Wednesday, October 15, 2003

MSOKC Race No. 3 (Rescheduled) - Six for Nine (2003)

Originally sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 4:42 PM

The final MSOKC race of the season was last Sunday, October 12, 2003. The morning weather was crisp again, but Conor kept everything under control in his practice sessions. Conor's main rival, Ryan Fox, had earned enough points in the previous race to clinch the championship, so his dad had made the modifications necessary for him to run this race in the class in which he will have to run (by virtue of having won the championship) next year - Junior Sportsman II. Conor's other rival in the Rookie Box class, Kurt Rollins, provided plenty of competition for him in the heat races, however. From the fourth starting position, Conor made a good start in the first heat race and was up to second place behind Kurt, who had started on the pole, by the end of the first lap. Conor was able to provide plenty of pressure - the expression 'stuck together like glue' comes to mind - but could not find a way to pass. Starting from the pole position in the second heat race, Conor found himself decelerating to keep the grid together as the green flag flew. By the time he was back up to speed, he was in third place. He quickly dispensed with the second place kart and set out after Kurt again. This time he was able to pull up alongside several times, including twice on the last lap. They came through Turns 8 and 9 side-by-side. Conor had to take the long way around Turn 9, but that put him on the inside for Turn 10. Coming out of Turn 10 toward the finish line, Conor dove to the inside but came up about six inches short for what had to be the closest finish of the day. Two second place finishes in the heat races did earn him his favorite starting position for the feature, however - outside front row. He made the best of it, too, timing the start perfectly. He passed Kurt going into Turn 1 and steadily began to pull away, turning laps in the mid to low 0:58 range. At the end of Lap 8, he found himself taking the checkered flag first in his third consecutive feature race and his sixth in nine starts. I couldn't help but smile when I saw Kurt and Conor shake hands from their karts while sitting in the cut-off area waiting for slower traffic to clear after the race. In the off-season, we are going to have to decide whether we want Conor to compete in the same class again or have him move to the Junior Sportsman II class with Ryan. At this point, we're leaning toward moving him up, which I am sure will be fine with the remaining competitors in the Rookie Box class...

Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and kind words of support.


Wednesday, October 8, 2003

MSOKC Race No. 13 - Five for Eight (2003)

Originally sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 9:58 AM

Conor had another near-perfect outing last Sunday. The morning weather (cloudy and 45F) provided him with an opportunity to learn about coefficient of adhesion for racing slicks as a function of temperature. On the first lap of the first practice session, he spun twice -- in consecutive corners! During sign-up, we learned that there would be two new competitors in the Rookie Box class, who would start at the back of the grid. Conor drew the fifth starting position (of eight competitors) for the first heat race. He lost one position at the start, in spite of the changes we made (including a lighter disk brake rotor) that were intended to help him out with his starts. He did seem to have a bit more speed coming out of the corners, as he was able to work his way up to second place, just behind his main rival who had started on pole, by lap four (of six). He pulled along side the leader twice on the final lap, but couldn't get past. Starting from the second position in the second heat race, Conor held his position through the first few corners and passed the pole sitter on the back straight-away on the first lap. He then held on for a comfortable win. Starting on the pole for the feature, he dropped a position to his main rival at the start, but was once again able to pass on the back straight-away on the first lap. He must have had the bit between his teeth, because he began pulling away by about a second a lap. He recorded a best lap of 0:58.41 - his fastest since Race No. 10 on August 24 - in route to his fifth feature win in eight starts. The feature also provided Conor with an opportunity to experience something else that was new -- lapping traffic! I'm sure that the two new guys will be up to speed in no time, however.

The season championship is decided based on the best 10 finishes of the 13 race season. To qualify for the championship, a competitor must complete at least 9 races out of the 13. Conor got a late start to the season, so he missed the first four races. This makes him eligible for the championship, but one race short of the full complement. He easily has the highest number of points per race in his class, but having to include a "zero" in the total for the one race he is short (there are 160 points available per race), kills his chance for this year. Conor's main competitor (Ryan Fox) has the championship all but locked up with one race remaining -- the rescheduled Race No. 3, which is next Sunday, October 12.

Happy trails!


