Sunday, November 12, 2006

MSOKC Race Nos. 5 (make-up) and 12 - October 1 and 8, 2006

Originally sent: Sunday, November 12, 2006 10:16 PM

NEWS – The past month or so has been a blur (and the rest of the year doesn't look any better), so I find it necessary to report on the final two races of the Mid State of Ohio Kart Club season in one report. Race No. 5, which was a make-up race for a rain-out earlier in the season was October 1 and the final race of the season (Race No. 12) was October 8. With the make-up, the final three races were on consecutive weekends. We focused our attention primarily on Henry and Peter, since Conor's place in the championship had already been decided. Going into the last two races, Peter still had a chance to move up in the championship and Henry stood a chance of dropping several positions without strong finishes.

PRACTICE – Except for the usual gear change and tire pressure adjustments to suit track conditions, about the only significant change we made with our practice routine was to have Henry practice fewer laps. While the other boys, particularly Peter, work their way up to speed, Henry is always close to the fastest lap he'll run all day within the first few laps of the first practice session. We decided that all he was doing was using up his tires by going out for both sessions. So, he skipped the first practice session for Race No. 5 (the track was damp anyway) and went out for only a handful of laps in both sessions for Race No. 12. Conor also ran fewer practice laps than usual because of concern for the longevity of his Raptor engine, which still had a significant oil leak that we have determined to be beyond repair. Peter was his usual consistent self during practice.

ROOKIE BOX – The championship race in Peter's class became a three-horse affair early in the season. Peter could run laps that were as fast as the other two, but it wasn't until later in the season that he began to consistently win races. He was helped out to some extent by the other two taking each other out on occasion. His third position in the championship became a close third after three feature race wins late in the season, including two in a row at one point. He came into the last two races with a shot at moving up, particularly if the other two had trouble. He had a strong showing in the make-up race, finishing both heat races in second, which earned him the pole position for the feature. Each of the other two had had trouble in one of the heat races. In the feature, he dropped a position at the start and another on Lap 2. He applied pressure the whole way but finished third. In Race No. 12, Peter had trouble in the first heat race. He started third and followed one of the slower karts for the first few laps without being able to find a way to pass. Several other karts were bottled up behind Peter, and on Lap 3, one of them spun him around and T-boned him when he was sideways. Having fallen well behind, he pulled off the track on the next lap complaining of sore ribs. I think his ego was hurt more than anything, because he came back to finish second in the next heat. He started the feature from mid-pack and was applying plenty of pressure to the second place kart while the leader was getting away. I could tell that Peter was quite a bit faster and I could see the driver of the second place kart looking back at Peter at several places on the track. This driver has been known to block on occasion, and on Lap 6, was given a black flag for blocking. This promoted Peter to second which is where he finished. The black flag incident also promoted Peter to second in the championship. His final tally was 1402 points, just 8 points short of winning the championship.

JR. UNRESTRICTED – There was not a lot of drama for Conor in the last two races. It was pretty much like the rest of the season – few karts in his class, and no chance of winning with his equipment when a certain someone showed up, which was the case for the last two races. So, in the make-up race, Conor finished second, second, second, and in Race no. 12, he finished second, second, second. He really didn't even need to show up for these two races since his position in the championship had been decided. The fast guy in Conor's class did have to show up, however, as he had missed three races during the season because of schedule conflicts with regional and national races. The championship consists of the best nine finishes of the 12 race season. If he had recorded a DNS (did not start), which yields a goose egg for points, for any of the heats or features, this would have given the championship to Conor. Such was not the case and Conor finished second in the championship.

80cc SHIFTER – Drama? Yes, there was drama for Henry in the last two races. Quite a few karts in his class showed up, but all Henry had to do to maintain his fourth place position in the championship was finish in the vicinity of the karts behind him. He did just that in the heat races of the make-up race, finishing fifth and sixth. In the feature however, after getting one of his better starts of the season, he was pushed off the track on the first lap between Turns 1 and 2. He was able to get going again, but lost the nose off of his kart in the process. The loss of a major component is grounds for disqualification, so to add insult to injury, Henry was black flagged. I wasn't sure of the implications of this on the championship at first. I later learned that a disqualification for a technical infraction such as this results in points for the position you were running at the time (as opposed to a goose egg that cannot be dropped), so this wasn't an entire disaster. Race No. 12 wasn't a whole lot better for Henry. He drew the second starting position for the first heat, got away well, but was involved in a carbon-copy incident between Turns 1 and 2. He didn't loose his nose this time, but this did put him behind the eight ball for the rest of the day. He finished his heat races in eights and ninth, which resulted in a lowly starting position for the feature. During the intermission, I was busy crunching the numbers to figure out what Henry had to do to maintain his position in the championship. Because of some less than spectacular finishes by some of the others of concern, I figured that Henry only needed to finish one place ahead of one other kart, which was starting several places ahead of him. The start went well and Henry was directly behind the other kart by Lap 2. He made a clean pass going into Turn 2 and life was good. He pulled away over the next few laps but then caught up to another kart. Henry was clearly faster, but when Henry tried to pass in Turn 3, these two got together and Henry went into the grass. And the other kart got back by. Henry caught back up, but time was running out. In Turn 9 of the last lap, Henry made an aggressive move on the inside. There was a bit of contact, but Henry made it stick and finished where he needed to finish. The championship in Henry's class was a three horse affair between some serious competitors. It was nice to see Henry pull off the honors for 'best of the rest' in his first season in a shifter kart.

NEXT RACE – Well, that's it for the 2006 season. After the make-up race, Conor got to have a drive in a kart from one of the other junior classes – Yamaha Super Can. He was able to record competitive lap time within a handful of laps and enjoyed it immensely. After Race No. 12, Conor got to have a drive in Henry's kart. He had never driven anything that shifts gears before, so I was expecting him to putter around in the wrong gear most of the time. Within a handful of laps, he was running lap times that were only a second or two from Henry's race pace. For me, it was hard to believe. Henry's not willing to give up his ride for next year, and Conor is a bit young for a shifter kart class. So, with the help of a generous benefactor, we have purchased a very competitive Yamaha Super Can kart for Conor. After struggling with less than competitive equipment this year, Conor certainly deserves this. He will be fun to watch next year. Peter also proved that he is ready for a promotion from the Rookie Box class. We will upgrade his current chassis for the Junior Sportsman II class using Conor's championship winning engine from last year, which has been sitting patiently in the basement. The MSOKC banquet is Friday, November 17 – the day before the OSU vs. Michigan game. I'm going with the Buckeyes…

Bill

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 11 - September 24, 2006 - Two in a Row

Originally sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 11:13 PM

NEWS – Race No. 11 of the 2006 MSOKC season was a week ago Sunday. We've had another race since then – the second of three on consecutive weekends – so I'll make this short. Henry had new tires and we decided to go back to the Briggs Raptor engine for Conor.

PRACTICE – In spite of some dampness on the track from showers the night before, Henry ran 45-flats in the first practice session and mid 44s in his second, so the new tires were definitely doing the trick. Conor was back in the sub-50 range, but all day we had to deal with the significant oil leak that his Raptor has developed. Peter was a bit more tentative with the dampness, but managed to work into mid 58s in his second practice session.

ROOKIE BOX – Peter started last (of six) in his first heat. He made his way to fourth at the start and made another pass on Lap 2 to bring him up to third. He spent the next four laps trying to find his way around a relative new-comer who is quickly coming up to speed. He finally got around on Lap 5 and finished second. In his second heat, starting from the pole position, he made a great start and led from start to finish. He benefited from traffic that kept the only other kart that may have presented a challenge at bay. In the feature, again starting from the pole, he made another great start and led handily for the first few laps. He them began to receive pressure from behind. He responded with a string of laps in the sub-57 second range with a best of 57.24. On the last lap, on the last turn, the kart behind made a lunge down the inside, but came up about a foot short (0.038 sec). This gave Peter his second feature race win in a row and his third of the season.

JR. UNRESTRICTED – The fast guy in Conor's class was away at a Great Lakes Sprint Series race a week ago Sunday (where he won one of the classes he competes in and finished second in the other three), so Conor's class consisted of only two karts. The race director decided to combine Conor's class with the class he competed in last year, since some of them were away at the GLSS race, too. Conor started both heats and the feature on the front row and led every lap. The only question was whether or not he would lap any of the karts in the other class. He came close in the feature. His lap times with his Raptor, the best of which was a 48.81, were about a second to a second-and-a-half better than the previous race with his restricted Briggs Animal.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry class consisted of eight karts. He started the first heat from the sixth position. He dropped a position at the start but made passes on each of the first three laps to bring him up to fourth. He lost a spot on the next lap while trying to find a way around the kart in front of him and finished fifth. Starting third in the second heat, Henry got away well and ran in third for the first five laps. With only faster karts in front of him, he recorded a string of laps in the mid 44 second range (best of 44.39). He was passed on the last lap and finished fourth. Starting fourth in the feature, he again made a good start to hold his position. He made a pass into third on Lap 2 only to loose it to another kart on Lap 3. He ran in fourth for most of the feature, but his lap times started to fall off towards the end. I later figured out that we have been running too much air pressure in Henry's front tires. While this makes them come up to temperature more quickly, they loose their performance towards the end of a long run. Henry lost a position on Lap 9 and finished in fifth.

