Sunday, November 16, 2008

2008 MSOKC Banquet

Here are a few pictures from the 2008 MSOKC season-ending banquet (click to enlarge):









Peter receives his trophy and poster for being 2008 Champion of the Briggs Sportsman class.









Conor receives his trophy and poster for being 2008 Champion of the Yamaha Junior class.









Peter and Conor receive their 2008 Lap Record medals.









Conor receives his trophy and poster for the 2008 MSOKC Race of Champions.









Conor and Peter at home with their 'spoils', including personalized embroidered sweatshirts. What cannot be seen (and I missed getting a picture of it at the banquet) is the trophy Conor received for 'Comeback Driver of the Year'.

Bill

Monday, October 27, 2008

MSOKC Race of Champions – Sunday, October 19, 2008

I thought that I was done writing race reports for this season, but Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club added a post-championship event to the end of the season this year – the Race of Champions. This event was a 20 lap race reserved for season champions in 11 of the 12 classes – adults and all but the youngest of the kids. Ten of the 11 eligible class champions participated. Each participant competed in 'identically prepared' rental karts that are owned by the proprietor of Circleville Raceway Park. This event was held a week ago Sunday, October 19, just prior to another post-championship event, the IronMan 225 endurance race for Yamaha SuperCan karts. Laura and I were out of the country at the time, enjoying some time in the Czech Republic (Prague) prior to some business I had there, so fellow champion-dad and MSOKC President Paul Lyda offered to transport the boys to the race and look after them for the day (along with my dad and mom).

I say 'identically prepared' because in theory, they are, but in reality, some are in better condition than others. Kart assignments and starting positions were determined by random draw. Conor drew the No. 3 kart and Peter drew No. 10. Conor's kart turned out to be one of the better ones, but Peter's turned out to be a 'dud'. Conor tells me that, from the third starting position, he motored around the front-row starters in the first two corners but overcooked it in Turn 3 and went into the grass, dropping to last in the process. From the lap chart posted on MyLaps.com, I can see that he made up three positions in the first lap and three more on Lap 2. In the mean time, Peter's kart never did get up to speed. He puttered around for two laps before the kart stopped working all together, ending his day – bummer. Conor made up another position on Lap 4 and ran in third until Lap 10 when he moved into second. On Lap 17, he made a pass for the lead. I understand that the pass didn't stick at first, but then did on the second try. Conor went on to win by a margin of 4.866 seconds while recording the fastest lap time (56.211 seconds on Lap 18) in the process.

By Conor's own admission, 'luck of the draw' played a big part in determining the results. When we spent a day at the track in the rental karts earlier this season (see pictures above), Peter edged Conor for the fastest lap time honors (56.123 to 56.194). Driver weight was definitely a factor, too, with lighter drivers (kids) having an advantage over heavier drivers (adults). None-the-less, Conor's result was one more feather for him to put in his increasingly-full cap this season.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showrun.jsp?id=998724

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 12 – Sunday, October 5, 2008 – And The Winner Is…

NEWS – The Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club season finale was Sunday, October 5, 2008, which was a qualifying format event at Circleville Raceway Park. Peter entered this event with a slim 13 point lead in the championship. Since there are only three karts in his class that are competing for the championship, he simply needed to avoid finishing last in at least two of his three points-paying segments (qualifying, heat race, and feature race) to defend his lead. Qualifying format races are all about speed (as opposed to passing ability), however, and Peter has been much quicker than the other two in recent events. Conor entered this event with a 17 point lead over one competitor and a 21 point lead over another. With an average of 12 karts in Conor’s class, a bad race day in a class of this size can be disastrous. Conor’s lap times have been good in recent events, but his two closest competitors have been a bit quicker. Conor doesn’t know this (well, he does now), but I had made a spreadsheet that contained all of the possible permutations that would be required for him to defend his lead (seconds and thirds at the very least if his closest competitors did well, but not all thirds). As the saying goes, however, the best defense is a good offense. Read on…

PRACTICE – With many class championships still to be decided, the atmosphere in the pits on Sunday was a bit chilly, which matched the morning temperature. Fall is definitely upon us in central Ohio. The skies on Sunday were crystal clear, the barometric pressure was high, and the humidity was low – the type of day that both pilots and small displacement kart engines love. Our first hiccup of the day came when Peter pulled back into the pits after only two practice laps in his first session. He thought that his tires were flat – such was the lack of grip from the low temperatures. After being reassured that this was to be expected, the remainder of this session and his second session were business-as-usual. Conor does well driving his kart in these conditions – he loves it when lots of steering input is required. In other words, he loves to ‘drive’. We, like about half of the karts in Conor’s class, had new tires in the trailer, but chose to practice on used tires. Conor’s times in his first session were about third or fourth fastest. In the second session, Conor’s two closest competitors chose to ‘scrub’ in their new tires with a single hot lap. One of these pushed too hard and went off on the exit of Turn 6. We chose to keep the new tires fresh for the qualifying session.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – Peter’s class consisted of the three regulars and one new visitor on non-spec tires, who would be disqualified at the end of the day, and two from another class, who would be scored separately. Our strategy for qualifying sessions, which consist of three timed laps, is to put one in the bag, push hard on the second one, and push really hard on the third (95, 100, and 105 percent, respectively). Peter executed this plan perfectly (52.051, 51.595, and 51.332 seconds) and earned the pole position by almost a full second. In his heat race, he timed the start perfectly and won easily. These two results earned him the pole position for the feature. By this point, all he needed to do was take the green flag to clinch the championship. I told Peter that, if he didn’t get the lead at the start, he should just follow the leader around to the checkered flag (i.e., stay out of trouble), which is easier said than done. He got snookered at the start and settled in to second place. The leader was trying awfully hard to stay in front, and was making many mistakes in the process. On Lap 1, he nearly came to a stop in Turn 9 after getting almost completely sideways. Peter dutifully maintained his position, but came under pressure from the kart behind. After the leader made another mistake in Turn 4, which again slowed Peter’s progress, the kart behind was able to overtake Peter. For me, it was nice to see a buffer between Peter and his closest competitor, the father of whom has complained about ‘rough’ driving recently. Peter had other ideas, however, and regained the position on the next lap. Two laps later (Lap 7 of 10), Peter was once again on the tail of the leader, who made another mistake in Turn 4. Peter pulled along side down the long back straightaway. The lead kart has been known to be reluctant to concede the position when getting passed, but Peter had enough of an advantage to come out ahead in Turn 6 after going side-by-side through Turn 5. Peter went on to win by almost three seconds, capping off another perfect race day (1-1-1) and clinching his second consecutive season championship in this class.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Conor’s class (12 karts) was big enough that his qualifying session was split into two groups. It’s important that you don’t get baulked by a slower kart in front of you during a qualifying session, so the primary contenders in Conor’s class all scrambled for a position at the front of the first group. We elected to go out in the second group so that we would know what time we had to beat. Conor’s data acquisition system provides him with lap times on his ‘dashboard’ each time he crosses the start/finish line. The time to beat (45.385) was announced just as engines were being fired for the second group. I relayed this to Conor, who was lined up first for the second group. His first lap was a good one (45.760). The next lap was better (45.545), but still not good enough for pole position. Conor reached deep on the third one (45.359) and captured the pole by 0.026 seconds. The Ice Man strikes again. This was a huge development not only because it put Conor in an excellent position for the remainder of the day, but because it took possible points away from his two closest competitors, both of whom have the ability to have a perfect race day (although no one has done it in this class yet this season). I wasn’t sure if Conor knew he had done it when he pulled into the pits, so I gave him the ‘#1’ sign as he pulled in. Not only did he know his lap time from his on-board display, he had remembered the time to beat to three decimal places. In his heat race, he made a good start, but not as good as the kart on the outside of the front row. Conor settled into second but was given a gift when the lead kart went off on the first lap at the exit of Turn 6 (for the second time in two events). Conor received a bit of pressure from his other primary competitor, but went on to another heat race win, recording an all-time personal best lap time of 45.347 in the process. The start of Conor’s feature race was delayed by a kart that had mechanical difficulties on the formation lap. When they finally did get the green flag, Conor got a great start from pole position with the third place kart, who is a non-contender in the championship, coming along with him. Conor was able to pull out a bit in places, only to get reeled back in in others. On Lap 7, the second place kart experienced the consequences of pushing too hard and went off at the exit of Turn 6. Conor continued to push hard to the end, although he had amassed a reasonable lead by then, and won by a margin of almost two seconds. I’m glad that all of those spreadsheet calculations were unnecessary. Like Peter, Conor had a perfect race day, and clinched the season championship in this class.