Wednesday, September 24, 2003

MSOKC Race No. 12 - Four for Seven (2003)

Originally sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 4:18 PM

Conor had another great outing last Sunday. Except for the mosquitoes, it was a beautiful day. He drew the pole positions for the first heat race. He may not have been expecting the green flag on the first warm-up lap, because he dropped three places at the start. He quickly made his way into third, but neither he nor his main rival could get past the eventual winner, so he had to settle for third. Starting from the sixth position in the second heat race (of six competitors in his class that day), he made a successful pass going into Turn 1, several more on the next few laps, and was up to second by the start of the fourth lap. The eventual winner (Conor's main rival) had once again amassed a healthy lead by that time, so he had to settle for second. His heat race finishes earned him the second starting position (outside front row - Conor's favorite) for the feature. He made up for his poor start in the first heat race by passing the pole sitter (Conor's main rival) going into the first turn, taking the fourth place starter with him. Conor did just what he had to do and led every lap comfortably for his fourth feature win in seven starts (57%). Interestingly, when he is out in front by himself, his lap times aren’t quite as good as when he is chasing down someone in front of him. The fourth place starter was able to maintain his position, so some might have called it a boring race. It was just fine from my perspective...

Conor's next race is Sunday, October 5, 2003.


Friday, September 12, 2003

MSOKC Race No. 11 (2003)

Originally sent: Friday, September 12, 2003 3:42 PM

The past several weeks have been action-packed for Bruce Brothers Racing, with two significant acquisitions and a Saturday night race-under-the-lights for Conor.

Saturday, September 6, was MSOKC Race No. 11. Conor drew the fifth starring position (of six competitors in his class) for the first heat race. He dropped a position at the start and made his way up to third at the finish, passing his main rival (who finished fourth) in the process. Starting second in the second heat race, he passed the pole sitter in the second turn, led every lap, and won by a significant margin. A 3:00 PM start to day's events and an extra long intermission ensured that the lighting system at Circleville Raceway Park would be put to good use during the feature events, which began at about 8:30 PM. In addition to the unfamiliar lighting conditions, the dew had begun to settle on the track. Conor's third and first place finishing positions in the heat races earned him the second starting position for the feature event. In the first turn, the third place starter (Conor's main rival) stuck his nose under Conor and the ensuing contact left Conor sitting sideways in the track between Turns 1 and 2. Everyone was able to take evasive action except for the tail-ender, who clobbered Conor's kart in the left front wheel with the nose of his kart. It was a scary moment for me, but the impact actually turned Conor back in the right direction, and he immediately set off after the pack with no apparent damage. Conor's main rival had gotten himself high-centered after a spin in Turn 3, which brought Conor up to fifth. It took Conor several laps to catch the others, who were running closely together. He was able to make two additional passes, but with only six laps in the under-the-lights format, he ran out of time just as he was beginning to put pressure on the second place kart and had to settle for third. It was a well deserved result for the winner, however, who had also won Race No. 9. After the race, Conor and all of his competitors were beaming about having gotten to race under the lights. I have to admit that it was exciting (too much so at one point!), but it made for a long day at the race track.

The previous Saturday, Bruce Brothers Racing acquired an enclosed trailer in which to haul things around, including the second kart we acquired the following day. Over the next few weeks, we hope to get Henry up to speed for the class in which he will run next season. Watch this space for further updates...


Monday, August 25, 2003

Conor's Karting Adventures - Part 5 (2003)

Originally sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 2:00 PM

Conor had a near-perfect day at the race track yesterday during MSOKC Race No. 10, the fifth race of his short career. The day didn't start out that way, though. During the first lap of the first practice session, he rolled to a stop between Turns 7 and 8 - engine running but no drive. Upon closer examination back in the pits, it became apparent that he had lost the bolt and the key that keep the centrifugal clutch in place and from spinning on the crankshaft. By the time I returned from scouring the pits for some replacement parts, the dad of Conor's main rival had already found the parts and had begun making the necessary repairs. How's that for camaraderie? I was able to complete the repairs in time for the remainder of Conor's practice sessions. Starting from the third position in the first heat race, he managed to keep his position through the first lap. He then made two well-timed passes and took the checkered flag while pulling away from the field, recording a 0:58.34 in the process. Starting from the fifth position (of seven starters) in the second heat race, he dropped one position at the start. A bobble by the kart in fourth position on the exit of Turn 5 allowed Conor to make two passes on the back straight-away on the first lap. During the next two laps or so, he worked his way into second position, again with some well-timed passes. He spent the final two laps chasing down his main rival, who was in the lead. In the process, he recorded an amazing lap of 0:57.91. Time ran out, however, and he had to settle for second. A first and a second place finish in the heat races earned him the pole position for the feature (his main rival had finished third in the first heat race). Conor lead the pack under the green flag and managed to hold his position at the front. His main rival tucked in behind him, and the two quickly began distancing themselves from the field. The separation was never more than a couple of kart lengths between the first two. Conor was not rattled however, and drove a near-perfect race (every lap except the first two in the mid to low 0:58 range) to claim his third win if five starts. Way to go Conor! While unloading the kart after we returned home, I noticed that the chain was making a strange noise on the rear sprocket. Upon closer examination, I realized that he had lost the clutch bolt again and had finished the race with only the key holding the clutch in place. Sometimes, you get the bear. Sometimes, the bear gets you. I guess we got the bear yesterday.

