maifield’s front left tire was coming unglued and now certain his tires were not fully cured before the start the race. With Bloomfield smelling blood, he charged hard to close the gap to Maifield, but was unable to make the pass on the last lap. Maified would take the win with Bloomfield 2nd. Only 5.6 seconds back from the two front-runners and a major threat to take the win in the closing minutes was Ryan Lutz, who finished 3rd overall.
Agama’s Darren Bloomfield was in the groove during A1 of Pro E-Buggy as Bloomfield took advantage of his track time from earlier in the day to take the win in A1. However, it was a different story in A2 as Maifield would choose a softer compound tire for A2 and was able to comfortably drive away from the field to take the win. A3 was much the same with Maifield turning the only 19 lap run in 10 minutes to take a solo victory lap and also the overall. Bloomfield would finish 2nd and Tekno’s Joe Bornhorst 3rd.
It was another amazing race in the Pro Nitro Truggy class between the top 3 drivers. For a majority of the race, Tekno’s Joe Bornhorst would lead the way followed by Mugen’s Cole Ogden as these two truggy goliaths would lead change over seven times during the course of 45 minutes. While they were battling, Tekno’s Ryan Lutz would quietly close in and waited for the right moment. When that moment came, Lutz would make the pass on both drivers and jump to the lead with 5 laps to go. Lutz would go on to take the win with Cole Ogden 2nd and Joe Bornhorst 3rd.
TLR’s Martin Harrison would shine in the E-Truggy class with terrific performances in A2 and A3 to take the overall. With Smiley Henn taking the win in A1, the pressure was on in A3 as the two drivers would only be separated by 1.5 seconds. Harrison would edge out Henn for the win with Henn finishing 2nd and TLR’s Nathan Harrison 3rd overall.
Once again, Austin Jeffries would put in a remarkable effort in the Open Nitro Buggy class despite having a very difficult qualifying session. Having to bump into the Nitro Buggy A-main, Jeffries would start 13th on the A-main grid, but end up 1st on the podium. With smart driving by the youngster from Texas, Jeffries would take an incredible win with Cody Avant 2nd and Nick Sublette 3rd.
It was a terrific showdown between HB Racing’s Eddie Laret and Tekno’s Austin Jeffries in the Open E-Buggy class. With A1 going to Eddie Laret, it looked as if Eddie was going to close out the open class in two mains, however, Jefferies would deny Laret the win in A2 and force an A3. Once again, Jeffries delivered an impeccable run to take the win in A3 to win the overall in Open E-Buggy. Laret looked fast all weekend and held onto 2nd place with Jerry Dean Jr. 3rd on the podium.
The 40+ Nitro Buggy main was dominated by Team Associated’s Drew Spurgeon. With his closest rival, Mugen’s Shane Ogden having a horrible start, Drew was on cruise control and was able to take the win with a comfortable margin. Shane would finish 2nd with Bill Sheperd taking the final spot on the podium in 3rd.