NEXT RACE – That’s it for the 2008 season. There were some exciting developments in Henry’s 80cc Shifter class during Race No. 12, but he was oblivious to it all in the sanctuary of college life at Brown University in Providence. Peter ended up on top of the championship in spite of starting the season in another class, which basically spotted his closest competitor three perfect race days prior to his arrival. Peter also accomplished this with an engine that was less than fresh. It is normal to start a season in this class on a fresh engine and have it freshened up mid season. Peter’s engine has a total of 24 race days on it since it was freshened up. Towards the end of the season, I was anticipating a major ka-boom, which fortunately did not happen. And then there is Conor. This time last year, he was in a neck brace recovering from neurosurgery. At the beginning of the season, he had not been in a kart for over a year and had never raced anything as fast as a Yamaha SuperCan kart. You could easily argue that this was the most competitive MSOKC class in 2008. Several competitors have significantly more resources than we do, yet Conor was able to win the first two events of the year and go on to claim the season championship in this class. Enough said. The season ending banquet is November 15, 2008.

I want to express special thanks to our sponsors and supporters, to family and friends who came out to watch and support us this season, to those who support us from home, and once again to Laura, our most dedicated team member and fan.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=365592. Season ending championship points will eventually be posted at http://msokc.org/2008points.pdf.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 11 – Sunday, September 21, 2008

NEWS – Bruce Brothers Racing had a successful day at the races last Sunday for Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 11. Conor did well on a day that both of his closest competitors in the championship faltered, and Peter managed to extend his championship lead by the slimmest of margins. Laura missed her second race of the season (and her second ever) because she wanted to be with her dad in Kansas City as he recovered from kidney transplant surgery (he seems to be doing much better, thank you). Conor got a clutch rebuild and a new set of tires for Race No. 11, and Peter got some clutch maintenance and a set of tires cobbled together from Conor's old sets.

PRACTICE – Peter's practice sessions were once again uneventful. Conor practiced on his old tires during his first session, during which we noticed that one of his closest competitors was using a brand new chassis. When we came to the grid for Conor's second session, we noticed that he and two others in his class were on new tires, although one of these (the one with the new chassis) puts on new tires for every race weekend. On Conor's third lap, he was a full 0.6 seconds faster than he was in his first session. This was also close to the fastest lap time he has run on Bridgestone tires this season, which was a promising sign of things to come. As they say in racing, the answer to the question 'How fast do you want to go?' is always 'How much money do you want to spend?'.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – Peter's class once again consisted of four karts – the two other regulars in his class and one from another class who would otherwise have to run alone. They started these two groups (if you can call one kart a group) separately so as not to interfere with each another. Peter started his first heat race from the third position. He managed to make his way into second by Turn 3 at the start. He immediately was on the tail of the leader, and got a bit too close on Lap 3. Peter and the other kart take different lines through Turn 4, through which Peter made a good run on Lap 3. His momentum carried him into the rear wheel of the other kart, which momentarily lifted the front of Peter's kart front off of the ground. Both were able to continue, but Peter lost several seconds in the process. With clear track in front of him, he recorded the fastest lap of the heat, which was nearly a second faster than the lead kart had run on the lap before the incident. Peter caught up to the lead kart on the next lap but was not able to find a way past. Peter got an uncharacteristically poor start from the pole position in his second heat. The kart on the outside, which is the slowest of the three, made his way past and managed to stay there the entire race. After the checkered flag flew, he was demoted two positions for blocking. Unfortunately, the blocking allowed the other kart to get around Peter on Lap 3. A pair of seconds resulted in a second place starting position for Peter in the feature. He did his best to gain the lead at the start, but had to concede the position in Turn 3. He was on the tail of the leader for the first four laps while running lap times that were over a second slower than his only clear lap of the day up to that point. On Lap 5 (of 10) he went for an inside pass in Turn 4. He made the pass, but there was a bit of contact which put the other kart in the grass momentarily. Peter went on for the win, recording his personal best lap time on Bridgestone tires in this class in the process (51.54). Afterwards, Peter tried to apologize for the contact in Turn 4, but the other competitor and his dad (not necessarily in that order) were quite upset. I'm not sure why they expected Peter to soldier around behind when he was clearly much faster. I suppose that championship battles at the end of the season bring this out in people.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were 11 karts in Conor's class last Sunday. One was a 'sometime' competitor who has focused mainly on regional and national events in the latter part of the season and will not have raced in enough MSOKC events to qualify for the championship. From the fifth position in his first heat race, Conor gained a position at the start and ran in fourth for the first four laps (of eight). The leader got away while the next three ran nose-to tail. Conor was in the right place when the two in front of him battled a bit too hard and he was able to pass both of them between Turns 5 and 6. He pulled away and finished second. Conor's seventh starting position in his second heat turned into fifth when one of the karts ahead of him developed engine trouble on the formation lap. Conor's row made a much better start than the outside row, and Conor found himself in third on the first lap. He made a pass for second on the next lap. The leader was holding Conor up a bit, and while he was looking for a way to pass, the sometime competitor began to pressure Conor. He made an aggressive pass in Turn 3 that allowed two other karts to pass Conor. What looked like might be a heat race win (and pole position for the feature) ended up being fourth as the result. There was really only one development in the feature, but it was a big one. Conor started in third and held his position at the start. In Turn 6 on the first lap, the leader, who is one of Conor's closest competitors in the championship (new tires, too, but after both practice sessions), made a mistake and went into the grass. This promoted Conor to second and dropped the competitor to last. Conor pressured the new leader (the sometimes competitor) to the end but eventually finished second.

NEXT RACE – Peter extended his championship lead by a single point on Sunday, although there were some hard feelings about his feature race pass. I hope that these will have subsided by the time of the MSOKC season finale, which is a qualifying format event on Sunday, October 5, 2008, at CRP. Conor is back in the lead in his class as the result of an excellent performance on his part and some miscues on the part of his closest competitors. One made an unfortunately-timed mistake, and the other never came to grips with running a new chassis. It wasn't necessarily the chassis itself, which is a proven winner. It seemed to be switching so late in the season. There are always teething problems with a new package, and they certainly seemed to have their share on Sunday. Both Peter and Conor lead the championship in their classes, but only by slim margins, so the season finale should be an exciting one.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=360192

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Picture from New Castle Motorsports Park

Here is a picture that was taken by a professional photographer during the Zoom-Zoom Nationals at New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Indiana (click to enlarge). We bought an 8 by 10 color glossy for Conor.

Photo Courtesy of On Track Promotions - http://www.otp.ca/.

Bill

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 10 – Sunday, September 7, 2008

NEWS – It’s been an interesting week and a half since Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 10, which was a reverse direction (clockwise) event at Circleville Raceway Park a week ago Sunday. Hurricane Ike blew through central Ohio last Sunday taking many trees, tree limbs, and power lines with it. We were without power for two days and many are still without power. The boys had their third consecutive day off of school today. Race No. 10 was the first of three ‘bonus points’ races, which are intended to encourage participation late in the season. Conor and I broke down and did a test session at CRP during the week leading up to Race No. 10 in an effort to rediscover the chassis settings that gave us the excellent lap times he was able to run earlier in the season. The track conditions were less than ideal, so it was difficult to determine more than what seemed to work best.

PRACTICE – Peter ran well in his first practice session on Sunday. It sprinkled just prior to his second session, so he didn’t bother to go back out after the sprinkles subsided. Conor ran a full complement of laps in his first practice session, but just two laps in his second session to save his tires.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – Peter ran with three other karts on Sunday, but one was a visitor and inadvertently registered in the wrong class, which was combined with Peter’s class anyway. Peter lined up for his first heat race on the outside of the front row. He went side-by-side with the pole sitter through Turn 10 (the first turn when running the reverse direction) which put him on the inside for Turn 9. He established himself in the lead on the run to Turn 8. While the pole sitter nipped at his heels all the way to the finish, Peter went on to record another heat race win. He somehow got lined up in fourth for his second heat race. He should have lined up third, but there was some confusion caused by the presence of the visiting kart. Peter was delayed at the start by another regular in his class. He made his way up to second on Lap 2, but could not catch the leader. From the outside of the front row in his feature race, Peter timed the start well and went side-by-side through the first few turns again. These two were still battling for the lead as the came onto the long back straightaway. There was a fairly significant tailwind blowing down the back straightaway at several times during the day (a sign of things to come a week later?). Peter’s data acquisition system normally records engine RPMs in the 5800 to 5900 range. In his second heat, he recorded a 6500 RPM, indicating a much higher top speed than normal. The other kart misjudged his braking point as the result of this and spun as he drew up along side of Peter in Turn 5. This allowed Peter to cruise home to another feature race win, his fourth in seven races this year in this class.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were just enough karts in Conor’s class (10) to invoke the new eight lap heat race rule. It didn’t matter for Conor in his first heat race, however. After settling in from his fourth starting position, Conor dropped a wheel off of the edge of the track while trying to make a pass on Lap 3 and broke a sprocket and a chain, which left him stranded by the side of the track. One other kart had dropped out earlier, so he finished ninth. From the sixth starting position in his second heat, he battled hard to work his way up to fourth at the finish. His lap times and top speed were not quite what we had hoped for after the changes we made during our practice session earlier in the week. We have since attributed this to a problem with his clutch, which we were aware of on Sunday, but had discounted its significance. In his feature race, starting from sixth, he worked his way up to fifth by mid-distance but could not get around several karts he normally has little trouble getting around. While the leader got away, there was an exciting three-way battle going on for second ahead of Conor, who finished fifth.

