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.
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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