Wednesday, October 26, 2005

2005 MSOKC Season in Review

Originally sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 5:00 PM

Well, the 2005 season has come to a close for Bruce Brothers Racing. We decided to skip the final MSOKC race of the season, which was a make-up for a rain-out earlier in the season. Henry and Conor decided that they wanted to do an SCCA Solo 2 event that day instead. They traded fastest times on their first few runs. Conor continued to improve while Henry pushed too hard in his last few runs. Conor ended up 0.326 sec faster than Henry and both were more than 5 sec faster than the only other competitor in their class that day. The final Solo 2 event is this weekend, but we have all had enough for this season and have decided to skip it, too.

Looking back at the 2005 MSOKC season, it was a quite remarkable. Conor, who went winless last season, began this season with five Junior Sportsman 2 feature race wins in a row. In the 11 events in which he competed, he won the feature in eight of them. The other three were two seconds and a fourth. In his 22 heat race starts, he recorded nine wins and nine second place finishes. He qualified on the front row for the feature 10 times, including five poles. He led the season championship from start to finish in the face of some stiff competition. Late in the season, he was still eight for nine in feature race wins. His fastest lap was a 49.62 sec recorded under ideal conditions during the rescheduled Race No. 2. If we had broken down and bought him some new tires late in the season, he might have done even better. Conor had a truly remarkable season.

Henry also had a good season in the face of even stiffer competition, including Adam Roberts who is poised to win the WKA Gold Cup championship (the final event of the season is November 4-6 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC). Another competitor in Henry’s Junior Unrestricted class also competed on the national level and learned a lot in doing so. Henry had beaten him in the MSOKC championship last year, but third place this year is about the best that Henry could have hoped for. In the 11 events in which he competed, Henry recorded two second place feature race finishes and finished third five times. He also recorded nine second place heat race finishes and finished the season championship in third, one place ahead of last year’s champion. His fastest lap was a 48.44 sec recorded early in the season during Race No. 4 before the rain came.

Peter improved his performance steadily throughout his first full season of competition in the Rookie Box class. A mid-pack runner at best at the beginning of the season, he was nipping at the heels of the leaders by the end. He improved his personal best lap time in each of the first five events, knocking it down from 59.13 sec in Race No. 1 to 57.67 sec in Race No. 7 (two of the first four races were rained out). In the last four events, he recorded four podium finishes (a second and three thirds). He also led a significant number of laps toward the end of the season. He lowered his personal best lap time to 56.63 sec during Race No. 11. Because of his strong finish to the season, and the inconsistent participation of one of his competitors, Peter finished the season championship in fourth place.

My favorite statistic for the 2005 MSOKC season is this – in 99 starts (66 heat races and 33 features), Bruce Brothers Racing recorded not a single DNF (did not finish). I’m proud of this because there were no mechanical DNFs, which is my department, and I’m proud of the boys for always making it to the checkered flag. They did have numerous off-course excursions, which is to be expected when pushing hard, but they always managed to get going again without loosing much time.

All that is left for this season is the Awards Banquet, which is November 18, where the boys will receive their trophies for the season championship. Because of their ages, Conor and Henry will have to move up a class next year – Conor to Junior Unrestricted (or some other class for 13-15 year olds) and Henry to one of the adult classes (16 and older). Peter will remain in the Rookie Box class for another year. The switch for Conor will be easy, but we have yet to decide what to do for Henry.

This season review would not be complete without a heartfelt acknowledgement to the most important member of the Bruce Brothers Racing team – Laura – for all of her support, patients, and understanding. She was not mentioned nearly enough in the post-race reports, but was there at every race helping and keeping the team together. Thanks also to everyone else for all the help and support throughout the season, including my mom for being there more often than not and my dad for providing us with a way to transport three karts to the track, and for all of the kind words of encouragement.


Monday, October 10, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 9 - August 7, 2005 - A Lucky Win

Originally sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 5:02 PM

NEWS - All three Bruce Brothers were back in action this weekend for MSOKC Race No. 9 at Circleville Raceway Park. The track proprietor, Steve Tatman, was also back in action after suffering a mild stroke, and was looking well. We did finally get Conor's engine back from UPS on Friday, but without having had the work done that it needs. As a precaution, we borrowed an engine from our good friend Mike Fagan at Full Automotive, which we anticipated might be stronger that Conor's un-rebuilt engine. We made a few setup changed to Henry's and Conor's karts, and Peter was raring to go after a one race break to allow the surgical staples in the back of his head time to heal. We also had a few visitors at the track on Sunday, including family, neighbors, and their visitors from University of Rome in Italy.