NEXT RACE – Peter once again extended his championship lead by several points on Sunday. Conor’s results for the day produced the lowest number of championship points for him this season. Only the best nine of 12 finishes count toward the championship, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. Fortunately, his closest rival was not the one who got away in the feature and only established a lead of one point over Conor in the championship. Unfortunately, the one who did get away closed the gap to Conor to one point. So with two races to go, two points separate the top three in Conor’s class. Since Peter will have just the minimum number of races to be eligible for the championship in his class (he started the season in another class), he will have to maintain his consistency if he is going to end up on top. For Conor, we’re hoping that a clutch rebuild and a new set of tires will return him to his winning ways. With the top three that close however, anything can happen. MSOKC Race No. 11 is Sunday, September 21, 2008, at CRP.

Bill

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 9 – Saturday, August 23, 2008

NEWS – Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 9 was the seventh day of karting for us in the past 15. It also represented the last race of the season for Henry, who we moved into his dorm at Brown University in Providence over Labor Day weekend. His biggest complaint so far has been that they stop serving breakfast at 10:00 AM... An entire day of preparation was required to reconfigure Henry’s kart from his Commercial Point Grand Prix setup, Conor’s kart from his New Castle Motorsports Park setup, and Peter’s kart from the long layoff since MSOKC Race No. 8. This also involved dismounting and remounting 12 tires (four of which I got wrong and had to dismount and remount), which provided me with my exercise for the week.

PRACTICE – We decided to try some of the chassis settings on Conor’s kart that we learned at the Zoom-Zoom Nationals at NCMP for Race No. 9. He seemed to be comfortable with less bite in the front end, so we decided to give these settings a try. I also corrected a problem with Peter’s rear wheel size when I remounted his tires which resulted in excellent lap times for him during his practice sessions. Henry was content with minor tire pressure adjustments during his practice sessions and the maintenance I performed seemed to take care of the slight misfire at high rpm that he experienced at the Commercial Point Grand Prix.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – There were three karts in Peter’s class on Saturday, which were combined with one additional kart from the unrestricted junior class. In each of his heat races. Peter timed the start perfectly and pulled away to dominant victories. This earned him the pole position for his feature race. He got the field rolling a bit early at the start of his feature, which allowed the kart on the outside to sling-shot around him as they crossed the start/finish line. His lap times had been up to a full second faster than the rest of the field, so it was only a matter of time before he would have a chance to reclaim the lead. This opportunity came a bit sooner than Peter expected. On Lap 1, the leader made a mess of Turn 4 and Peter’s momentum carried him over the rear end of the leading kart as they got onto the back straightaway. These two became tangled and came to a stop. Peter had to get out of his kart and lift his front end off of the rear of other kart before he could resume. The kart that had been in third place had gotten by without incident and had amassed a 25 second or so lead by this point. Peter put the hammer down and was catching the leader at a rate of about one to two seconds per lap. That would not be enough in a 10 lap race, however. The leader made a mistake on Lap 9, which allowed Peter to close the gap to within striking distance. Had the race been one lap longer, I’m sure that Peter would have pulled off the remarkable comeback. The margin of victory was 0.337 seconds.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – For classes of 10 or more karts, the MSOKC Board of Directors voted to change heat races from six laps to eight laps to allow faster karts that start towards the rear more time to make their way to the front. Conor’s class consisted of 10 karts on Saturday, so they got 8/8/10 as opposed to 6/6/10. Conor started from the pole position in his first heat. He led the first two laps but got a little wide on the exit of 10 on Lap 2 and was passed. He ran in second to the finish. Conor made a great start from the back of the field in his second heat and was up to sixth by the end of in Lap 1. He lost a position on Lap 3 and then gained two on Lap 4 and another two on Lap 5. At this point, the two remaining karts in front of him were holding him up. On Lap 6, he made an unsuccessful attempt to pass for second, which ended up with him and the kart behind him in the grass. He fell to seventh but recovered to finish sixth. The heat race finishes resulted in three karts tied for the second starting position for the feature. Conor ended up with the short end of the stick and started fourth. The outside row lagged behind the inside row at the start, but the flagman threw the green flag anyway, which resulted in Conor ending up fifth at the end of Lap 1. He made his way up to fourth on Lap 3 but then got stuck while the leaders got away. Conor, who had been on the bumper of the kart in front of him for six laps, made a dive to the inside in Turn 4 on Lap 10 after the kart in front of him made a small bobble in Turn 3. He made the pass, albeit with a bit of contact, pulled away from the kart that had been holding him up, and finished third. We learned soon afterwards that Conor had been assessed a one position penalty for ‘rough driving’, which dropped him back to fourth. The irony in this is that we had been advised earlier in the season that we needed to get Conor some experience at the national level so that he could learn to be more assertive. When we did this, and he used what he had learned, he ended up getting a penalty. Go figure…

80cc SHIFTER – Henry had a relatively uneventful day on Saturday. He started fifth of nine karts in his class in his first heat. He lost two positions on Lap 2 and gained one on Lap 6 to finish sixth. In his second heat, again starting from fifth, he made one pass on Lap 3 and finished fourth. The heat races did an excellent job of sorting the karts out by their relative speed, because in the feature, there were no passes in the entire field except for a retirement towards the rear on Lap 9. Henry started fifth and ran there to the finish. His fastest lap was a bit better than the fourth place kart, but not by enough to do anything with it.

NEXT RACE – In spite of Peter’s mishap, he ended up extending his championship lead by several points. Conor’s results dropped him into a tie for the championship lead in his class. For MSOKC Race No. 10, which is another reverse direction (clockwise) event at Circleville Raceway Park is this coming Sunday (September 7, 2008), we will put some of the bite back into the front end of Conor’s kart. In the mean time, Henry will be busy manning the new Bruce Brothers Racing East Coast operation.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=347315

Monday, August 25, 2008

2008 Commercial Point Grand Prix and Zoom-Zoom Nationals

NEWS – MSOKC Race No. 9 was this past weekend, which made six days of kart racing in a span of 15 days for us. The 2008 Commercial Point Grand Prix was a two day event on August 9-10. Both Henry and Conor participated. The following weekend, Conor participated in Round 5 of the World Karting Association George Kugler/Bridgestone Manufacturer’s Cup Series Driven By Mazda (a.k.a. the Zoom-Zoom Nationals) at New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Indiana, which was a three day event. If you count the day we spent at Circleville Raceway Park doing rental karts with some of Peter’s friends for his birthday celebration, that makes seven days of karting in the past 15.