NEXT RACE – All three boys solidified their positions in the championship. With Peter's second win in a row, he even increased his chances of moving up. The next race – a make-up race for a rain-out earlier in the season – was last Sunday. The final race of the season is next Sunday, October 8, 2006, where 20 bonus points towards the championship are on the line.

Bill

Lap times and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=169441

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 10 – September 10, 2006

Originally sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 12:21 AM

NEWS – Bruce Brothers Racing had an up and down weekend just over a week ago during MSOKC Race No. 10 – our first race on the regular course configuration at CRP since July 23. Peter had a new seat to try, everyone in Conor's class had agreed to use a Briggs Animal engine with a stock (0.505 in. diameter) restrictor plate, and Henry had new aluminum wheels to try (albeit with used tires) and another shiny-new yellow nose.

PRACTICE – During practice, it became obvious that, while Peter's new seat (Conor's from last year) fit him well, the position was uncomfortable. We propped it up by re-drilling the upper connection points, which seemed to do the trick. We knew that Conor's lap times would be slower using the smaller diameter restrictor plate, but with everyone using it, at least the playing field would be even. Unfortunately, the fast kid in Conor's class has a killer Briggs Animal engine. So, from the beginning of practice, it became apparent that Conor's chances for a competitive showing were not good. Henry's practice times were reasonable, but he complained of a lack of grip.

ROOKIE BOX – Peter started his first heat from the sixth position (of six). He followed the field through Turn 1 and settled in. He made a pass on Lap 2, another on Lap 3, and another on Lap 5. He was quite a way behind the two leaders as he crossed the finish line in third. Starting from the pole position in his second heat, he timed the start perfectly and motored around the first lap in the lead. The three karts immediately behind him were contesting second place by the end of Lap 1. Two of the faster karts in Peter's class weren't patient enough with one of the slower karts and all three went off in Turn 10. This left Peter with a huge lead that he did not relinquish. One of the faster karts did recover to finish second, however. Peter's first and third place finishes earned him the pole position for the feature. He again timed the start perfectly and led through the first few corners. This time, the two faster karts didn't wait until Turn 10 to tangle – they tangled at the exit of Turn 4. This again left Peter with a huge lead that he did not relinquish. The other two recovered to finish second and third. Peter's fastest lap wasn't quite as fast as the other two, but by keeping his nose clean, it didn't have to be. After his first feature race win during Race No. 8, Peter now has two to his credit.

JR. UNRESTRICTED – There were only three karts in Conor's class for Race No. 10. After what we saw in practice, we had a pretty good idea what to expect. In both heats and the feature, Conor was consistently a second-and-a-half slower than the fast kid and two-and-a-half seconds faster than the other, who is a relative new-comer. Needless to say, Conor finished second in both heats and the feature. The fast kid proved what we had been trying to figure out during the past few races – that a Briggs Animal with a stock restrictor plate will run lap times that are the same as an unrestricted Briggs Raptor. He also proved that their Briggs Animal is a lot stronger than ours. For the next race, we're going to give our Briggs Raptor another try. If we can get it to hold together, Conor should be more competitive with it than he was last Sunday.

80cc SHIFTER – Unfortunately, Henry used up what was left of his used tires during the practice sessions. He started the first heat from the third position and got away quickly. This is usually a recipe for success for Henry, but he immediately began to loose positions to karts he regularly finishes in front of. He eventually finished seventh (of 10). A club rule states that you must finish the event on the tires on which you start unless there is a safety concern. As we were lamenting this, we noticed that the seams on both of his front tires were beginning to show. I brought the worst of these to the Race Director and he gave us permission to replace them with new ones. This would help in the second heat, but now he would be starting from the rear. Starting seventh, made one pass at the start and settled into sixth. While he wasn't loosing ground, he wasn't able to work his way up any further either. During the break, we made a few adjustments to help his balance. In the feature, starting from seventh again, he made another pass at the start and then another on Lap 2. He was able to break away from the group behind him, but was unable to catch the group in front and finished fifth. Earlier in the season, I had promised myself that I wouldn't be so stingy with allocating new tires – so much for that. Henry will have new rears to go with his new fronts for the next race. The good news is that we left the track with Henry's new nose in one piece and still shiny-new.

NEXT RACE – As the season begins to wind down, the championship picture begins to come into focus. Peter is currently in third with a possibility of moving up. Conor’s destiny is pretty well set in second. Henry is holding on to a close fourth, which is an admirable position for his first year in a shifter kart. After a break this past weekend, the last three races are the next three weekends in a row. This includes a make-up race for a rain-out earlier in the season.

Bill

Lap times and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=165583

Monday, August 28, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 9 - August 19, 2006

Originally sent: Monday, August 28, 2006 11:39 PM

NEWS – A week ago Saturday was our first Mid State of Ohio Kart Club race at Circleville Raceway Park in nearly a month and it was another one with a bit of a twist. There is a cut-off between Turns 3 and 7 that is normally used only for cool-down laps. It by-passes several turns and the long back straight. For Race No. 9 a week ago Saturday, which was also a night race, the 'short course' was used for the entire evening of racing. The short course is a lot like an extended oval, with five left handers and one right. All three boys acclimated easily to the change and Peter actually liked it.

PRACTICE – None of the boys had experienced the quick left hander that is composed of the combination of the usual Turns 3 and 7, so Conor and Peter both went out for some practice laps during the open session. Both need a gear change to accommodate for the extended full-throttle run that is usually interrupted by Turn 3. Henry stayed in the pits to work on finishing up his summer reading assignments prior to the first day of school, which was last week. We also made a chassis adjustment to Peter's kart, which resulted in a measurable improvement. Peter had not been in his kart in nearly a month and complained that his seat was too tight – time for bigger one…

ROOKIE BOX – Peter started from the pole position for his first heat race, which because of the shorter course was extended from the usual six laps to 10. His class consisted of five karts on Saturday. The kart that started on the outside of the front row tends to be aggressive at the start and indeed got the better of Peter at the start. Peter was glued to his bumper for the entire 10 laps. Some may have thought the short course was fun, but there are very few opportunities to pass. Peter was able to pull along side between Turns 8 and 9 several times, but could not make it stick and finished second. He started last in the second heat. I have never seen a kart in Peter's class stall at the drop of the green flag, but this time, two did. Peter went from last to first while the two got restarted, each loosing about a half a lap in the process. Peter cruised in the lead, turning laps in the mid-32 second range, until Lap 8 when he came up to lap a slower kart who obviously had no clue what those waiving blue flags meant. Even though Peter was over a second faster per lap, he could not get by. He was patient, however, and did not take any chances. He was far enough ahead of the next kart that he could trudge around for the last two laps for another heat race win. The feature, which was 15 laps instead of the usual eight, started much like the first heat for Peter. He started from the pole and ran side-by-side through Turns 1 and 2 before getting squeezed and loosing the position in Turn 3/7. After this, he was glued to the back bumper of the other kart again until Lap 13 when the pair came upon a slower kart approaching Turn 8. The kart in front of Peter braked suddenly causing Peter to brake even harder to avoid contact. Peter did a lazy half spin and high-sided his kart on the edge of the track. He needed to get out and push to get going again. He lost a lap in the process and finished fifth. Peter was very upset with the events that had transpired, but Laura was able to calm him down. In spite of having no open track in which to work, Peter set the fastest lap time in the feature (32.01).