PRACTICE - We arrived at the track early on Sunday in order to get Conor's borrowed engine properly set up, which took us a few sessions. Once the regular class practices started, it became apparent that the borrowed engine was not as strong as we had hoped. While trying to help Henry sort out his handling issues, we began switching Conor back to his un-rebuilt engine. Fortunately, Peter's practices were uneventful. The setup that we ended up with on Henry's kart left a bit to be desired, but I was able to finish the work on Conor's kart while the boys were at the drivers meeting.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - Henry started his first heat from the fifth position (of six). He moved up one position at the start and pressured the third place kart throughout the heat, but his handling issues prevented him from finding a way to get by. Starting on the outside of the front row in his second heat, he made a great start which enabled him to take the lead by Turn 3. This was short lived, however, as he lost two places on the next lap and another on the following lap. He regained one of these places when the kart in front of him lost its chain. Henry started the feature in the third position and ran there to the finish, with his handling problems preventing him from running with the leaders. His problem is too much grip, which not only scrubs off speed in the corners, but occasionally causes him to get up on two wheels. We have since borrowed some wider rims for Henry to try, which pull the side walls of the tires out and reduces the contact patch. Hopefully, this will have the desired effect. If he's up on two wheels again, Henry may be sitting out a race or two until we can get this resolved.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor also started from the back in his first heat - sixth (of seven). Even with an engine in serous need of a rebuild, he was able to make his way through the field. By the time he worked his way into second, the leader had gotten away and was still extending her lead. You would think that after starting from the rear and finishing second, he might have had an easier time starting from the second position in his second heat race. Wrong. He was unable to get around the pole sitter at the start, and in fact lost a position between Turns 1 and 2. He spent the next lap or so trying to find a way to get by the third place kart who was being held up by the two karts in front of him. In doing so, he lost a position to the eventual winner (his current main rival) when he left the door open on the approach to Turn 10 on Lap 2. He made up two positions between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 4, but lost one on the approach to Turn 7 on Lap 5. He eventually finished fourth. Second and fourth was good enough for the second starting position for the feature. He made a great start and held his line through Turn 1. The kart that started on the pole did not concede the corner to Conor and hit him in the right rear. There was a scary moment when her kart climbed up onto the rear of Conor's. She went into the grass, but Conor was able to continue in the lead. By about Lap 2, it became apparent that Conor was having trouble turning into the corners, which allowed the second place kart to close in. These two ran nose to tail for the next four laps or so with Conor being able to pull away a bit between Turns 1 and 5 and his former Rookie Box main rival being able to reel him back in between Turns 5 and 10. As they were coming around to get the white flag, Conor understeered in Turn 10 which allowed the second place kart to pull even on the inside. Conor appeared to be ready to concede the position, but as they crossed the Start/Finish line, there was a distinct, momentary change in tone from one of the engines. When I looked up, I saw that Conor was in the lead again and his former main rival was in pursuit at what appeared to be full pace. They completed the final lap in that order (with Conor's current main rival closing in after having worked her way through the field), giving Conor his sixth feature race win in seven starts. After the race, we asked Conor's former main rival about the last lap change of engine tone. He indicated that he had simply miscounted the laps and let off of the throttle thinking that the race was over! I felt terribly bad for him, as he has steadily improved his performance this year and really deserved the win. But, it ain't over 'til it's over...

ROOKIE BOX - Peter started his first heat from outside the front row. He nailed the start and was in the lead by Turn 2. He held the lead for most of the first lap before being passed. He was passed by several other karts over the next few laps, after which his lap times improved significantly. He seems to be more comfortable following than leading. His fifth lap (of six) was just 0.02 seconds slower than his personal best. I'm sure that his last lap would have been better, but he was slowed while lapping a new-comer in his class. In the second heat, Peter started from the fourth position (of six). He dropped a position at the start when his engine bogged. Peter had asked me to make a carburetor adjustment between heats, and when I saw his lap times in the second heat, I realized I had made the adjustment in the wrong direction. He soldered around to a distant fifth place finish. I made another attempt at his carburetor adjustment for the feature, and while it helped, I probably should have changed his spark plug, too. He started in fifth and ran with the pack, but could not advance his position.