COMMERCIAL POINT GRAND PRIX – The CPGP is a street race through the town of Commercial Point, Ohio, that benefits the Jackson Township Fireman's Association. As in previous years, qualifying and merchandise races were on Saturday and trophy and a 'pro' race for Henry were on Sunday.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry’s class consisted of 10 karts. Prior to the first practice session, we switched to the gear ratio that Henry used last year and narrowed the rear track to cope with a racing surface with very little rubber laid down. Henry was pleased with his setup and we made very few additional changes during the remainder of the weekend. Lap times from the second practice session set the starting order for the 15 lap merchandise races on Saturday. Henry’s best lap (32.411 seconds) was fourth fastest in his class but only 0.002 seconds faster than the fifth place kart. Henry got a good start in his merchandise race and ran in fourth for the first two laps. Two karts muscled their way past on Lap 3. On Lap 12, the second place kart became confused during a local yellow flag incident and assumed the checked flag had flown. He pulled off on the next lap, which promoted Henry to fifth, which is where he finished. Starting from fifth in his trophy race on Sunday, Henry got away a little bit slowly but was back up to fifth by Lap 2. He gained another position when one of the karts in front of him pushed too hard and ended up in the hay bales. He ran in fourth to the finish. Finishing positions from the trophy races set the starting order for the 20 lap pro race. Henry got away well again and ran in fourth for the first six laps. The two leaders pulled away and Henry was the meat in a three kart sandwich. On Lap 7 Henry made a good run through Turn 6 and was able to make a pass at the end of the long front straightaway, where speeds approach 75 mph in this class. Henry’s engine had developed a slight misfire at high rpm on Saturday. We made some changes that seemed to correct the problem early on Sunday, but the misfire returned late in Henry’s pro race. He adjusted by short-shifting a bit, but he was not able to pull away from is two closest pursuers. He was fast enough to hold on to third position, however, which earned him a cool $100 in prize money.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Conor raced in the CPGP in 2006 before the track layout was shortened from a 0.6 mile nine turn circuit to a very fast 0.5 mile six-turn circuit. The karts in his class this year are much faster than his previous class and there are a lot more of them – 10 for the CPGP. Conor tends to acclimate quickly however, which was evident in practice and qualifying. His qualifying time (34.151) earned him the pole position for his merchandise race by nearly half a second. Unlike our club races where this class uses a rolling start, the CPGP uses a Le Mans style start there the karts line up at an angle along the side of the track and start from a dead stop. Conor’s kart did not get away well and the second place starter was the first to reach Turn 1. Conor was right on his tail for the first eight lap and was finally able to make a pass for the lead at the end of the long front straightaway on Lap 9. These two had established quite a lead by that point. Conor pulled out a bit of a lead over the second place kart and held on for a comfortable victory. In spite of strategy discussions and a clutch adjustment, the start of Conor’s trophy race on Sunday was a carbon copy of his start on Saturday. It only took him two laps to make a move at the end of the long front straightaway this time, however. From where I stood for the races all weekend, you can’t see the karts again until they re-appear in Turn 6. I was surprised to see Conor still in second the next time around, but even more surprised to see a different leader! I later learned that the previous leader had tried to re-pass Conor in Turn 3 and ended up in the hay bales. This slowed Conor a bit, which let the other kart get by. There was a red flag incident on Lap 5 for another kart that went into the hay bales hard. This bunched everyone back up at the re-start. Two laps after the re-start, Conor again rounded Turn 6 in second, but again there was a different leader! I’m still not sure how this happened, and it doesn’t really matter, because the next time around, Conor was in the lead. The previous leader had dropped to third, which allowed Conor to open up a gap over the next few laps. The second and third place karts switched places on lap 12, but Conor managed the gap to perfection, pushing just hard enough to claim a clean sweep for the weekend. A local video journalist for WBNS 10TV News followed Conor around all day on Sunday. The 90 second segment aired Sunday evening. In addition to some nice coverage of Conor's trophy race, it focused on the family-based nature of kart racing. The segment can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iby9mrGS6Z8.

ZOOM ZOOM NATIONALS – We had decided prior to the CPGP that we would enter Conor in the final WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Series event of the season. NCMP is a beautiful kart racing facility located about 30 miles east of Indianapolis. Our primary objective was to learn as much as we could and to have Conor experience racing with the fastest guys in the country in his class. Conor and I left Friday morning at 6:00 AM for the Friday practice day and Peter and Laura joined us on Saturday. Saturday’s line up included the ‘Heavy’ version of Conor’s class (320 lbs minimum) and Sunday included the ‘Lite’ version (305 lbs). There were 47 karts entered in Conor’s class each day. The top 25 from the timed qualifying session transfer to the main and the remainder go to the ‘last chance qualifier”, which is a six lap consolation race. The top five from the LCQ transfer to the main, making up the 30 kart field. Our goal for both days was to make it into the main. When we arrived on Friday, we were assigned a factory technician from Margay (Conor’s chassis manufacturer) to help us with setup and anything else we needed. Conor did well acclimating to the new track and our setup wasn’t too bad. On Saturday, Conor posted the 24th fastest qualifying time, which put him into the main event. In his pre-final, which would set the starting positions for the main, he advanced to 19th on Lap 1 and to 14th on Lap 2. Most of this was due to attrition, but he seemed to be finding his groove. He lost a position on the next lap and then fell to 28th when he dropped a wheel into the dirt in the corner leading onto the very long back straightaway. The ‘draft’ is big at New Castle, and if you don’t get a good run leading up to the long straightaway, you get passed like you are standing still. He wasn’t able to recover from this and ended up finishing 29th. In the main, he made up a few positions before becoming involved in an incident that resulted in a bent steering spindle, after which he had to drop out. We thought we had made some positive changes for Sunday, but in qualifying, the best Conor could do was 36th. This put him into LCQ, which turned out to be a good thing. Starting 7th, he made his way up to as high as 2nd before finishing 4th, which again put him into the main. This was a big confidence boost for Conor, who is not used to finishing in the back of the pack. He made up several places in the pre-final, which still put him near the back for the start of the main. The first few laps of the main again went well, but he again found himself involved in an incident. This time, the nose of his kart was deranged. We had talked beforehand about just completing all 12 laps, which he did, albeit at the rear with no one to draft with. So, we met our goal of qualifying for the main both days, and learned a lot in the process which was our objective. Hopefully, some of what we learned will benefit us during the final four Mid Start of Ohio Kart Club races of the season.

NEXT RACE – MSOKC Race No. 9 was this past weekend (details to follow). Both Peter and Conor entered Race No. 9 leading the championship in their classes, but a lot can happen in four races. In the mean time, Peter and Conor have started back to school (7th and 10th grade, respectively). Race No. 9 was the last race of the season for Henry, who is getting prepared to head off to college at the end of the month.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=341467 and http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=346565

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Local News Coverage of Commercial Point Grand Prix

A video journalist followed us around on Sunday during the Commercial Point Grand Prix. The 90 second segment aired Sunday evening. In addition to some nice coverage of Conor's feature race, it focused on the family-based nature of kart racing. The segment can be seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iby9mrGS6Z8

Full coverage of our CPGP will follow soon.

Bill

Monday, August 4, 2008

Schedule for 2008 Commercial Point Grand Prix

The schedule for the 2008 Commercial Point Grand Prix, which is August 9 and 10, 2008, is shown below. Conor's class is 'Yamaha Jr.' and Henry's class is '80cc Shifter'.

2008 Commercial Point Grand Prix
Schedule of Events

Saturday
7:00 a.m Gates Open
8:00 a.m Registration opens
10:15 a.m Drivers Meeting
11:00 a.m- 2:30 p.m Open Practice by class. 2 rounds second round as qualifier
2:30 p.m-3:30 p.m Flags of Honor and National Anthem
3:30 p.m Merchandise Races Start
1. Kid Karts
2. Briggs Animal Med.
3. T.A.G
4. Yamaha Super Can Lite
5. Yamaha Jr.
6. 125 Shifter
7. Briggs Animal Hvy
8. Yamaha Jr. Sportsman
9. Yamaha Can Hvy
10. 80cc Shifter
11. Rental Kart Class
Merchandise awards to follow

Sunday
7:00 a.m Gates Open
8:00 a.m Registration Opens
8:30 a.m Drivers briefing
9:00 a.m – 11:00 a.m Open Practice by Class, one round
12:00 p.m –Trophy Races
1. Kid Karts
2. Briggs Animal Med.
3. T.A.G
4. Yamaha Super Can Lite
5. Yamaha Jr.
6. 125 Shifter
7. Briggs Animal Hvy
8. Yamaha Jr. Sportsman
9. Yamaha Can Hvy
10. 80cc Shifter
1/2 hour break following Trophy Races Pro Races to follow
1. T.A.G Pro Race
2. Yamaha Can Hvy Pro Race
3. 80cc Shifter Pro Race
4. Briggs Animal Hvy Pro Race
Following Pro Races, Awards Ceremony

Bill

Friday, August 1, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 8 – July 26, 2008 – Disaster Averted

NEWS – We spent the week preceding Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 8 in Kansas City visiting family after having taken Conor to Iowa City to see Dr. Menezes. Much to his delight, Dr. Menezes received his very own full-size version of Conor’s ‘Ice Man’ poster. Henry decided to stay in Kansas City with Laura for a few extra days (we had taken two cars – a long story), so Race No. 8 was a two kart affair for Bruce Brothers Racing, and the first that Laura has missed since we began this adventure in 2003. Peter’s original set of Bridgestone tires are in good shape but Conor’s were marginal. Although we have a new set for him in the trailer, we decided to try to get another race out of his original set, which turned out to be a big mistake. It ended up working out okay in the end, but it made for a frustrating evening of racing. Race No. 8 had been scheduled as a normal heat race format event but was changed to qualifying format to make up for problems experienced with the AMB timing system from Race No. 7.

