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.