JR. UNRESTRICTED – Conor's lap times from practice were reasonable, but the restricted Briggs Animal engine that we have been using lacks the top-end speed of the unrestricted Briggs Raptor engine that the other karts in his class use. This was particularly evident in the long full-throttle run leading up to Turn 8. Conor was fast from Turn 8 through Turn 1, but would loose four or five kart-lengths on the run back to Turn 8. We have been given permission by the club to find a restrictor plate diameter that makes these two engines perform equally. We started too small in Race No. 7 before finding one that worked reasonably well in Race No. 8. After practice on Saturday, because of the top end discrepancy, we decided to try a bigger one for Race No. 9. Conor started last of four in his first heat. He was patient at the start and fell into line. He made two passes in Lap 2 and set out after the leader, who has not had much competition this season. Conor was able to pull away from the other two, but could not quite cut into the lead, dropping about 1 to 2 tenths per lap. He finished a comfortable second. When we put his kart down on the grid in the pole position spot for the second heat, one of the other parents asked me how much air pressure we were running in Conor's rear tires. It did not take me long to figure out why she asked – Conor's right rear tire was nearly flat with a piece of metal that he had picked up in the first heat sticking through the carcass. I quickly ran back to the trailer and grabbed another set of older rears that I just happen to have mounted on some spare rims, which are quire a bit narrower that the ones we usually run. I guessed at how much air pressure he might need for these and ran back to the grid with my trusty battery-powered impact wrench in hand. The other parents already had the rear of Conor's kart in the air, and I was able to get the rears changed just as the gate opened for the formation lap. I had no idea what to expect when the green flag flew. Conor lost a position at the start and was a bit tail happy through the first few corners, but after that he began to settle in. He again pulled away from the other two, but could not do much about the leader. His best lap was his last, which was actually better than his best lap from the first heat. Starting second in the feature, he again ran in second to the finish. We had decided to leave well enough alone with his rear tires. He again improved on his fastest lap of the day, which was a 26.36. This time, he was actually able to cut into the lead on several laps, which seemed to catch the leader by surprise. He was able to respond however, but the margin of victory was only a second or two as opposed to a quarter of a lap or so as it has been regularly this season.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry had a bit more work to do acclimating to the short track since he also needed to figure out a new set of shift points. He started his first heat from the sixth position (of 10). He got away from the standing start well, but so did the majority of the field. One of the faster karts muscled past on Lap 1. Henry was bottled up behind a group of karts that was being held up by a slower kart. With no clear track in front of him, Henry could not seem to get a rhythm going and dropped several more positions over the next few laps. He eventually finished eighth. The slower kart that caused the bottle up in the first heat started behind Henry in the second heat. He got caught on the inside with nowhere to go in Turn 3/7 on Lap 1 and lost several positions, but not to the kart that caused his problem in the first heat. With the karts in front of him spaced out a bit, he was able to begin picking them off one by one. He was up to seventh by Lap 3, sixth by Lap 4, fifth by lap 5, and fourth by Lap 8, which is where he finished. The feature was much like the second heat for Henry. Starting sixth, he dropped one position at the start and then began working his way through the field – sixth by Lap 3 and fifth by Lap 7 (of 15). Meanwhile, there was quite a bit of action going on at the front. The pole sitter, who had won the first heat by managing to keep everyone behind him, was trying to do the same in the feature. Several of the faster karts were not happy with this and were letting him know with 'gentle taps' on the rear bumper. One of these taps (on Lap 10) by the kart that ended up crossing the finish line first was a bit more than gentle, which sent the lead kart into the grass. This promoted Henry to fourth, which is where he finished. He was later promoted to third when the winner was disqualified for one too many taps. Third is another personal best for Henry in MSOKC 80cc shifter class competition. Henry's fastest lap in the feature (24.24) was actually faster than the best lap for the eventual winner.

NEXT RACE – I had been out of town the entire week before this race and arrived home late Friday evening. Friday night was spent at our church's annual Festival, where Laura and the boys were volunteering (okay, Laura was volunteering and the boys were messing around). Saturday morning was spent frantically making sandwiches, Gatorade bottles, and loading everything up for the mid-day start of practice. With extra tuning to do for a different track configuration and the various problems we had throughout the day, we were all exhausted on Sunday. The next race, September 10, 2006, is back to the regular course configuration at CRP and back to the regular Sunday schedule.

Bill

p.s., Lap times and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=157898

Monday, August 14, 2006

Commercial Point Grand Prix - August 5-6, 2006

Originally sent: Monday, August 14, 2006 4:58 PM

NEWS – Bruce Brothers Racing had an awesome time last weekend on the streets of Commercial Point Ohio at our first non-club race – the Commercial Point Grand Prix. I remember this race from when I was a kid. It has been held on and off for years, but hadn't been held since 1999. The format for this event involved two practice sessions and a 10 lap 'merchandise race' on Saturday, which set the field for the 'trophy race' on Sunday, was held after another brief practice session. There were a total of 10 classes, including classes for Conor and Henry, but none for Peter. There was also an opportunity for four of these classes, including Henry's, to participate in a 15 lap 'pro race' with cash prizes. I had pre-registered Conor and Henry for the merchandise and trophy races. Henry didn't make up his mind about the pro race until Sunday morning.

PRACTICE – Conor's class was the first to take to the track on Saturday for practice. The course was composed of 10 turns and included some elevation change. The front straight was a bit longer than the back straight at Circleville Raceway Park, so we had dropped a couple of teeth from Conor's rear sprocket. The course was lined with hay bales, which I had been led to believe were unforgiving in the event of an incident. The course was also relatively bumpy, which was to be expected for a street race. We were disappointed by how few karts showed up for Conor's class (Jr. Restricted). I was expecting at least a half dozen or so, but only three had registered and one didn't show up. During both of his practice sessions, Conor ran in lock step with his classmate, who has extensive experience at the national level in this class. Henry's class consisted of 14 karts, including most of the Mid State of Ohio Kart Club regulars and a few others. Henry went out for his first practice towards the end of the pack and took his time working up to speed. We decided to send him out towards the front in his second practice session. With no slower karts to contend with and the additional rubber that had been laid down, he dropped from the 53 second range down to the mid 49s.

JR. RESTRICTED – Conor ran with the other junior driver on Saturday in a class by themselves. The start was ' Le Mans' style, with the karts lined up along the edge of the track at a 45 degree angle. Conor drew the pole and got away first at the drop of the green flag. Unlike CRP, it was impossible to see the whole track at Commercial Point. Laura and Peter were stationed on the other side of town and were equipped with a walkie-talkie so that we could communicate. The other kart came around Turn 10 first, and it was a good 20 seconds or so before Conor made it around. I later learned that, while leading, Conor clipped a hay bale on the exit of Turn 5 after hitting the big bump at the apex. These two circulated the course at about a half a lap apart for the entire 10 laps. I'm not sure that Conor could have held the other driver off for 10 laps, but I was disappointed that he didn't get a chance to try. The age of the other driver (just turned 16) was such that he could have competed in either the junior class or one of the adult classes. For the Trophy race on Sunday, they decided to try an adult class, which consisted of 10 karts, even though they would have to start from the rear. Instead of having Conor run by himself on Sunday, the organizer had him run on the tail of the adult Animal Medium class, which consisted of three other karts. After the start, the pole sitter disappeared into the distance. On Lap 2, Conor came around in third with the kart that had been in front of him nowhere to be seen (into the hay bales hard). On Lap 4, Conor came around in second after the kart that had been running second was delayed by a hay bale. He quickly caught up and passed Conor. Conor finished third overall but first in his class. The junior class turn-out was disappointing, but a first place trophy is a first place trophy.

80cc SHIFTER – The Commercial Point Grand Prix was Henry's best outing to date in a shifter kart. It helped that he drew the pole position for the qualifying race on Saturday. The shifter karts had a conventional standing start – staggered rows of two lined up in the middle of the track. At the driver's meeting, the flagman had explained the starting procedure, which was a little different than everyone was used to. While Henry was waiting for the signal that all of the karts were in position, which never came, the green flag was dropped. It was like 'go' instead of 'on your mark – get set – go'. This caught several drivers off-guard, but Henry managed to get into gear and get away with only a minor delay. He went through the first corner side by-side with the kart that had started behind him. They disappeared to the back side of the track and when they reappeared onto the front straightaway, Henry was third. He ran there until about Lap 5 (of 10) when another kart managed to get around him going into Turn 1. He ran in a comfortable fourth position to the finish, but was promoted to third when the kart in front of him was disqualified for being under weight. On Sunday, starting from the third position, he was able to back-up his third place finish from the day before. He got an excellent start, maintained his position, and began to reel off a series of laps in the 47 second range, including his best of the weekend – a 47.44 on Lap 5. One of the faster karts who had qualified poorly because of a mechanical failure on Saturday caught and passed Henry. A lap later, one of the karts in front clipped a hay bale coming out of Turn 10, promoting Henry back to third, which is where he finished. Henry left the decision about the pro race until the final minute of registration. There was another random draw for starting position, and this time he drew the last position (11th of 11). When it came time to line up, only eight karts made it to the grid. We decided that his best strategy for the 15 lap pro race was to be patient. He followed the field through Turn 1 and began waiting for opportunities to pass. The first one came early – on Lap 1. He made another pass and inherited another position, and was up to fifth by Lap 4. At this point, he quickly caught up to the next kart in line but had difficulty finding a way to pass. He followed this kart for the next nine laps until the leader appeared behind them. Henry let the leader pass in Turn 1. The kart in front of Henry caused the leader to have to take evasive action on his first attempt to pass. This let Henry un-lap himself. When the kart in front of Henry finally did move over, it was Henry who was immediately behind him. After getting past the slower kart, Henry let the leader through again. He quickly pulled away from the slower kart and finished fourth while catching the third place kart.