NEXT RACE - It was difficult preparing for this race knowing that we were going to be at a deficit with Conor's engine and Henry's handling problems. We were fortunate that our visitors got to see Conor get a win, albeit a lucky one. For the next race, which is Saturday, August 20 (in the evening) we have much higher hopes. Conor's engine will be fresh (as long as UPS doesn't loose it again!), and we have been assured that the wider rims for Henry will have the desired effect. I will also make sure that Peter's carburetor is in tune and that he has a new spark plug.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 12 - Saturday, September 24, 2005

Originally sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 2:28 PM

NEWS – Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, but we finally had what might be considered a mediocre race day this past Saturday, which was the final MSOKC night race of the season. I suppose that it was mostly my fault, as I’m the one who agreed to bite off what turned out to be a bit more that we could chew. About mid-week last week, Henry received an invitation to fill in for a friend of ours, Jack Reall, in one of the adult classes (16 and up, which Henry qualifies for now). Jack and his son Bryce make up a class of their own – Briggs Animal Medium. This is the class we are considering for Henry next year, so it made sense to let him give it a try. Jack, who is President of the Columbus Firefighters Union and Leader of Ohio Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team (part of FEMA), had been called up for Hurricane Rita duty, and this would have left Bryce on his own in that class on Saturday. Henry of course wanted to race in his regular class, too, so we had our hands full.

PRACTICE – We made very few changes to the boy’s karts in preparation for Saturday, and when it came time for practice, we spent some of our available time setting Jack’s kart up for Henry. We also had four karts to practice instead of three, so we had little time for fine tuning. Conor and Peter practiced well, none-the-less, but we are still having trouble getting Henry up to speed in his kart. Henry did enjoy is first experience in a kart powered by the more powerful Briggs Animal engine, however. In practice, Henry and Bryce traded fastest laps several times.

ROOKIE BOX – Peter started his first heat from the rear (fifth of five). He made a good start and was into third by the exit of Turn 4. Although he was passed by a new-comer towards the end, this kart was later disqualified for being under weight (65 lbs under weight!), so Peter was credited with a third place finish. In the second heat, starting from pole position, he again made a good start. He held the lead for four long laps, which is a personal best for Peter. Two of the faster karts got around him at the beginning of Lap 5, so he again finished third. In the feature, starting from third, he held his position at the start and ran in third until about Lap 4 when he was again passed by the under-weight new-comer who would eventually be disqualified. Peters third place finish was his third podium finish in a row.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II – Conor started his first heat race from the pole (of five). He held the lead at the start and the first two pulled out a bit of a lead during the first lap. Conor didn’t get through Turn 4 very well on the next lap and was passed going into Turn 5. He held on to the leader but had no opportunity to pass and finished second. Starting from the rear in the second heat, he was patient going through Turn 1. The head of steam that he was able to build up allowed him to make a pass going into Turn 2. He passed two other karts on the long run to Turn 5, bringing him to second. He was on the leader’s tail and got through Turn 4 well on the second lap. He drew up along side and a little past going into Turn 5, but the leader did not back off. The two went through Turn 5 side-by side. There was contact, however, and both went into the grass. Conor took a while to get going and finished where he had started. In the feature, starting from the third position, Conor held his position at the start, but had an uncharacteristic spin in Turn 8 on the first lap. He benefited by one off-course excursion, and caught another kart at the end, but finished fourth – his first non-podium finish of the year. One of the usually-mid-pack competitors in Conor’s class, who was giving the chassis that Henry drove last week a try, went on to take his first win of the year, however, so we were glad to see that.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED – There were only three karts in Henry’s regular class on Saturday. In the first heat, starting from the pole he held the lead until Turn 5 on the first lap. He ran second until about mid-way when the kart behind him found a way past. On the last lap, it became apparent that the leader had a problem when he made a mess of the right hand Turn 3. On the next right hander (Turn 7), his right rear wheel went sailing through the infield. As a result, Henry inherited second place, which is where he finished. In the second heat, starting from the rear, he followed the pole-sitter through Turn 1 into second. He was unable to hold on, however, and finished third. We made a few adjustments for the feature during the limited time we had, and while he was able to run a bit closer to the other two, he still finished third.