PRACTICE – Race No. 8 was a Saturday night event under the lights at Circleville Raceway Park. We arrived at the track about an hour early to allow Conor to break in his d engine and clutch, which had both been freshly rebuilt. Peter and Conor are now almost identical in height and weight, so this also allowed us to have Conor take a few laps in Peter’s kart. Conor was about a second per lap faster than Peter and he suggested some changes to make Peter’s kart faster. We tried some of these, but they didn’t seem to suit Peter’s driving style, so we migrated back to his original setup throughout the day. Conor’s engine break-in was straightforward, but it took a while to get the clutch engagement speed set correctly. Saturday was hot and humid, so lap times for everyone seemed to be down a bit from what they had been. The exception to this was one kart in Conor’s class, who had bolted on a new set of tires for the final practice session and went about a second per lap faster than everyone else. Conor complained of a lack of front end grip, which was preventing him from turning into the corners effectively (i.e., he had a big ‘push’). This set us off on a series on radical chassis changes that seemed to have an incremental beneficial effect, but never did get us to where we wanted to be. Once the qualifying sessions begin, the rules prevent changing tires, so we were stuck at that point.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – There were three karts in Peter’s class again on Saturday. Peter easily had the fastest lap time in his qualifying session, which put him on the pole for the start of his heat race. The outside position on the front row is sometimes a better place to be at CRP. To prevent the ‘slingshot effect’ coming out of Turn 10 by the outside pole sitter, Peter brought the ‘field’ around very slowly for the start, and only mashed the throttle after everyone was fully onto the front straightaway. This worked perfectly and Peter led his heat race from start to the finish, but the margin of victory was only 1.55 seconds after six laps. Peter was able repeat this performance under the lights in his feature race, which was shortened from 10 to 8 laps to make up for a rain delay earlier in the day, resulting in another perfect 1-1-1 day of racing. His margin of victory in the feature was a slightly more comfortable 2.15 seconds

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were 10 karts in Conor’s class on Saturday. Conor’s practice lap times weren’t looking so hot, so we were a bit anxious about the qualifying session, which was split into two groups of five karts each. Conor went out in the first group and could do no better than the fourth fastest time. Fortunately, no one in the second group could do any better, so fourth is where Conor started his heat race. He was able to improve to third at the start, but then came under pressure from the fourth place kart on Lap 3. While doing his best to maintain his position, Conor locked up the rear brakes entering Turn 3 on Lap 4 and had a lazy spin. He lost four positions in the process but was able to make one up on Lap 6 to finish sixth. A fourth and a sixth place finish were somehow good enough for a fourth place feature race starting position. Sometimes it takes a few laps around the oval to get this many karts lined up properly for the start and sometimes it doesn’t. The flagman liked what he saw the second time around and threw the green flag, apparently to the surprise of the pole sitter (and Conor’s main championship rival). Fortunately, Conor was lined up in the other row, one kart back . Conor was not only able to get around the third place starter, he was able to pull along side the pole sitter through Turns 1 and 2. This put Conor on the inside for Turn 3. Conor held his line, but the pole sitter refused to yield and ended up spinning through the grass as the result. This action also separated Conor and the leader from the pack by a small margin, which was all that Conor needed to hold on to second place all the way to the finish. What could have been a disaster of a day for Conor (championship-wise) ended up turning out okay. And, his new tires were saved for another race day…

NEXT RACE – Next up for Bruce Brothers Racing is the Commercial Point Grand Prix (http://www.cpgrandprix.com/), a race through the streets of the village of Commercial Point, Ohio, on August 9-10, 2008. There are classes for Henry and Conor, but no class for Peter again this year. Conor will race on Saturday and Sunday and Henry will race on Saturday and twice on Sunday. This really is a fun event, so if you have an inclination, I would encourage you to attend. Admission is free, but pit passes are required for access to the behind-the-scene activities (us eating lunch, etc.). There are food vendors, beer wagons, etc., and all proceeds benefit the Scioto Township Firemen’s Association. Commercial Point is located about 13.5 miles south-southwest of Columbus, just south of Grove City.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=334977

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MSOKC Race Nos. 6 and 7 – July 12 and 13, 2008 – Double Header

NEWS – Circleville Raceway Park hosted the first Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club double header (back-to-back events on the same weekend) in quite some time on July 12 and 13, 2008. Both were supposed to involve timed qualifying sessions, but thunderstorms knocked out the AMB timing system on Saturday night, so Sunday’s event used the normal heat race format. To mix things up, Saturday’s race was run in the regular (counter-clockwise) direction and Sunday’s was run in the reverse direction. The annual MSOKC ‘Hog Roast’ followed the race on Saturday.

PRACTICE – Henry was back with us for Race Nos. 6 and 7 after returning from two weeks in the UK visiting family and friends for his high school graduation present. Practice for Race No. 6 was his first opportunity to try the new the new club-spec Bridgestone tires. Conor broke in a new brake disk that we installed to replace the one he chipped during practice for Race No. 5. Peter re-acclimated to the lighter brake system that we used last year.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – There were three karts in Peter’s class on Saturday and four on Sunday. On Saturday, Peter easily had the fastest lap time in his qualifying session, which put him on the pole for the start of his heat race, which he led from start to the finish. As his class was being lined up for the feature, it began to sprinkle. After a short delay, Peter’s and the remainder of the day’s feature races were called off, with finishing positions being awarded according to earned starting position, which gave Peter the win.

On Sunday, Peter started his first heat race from the pole position and led every lap for another heat race win. In his second heat race, starting from fourth, he worked his way into second position by Lap 4. Peter latched onto the tail of the leader and applied pressure all the way to the checkered flag, but could not find a way past. The first few laps of the feature were much the same, except that Peter did manage to make a pass to take the lead entering Turn 5 on Lap 6. Two laps later, the favor was returned, however, which resulted in a second place finish for Peter.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were a season-high 15 karts in Conor’s class on both Saturday and Sunday. We seemed to be a bit down on pace during practice on Saturday, and this showed during Conor’s qualifying session where he qualified sixth. Fourth through seventh positions were separated by less than 0.1 second. We made some changes for his heat race, which seemed to help. Conor made one pass at the start and another entering Turn 5 on Lap 3. The second pass resulted in some contact, which allowed the other kart to retake the position in Turn 6. Conor repeated the move on Lap 5, making it stick this time, for a fourth place finish. Unfortunately, Conor would not have an opportunity to improve any further, as the feature race in his class was also a victim of the rain, which resulted in another fourth place finish for Conor.

On Sunday, the possibility of a big pile up was a real one with 15 karts starting from a random order, but fortunately there were few incidents all day. Conor started his first heat race from the eighth position. He made two great passes and finished sixth. From the seventh starting position in his second heat, he actually lost a position at the start, but then starting picking off karts at about one per lap. By the time the checkered flag flew, he was up to fourth. A sixth and a fourth were good enough for the second starting position for the feature. He timed the start perfectly and was in the lead by the second corner (Turn 9 going backwards). The first five karts, with Conor in the lead, broke away from the remainder of the field by about Lap 4. Conor could stretch it out a bit in the faster places, only to have the others reel him back in coming out of the slower corners. There was obviously more than one gear ratio strategy being used on Sunday. I thought that Conor was going to be able to hang on for the win, but on Lap 8, the second place kart got a good run coming out of Turn 3 and dove under Conor in Turn 1. The top three separated a bit after that and finished in that order.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry’s class had 10 karts on Saturday and a disappointing six karts on Sunday. He was liking the Bridgestone tires after his qualifying session on Saturday, where he posted the second fastest qualifying time. After getting a reasonable start in his heat race, but began to struggle a bit and ended up finishing fourth. Henry’s class and several others were the only ones to get their feature race completed before the rain came on Saturday. In his feature, where Henry lined up third, the flagman held the green flag for an inordinately long amount of time to make sure several ‘creepers’ would come to a complete stop. Henry managed to stall his engine when the green flag finally flew. After giving himself a push start, he worked from about a third of a lap back to catch and pass several karts and eventually finished seventh.

On Sunday, Henry started his first heat race from the fourth position and finished fifth. We discovered a broken seat-mounting bracket, which may have been the cause of some of his handling difficulties, and managed to get this re-welded without missing a session. In his second heat race, starting from third, he got a good start and managed to finish where he started. He started his feature race from the fourth position, lost a spot at the start, but was able to make it up on Lap 4 when the kart in front of him went wide in Turn 5. In the later stages of the feature, his lap times were on par with his qualifying time on Saturday, so we’re hoping that the repaired seat-mounting bracket did the trick.

NEXT RACE – We’re in Kansas City visiting family this week after having taken Conor to Iowa City for a belated one-year follow-up appointment with Dr. Menezes. I am happy to report that Conor got a clean bill of health. The same cannot be said for my car, which we had to leave in Peoria, Illinois, for a water pump and timing belt replacement. We’ll return the rental car and pick up my car on Friday, after which we will head home. Conor’s engine will be waiting for us to re-install Friday evening after having been freshened-up at the engine builder. The following day, Saturday, July 27, 2008, is MSOKC Race No. 8, another night race under the lights at CRP.

Bill
p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=329961 (Race No. 6) and http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=331279 (Race No. 7)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 5 – June 22, 2008



NEWS – It’s been a busy couple of weeks since MSOKC Race No. 5, which was the first reverse-direction race of the 2008 Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club season. It was also the first race where the new club-spec Bridgestone tires were required. Henry missed this race, as he was in the UK visiting family and friends for his high school graduation present.