Conor's next race is Saturday, September 6, at Circleville Raceway Park. Racing gets underway at 3:00 PM. Sometime between now and then, I'm going to look up the recommended torque setting for that clutch bolt...


Tuesday, August 19, 2003

MSOKC Race No. 9 - Sunday, August 17, 2003

Originally sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2003 7:34 PM

First let me say that, if you would like to discontinue receiving these emails, please let me know. If you would like to know how the race went on Sunday, read on...

It was another exciting day of racing for the MSOKC Rookie Box class at Circleville Raceway Park on Sunday. The random draw had Conor starting from the third position (out of six) in the first heat race. The fourth place starter got by Conor in the first turn and the three in front of him appeared to be headed for a three-wide battle through Turn 2. Anticipating trouble, Conor wisely backed off. The three made it through somehow, but backing off cost Conor another two places. He patiently began picking his competitors off at about one per lap (including his main rival who finished fourth), which left him third at the finish. Starting fourth in the second heat race, Conor made it safely through Turns 1 and 2 without dropping a spot, but between Turns 3 and 4, the winner of the first heat race ran up over the back of Conor, shredding part of the bodywork in the process. Little time was lost however, and Conor quickly set off for the three in front of him. He dispensed with the first two without too much trouble, which put him into second place. By that time, the leader (Conor's main rival) had amassed a healthy lead. Conor was able to close the gap (turning another personal best lap in the process - a 0:58.82), but ran out of time and had to settle for second. With a 3rd and a 2nd place finish, Conor found himself tied with three others (a 2nd-3rd, a 1st-4th, and a 4th-1st) for the top starting spot for the feature. In such cases, they let the computer decide, which gave Conor the second starting position. Starting from third, Conor's main rival got the best of him at the start. He lost another position when he put a wheel in the grass on the exit of Turn 5. After working his way back into third, Conor reeled off a series of fast laps that included another personal best of 0:58.43, which caught him up to the first two. While applying pressure to the leader, Conor's main rival dropped a wheel onto the grass on the exit of Turn 6, which allowed Conor to get past between Turns 7 and 8. The job of applying pressure to the leader (and the winner of the first heat race) now fell to Conor. He was able to pull up along side going into Turn 5 on the next lap, but couldn't get by. By this time, Conor's main rival had caught up and was applying pressure to Conor. The next three laps or so were a nose-to-tail affair for the first three. On the white flag lap, Conor got a run on the leader in Turn 9 and made a dive to the inside coming out of Turn 10. This time it was Conor's turn to come up short by less than a kart length. I suppose that three wins in a row out of four starts was asking for a bit too much...

We have some bodywork repair to do, after which Conor's next race will be next Sunday, August 24, 2003 (MSOKC Race No. 10 at CRP).