BRIGGS ANIMAL MEDIUM – Since there are only two karts in the Briggs Animal Medium class, they run together with the Yamaha Super Can class, which consisted of about 15 karts on Saturday. They start separately, however, so the Animal class is initially about a half a lap behind the Yamaha class. At the start, Henry, who started on the outside, got the better of Bryce in Turn 1. During the first lap, it became apparent that Bryce had an engine problem. He ran a couple of laps before retiring with a sputtering engine. Towards the end, Henry caught and passed a couple of the Yamaha karts before having a scary moment on the last lap. Both types of karts run similar lap times, but what the Animal karts lack in straight line speed, they make up for in the corners. When he approached a group of the Yamaha karts at the entrance to Turn 3 on the last lap, Henry had to check way up and got sideways. The kart behind him got sideways also, went up on two wheels, and did a gentle roll on top of him. Henry calmly got out of the kart and rolled him off, and after checking to make sure he was okay, proceeded on his way. The second heat was much like the first except for the scary moment. Even though Bryce had had their engine builder look at his engine, the problem persisted. They gave it another try in the feature, but Bryce again had an engine problem. Henry enjoyed his experience, but would have enjoyed it more had Bryce been able to race with him.

NEXT RACE – Between all of the extra work we made for ourselves and the fact that I have been hoping to make Henry’s and Conor’s rear tires last the remainder of the season, it is no wonder that we had a less-than spectacular day on Saturday. Even with Laura’s ever-present help and the help of some visiting friends, it was a handful. With only the best nine of twelve finishes counting, all three of the boys’ positions in the championship have been decided now (Conor having clinched the championship), so no harm was done. I will think seriously next time about letting anyone run two classes on top of what is already a busy day for us on race days. The next race, which is next Sunday, October 2, would be our fourth on four consecutive weekends. Because of this, our tire situation, and the poor handling on Saturday of some poor sportsmanship issues between some of the other parents in Conor’s class, we are thinking about giving it a miss (Peter also has a soccer game on Sunday and his team is short-handed). Watch this space…


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 2 (rescheduled) - September 18, 2005 - Three Deuces

Originally sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 1:44 PM

NEWS - The second of our four races on consecutive weekends was this past Sunday, which was a make-up for a race that was snowed-out on April 24. There was a fairly light turnout for this race, and some participants who have their position in the championship already decided were giving the class in which they will race next year a try.

PRACTICE - For Peter, we decided to try a smaller diameter restrictor plate in the Briggs Intek engine with an even lower gear ratio. In practice, his lap times were off by several seconds. When we put the larger diameter restrictor plate back in, his lap times were still off a bit, so we went back the higher gear ratio too, which put him back in the ball park. Conor, knowing that he had the championship locked up, took a relaxed approach to practice, but still recorded reasonable lap times. We negotiated a deal for Henry that allowed him to have a test drive in the spare kart of Adam Roberts, who has the championship in Henry's class locked up, which is for sale. Even though the track was somewhat damp from the morning fog, he recorded lap times that were nearly as fast as his race laps from the weekend before. He then practiced in he own kart, and while his lap times were reasonable, we decided to extend the deal and have Henry use Adam's kart for the rest of the day. Adam had been invited by another team to give a different class a try on Sunday, which freed up Ed (Adam's dad) to work with Henry.

