Tuesday, June 15, 2004

MSOKC Race No. 5 - June 13, 2004

Originally sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 7:53 AM

Bruce Brother's Racing was back in action this past weekend. A good time was had by all and all of the equipment was brought home in one piece.

Conor's class had a fairly light turnout (four karts) as the result of several former participants having moved up a class for various reasons. Conor started on the outside of the front row for his first heat race. The winners of the two previous races started on the inside of the first two rows and timed the start perfectly. They stayed nose-to-tail through Turn 1, which left Conor nowhere to go on the outside. After some wheel banging, he settled into third place. He made a good run through Turn 4 on the second lap and was able to pass the second place kart on the entry to Turn 5 (after the long back straight). He then set his sights on the leader. He was able to apply plenty of pressure, but could not get past. On two consecutive laps, he tried a different line through Turn 7 which brought him along side the leader, (can you hear my heart beating?) but this cost them both some time. This allowed the third place kart to close the gap. Approaching the last corner of the last lap, Conor left the door open on the inside and lost a position just before the finish line. Starting again on the outside of the front row for his second heat race, it was Conor's turn to time the start perfectly. He went side-by-side through Turns 1 and 2 with the pole-sitter, which put him on the inside for Turn 3. He led the next few laps with the two previous winners close behind. He once again left the door open on the inside of turn 10, however, and the second-place kart took advantage. Conor tried to maintain his line, but was pushed up into the marbles and spun a rather spectacular "360" in front of the main grandstand. He rejoined in third place, caught back up to the first two, but could not pass. Starting from the third starting position for the feature, he ran the first few laps a close third, after which the second place kart succumbed to the pressure. He then set his sights on the leader. He was able to pull along side on several occasions, recording what had to be a class-best lap for the day of 51.17 sec, but had to settle for a well-deserved second.

The defections from Conor’s class meant a bumper crop (seven karts) for Henry’s class. He started from pole position in the first heat race. He maintained his position and led the first few laps uncontested. The winner of all but one heat race in this class this season (Henry won the other one in Race No. 2) began to apply pressure by lap 4 (of 6). Entering Turn 10, Henry left the door open and lost the position. He was able to keep in touch and finished second. Starting fifth in the second heat race, Henry made a good start (the changes we made to his clutch seem to be working), made a few well timed passes, and again finished second, abet a distant one. His best lap (49.20 seconds) seemed to be on par with the winner, however. A pair of second place finishes in the heat races earned him the second starting position for the feature. He lost a position going into Turn 1 and ran third for the next few laps. He ran wide exiting Turn 4 on Lap 3 and temporarily lost another position. He was able to make this back up, and re-connect with the second place kart, but was not able to pass. With both the humidity and the temperature increasing in the afternoon, we probably should have leaned-out the engine (by installing a smaller carburetor jet) and reduced the tire pressure, but, you know what they say about hind-sight…

Both boys maintained their position in the championship (third for Conor, second for Henry), but this was the first race weekend in a long time without at least one win in either a heat race or a feature. You know, though, the competition was so close and fair, and everyone had so much fun, that it didn’t seem to matter.

The next race is Sunday, June 20, 2004, but we will not be there. Henry and I are off to Honduras on a mission trip with a group from our church. We will be doing construction work at a facility that houses children with AIDS or that have been infected with HIV. Laura, Conor, and Peter are flying to Kansas City to spend some time with family. So, the next race for us is MSOKC Race No. 7, which will be held under the lights on Saturday, July 10, 2004. In the mean time, both boys will be thinking about how not to leave the door open in Turn 10…


Monday, June 7, 2004

MSOKC Race No. 4 – Sunday, May 30, 2004

Originally sent: Monday, June 07, 2004 2:35 PM

Bruce Brothers Racing had this past weekend off, but were in action the weekend before. In spite of threatening weather and the Memorial Day holiday, there was a good turn-out for both Junior Sportsman 2 (Conor) and Junior Unrestricted (Henry). With Great Lakes Sprint Series visiting Circleville Raceway Park the following weekend, there were a variety of national-level drivers in attendance (one in Conor's class and three in Henry's). Conor had a minor engine problem in practice that we were able to sort out prior to his first heat race and Henry seemed to acclimate well to his new Vega tires. Both boys had the benefit of a fresh chassis alignment, which Henry and I learned to do at the Chassis Set-Up seminar we had attended the weekend before.

Conor started from pole position for his first heat race and was able to maintain his position into Turn 1. With the events of the previous race in mind, he set a comfortable pace for himself and led every lap. Starting 6th in the second heat race (out of 8 starters - two relative new-comers volunteered to start from the back), he worked his way up to 3rd and was even able to put pressure on the first two in the closing laps. His heat race finishes earned him the 2nd starting position for the feature. He dropped a position at the start but was able to quickly make it back up. He then set out after the leader (the winner of the second heat race). These two circulated nose-to-tail for the next few laps with the leader clearly holding Conor up a bit. He was able to pull along side on the back stretch at on point, but this put him on a less-than-ideal line for Turn 5. He decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and backed off. He tried the inside line coming out of Turn 10 on the final lap, but came up about half a kart length short. His finishes for the day brought him closer in season points to the points leader in his class (who had an uncharacteristically lack-luster day), but he actually lost 2nd place in the championship battle to the feature race winner. The three of them are separated by a mere 16 points (460, 446, and 444).

Henry started from the 3rd position in his first heat race. He dropped two positions at the start and drove a clean race to finish 5th (out of 7 starters). Three of the four in front of him were the national-level guys who were on non-spec tires, however. Starting from 5th in the second heat race, he dropped a position at the start but was able to quickly make it back up. He was not able to match the pace of the national-level guys or of the season points leader in his class, but running by himself, he did record four nearly-identical laps that were close to his personal best. Starting from 5th in the feature, he again dropped positions at the start. There was a mid-pack melee in Turn 3 on the first lap however, and by being in the rear, Henry was able to come through without loosing too much time. He again ran most of the race by himself and finished 5th. At post race tech inspection, the national-level guys were excluded from the results, which improved Henry's results to a trio of 2nd place finishes. This moved him up to 2nd (from 3rd) in the championship battle.

During the week off, we discovered a problem with Henry's clutch. We are in the process of rectifying this, which should help him with his starts. We also have a few things to try in the engine department, which we hope will give both boys a bit more horsepower. The next race is Sunday, June 13, 2004.