PRACTICE – Conor had used the new Bridgestone tires during the Great Lakes Sprint Series race he ran back in April. They’re supposed to be a bit more durable than the Vega tires we’ve used for the past few seasons, but we found that they are about a half second or so slower per lap at Circleville Raceway Park. We arrived a bit earlier than usual so that both boys could re-acclimate to the reverse direction during open practice. Conor pushed a bit too hard and had an innocent-looking spin that resulted in a broken chain, a bent sprocket hub, and a chipped disc brake rotor. We managed to make the necessary repairs to the chain and sprocket in time for the organized class practices and decided that the brake rotor would last throughout the day. Peter enjoys the reverse direction races and had no problem coming to grips with the Bridgestone tires.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – Peter's class had one new participant, but two of the regulars did not show up, so there were only three karts for Race No. 5. Peter timed the rolling starts great all day. From the second position in the first heat, be pulled out a bit of a lead over the first two laps. The kart that appears to be is main competition in this class closed the gap by mid distance and passed Peter going into Turn 4 on Lap 4. Peter managed to lead from flag to flag in the second heat. In the feature, which was shortened from 10 to 8 laps because of the threat of rain, Peter once again pulled out a bit of a lead only to have the gap closed up by mid distance. He managed to hold on this time, however. We’re looking forward to when there is a full complement of karts in this class.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were 10 karts in Conor’s class for Race No. 5. Some of Conor’s success this season has been the result of our using Vega tires for the first four races. Others chose to start the season on Bridgestone tires in anticipation of the remainder of the season. Conor started his first heat from the second position and ran there to the finish, at about 0.4 seconds per lap off of the pace of the eventual winner. Starting from seventh in his second heat, he picked up two positions on Lap 1, another on Lap 3, and another on Lap 4. The winner of the first heat had run into trouble at the start, so a second and a third would have given him the pole position for the feature. He was clearly faster than the second place kart, but these two tangled when Conor went for an inside pass going into Turn 4. Conor lost two positions and finished fifth. Fourth is where he lined up for the feature. After holding his position at the start, he was a bit more patient this time. He made a pass for third on Lap 4 and another on Lap 5. The eventual winner had gotten away by that time and continued to extend his lead, so Conor finished second. The eventual winner is doing mostly national and regional races this year and will not compete for the MSOKC championship, so they forfeited the win to Conor when they learned that we were going to have to tear down the top end of the engines in post-race technical inspection, which they decided was not worth their trouble.

NEXT RACE – Henry has since returned and will participate in Race Nos. 6 and 7, which are back-to-back events on the same weekend – July 12 and 13, 2008. Both will involve timed qualifying sessions as opposed to the normal heat race format. Race No. 6 is in the regular direction and Race No. 7 is another reverse direction race. The annual MSOKC ‘Hog Roast’ will follow Race No. 6 on Saturday. The week after this, we will head to Iowa City for a belated one-year follow-up appointment for Conor with Dr. Menezes and then on to Kansas City to visit family.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=321513

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 4 – June 7, 2008 – Three Deuces

NEWS – Henry’s high school graduation was the Sunday preceding MSOKC Race No. 4, which was a Saturday night race under the lights. My, how time flies… His challenge for the past few weeks has been to plot the most efficient course through a sea of graduation parties. We decided the day before the race to reconfigure Peter’s kart back to the class he competed in last year so that he would have other karts to race against. Conor’s kart got a new rear axle and some scheduled preventative maintenance.

PRACTICE – We arrived early on Saturday to allow Peter to re-acclimate to the Briggs Sportsman configuration. He was immediately on the pace. Ironically, a new competitor showed up for the class in which he had been competing. While tuning Conor’s kart for his new axle, I was a little over-aggressive with the hex key and broke one of his wheel hubs. Thankfully, one of our fellow competitors had a new pair that we were able to buy. Henry’s practice sessions were trouble free.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – This class had four karts in it (without Peter) for Race No. 3. One was a visitor, but two of the regulars did not show up on Saturday, which began oppressively hot and humid with a significant possibility of rain. So, Peter was once again in a class with only two karts. From pole position in the first heat, he won easily while recording lap times that were almost as fast as he went last year. Between heats, he complained of a headache. Tylenol seemed to help, but it was all he could do to get into the kart for his second heat. He plodded around behind the eventual winner and collapsed upon returning to the pits. After his last-day-of-school pool party on Thursday, all day at Kings Island amusement park in the scorching heat with his band group on Friday, up early on Saturday to help prepare for race day, and racing in the heat, exhaustion finally caught up with him. Laura had just arrived and decided to take him home and put him to bed. We arranged for a substitute driver to take the green flag for him in the feature so that he would at least earn points for his efforts. He rested most of the day on Sunday and was back to his usual cheery self on Monday.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Conor’s class had a big turnout on Saturday in spite of the possibility of rain and the hot and humid conditions. He started his first heat race from the pole position (of eleven) and motored off into the distance. The margin of victory was 7 seconds. From the ninth starting position in his second heat, he gained a position at the start and two more on Lap 2. He then caught up with a group that was battling for position among themselves. After several passing attempts, he seemed to be content staying out of trouble. A first and a sixth earned him the third starting position for the feature, which he maintained at the start. He pushed the second place kart hard and was able to make the pass in Turn 10 on Lap 5. He caught the leader at the beginning of Lap 10. This slowed his pace a bit and allowed the third place kart to catch up. These three finished nose-to tail that way.

80cc SHIFTER – The random computer draw had Henry starting both of his heat races from mid-pack (of nine). He got a great standing start in the first heat, but the kart in front of him did not. Henry’s left front made hard contact with the other kart’s right rear, but only one position was lost. He made up the position on the first lap, but his lap times were slowed by a bent steering rod. He held on to finish fifth. He got a great start from fourth in his second heat and was up to second by Turn 3. He ran there to the finish while keeping the eventual winner in his sights. He started from fourth again in the feature. His start was benefited by the absence of one of the front row starters, who was missing as the result of ignition problems on the warm-up lap. When the green flag flew, he was able to squeeze in front of the third place starter and again found himself in second. He could not quite pressure the leader, but did not receive pressure from behind either. They ran that way to the finish.

NEXT RACE – Conor’s results were good enough to put him back in the championship lead in his class and Henry’s were good enough to keep him there in his. We made the switch for Peter in time for him to be eligible for the championship in his ‘new’ class, but he has some catching up to do. We also need to keep him healthy, as he cannot miss a race now and still be eligible for the championship. Henry’s graduation present will have him in the UK with his friend Will Leister during MSOKC Race No. 5, which is a reverse direction race on Sunday, June 22, 2008. They will visit Henry’s cousin Sarah in London before taking a train to St. Andrews in Scotland to hang out with friends they made during a student exchange program earlier in the year. Race No. 5 will be the first time the new Bridgestone club-spec tires will be required, which we have now but have little experience with.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=314697

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 3 – May 24, 2008 – No Go, No Stop

NEWS – A three week break preceded MSOKC Race No. 3, which was held on a Saturday to avoid the middle of the Memorial Day weekend. Life at the Bruce household has been hectic with end-of-school-year activities, so not much preparation occurred between races. Henry got new front tires, but that was about it. I had not even unloaded the trailer before installing Henry’s tires on Thursday. Earlier in the week, we received news that Henry had been accepted for admission at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Admission to Brown, which is a member of the Ivy League, is extremely competitive, so we were are extremely proud of Henry for this outstanding academic achievement. Orientation begins August 30 and classes start September 3.

PRACTICE – We managed to arrive at a reasonable time on Saturday, so practice started out routinely. Henry decided to use his practice rear tires while breaking in his new fronts. When we went to bolt his primary rears back on, we discovered a big chunk missing from one of his magnesium rims – a product of contact from his feature race incident in Race No. 2. Laura, who had not left home yet, agreed to bring a spare from the garage, but would not arrive in time to make the change prior to the start of Henry’s first heat. Henry seemed to like the balance with the old/new combination, and decided he would try to run the whole day like that, preserving his primary rears. Conor reported that a slight vibration that he originally reported after his feature in Race No. 2 was still persisting. Upon closer examination, we discovered that his rear axle was slightly bent. We rotated the rear wheel on the bent side to minimize the eccentricity and decide that this would get us through the day. Fortunately, Peter’s practice sessions were trouble free.

