Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Tweedie races his way to NCT title

| November 18, 2021 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Gage Tweedie is racing to the front of the pack in the remote-controlled racing world.

Tweedie's latest success came this fall when Bonners Ferry resident claimed top honors in the Northwest Championship Tour for 4x4 short course truck event.

Now in its 15th year, the tour is the longest running regional series in the United States and hosts events in Oregon, Washington and Idaho for 1:10 and 1:8 both electric and nitro powered off-road vehicles. The tour features a total of six races, with participants required to race in five of the six to qualify for the championship. Races take place over three days with competitors running three races a day.

The first tournament that Tweedie entered was the Spokane Arena Championship and, while not part of the NCT tour, it saw the Bonners Ferry take home first-place honors. The race was a great confidence booster for Tweedie, who beat out the 2020 NCT second-place finisher Daniel Price to claim the top spot.

The next race in Tweedie's race to the championship was the Hank Perry Memorial — the first leg of the tour. At 8 years old, the race would be the first novice tournament that Tweedie would enter — and win. However, 10 years later, Tweedie would have to settle for second place, just a few seconds behind last year's NCT winner Rett Long.

Tweedie, Long and Daniel Price would go on to battle all season long with the three racers butting heads and short-course trucks, providing thrills and excitement for tour and racing fans.

At the tour's second race in the series, held in Walla Walla, Wash., Tweedie wowed all in attendance after lapping the tough competition. In one of his finest performance of the season, Tweedie cruised to the top spot, collecting the first-place trophy and first-place points, as well as points for being the top qualifier. The race would be the hometown racer's first first-place win and top qualifier award of the tournament.

In his fourth race of the year, Tweedie headed to Libby, Mont., for the Hot August Showdown. While not part of the NCT tour, the event attracts racers from all over to test their skills on what is the biggest track of all the venues.

Tweedie took advantage of his home track knowledge to edge out Long, the 2020 NCT champion, to claim the short-course truck event. Tweedie would also win the electric-buggy race, as well as top qualifier honors in the e-buggy class, just beating out Long who finished second. However, Long would claim top qualifier honors in the short-course truck class.

Electric buggies are faster, and a different scale, than gas or nitro biggies and the two classes do not race against each other.

The third leg of the tour took Tweedie to Post Falls which turned into his biggest challenge. While the Bonners Ferry racer started out well, it was almost a disaster. Tweedie stayed in second place behind Price for most of the races, however, Tweedie had a remote malfunction when the control got too hot and melted a wire in the speed control, stopping his short-course truck in its tracks and preventing him from finishing the race.

Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the end of Tweedie's mechanical troubles. Heading into the last race, Tweedie had to finish no lower than four place to keep his second-place standing in the NCT tournament. While Price had first place and top qualifiers locked down, the rest of the racers were battling for points.

After $600 in repairs, he was able to continue racing with fourth-place very much within reach. However, Tweedie was in second place with the race starting to wind down when disaster struck again with one and a half laps to go when a wheel and tire flew off his short-course truck, causing it to drag in the dirt. Tweedie’s remote control truck sputtered across the finish just .07 seconds ahead of the fifth-place truck. He needed to finish no lower than fourth in order to maintain second-place standing.

The fourth leg of the championship tour was held in Yakima, Wash., where Tweedie maneuvered tightly around the corners to claim first place, edging Price by .08 seconds. Close all weekend, Tweedie and Price would butt heads — and trade places — throughout the races, but Tweedie would take the edge, claiming the top pole position and top qualifier award.

Known for his tight turns, Tweedie was able to make up a four-second gap, closing to within four inches with one-and-a-half laps to go. Then, snaking around a sharp left turn, Tweedie cut inside to pull side-by-side with Price with a lap to go. With each turn, Tweedie was able to shave a little more time off before making a move on the final corner to edge out Price for the win.

Heading into the Pasco, Wash., race, the fifth leg and the last race of the tour, Tweedie was in first place pinpoints, followed by Long in second and Price in third. In order to win the championship, Tweedie would need to keep Long from being the top qualifier and claiming first place in the race.

With the hundreds of racers winnowed down to the top 10 battling it out for the points that were up for grabs at the three races on Oct. 2. When the dust cleared after the three races, Price would claim top qualifier honors — giving Tweedie the NCT championship.

With the pressure off, Tweedie raced "just for fun" to finish third overall at the Pasco race.

After announcing the Pasco results first, attention turned to the tour results, with the top 10 racers being recognized. Once the points were tallied for the entirety of the tour, it would be Price in third with 397 points for the tour, Long with 401 votes to claim second-place tour honors. Tweedie finished with 402 points to claim top tour honors by one point.

Following the tour, the second Hank Perry Memorial race is held. A one-day event, Tweedie entered the 4x4 short course truck event — one of about 100 racers who showed up for the Oct. 9 race. Tweedie would claim first place honors and the top qualifier award, beating out Long. Tweedie also won the e-buggy 1/8-scale race and claim the top qualifier award, beating out a local racer, who claimed second, and Long, who claimed third.

Tweedie first got into remote control car racing when he was 8 as a way for he and his father, Rob Tweedie, to bond. After taking an extending break, he got back into RC racing in the past three years.

Tweedie thanked his local sponsors, saying their support allowed him to pay for two NCT tournaments. Sponsors are Scheer Bros. Hobby Shop, Bonners Ferry Glass and Door, General Feed and Grain, Riverside Auto, Far North Outfitters, Les Schwab, Boundary Tractor and Car Quest.

"Thank you for the memories," Tweedie told his sponsors.

NCT racing will be back in April 2022.

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