The Tamiya track on arrival is really impressive, but one thing to note is that it's not as large as it looks like in the magazines. It's not like some giant gas car track. It's actually very suited for 1/10 electric cars. It definitely would be an awesome facility to be able to run on a weekly basis.
The problem that I had first off was that my case full of equipment didn't fly out on my plane, so all I had was my car, radio, battery and the tires on the car. Luckily, Marty and the Passehls were able to loan me a charger and tools. The first day of practice just wound up being getting to know the track and trying different ways of saucing the tires without warmers. The tires I had on the car were correct, but they had cut down sedan inserts in all 4 tires. This proved to be very hard to drive on the Tamiya track. I guess a change of tires, a charger and a couple wrenches are going in the carry on next time...
I was watching the F1 cars going around the track, just to see what the cars looked like. The one car that stood out to me was Craig "F'n Cuda" Hammond's car. It looked just easy to drive, not doing anything fancy, but getting around the track well. If anything, I thought he could have gotten some of the push out of it, but it would turn out I should have copied his car and started from there.
Most races I have been to start where the cars are sort of ok, and then people start dialing their stuff in. I watched Craig's car, and thought it looked "safe" and easy to drive, but I expected there to be someone who would roll a car out that was just sick, and had wicked steering, and a ton of bite. Really, the biggest challenge for the Tamiya track is to get positive forward bite and have the car stable. My car required tip toeing around a lot of the track. It was really a handful in any chicane areas on the track, since the car didn't have enough rear bite to go fast in the back and forth transitions. As the weekend went on, it became obvious that a stable car was going to be better.
Eventually, my luggage arrived late in the afternoon. I was at least able to change a few things around, like using some different tires and changing to 3.5mm offset front blocks to try to get a handle on things. Things were a little better, as tires with a softer insert helped to get the car where it could get around the track without feeling too loose. I still had that feeling that there was "more out there" as far as overall performance, which in retrospect really wasn't true. That's a lesson in separating what perception and reality are.