BRIGGS JUNIOR –Peter was the only one in his class again, but we did meet a dad and a son on Saturday who plan to join this class soon. Peter’s class was again combined with the class that he ran last year, which included the national points-leader in this class. They were visiting from Virginia in preparation for a WKA Hortsman Gold Cup national championship race at Circleville Raceway Park later this year. Peter took the lead and led every lap of the heat races and the feature in this combined class, but the national level guy was not far behind. We were happy that he had Peter as someone to keep in his sights.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Conor started his first heat race from the third position (of eight). He gained a spot in Turn 5 on the first lap and set out for the leader. He made several passing attempts over the next few laps but had to settle for second when he needed to defend his position from Lap 4 on. Conor’s fifth starting position in the second heat race seemed like a good place to be when the inside row got up to speed a little bit sooner than the outside row. On the exit of Turn 1, Conor and a kart from the outside row made contact however, which sent the rear of Conor’s kart in the air momentarily. Conor kept his foot on the throttle and actually gained a position as the result. He was able to get around another kart in Turn 5 on the first lap. In Turn 7 of the following lap, the two karts in front touched which allowed Conor to slip into the lead. He held on for his second heat race win of the season. Back in the pits, he reported a big vibration. If his axle was slightly bent before, it was significantly bent now. We do not have a spare for this kart yet, but were able to borrow a slightly different spec axle from one of Conor’s competitors. We completed the work in plenty of time for the feature but had to make some guesses as to what other changes were necessary for the different spec (less stiff) axle. I had also made a brake adjustment during the change-over to address a brake pedal that was getting ‘long’. This ended up to be an inopportune time for this as Conor reported having no braking power in the first lap of his feature. He started from the pole position and maintained the lead through most of the first lap. I could tell something was not right when he did not pull away from the pack immediately. The first few karts behind Conor were right on his tail as they approached Turn 9. Conor, knowing he was holding them up and not knowing if his brakes would come back, went wide to let them through. The first kart through bumped Conor even wider and he began to slide on the ‘marbles’. Conor made a gallant effort to save it, but ended up backwards at a dead stop and in last place. He got going again and caught up with the tail-enders and passed two at about the mid-way point. He made his way up to the next two on Lap 7 and got by them in two consecutive turns. He had closed the majority of the gap to third place when the checkered flag flew. His best lap time in the feature was a 45.710, which is not his personal best. That was a 45.610 in the second heat, after he bent his axle. Maybe I should have left it alone…

80cc SHIFTER – Henry started his first heat race from outside the front row (second of nine). I had a feeling that he could win this heat race since some of the faster karts were starting from the rear. At the green flag, Henry began to roll immediately and appeared to be headed for the lead in the short run to Turn 1. That’s when it all went wrong. He lost all momentum and raised his hand as all the other karts when flying past. He came to a stop between Turns 1 and 2 and hopped out to survey the situation. The culprit ended up being a broken throttle cable. He hopped back in and puttered back to the pits while operating the throttle with his hand. The design of the throttle cable attachment point on this kart is not ideal, and we’ve had to fix a frayed cable several times over the past few years, but we had not checked it recently. A ninth place finish was the result. Henry made another great start in his second heat, promoting himself from seventh to sixth position. While pressuring the kart in front of him, he lost the position again on Lap 2. He was able to make up two more positions on Lap 4 and finished fifth. A ninth and a fifth resulted in a seventh place starting position for the feature. There was a lot of bumping and banging going on in front of Henry on Lap 1. As a result, he found himself up to fourth at the beginning of Lap 2. Henry and the kart in front of him were being held up by a kart that I knew would be disqualified at the end of the day for using non-club spec tires. The kart in front of Henry was able to get by on Lap 4. I was content to see Henry follow this other kart to the finish, but he apparently did not know about the tire issue. He pushed hard to the finish and was eventually promoted to third, which is not a bad way to end a day that started out poorly.

NEXT RACE – While Peter’s day was uneventful, Henry (no go) and Conor (no stop) had problems that were quite the opposite of each other. Both rebounded for respectable finishes, however. Conor will get a new axle for Race No. 4, which is the first night race of the season on Saturday, June 7, and Henry will get his throttle cable reconfigured. Hopefully, there will be at least two karts in Peter’s class. We also know now that Henry will miss the last three races of the season, which is a small price to pay for such an excellent education opportunity.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=308654

Friday, May 23, 2008

Henry to Attend Brown University

We received news earlier this week that Henry was accepted for admission at Brown University. Brown, which is a member of the Ivy League, is a private university located in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1764 and is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. US News & World Report has ranked Brown second in the country in excellence in undergraduate teaching. Admission to Brown is extremely competitive, with an overall admissions rate of 13.3% for the class of 2012. Congratulations to Henry for an outstanding academic achievement!

Bill

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 2 – May 4, 2008 – No Fluke, Two for Two

NEWS – With Conor’s strong return to action fresh on our mind, we decided to try a Great Lakes Sprint Series race for him in between MSOKC Race No. 1 and No. 2. There were three locals in Conor’s class and about eight others from around the Mid-West and beyond, including four really fast guys who consistently finish at the top in the national events. These four ran out front all day, so the best we could hope for was best-of-the rest honors. Conor qualified sixth and finished fifth in the heat race. Conor and two others were battling for fifth in the feature until Conor's clutch broke, which put him out. It was a good experience for Conor, but we’d have some work to do to compete at the front at that level. Preparations for MSOKC Race No. 2 included clutch repair for Conor, new brake pads for Henry, and switching tires around.

PRACTICE – Teenage boys can be difficult to get out of bed at 6:45 AM on Sunday, even on a race day. We got started a bit later than usual, which didn’t give us much contingency time in the event of a problem. And, of course, we had a problem in practice. An exhaust silencer bracket on Henry’s kart broke during his first session. We scrambled to fix this while continuing to get the other boys out for their practices, but were able to manage in the end without missing a session.

BRIGGS JUNIOR – Turnout for Peter’s class was again an issue on Sunday, but at least he wasn’t alone this time. A former club member who does mostly regional and national event joined us for Race No. 2. This ended up to be a valuable thing for Peter, who improved his lap times significantly with someone to chase down. Peter’s class was again combined with the class that he ran last year, which also had twice as many competitors (two karts). Peter got the jump at the start of his first heat and led by a small margin for the first lap. He conceded the lead about mid-way through Lap 2, after which he went to school on the faster kart. He fell into line at the start of his second heat and the feature and followed the faster kart to the finish. Early in the feature, he was actually applying pressure at several places around the track. His best lap time two weeks ago during Race No. 1 was 51.301 seconds. During race No. 2, his best lap time went from 50.124, to 49.953, to 49.739 seconds. At the end of the day, the other kart was disqualified for non-spec tires. We’re hoping for an even better turnout in this class for Race No. 3.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Conor’s class was well-attended again on Sunday – nine karts. He drew heat race starting positions towards the rear for the first and at the front for the second. In the first, he didn’t anticipate the green flag and dropped a position at the start (from sixth to seventh). He made up two positions early and another towards the end. He had just enough time left to catch the group in front of him, recording the fastest lap time in the process (45.793), but no time to do anything about it and finished fourth. At the start of his second heat, Conor tucked into second from outside the front row. He managed to get a good run through Turn 10 on the first lap and moved into the lead going into Turn 1. He motored off and again set the fastest lap time in the process. A fourth and a first were good enough for a front row starting position for the feature. This time, he timed the start perfectly and took the lead gong into Turn 1. The pole sitter applied pressure for the first lap and a half or so, and then began to drop back. By mid distance, Conor had a two second lead. Conor’s best lap was a 45.789 on Lap 6, which was easily the fastest lap of the feature. From there, he cruised to his second feature race win in a row. The margin of victory was 4.770 seconds.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry’s class had a bumper crop on Sunday – 12 karts. He started both of his heat races from the middle of the pack. He would like to forget both of his standing starts, however. In the first heat, he bogged the engine down with a heavy hand on the clutch and lost several positions while getting away. He made up one on each of the first two laps and another after a good battle towards the end to finish fifth. The start of his second heat was almost a carbon copy of the first. This time he was mired in the back of the pack and had trouble making his way forward. He eventually finished ninth, which combined with is first heat finish, resulted in a lowly seventh place starting position for the feature. “Just stay out of trouble and have fun” was the instruction I gave Henry for his feature. He got away well this time to maintain his position at the start. He inherited two positions on Lap 4 when two karts in front of him tangled. He inherited another spot when another kart pulled off with engine trouble on Lap 7. He had been pressuring the two karts in front of him for several laps. On Lap 8, the kart immediately in front of Henry got sideways going through Turn 1 which allowed Henry to pull along side. As the other kart was straitening up, they touched slightly (side to side) and the other kart went straight into the grass in Turn 2. He proceeded through the grass directly to Turn 4 where he re-entered the track ahead of both Henry and the other kart in this battle. The short-cutter let the other kart pass but stayed in front of Henry. They ran this way to the finish, with Henry in fourth and pointing to the kart in front of him each time they passed the head flagman. The race director initially ruled in favor of the other kart because Henry had not clearly completed the pass before the incident, and in his opinion, the other kart did not gain a position (i.e., first, second, third, etc.) on Henry. The race director changed his mind when we got the rule book out and read it. The rule pertaining to re-entering the track does not refer to 'gaining a position', it refers to 'gaining time or distance on the track', which the other kart clearly did on Henry. The other kart was put back one place in the finishing order (behind Henry). This became a moot point, however, when two of the karts that were ahead of Henry on the track were disqualified in post-race tech inspection for non-spec fuel, which promoted Henry to second.