NEXT RACE – There were two awards ceremonies at Commercial Point – one on Saturday for the merchandise races and one on Sunday for the trophy and pro races. Both boys collected some nice merchandise on Saturday. The driver who won the merchandise race in Conor's class didn't show up for the ceremony, so Conor was given his merchandise, too, including a new set of front tires. On Sunday, Conor and Henry collected their first and third place trophies. Henry also collected a $50 check for his fourth place finish in the pro race (we paid the entry fee, he kept the winnings!). We have a bit of repair work to do to prepare for our next race, which is another night race at Circleville Raceway Park on Saturday August 19, 2006. In addition to Conor's hay-bale incident, Henry had one of his own in Turn 5 during practice on Sunday. The ironic thing is, the way each of them described their incident, they must have hit the same hay bale!

Bill

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 8 - July 23, 2006

Originally sent: Wednesday, August 02, 2006 10:35 PM

NEWS – Race No. 8 of the 2006 Mid State of Ohio Kart Club season was another one with a bit of a twist – timed qualifying as opposed to heat races. The format involved two practice sessions, then a five lap qualifying session (40 points available), followed by a six lap heat race (40 points available), and then a 10 lap feature (80 points available). The results of qualifying set the starting order for the heat race and the finishing order from the heat race set the order for the feature. We left well enough alone again with Peter's kart, Conor had a larger diameter restrictor plate to try in the Briggs Animal engine, and Henry had new rear tires and (another) new nose. Henry also got new brake pads during the course of the day.

PRACTICE – Peter was in the low 58 second range from the get-go, which was a good place for him to start the day. With the larger diameter restrictor plate, Conor dropped about a second from his lap times from the previous race, which we hoped would be enough to have him compete where he usually does. With his new rear tires, Henry got into the 44 second range for the first time ( 44.92). He missed his second practice, however, when it took us longer than anticipated to replace the four pads in his dual caliper rear brake setup.

ROOKIE BOX – Peter's class was the first to take to the track for the qualifying session. We had positioned his kart near the front of the grid so that he would go out early in hopes of not getting stuck behind a slower kart. Peter ended up going out second. The race director did his best to space the karts out on the track, but after the first full lap, the kart that had gone out first caught up with the last kart and got only one clean lap. Peter got two clean laps. When the session was over, Peter had qualified on the front row – second out of the eight karts in his class that day – with a 57.27, which is 0.1 from his personal best. In his heat race, he tucked in behind the pole sitter through Turn 1. He ran second until Lap 3, when he was passed going into Turn 1. He recorded a personal best lap time of 57.12 on Lap 5 and finished third. Starting third in the feature, he followed the pole sitter into second in Turn 1. In Turn 3, the pole sitter had a lazy spin, which put Peter in the lead. He led for two laps before succumbing to the pressure from behind at the end of the back straightaway. Peter was able keep pressure on the new leader, and two laps later, he had a lazy spin in Turn 4. This put Peter in the lead by a significant margin. The two spinners got going again, but Peter cruised to an easy first feature race win with a string of laps in the low 57 second range. Way to go Peter!!

JR. UNRESTRICTED – With only five karts in Conor's class, I wasn't concerned about him getting clean laps, so I also had him line up second. He qualified second with a lap of 49.05, which is still a bit slower that he has gone with his unrestricted Raptor. But second is probably where he would have qualified with his Raptor, so we were pleased. In the heat race, starting second, Conor made the most of the better torque of the Animal and ran side-by-side with the pole sitter through Turns 1 and 2. He settled into second, but soon came under pressure from the third place kart. While the Animal engine with this restrictor plate seems to run about the same lap times as the unrestricted Raptor, the terminal speed of the Raptor is a bit better. The kart behind Conor almost got the best of him at the end of the back straightaway on several occasions, but Conor managed to hold on to finish second. If the Raptor is faster in a straight line, the additional torque of the Animal makes it quicker coming out of the corners, which was the theme in Conor's feature race. The first few laps were a carbon copy of the heat race – side-by-side with the pole sitter through Turns 1 and 2 again and then pressure from behind. This time, the kart behind Conor managed to get around him at the end of the back straightaway on Lap 6. Through the next few corners, Conor was all over the kart in front of him. He got a good run through Turn 9 and made an outside-in move in Turn 10. And it almost worked. About mid-way through, Conor ran out of room and made contact when the other kart closed the door. Both spent a brief moment on two wheels. Both kept going but Conor got the better end of the deal. Conor received a warning the next time around (a rolled black flag) and went on to finish second. After the race, Conor apologized to the other driver, who agreed that it was nothing more than a racing incident ("…just one of them racin' deals" as they would say in NASCAR).

80cc SHIFTER – Of the karts in his class, Henry's lap times are at the sharp end of the spectrum when he's running well. Based on this, we had high hopes for his ability to do well under the timed qualifying format. His class, which consisted of 14 karts again on Sunday, was divided into two groups for qualifying – a faster and a slower group. We lined Henry up so that he would go out in the second half of the faster group. Based on what I was measuring on my stopwatch, his lap time were good but not quite as good as in his single practice session. This turned out to be a moot point, however. When Henry came through the scale house after exiting the track, we noticed that I had forgotten to move the single transponder that we own from Conor's kart to Henry's kart – Duh! Henry was not pleased, as this resulted in him qualifying last – behind the eight ball again. Starting 14th out of 14 in his heat race, he finally made a good start. We had worked on this in our driveway the day before (much to the chagrin of our neighbors, I'm sure). He made two passes at the start and a couple more along the way, and finished 10th. His new brakes must not have been seated in yet, because his lap times were still not as good as his practice times. In the feature, starting from 10th he made another great start, getting around two karts by Turn 1. There was a pile-up in Turn 4 of the first lap and Henry got caught up in it, damaging his new nose and stalling his engine. Since there was nobody behind him, he was able to give himself a push start and got going again. He seemed to be running better, as he caught and passed several karts and recorded several laps in the high 44 second range again. This included another personal best of 44.70. We vowed to never again to forget the transponder.

NEXT RACE – Peter again provided the highlight of our day with his first win. There was a professional photographer at the track on Sunday, and we ponied-up the cash for an 8 by 10 of him in action to commemorate the occasion. Our next race is a non-championship event – the Commercial Point Grand Prix – which is August 5-6, 2006. This is a street race through the town of Commercial Point, Ohio, which benefits the Jackson Township Fireman's Association. There are classes for Conor and Henry, but not for Peter. Qualifying races are on Saturday beginning at 3:30 PM. The results set the starting order for the feature races on Sunday, which get underway at 1:00 PM.

Bill

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 7 - July 15, 2006

Originally sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 1:52 AM

NEWS - The second night race of the 2006 Mid State of Ohio Kart Club season was a week ago Saturday. The biggest change we made from the previous race was a radically different engine on Conor's kart. The existing engine that his class uses - the Briggs Raptor - is based on ancient technology - pushrod valves. On the national level, this class is moving toward an overhead valve engine - the Briggs Animal. We received permission from the club to experiment with an Animal that we borrowed from a proponent of this engine with the goal of finding a restrictor plate size that would give equal performance to the un-restricted Raptor. An important aspect of our request was that Conor could still earn points toward the championship. During a test session between races, we found a restrictor plate that resulted in lap times that were similar to, but a bit slower than, his previous lap times. We thought with some additional tuning we could make up the difference. Henry had new front tires for this race, and since Peter set his personal best lap time at the previous race, we decided to leave well enough alone with his kart.

PRACTICE - All three boys practiced well. Peter got into the low 58 second range, and with his new front tires, Henry got into the mid 45 range. Conor's best lap was a 50.48, which is about a second or so slower that his normal practice session times. This would be a recurring theme throughout the day.

