Tuesday, July 13, 2004

MSOKC Race No. 7 - July 10, 2004

Originally sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 7:35 AM

The Bruce Brothers were back in action this past weekend after almost a month off. MSOKC Race No. 7 was a Saturday evening affair, with practice starting at 3:30 PM and racing scheduled to get underway at 6:00 PM. There was a downpour just after the gates opened at 2:00 PM, which pushed the schedule back a bit while the track dried. I have told the boys many times that races are not won during the practice sessions. This must have slipped Conor's mind, as he was involved in an incident while dicing with another kart that spun in front of him on the second lap of the first practice session. The result was significant damage to the nose of his kart. With the help of a couple of nuts and bolts, a few wire ties, and about 3 yards of duct tape, he was back in business prior to the second session. We were a bit rusty and quite a few changes were required to get both boys up to speed (correct carburetor jets, spark plugs, and tire pressures for the weather conditions, gear ratios etc.). We were a bit behind because of Conor's incident, but we managed to get to where we needed to be by the time the heat races started at about 6:45 PM.

Conor started from the third position in his first heat race. About five of the seven karts in his class ran nose to tail, with Conor third, for the first four laps (of six). The second place kart ran wide on the exit to Turn 6, which elevated him to second. On the last lap, the lead kart sputtered and Conor was able to pass. He then held on for the win. Starting from fourth in his second heat race, he made a few well-timed passes, which put him into second. The leader had built up a healthy lead by that point, so Conor had to settle for second. A first and a second earned him his first feature race pole position of the year, however. He timed his start perfectly and led the first few laps easily. Conor's main rival this year was right on his tail by mid-distance (Lap 3 of only six instead of eight because of the late start). On Lap 4, Conor's rival was able get inside on the entrance to Turn 10 and got by. Conor held on to finish second.

Henry started from outside the front row in his first heat race. He went through Turn 1 side-by-side with the pole-sitter and got by in Turn 2. His main rival was on his bumper by Lap 2, however. He made no mistakes and on the penultimate lap, his rival put two wheels on the grass, which allowed Henry to take the win uncontested. Starting sixth (of eight) in his second heat race, he made a couple of passes in the first few turns. He then got stuck behind a kart that he usually has no trouble getting around and stayed there to the finish. He had complained about a rough idle on the grid, and when we checked the spark plug, we found that the gap was almost completely closed. It is a wonder that he finished at all. The cams in these engines have such a high lift that if you don't orient the electrode in the proper direction (using different thickness washers), the valves will actually hit the spark plug and close the gap. I had changed the spark plug during the practice sessions and this was obviously the case. His heat race finishes were good enough for a front row starting position for the feature, however. Equipped with a correctly-oriented new spark plug, he tucked in behind the pole sitter (his main rival) and ran an uneventful second to the finish.

It was well after dark by the time the feature races were supposed to start. Just after the driver's meeting, all of the lights on the track and in the pits went out, the result of an overheated circuit panel. By the time this was corrected and some additional temporary lighting was erected in one of the darker spots, it was quite late. The green flag for Conor's feature race, which was after Henry's, flew at about 11:35 PM! It was a good day in the end, albeit a long one, with two heat race wins, two feature race front row starting positions, and two second place feature race finishes. In the points race for the championship, Conor gained a bit of ground on second place and Henry further solidified his second place position. Amazingly, this is the first race of the season that Conor and Henry didn’t score the exact same number of championship points! The next race, which is also a Saturday evening affair, is July 24. We are hoping that the teething problems with the lighting system are worked out by then. I also have some bodywork repairs to make...