NEXT RACE – So Conor is now two for two, proving that his Race No. 1 result was no fluke, and Henry has a pair of seconds to show for his efforts. We also managed to get Peter up to speed in Race No. 2. Our next race is on Memorial Day weekend, but it is on a Saturday (May 24, 2008) instead of Sunday to avoid the middle of the holiday weekend.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=301395

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sponsorship Announcement

I am pleased to announce that Loctite®, the world leader in the development and manufacture of high-performance adhesives, sealants, and chemical products, is now an official associate sponsor of Bruce Brothers Racing. Loctite® is best known in the motorsports industry for their line of thread-locking products, which are used to secure threaded connections.

Henry met the local representative of the Henkel Corporation (manufacturer of the Loctite® family of products) at the candy store several weeks ago and brokered the deal himself. We have since received a package containing a wide variety of Loctite® products, which we are finding extremely useful. These include thread-locker, adhesives, lubricants, sealer, and hand wipes.

In some of the recently-posted pictures, you may have noticed Loctite® logos prominently displayed on our karts. Knowing how useful these products are, we are proud to be "spokespeople" for the Loctite® brand.

Bill

Friday, April 25, 2008

Video Clip from MSOKC Race No. 1

A video clip from the mid-way point of the feature race in Conor’s class from MSOKC Race No. 1 is shown below. Conor’s is the silver/black kart out front. He is being followed closely by Angel Wilkinson (orange kart) and Zach Veach (green/white kart). This is about as far apart as they got.

video

Bill

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 1 – April 20, 2008

NEWS – The 2008 Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club season got off to a good start this past weekend with MSOKC Race No. 1 at Circleville Raceway Park. The weatherman had predicted a 50-percent chance of rain, but thankfully it held off until the early evening. Bruce Brother Racing managed to squeeze in one complete practice session two weeks before this event, and another one just for Conor the day before, so we were feeling at least somewhat prepared for the season opener. Henry and Peter re-acclimated easily during their single practice session. The only significant change for Henry was a rebuilt top end on his Honda CR 80 engine, so there was no drama there. We stepped Peter up a class for 2008, which involved a new engine with a bit more power than last year and a few chassis adjustments. He took his time coming to grips with these changes, which is Peter’s style. The big question was how Conor would adapt to a new kart after having been idle for nearly 18 months. His new kart is much faster than anything he has previously raced, and we would also have to overcome teething problems associated with unfamiliar equipment. On his first practice lap, he was ‘flat’ (didn’t lift the throttle) through Turn 1. So much for re-acclimation! We made some minor adjustments throughout the day, and Conor had a few spins, but he was able to work his way down to some reasonable lap times by the end. This was encouraging for a race track with little grip so early in the season. In Conor’s second practice session the day before Race No. 1, we broke in some new tires and worked on his stamina (see video clip below).

PRACTICE – The first race of the season is always the first chance to see how many competitors there will be in each class. Henry’s class and Conor’s new class were as strong as ever with nine and 11 karts, respectively. We are hoping that the threat of inclement weather was the reason for the poor turnout for Peter’s new class – he was the only one. We scrambled a bit Sunday morning with our preparations, mainly because of unfamiliarity with Conor’s new equipment. Fortunately, as per usual with our friendly club, there was plenty of help close at hand. Henry used the early open practice session to break in his new tires. By the time class practices started, we were pretty much ready to go. Henry and Conor both ran competitive lap times in practice, but we had no reference with which to compare Peter’s lap times.

BRIGGS JUNIOR – A decision was made to combine Peter’s class with the class that he ran last year, which also had a disappointing turn out (only one kart). At the start of both heat races and the feature, Peter pulled away and ran laps by himself to the end. His best lap time was a 51.301 seconds, which I’m sure he can improve upon substantially. It’s a bit difficult to push with no competition, especially for Peter who tends to do better when he has something to chase down. We can only hope for a better turnout for Race No. 2. I’m not sure what we’re going to do if this doesn’t improve.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – For the past few years, Conor’s new class has grown steadily and is now one of the most hotly contested MSOKC classes. Very few participants graduated out of this class from last year and Conor’s wasn’t the only new face. Having sat out all last year, I think that many had forgotten how competitive Conor can be. If so, they would be reminded by the end of the day. Conor started both heats from the middle of the pack (fifth of 11). In the first heat, be got a good start and gained a position in Turn 1 when a kart in front of him got sideways. There was another spin in front of him in Turn 3 of the same lap, which allowed him to move up to third. He had to maneuver around both incidents, so I was relieved to see him get through the first lap unscathed. The leader got away while the kart in front of Conor seemed to be holding him up. He was also receiving pressure from behind. These three ran in that order to the finish. The scariest moment of the day for Conor came after the checkered flag flew. Everyone seemed to have seen the checkered flag except Conor. He went through Turn 1 right on the tail of the kart in front of him and moved to the inside in Turn 2. The two karts in front of him went straight for the cut-off that is used when the races are over. Conor realized his mistake just in time to avoid significant contact, but did produce an embarrassing cloud of tire smoke when he had to lock the brakes. In the second heat, the inside row was a bit slower getting started than the outside row. Conor lost a position as the result and another going into Turn 5 on Lap 1. From seventh place, he began picking them off one by one beginning with a bold outside move in Turn 5 on Lap 2. He got by two more karts on Lap 3 and chased down another in the next few laps, setting the fastest lap time (46.243) in the process. On Lap 5, he made another pass in Turn 1. The leaders had gotten away by that time, so Conor once again finished third. Two thirds were good enough for a front row starting position for the feature, however. During the intermission, I reminded Conor that the outside of the front row was his favorite starting position. In the feature, Conor timed the start perfectly and went to the lead on the exit of Turn 1. The first three were nose to tail for the first three laps (of 10). With Conor setting a blistering pace out front, the third place kart dropped back a bit at about Lap 5, but then made up the distance and moved into second on Lap 8. By that time, the gap to Conor was only about 2 seconds. Conor’s fastest lap was on Lap 9, however (46.091). Conor did see the checkered flag this time, and more significantly, he was the first one to see it. A convincing win is not a bad way to return to action for someone who had major surgery less than 12 months ago. I’m glad I had my dark sunglasses on that day…

80cc SHIFTER – Henry also started both of his heat races from the middle of the pack (fifth of nine). His first heat was a bit of a melee. At the start, a fast kart that had started from the rear tried to fit through a gap that wasn’t big enough by the time he got there. There was wheel-to-wheel contact and two karts got up on two wheels. One spun to a stop but the other headed toward the fence at an alarming rate. There was only light contact with the fence however, but the race was red-flagged as a precautionary measure. This ended up being a good thing for Henry. He received some light damage from the Turn 1 incident, but he and the remainder of the field proceeded obliviously on their way. On the exit of Turn 5, before the red flag flew, the kart in front of Henry spun and Henry hit him and then got hit by the kart behind him. Henry managed to get going again, but proceeded to the track exit instead to lining up for the restart. He was dragging a side pod and pointing under his right knee in the process. A little muscle was enough to fix the side pod, but his right steering arm, which is supposed to be straight, was shaped like a boomerang. After a little (okay, a lot) of hammering, he made it to the grid just in time for the restart The two karts involved in the Turn 1 incident did not restart, but there were no injuries. I would have been content to see Henry just take the green flag in the first heat, but after running as high as fourth at one time, he managed to finish fifth. Henry’s second heat was much more civilized. He made a good start to maintain his position. He inherited a position on Lap 2 and made a nice pass on Lap 3 to finish third. He also made a good start in the feature to maintain his third starting position. Henry’s feature was much like Conor’s first heat. The leader got away while the kart in front of Henry seemed to be holding him up and the kart behind him was applying pressure. Henry got an excellent run through Turn 4 on Lap 8, however, and was able to make a pass going into Turn 5. He pulled out a gap over the last few laps and eventually finished second to last year’s champion in this class, equalling his personal best in this class. Not a bad return either.

NEXT RACE – MSOKC Race No. 2 is Sunday, May 4, 2008. In the mean time, Great Lakes Sprint Series, which is a regional event that enables points to be transferred to the World Karting Association national championship, visits Circleville Raceway Park next weekend. The father of a competitor in Conor’s class, who we have befriended and who have been competing on the national level, encouraged us to enter Conor next weekend. It seems serendipitous so we may decide to give that a try.

Bill

p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=295060