ROOKIE BOX - Peter started his first heat from the pole position. He brought the field around slowly, as he is supposed to do. When the green flag flew, the third place starter had already begun to accelerate and was on the inside of Peter before the starting line. Peter had to go wide into Turn 1, which let the second place starter through as well. These three quickly separated themselves from the others (six in all). Peter never let the two in front of him get away and somehow managed to set the fastest lap of the race - a 57.17, which is another new personal best for him. These three finished in that order. In the second heat, starting from third, he maintained his position at the start. The same three began to pull away again, but this time Peter was able to make a pass for second on Lap 2 entering Turn 5. This lasted only a lap however, as he was re-passed and finished third. Under the lights in the feature, Peter started from third again. The first three went through Turn 1 in the order in which they started. There was a pass for the lead at about mid-distance and Peter ran a close third to the finish.

JR. UNRESTRICTED - Conor also started from the pole position for his first heat. He lost one position at the end of the long straightaway on Lap 1 and another at the same place on Lap 2. It became apparent that the Animal engine in this configuration is no match for the unrestricted Raptor. While Conor was able to keep ahead of the remaining competitors (five in all), both his lap times and his top speed were not up to par. We tried a different exhaust header for Conor's second heat, in which he started from the third position. He maintained his position at the start, but gained a position when the second place kart went into Turn 6 a bit too hot on Lap 1 and didn't come out. He finished the race in second. Conor's feature was uneventful. He started third and ran there to the finish. Conor's fastest lap of the day was his last, a 50.20.

80cc SHIFTER - If Peter's and Conor's races were uneventful, Henry's was anything but. A season high 14 karts turned up for this race. We were not able to find time for Henry to practice his starts as we had planned, so I was relieved to see that he had drawn the outside front row starting position for his first heat. He got away reasonably well from the standing start, but did loose two positions in Turn 1. He got moved out of the way by one of the faster karts entering Turn 5 on the first lap, and before he was able to recover, lost a total of four positions. Over the next few laps, he was able to regain three of these and finished fifth. When you start from the front in the first heat, you start from the rear in the second. Henry got away slowly, but since there was nobody behind him it didn't matter. By Lap 3, he had worked his way up to ninth but was stuck behind a slower group who were battling for position among themselves. The kart in front of Henry got a bit sideways in Turn 1 and Henry made a bold move on the inside in Turn 3. Both karts wound up in the grass with engines silent. The curious examination Henry gave the front end of his kart while he waited for the race to finish did not give me a warm feeling. When he got back to the track exit, I could see that he had broken the brand new nose we had put on his kart and punctured one of his brand new front tires. Closer examination also revealed that he took a chunk out of one of his cast magnesium rear wheels. Fortunately we had the parts to put him back together again for the feature. His heat race results earned him another lowly starting position for the feature. He again got bottled up behind a slower group at about mid distance and went off again with another bold move on the inside in Turn 6, which ended his day. If nothing else, Henry learned a lesson about being patient.

NEXT RACE - Peter's personal best lap time was the highlight of our day. In looking at Conor's lap times, we decided that the Animal engine with the restrictor plate we used is about 1 to 1-1/2 seconds slower than the unrestricted Raptor. We were able to figure this out without loosing too many points in the championship, so we decided it was a worthwhile experiment. Conor likes the Animal, so we made plans to ask permission to continue our testing program using a larger diameter restrictor plate. For Henry, we WILL find time for him to practice his starts so that he is less likely to get bottled up behind slower traffic. As I write this, our next race has already happened - it was this past Sunday. I will try to get to the report for that in the next few days. I will also provide information about the upcoming Commercial Point Grand Prix, which is August 5-6, 2006.

Bill

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 6 - June 25, 2006

Originally sent: Jun 28, 2006 11:59 PM

NEWS - I am still waiting for the day when we go to the track and have something other than a good time (that sound you hear is me knocking on wood). We faced our share of potential problems this past Sunday during MSOKC Race No. 6, but ended up having an excellent day. For Conor, we continued to have engine difficulties and developed tire trouble, but were able to overcome both of these. Henry continues to have trouble with his standing starts, but this gives him lots of opportunities to practice his passing. He also developed tire trouble. Fortunately, Peter was low maintenance on Sunday and contributed to our excellent day with a personal best lap time.

PRACTICE - We were all a bit rusty from a five week break. There was a three week break scheduled between Race Nos. 4 and 5, and then Race No. 5 was cancelled due to rain. Conor was also less than 100% because of a bug he picked up during his two-week camping tour of New England. His engine was also untested, as it had been rebuilt again following Race No. 4. Peter ran some mediocre lap times on his own in his first practice. I talked to him about pushing a little bit harder, and his lap times improved by almost two seconds in his second practice. Conor complained of understeer during his first practice. We made a few changes, which seemed to help, but not much. Henry was methodical in his two practice sessions, improving on nearly every lap and getting down to a 45.63. He also complained of understeer.

ROOKIE BOX - Peter drew the last starting position (fifth of five) for his first heat. He is not nearly as aggressive as his two brothers and followed the slower karts for four laps without being able to find a way past. On lap 5, he got the job done. His final lap was over 5 seconds faster than his first four and brought him up to the rear of the next kart in line. He finished fourth, however. Starting on the pole for Heat 2, his 'goal' was to lead the first lap (that's our new thing - "Peter, what's your goal for this heat?"). He brought the field around slowly, but got out-gunned going into Turn 1. He followed closely and when the leader went wide in Turn 9, Peter was back in the lead and led the first lap. He led the second lap, too, but then succumbed to the pressure, dropping two positions on Lap 3. He stayed right on the tail of the two leaders to the finish. Starting from fourth in the feature, he made up a spot at the start. He and the two normally-faster karts ran nose to tail for 10 laps. The lead even swapped a couple of times between the two karts in front of Peter, making it a very exciting race. Four of Peter's laps in the feature were better than his previous personal best of 57.67 set using his old chassis during Race No. 9 in August of last season. As with is two heat races, his best lap was his last - a 57.27.

JR. UNRESTRICTED - I was pleased to see five karts turn out for Conor's class on Sunday, even though one of the regulars was missing. Fortunately for Conor, that missing kart - the one he has been unable to beat this season - was off at a Great Lakes Sprint Series event in East Lansing, Michigan. One of the other competitors was last year's champion in this class (Adam Roberts), who has moved on to bigger and better things, but was on hand to warm up for a World Karting Association event in East Lansing next weekend. He was using non-club-spec tires, so would be disqualified at the end of the day. Conor also drew the last starting position for his first heat. He was unable to improve in Turn 1, and as the result of an apparently worsening 'push' (understeer problem), he had difficulty making any headway whatsoever. He managed to make one pass and finished fourth. Back in our pit area, I noticed that the seams in both of his front tires were showing, even though the indicators (tread depth indicators if they had treads, but they're slicks) were still showing. The rules indicate that you cannot change tires during the course of an event without the permission of the Race Director. Fortunately, I had brought a new set of front tires with us on Sunday, and after having a look, the Race Director allowed us to change them on the basis of safety. In the second heat, starting on the pole, Conor got a great start. What happened next is a testament to how bad his front tires were. He told me later that he turned in for Turn 1 where he had been turning in and promptly dropped his two inside wheels into the grass - he was having to compensate that much for his worn front tires. He managed to keep it under control and maintained the lead. He even managed to hold off Adam for a lap and a half, running side-by-side on several occasions and turning a 49.69 in the process. Conor's personal best is a 49.33. After that, he ran a lonely second to the finish. Third is where he started the feature. I was hoping that he could follow the pole-sitter through into second at the start, but this was not the case. The starter on the outside of the front row was the notoriously-difficult-to-pass kart in Conor's class, and he dropped in between Conor and Adam. I had told Conor to be patient if that happened. Even though their lap times were almost two seconds slower that Conor's best from the previous heat, Conor could not get past because of the defensive line used by the slower kart. On the last lap, as the two approached Turn 9, I could see Conor setting up a last-ditch effort to pass. He carried a load of momentum through Turn 9 and went for the inside at the entrance to turn 10. He was far enough along side to claim the corner, but at about mid-way through, the slower kart violently turned in on Conor. Conor kept it going through the exit of Turn 10, however, with just the slightest advantage. Incredibly, the slower kart violently turned in on Conor again on the front straight. Conor did cross the finish line first, but the slower kart received a black flag for his mis-deed earlier in Turn 10 and was disqualified. Since Adam was disqualified for non-spec tires, this handed the win to Conor - his second in a row.