Friday, August 8, 2003

MSOKC Race No. 8 (2003)

Originally sent: Friday, August 08, 2003 2:50 PM

For those of you who were not able to make it to the race, here's a synopsis:

Conor's third race was Sunday, July 27, at Circleville Raceway Park - Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club (MOSKC) Race No. 8. Laura and the other boys had already headed for California for our summer vacation, but Conor wanted to delay our departure so that he could participate (frequent flyer tickets - no penalties for changes!). Conor drew the fourth starting position for the first of his two heat races. He dropped a position at the start, then patiently began picking off the competition. By the fourth lap, he had worked his way up to second, but by that time the eventual winner had developed a substantial lead. Conor was able to close the gap a bit, but had to settle for second. Starting second in the second heat race, Conor and the pole sitter were both passed in the first turn by the winner of the first heat race, who got a 'flyer' of a start. Conor found himself in second by the end of the first lap and set out in pursuit of the leader. He was able to apply a substantial amount of pressure - even puling up along side on the entry to Turn 5 at one point - but again had to settle for second. This heat race was a big confidence boost for Conor, as he was able to prove to himself that he can keep pace with the run-away series leader in his class. Starting from the second position again in the feature race, it was Conor's turn to get a flyer of a start. He was able to take the third place starter with him around the pole sitter (the winner of the first two heat races). His rival was able to make his way into second place by the second lap, however, and he caught up with Conor on the third lap. The next five laps were the longest in the history of motorsports - at least it seemed that way to me! Conor was the recipient of the same medicine he was able to dish out in the second heat race, with his rival applying a substantial amount of pressure and getting a nose under him going into Turn 1 on the final lap. Conor closed the door and led the majority of the final lap comfortably. His rival was able to close the gap again in the last few corners and dove to the inside on the Start/Finish straight, but came up a few feet short. Conor earned his second win in three events by less than a kart-length! Way to go Conor!

Conor's next race is Sunday, August 17, at Circleville Raceway Park. We hope to see you there...


p.s., Many thanks to Tim Kellogg for taking Conor and me to the airport at 4:45 AM(!) on Monday for our 6:00 AM departure.

p.p.s., There are some pictures of Conor on the MOSKC website from Race No. 7. Go to, click on 'Action!', then click on 'Pics from July 13, 2003'. Conor is in the No. 7 kart, which is black with the red stripe around the bottom.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

New Toy at the Bruce House (2003)

Originally sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 2:16 PM

Conor's first race was Saturday, July 5, at Circleville Raceway Park - Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club (MOSKC) Race No. 6. Because of his rookie status, Conor was required to start on the back of the grid for both of his heat races (6 laps each on the 0.7 mile road course) and the feature (8 laps). In the first heat, he made a few passes and benefited from a few off-course excursions by some of his competitors and ended up finishing 3rd of the 7 karts in his class. In the second heat, again starting from the back of the grid, he made his way through the field and ended up finishing 2nd! This combination of heat race finishes would have earned him an outside-front-row (2nd) starting position. Again starting from the back of the grid, he finished 2nd in the feature. By the time he passed everyone else, the leader and eventual winner was too far ahead to catch. Conor did record his fastest lap time (1:00.38) in the final lap of the feature while trying to catch the leader. Excellent job for a debutant! Conor received a well-earned 2nd place trophy for his efforts.

During the week, I received an email from a MOSKC board member indicating that he and the race director had discussed Conor's performance and decided that he would be able to take his regular starting position for the next race, a privilege normally reserved for third-time starters.

Conor's second race was Sunday, July 13 - MOSKC Race No. 7. The random draw for heat race starting positions had him starting 3rd in the first heat and 5th in the second. On the first lap of the first heat, an erratic move by one of his competitors in Turn 10 resulted in Conor having to take to the grass to avoid contact. While trying to catch the pack, he had a partial spin in Turn 7 of the second lap and ended up finishing 6th (of 7). In the second heat race, he had another spin while trying to pass on cold tires in Turn 2 on the first lap, dropping half a lap in the process. He caught the pack on the last lap, but without enough time to do much passing. He again recorded another personal fastest lap time (0:59.83) in the final lap, but finished 6th. His heat race finishes earned him a lowly 7th starting position, but a position with which he was familiar from the previous weekend. In the feature, the winner of the two heats (and last weekend's winner) rolled to a stop as the pack rolled over the Start/Finish line as the green flag flew. After having received a reminder to be patient and take his time, Conor slowly began to pick off his competitors one at a time.

By lap six, there was only one kart in front of him. In Turn 9 of the penultimate lap, it became apparent the leader had developed engine trouble and Conor roared past as the white flag was displayed. All he had to was keep it together for the final lap for his maiden victory. And that is exactly what he did, recording a 1:00.06 while pulling away from his nearest competitor for a comfortable win. Two trophies in two weeks - not a bad way to start!

Watch this space for further up-dates...


p.s., Here are some pictures from our first day at the track...