80cc SHIFTER - There were a season high 13 karts in Henry's class on Sunday. He started both heat races near mid-pack. In the first heat, he rolled away quickly from the standing start, but had to check up and lost two positions (seventh to ninth) going into Turn 1. According to the lap times from the previous few races, there are only two or three karts in this class that are faster than Henry. This became apparent as he began to pick them off one by one. His experience in the slower karts, where carrying momentum through the corners is imperative, helps him set up passes at the end of the faster parts of the track - the entrance to Turns 5 and 3 in particular (see http://www.circlevilleraceway.com/ for an aerial view of the track). In six laps, he managed to pass five karts and finish a close fourth. In the second heat, he again timed the start well but lost momentum soon after that, dropping two positions (sixth to eighth) in Turn 1. Frustrated, he didn't get through Turn 4 very well on the first lap and lost two more positions going into Turn 5. He pulled it together after that and began working his way through the field again. By Lap 4, he had made his way up to the fifth position, benefiting from a few off-course excursions by some of his competitors along the way. He was pushing hard and by that time the understeer problem that he had complained about earlier got the best of him and he went wide in Turn 6 and stalled the engine in the grass. His heat race finishes earned him a lowly tenth place starting position for the feature. He managed to hold his position at the start (there were only three karts behind him) and managed to get around a few carts in the opening laps. On Lap 4 while running in the clear, he recoded his fastest lap of the day - a 45.43, which is only a few tenths off of his personal best. He quickly caught up to another group of karts and managed to get by a few of them, too, with two identical passes in Turn 3 on consecutive laps. His fourth place finish equaled his personal best in this class.

NEXT RACE - I was thankful that Peter finally improved his personal best lap time in his new chassis - I was beginning to think we had made a mistake about the switch. I also learned my lesson about being stingy with allocating new tires - I probably owe Conor an apology. Henry will also have new front tires for the next race and we will hopefully be able to find some time for him to practice his starts. We also have an oil leak to sort out on Conor's engine, which plagued us all day on Sunday. It was busy day on Sunday, but an immensely enjoyable one in the end. Our next race is another Saturday evening event - July 15, 2006. In the mean time, I'm home taking care of business (and the dog) while Laura and the boys are in Kansas City visiting family.

Bill

Sunday, June 18, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 5 - June 10, 2006 - Postponed

Originally sent: Jun 18, 2006 12:56 PM

Bruce Brothers Racing has been out of action for about a month now because of a three week break between Race Nos. 4 and 5, and then a rainout. Race No. 5, which was scheduled for last weekend (June 10), was supposed to be our second Saturday night race of the season. The day began with a constant rain and a prediction for rain all day, becoming heavy in the evening. The MSOKC Board of Directors got on the phone early and decided to head everyone off before it was time to depart for the track. This was nice in that it allowed for other activities that day, but as the day wore on, the sky began to clear. By about 2:30 PM (the scheduled start time for practice), the sun was shining and a light breeze began to dry things up. It turned out to be a perfect evening for racing. So much for weather forecasts! The make-up date is October 1. Our next race is next Sunday, June 25. In the mean time, Conor has been away on a two-week camping tour of New England with a group of his middle school classmates and teachers. Henry has been to a two-day pole vaulting camp and will attend another all-week camp in Dayton in the coming week. Peter has also been making the most of his summer break - swimming, having sleep-overs with friends, working on a 'top-secret' project in the basement, etc. We are all anxious to get back into the swing of things, however. Not counting 'drop' races, which get figured in at the end of the season (the best nine of twelve finishes count), both Conor and Peter are leading the championship in their classes and Henry is in second. A lot of this is due to the occasional no-show by their competitors, which will later be dropped, but it fun to think about in the mean time. I just hope it doesn't rain on the 25th...

Bill

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 4 - May 21, 2006

Originally sent: May 23, 2006 11:45 PM

NEWS - A good time was had by all during Mid State Ohio Kart Club Race No. 4 this past Sunday, which involved running the course at Circleville Raceway Park in the opposite direction. Conor and Peter got a chance to practice on Saturday. While Henry wanted to practice, he had a conflict with a Bocce Ball tournament. Both Conor and Peter enjoyed their first experience going 'backwards,' but we had to hope that Henry was his usual quick learner on Sunday. Conor's first impression of his rebuilt engine was one of optimism.

PRACTICE - Sunday morning was overcast, and when practice got started, it was delayed twice because of light rain. When Henry finally got on the track, his impression was also positive.

PETER - ROOKIE BOX - There has been a total of eight competitors in the Rookie Box class this season, and if we could ever get them all there at one time it would be great. We came close on Sunday with six. Peter started the first heat from the fifth position. He ran there until he was able to make a pass in the now-righthand Turn 6. He made another pass in Turn 9 on lap 3 and finished third. Starting from the pole position in the second heat, Peter brought the field around slowly and made a great start. He separated himself from the field by about 10 seconds in the next few laps. In the closing stages, he came up to lap a slower kart, and in doing so, lost nearly all of his advantage. With the leaders nose to tail coming around to take the white flag, the kart behind Peter made a move to the inside in Turn 1, which was now a right-hander just prior to the start-finish line. The two made side-by-contact with the other kart, which got up on two wheels momentarily and nearly pitched the driver out, getting the worst end of the deal. There was a collective sigh of relief when both were able to continue. Peter was able to hold on for a second heat race win in as many events. Starting from the second position in the feature, Peter tucked in behind the pole-sitter and the two of them separated themselves from the field. Peter hung onto the tail of the leader and began applying pressure on lap 5. He could not find a way past, however, and dropped back a bit. He closed the gap again on the last lap, recording a 58.41 in the process, which is his best lap of the season, and finished a well-earned second place.

CONOR - JR. UNRESTRICTED - We had high hopes for Conor's rebuilt engine, but did not have to put it to the test, which turned out to be a good thing, because his lap times were not good and they got worse during the day. The reason we didn't have to put it to the test was that there was only one other competitor in Conor's class and he was a relative new-comer. Because of the low turn-out, they combined Conor's class with the Jr. Yamaha class. When they combine classes, they start them half a lap apart and score them separately. Conor grabbed the lead in the first turn (Turn 10) in both heat races and the feature and motored off into the distance. His only excitement came then he caught up to and passed several of the competitors in the other class. He recorded a perfect day points-wise, but it was less than satisfying. Most of the other classes were running lap times that were nearly the same as running the track in the usual direction. Conor's lap times were off by nearly two seconds. His lap times normally improve as his tires come up to temperature, etc. Yesterday, once he got around some of the slower Jr. Yamahas, the trend was the opposite - his lap times got worse. He also complained of a lack of power towards the end of the day and his engine seemed to be blowing quite a bit of oil from the breather. His engine is back at the engine builder to hopefully get these issues sorted out.

HENRY - 80cc SHIFTER - Henry had a rough couple of heat races, but was able to redeem himself in the feature. In practice, he was making up loads of time on the approach to Turn 4, which was now a right hander following the long straight-away. His kart has dual rear brake calipers and a healthy vented disk, and this was enabling him to gain about two kart lengths by late-braking into Turn 4 - an excellent place to pass. He started both heat races from the fourth position of nine competitors on Sunday. We need to get him to the track to, if nothing else, work on his standing starts. In the first heat, he dropped a couple of positions at the start, but began making them up quickly. At about mid-distance, he approached another kart at the entrance to Turn 4 who braked much sooner than Henry anticipated. Henry clobbered him from the rear and had a brief excursion through the grass, loosing a couple of positions in the process. He made up one of these prior to the finish and ended up sixth. He got away a little better in the second heat, but the kart he had clobbered started in front of him. On lap 2, Henry managed the repeat the clobbering maneuver on the same kart. This time both karts went into the grass, with the colbber-er getting away a little sooner than the clobber-ee. Henry went on to finish fifth. Words of profuse apology were offered in the line-up for the scale house, but the clobber-ee was clearly not impressed. Henry made his best start of the day from the fifth position in the feature, loosing one position but gaining another. I was relieved to see that the kart two behind Henry was able to make a pass, putting a buffer between him and the clobber-ee. He was able to find a way around the kart in front of him on lap 3 and then set out for the next kart in line. It took him two laps in the clear to catch up to the third place kart, and in doing so, he recorded a 45.50 - less than a half second from his personal best lap. The last three laps were frustrating for Henry, as the kart in front of him adopted a very defensive line. His fourth place finish was the closest he has come to a feature race podium position in this highly competitive class.

NEXT RACE - The next race, which is the second night race of the season, is Saturday, June 10, 2006. You may have noticed that these reports have begun coming from my personal email address. The reason for this is, after 18 years at EWI, I have decided to change jobs. Beginning June 1, 2006, my contact information at work will be as follows:

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Bill

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 3 - May 6, 2006

Originally sent: May 16, 2006 3:30 PM

NEWS – Bruce Brothers Racing had another good event a week ago Saturday at the first night race of the season. After some early problems with Conor's engine, he and Henry both recorded personal best lap times. Peter also had a milestone day, in almost more ways than one.

PRACTICE – We made a pretty radical change to the setup on Peter's kart prior to this event. In practice, this didn't seem to have a detrimental effect on his lap times, which was good, since I knew that it would help him with his starts. Conor did well in his first practice session, but in the second session, he came to a stop on the back straightaway on his second lap. Retrieving a kart on one of track-owned golf carts is a rare experience for us, as reliability seems to be one of our strong points. Conor reported that the engine made a weird noise coming out of Turn 4, so he shut it off. When we got back to out pit area, I got to experience the weird noise firsthand when we tried to start it. Our good friend Butch McCall confirmed that we indeed had a major problem. As I was informing Conor that his day of racing was over (we have no spare engine), the parents of Conor's primary competition offered to let us 'break in' one of their brand new spare engines. We quickly accepted, but as all this was happening, Henry was preparing to go out for his second practice session. While I went to look after Henry, Butch offered to work on swapping engines. On his third lap, Henry recorded a 45.08, a personal best by nearly half a second. By the time I got back to our pit area, Butch had the switch just about complete.

PETER – ROOKIE BOX – Peter had five competitors in his class for Race No. 3. Starting from pole position in the first heat, he brought the field around slowly, which worked to his favor. When they got on the throttle as the starter waived the green flag, Peter clearly had an acceleration advantage over his fellow front row starter. He pulled out a bit of a lead over the next lap or so, but he soon had a kart right on his tail. He was able to hold them off to the finish, however, recording his first career heat race win. In the second heat, starting from the fourth position, he made another good start and was up to third by Turn 3. He found a way past the kart in front of him on the third lap and finished second. For the feature, which got started after the sun went down, we added a bit of air pressure to make the tires come up to temperature a bit more quickly. Starting from the pole position, Peter again brought the field around slowly (almost painfully so), and made another great start. He was able to hold off the kart behind him for a lap or so, but then dropped to second. Under the lights, the lead group ran lap times that were about 2 sec slower than they ran during the daylight hours. Peter ran right on the tail of the leader for several laps. On the white flag lap, Peter got a great run through Turn 4 and snuck under the leader going into Turn 5. He held the lead through Turn 9, but left the door open in Turn 10. The kart behind him made a desperate dive to the inside and beat Peter to the checkered flag by 0.009 seconds – a mere 6 inches or so. Peter was very disappointed, but a good lesson was learned. His first feature race win can't be far away.

CONOR – JR. UNRESTRICTED – The use of a brand new, top-of-the-line engine was a dream-come-true for Conor. It was also a good opportunity to see how much this would help us. Conor's class again had five competitors. At the start of the first heat, from the second position, Conor made a good start and slid into second. He was a bit tentative in the first few laps, which let the leader get away. After that, his lap time began to improve. His previous best lap time had been a 49.33. Late in the race, Conor actually began to catch the leader, and with the leader in sight, his final lap was a new personal best of 48.46. We later learned that the leader had a rear axle bearing that was tightening up. If there had been another lap, Conor may have gotten by. Starting from the pole position in the second heat, Conor got passed by the eventual winner going into Turn 1. With an on-par engine, this is an indication that our clutch may need some work. Conor circulated comfortably in second, at about half a second a lap slower than the leader. With an on-par engine, this is an indication that our chassis is not up to par, but isn't too bad considering that it's six years old. The feature was much like the second heat. Conor started from second and ran there to the finish. This will be a reoccurring theme for Conor throughout the season. It was nice to see how much improvement was possible with a brand new, top-of-the-line engine.

HENRY – 80cc SHIFTER – Henry's excellent practice times were a good indication of what the remainder of the day had in store for him. He started the first heat from the outside of the fourth row (of 11 starters). When the flag dropped, his reaction time was good, but he had to check up for a slower kart in from of him. When he did, he fell all the way to the rear. He made up a couple of positions when he went by several karts that had gone into the grass in Turn 2. He inherited one more position and earned two more and finished sixth. Starting fourth in the second heat, he got away cleanly and maintained his position. He lost a position to a faster kart at about mid-distance, but made one up late in the race with a good pass on the inside of Turn 3. He finished where he started. His heat race finishes earned him the fifth starting spot for the feature. He made another good start and tucked in behind the fourth place kart. After several laps, it was apparent that the fourth place kart was holding Henry up, which allowed the two karts behind him to close the gap. On the sixth lap or so (of 10), Henry repeated is inside pass in Turn 3. The two karts behind Henry were also able to get by and were applying pressure again on the next lap. Henry's pace was too much for the kart immediately behind, as he went into the grass a lap later. Henry cruised to a well-earned fourth place – his best feature race finish in this class. Our objective just two short races ago was for him not to get lapped. On Saturday, Henry lapped what must have been four of the other karts in his class.

NEXT RACE – The next race, which is Sunday, May 21, 2006, at Circleville Raceway Park, will be an interesting one. Prior to the beginning of the season, the club decided to add some variety by running one of the events in the opposite direction and one using the short version of the course (using the cut-off between Turns 3 and 7). The next race is the one in the opposite direction, which hasn't been done in quite some time. Henry and Conor think that they will have an advantage as the result of their SCCA autocross experience, which involves acclimating to a new course each time. We hope to get to the track on Friday or Saturday of this week, which will be the only two opportunities to practice on the track in this direction. This will also give us a chance to break in Conor's engine, which is being rebuilt.

Bill

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 2 - April 23, 2006

Originally sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006 3:46 AM

NEWS – Race No. 2 of the 2006 MSOKC season was another good event for Bruce Brothers Racing a week ago this past Sunday. Conor and Henry both recorded personal best lap times and Peter continued to acclimate to his new chassis. We had a few minor problems, but were able to overcome these without too much difficulty.

PRACTICE – Peter and Conor were both a bit tentative in their first practice session, as the track was a bit ‘green’ as the result of an overnight rain shower. Henry was not, however, and spun entering Turn 5 on his first lap out when the group of karts in front of him checked up more that he anticipated. Turn 5 is about as far away as you can get from the grid area and still be on the property. By the time I got there on one of the tracks painfully-slow golf carts and gave him a push start, the session was just about over. This loss of practice time was particularly disappointing as this was only Henry’s third time out in his new kart. We made a small front end adjustment Peter’s kart and changed carburetor jets and gear ratios on Conor’s kart, all of which seemed to help in the subsequent practice sessions. Henry also managed to run well in his second session, knocking his personal best lap time down from a 47.18 to a 46.60.

PETER - ROOKIE BOX – Peter had one additional competitor in his class for Race No. 2, bringing the total to six. In his first heat, starting from the pole position, he maintained his position at the start and led the first lap. He and the second place kart had opened up a bit of a gap on the rest of the field, but on the entry to Turn 5, the trailing kart was able to make a move on the inside. As was the case last year, Peter seemed to pick up the pace when he had someone to follow. He tucked in behind the leader and was easily able to hold the others at bay, but the leader began to creep away and he finished second. In the second heat, starting from the fourth position, he got caught out going into Turn 3 and lost a position. The slower karts in the group in front of him were dicing among themselves at about four seconds a lap slower than Peter had run in the previous heat. Because of this dicing, he was unable pass and finished a frustrating fifth. In the feature, starting from third, he held his position at the start and ran there to the finish without any drama. For the next race, we are going to make a few changes that we hope will make Peter even more competitive.

CONOR - JR. UNRESTRICTED - Conor’s class also had one additional competitor for a total of five. At the start of the first heat, from the second position, Conor had to settle for third in Turn 3 when the two karts on the inside were able hook up nose-to-tail. The leader pulled away, but Conor was all over the back of the second place kart. At about mid-distance, he was able to pull along side on the approach to Turn 5, but couldn’t make it stick. On the next lap, he began setting up a pass in Turn 9. He built his momentum through Turns 10 and 1, and was able to shoot by in Turn 2 – it was a real thing of beauty. He quickly pulled away and finished second. Conor got a better start in the second heat, going from fourth to second by Turn 3. Both he and the leader were passed by the eventual winner on Lap 2. Conor was obviously being held up by the kart in front of him, and just past mid-distance, was able to make the pass. He again pulled away and finished second. From the outside of the front row in the feature, he maintained his position at the start and finished second. He was able to pull away from the next fastest kart by about a second a lap, but also lost about the same amount each lap to the leader and eventual winner. In the process, however, he did record a personal best lap time of 49.33, which is just about a half a second slower than Henry’s best lap time in that class from last year.

HENRY - 80cc SHIFTER – There were once again a good number of participants in Henry’s class – 11. As was the case for race No. 1, we decided that the rear of the grid was the place for Henry to the heat races because of his inexperience with standing starts. This proved to be a good decision, as at the drop of the green flag, he got away relatively slowly. He was able to make one pass on Lap 2 and another on Lap 4, and finished ninth. In his second heat, again starting from the rear, he made a much better start. He worked his way past several karts with a bit more urgency this time. On lap 3, with clear track in front of him, he lowered his personal best lap time to an amazing 45.46 – almost two seconds faster than the previous race. In the closing stages, he had closed in on a group of karts in front of him, but decided not to risk any late race heroics. The kart immediately in front of him was the previous owner of Henry’s kart, and as we are still seeking his advice occasionally, I was glad to see Henry practice that discretion. Since he had done so well in the heat races, we decided that it would be appropriate the let him take his earned starting position – seventh – for the feature. He made a great start and was up to sixthby Turn 3. A kart two in front of Henry – the previous owner – went wide in Turn 7 on the first lap and both Henry and the kart in front were able to get by. Henry was able to stay close to the kart in front of him, who wasn’t too far from the leaders, and finished fifth, recording a 45.50 along the way. This was an excellent result considering our objective during the previous race was to avoid being lapped.I have nothing but hope for further improvement, and some changes that we have planned, including a gear ratio change and repair of a broken seat that we discovered just before the feature, should help.
video

NEXT RACE – Race No. 2 was rewarding in a number of ways, but seeing the improvements made by Henry was particularly rewarding. The next race is Saturday, May 6, 2006, at Circleville Raceway Park, which is the first of four under-the-lights night races of the season. Gates open at 2:00 and racing gets underway at 5:00.

Bill

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

MSOKC Race No. 1 - April 9, 2006

Originally sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 3:22 PM

NEWS - The 2006 Mid State of Ohio Kart Club (MSOKC) season got off to a reasonable start for Bruce Brothers Racing the weekend before the Easter holiday, which included blue sky, plenty of sunshine, and unseasonably warm temperatures. As was the case last season, we were only able to find time for one practice session prior to Race No. 1. This did not bother Conor and Peter too much, but Henry began the day having only a limited number of laps in his new shifter kart. On top of that, he developed a fuel pick-up problem in practice that took us most of the day to sort out.

PRACTICE - Practice for the first race of the season is the first real chance to see how many competitors there will be in each of the classes. Conor and Peter both practiced well on Sunday, but the number of karts in both of their classes was disappointing – four for Conor and five for Peter. The size of Peter’s class was particularly disappointing, as we had been led to believe that there would be as many as seven new-comers. We are hoping for more in both classes in the coming races. Kart count in Henry’s class wasn’t an issue, as 12 or so showed up for opening day. Henry seemed to do okay in the first few laps of each of his practice sessions. After this, the engine seemed to be starving for fuel as he would exit the corners. Since this is a new kart for us with new systems, including a vacuum operated circulating fuel pump, we had to scrounge the pits for help.

PETER - ROOKIE BOX - Peter's class had one return competitor and three new faces. Peter started from the third position in Heat 1. The pole-sitter motored off while Peter was delayed by the other kart that had started in front of him. In Turn 4 on lap two, the kart in front of him slowed suddenly and the nose of Peter’s kart rode up over the rear of the hobbled kart. Peter had to get out and help the corner worker get them untangled. Peter fell to fourth but slowly began to work his way back up. By lap four, he was into third and pressuring the kart in second. On the approach to Turn 3, he over-cooked it a bit and had a half spin. He didn’t loose too much time and actually caught and passed the kart in front of him before the checkered flag to finish second. Peter’s second heat was a bit less eventful (thankfully). He started from the pole position, got passed going into Turn 1, and followed the eventual winner without any pressure from behind. In the feature, starting from second, he maintained his position at the start and again followed he eventual winner to the checkered flag. He was even able to apply a bit of pressure toward the end. His best lap was a 0:59.09, which is still a bit off of his best lap from last year (0:57.67) but a good place from which to start the new season.

CONOR - JR. UNRESTRICTED - Conor’s class this year is the one Henry was in last year. Two of the competitors were returnees from last season, one of which competed on the national level last year and will do so again this year. Conor lined up on the pole position for his first heat, got passed in Turn 1, and ran a lonely second until the end. He started the second heat from the third position and ran there until about lap three, when he was able to make a pass on the approach to Turn 5. The leader continued to pull away, so he finished second. One of the changes that was made during the off-season was to change the race day procedure from 6-6-8 lap format to 6-6-10 laps (Peter’s feature race was cut short because of a concern for available daylight). Conor has a lot of stamina, so he was looking forward to this. Although he turned his best lap of the day late in his feature (0:49.63), the number of additional laps did not come into play. Conor started from the second position and ran there until the finish. Like with Henry last year, we have quite a bit of work ahead of us if we’re going to run up front in this class this year.

HENRY - 80cc SHIFTER - Between practice and Henry’s first heat, we borrowed and installed a spare fuel pump from one of the other competitors in his class, hoping this would solve the problem. It did not, but at least Henry got to experience his first standing start, which is standard procedure for this class. The problem reoccurred during the first lap, but he persevered until the end. Between his first and second heat, we borrowed another fuel pump, hoping this would solve the problem. It did not, but at least Henry got to experience another standing start. During the intermission prior to the feature, we recruited a volunteer to give Henry’s new kart a test drive. That resulted in a confirmation that it was a fuel problem, but no pin-pointing of the problem. I had to leave our pit area to get Conor away for his feature. When I returned, another unsolicited volunteer had pin-pointed the problem to a clog in a quick-release mechanism in the fuel return line. We got everything put back together and Henry to the grid area just as the field was being released for the formation lap. He started at the rear, got away well, and ran at the back of the pack without loosing too much time. His lap times improved each lap until he would make a shifting mistake, and then it would take him a lap or so the regain his composure. He passed a kart on lap seven and was not only able to hold him off until the end, he began to catch several others as well. He recorded a 0:47.18 along the way. With his one pass and several DNSs (did not starts) for various reasons, he ended up finishing eighth.

NEXT RACE - Henry’s recovery from a near-disastrous day was at least as rewarding as Peter’s and Conor’s relatively uneventful days. Henry’s fuel system has been re-plumed and we have several things to try for both Peter and Conor. The next race is Sunday, April 23, 2006, at Circleville Raceway Park.

Bill

Friday, March 31, 2006

2006 MSOKC Season Preview

Originally sent: Friday, March 31, 2006 3:43 PM

First of all, if you'd like to discontinue receiving these updates (or if you never wanted to receive them in the first place), just let me know by return email. No hard feelings - I promise.

Many changes are in store for Bruce Brothers Racing for the 2006 Mid State of Ohio Kart Club (MSOKC) season. Peter remains in the Rookie Box class, so he has the same engine but a new chassis and bodywork for this season (Henry’s old chassis). Because of their ages, Conor and Henry have both had to move up a class. Conor will compete in the Junior Unrestricted class (the class that Henry contested last year), so he has the same chassis but a new engine (Henry’s old engine). We struggled a bit during the off-season with which adult class would be best for Henry. This sorted itself out when, just before Christmas, we found an 80cc shifter kart in excellent condition. Henry had expressed interest in this class, as it is draws the most participants of any MSOKC class. This kart has a six-speed manual gearbox and a water-cooled two-cycle engine with about 30 horsepower. The first race of the season is quickly approaching (Sunday, April 9), but because of the weather and our Spring Break vacation, we have only been able to have one practice session so far. Peter adapted to his new chassis immediately, and Conor quickly came to terms with his new additional horsepower. The lack of practice time is affecting Henry the most, as he is still getting used to shifting gears and a significant horsepower increase. We hope to get out again this weekend - if the weather holds out.

The complete 2006 MSOKC season schedule is shown below. This season also marks the return of the Commercial Point Grand Prix, which will be August 5 and 6 - more on that later.

Bill

Race # 1 - April 9 - Sunday
Race # 2 - April 23 - Sunday
Race # 3 - May 6 - Saturday
Race # 4 - May 21 - Sunday
Race # 5 - June 10 - Saturday
Race # 6 - June 25 - Sunday
Race # 7 - July 15 - Saturday
Race # 8 - July 23 - Sunday
Race # 9 - August 19 - Saturday
Race # 10 - September 10 - Sunday
Race # 11 - September 24 - Sunday
Rain Date # 1 - October 1 - Sunday
Race # 12 - October 8 - Sunday
Rain Date # 2 - October 22 - Sunday

Saturday Schedule
Gates: 1:00 p.m.
Practice: 2:30 p.m.
Driver's Meeting: 4:30 p.m.
Green Flag: 5:00 p.m.

Sunday Schedule
Gates: 8:00 a.m.
Practice: 9:30 a.m.
Driver's Meeting: 11:30 a.m.
Green Flag: Noon