ROOKIE BOX - Peter's class only had four participants. He started his heat races from the second and third positions, respectively. He led the first heat until about mid-way, his longest stint at the front, and finished second. He also led briefly at the mid-way point in the second heat, after having made one pass and then benefiting from an off-course excursion, but finished second. In the feature, Peter started from the second position. He made another great start and was in the lead by Turn 2. On Lap 2, he fell to second, which is where he finished.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor made very conservative starts in both of his heat races. In the first, starting from third (of six), he dropped to fourth at the start. He worked his way through the field during the first few laps. By the end of Lap 2, he was up to second, but the kart in front of him had established quite a lead. He set out after her recording lap times of 50.25, 50.13, 50.05, and 49.62 seconds, the latter of which was a personal best by over 0.4 sec. This brought him to within a kart-length at the end. He started his second heat in fourth with his main rival, who had started on the pole in the first heat, behind him. He maintained his position at the start and began working his way through the field. He was in the lead and pulling away by the end of Lap 2. He went on to win comfortably, recording another sub-50 second lap in the process. He and his main rival had split heat race wins, but she had drawn a lower number at registration, so she started the feature on the pole with Conor on the outside. At the start, she brought the field around too fast for the flagman's liking twice. On the third attempt, one of the corner workers waived a yellow flag in Tune 10, which caught some of the participants, including Conor, off guard. Even though the field was not lined up, the flagman through the green flag anyway. Conor was able to maintain his position, but had no opportunity to challenge in Turn 1. He was able to catch up and apply pressure by the end of Lap 1, however. He made a great run through Turn 4 on Lap 2 and was able to make the pass at the end of the long straight-away. I suspected that he might be able to pull away, but this was not the case. The two leaders ran nose to tail, although Conor later reported that he did not know that she was so close. He may not have been pushing as hard as he could have, and this eventually caught up with him. In Turn 10 of the last lap, after his engine had sputtered a bit in Turn 9, he took his regular line as opposed to a defensive one. She was able to pull alongside and make the pass. Conor was disappointed, but a good lesson was learned.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - Henry and I both learned a lot by working with the Roberts' on Sunday. Prior to the first heat, and in between every race, Ed put the kart (with Henry in it) on the corner scales and made adjustments. We borrow corner scales a couple of time per season to scale our karts. Between this extra attention to detail and the nature of Adam's spare kart, which seems to be better suited to Henry's class and driving style, he did reasonably well on Sunday. He started the first heat in the back (fifth of five). He decided to line up behind the outside row, which contained the faster karts in the class. At the start, the three on the outside 'freight-trained' (went past nose-to-tail) the two on the inside, which put Henry in third by Turn 3. He made a good run through Turn 4 on Lap 2 and was able to move into second at the end of the long straight-away, which is where he finished. Starting from the pole in Heat 2, he maintained his position at the start and led for a lap before getting passed by the eventual winner on Lap 2. He ran his fastest lap of the day on the next lap, 48.54 seconds, which is still several tenths slower than his personal best in his own kart set earlier in the season. Henry started the feature from outside the from row. There is often an advantage to this, as if you can go through Turns 1 and 2 side-by-side with the pole sitter, this puts you on the inside for the tight Turn 3. At the start, this is exactly what Henry was able to do. The pole sitter refused to concede the position in Turn 3, however. So they went through Turn 3 side-by-side. When they went through Turn 4 side-by side (I was holding my breath by this point), Henry was on the outside, and it was he who had to concede. The top three separated themselves a bit over the next few laps and finished in that order.

NEXT RACE - As a team, we collected more points on Sunday than any other race so far. We did benefit from the light turnout, however. We also learned a bit. Henry did well in Adam's kart, but in terms of results, no better that he might have done in his own kart. The next race is Saturday, September 24, 2005, which is the final night race of the season. Henry's and Conor's karts both seem to handle better in cooler conditions. Maybe we'll finally get some of those on Saturday.


Friday, September 16, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 11 - September 11, 2005 - Three on the Podium Again/The Clincher

Originally sent: Friday, September 16, 2005 2:19 PM

NEWS - This past Sunday was the first of four races on consecutive weekends for Bruce Brothers Racing - two regularly scheduled and two weather-related make ups. In the three week break since our previous race, we had Henry’s engine rebuilt and acquired some new gears for our new-generation Briggs Intek engine testing program for Peter.

PRACTICE - Henry’s engine arrived on Friday, and he had a Cross-Country meet on Saturday, so the first chance we had to run his rebuilt engine was Sunday morning. I had him take it easy at first and then work his way up to speed. We left Conor's kart pretty much the way it was from the previous race, and he was on the pace immediately in practice. We ran the Intek engine on Peter's kart again on Sunday using a restrictor plate that is a bit smaller in diameter than the one we ran in the previous race (0.390 in. as opposed to 0.406 in.). By reducing the gear ratio during practice, we were able to make up the difference in performance - and more. Peter's lap times were a bit better than before, but he ran dead-even with the other karts in his class down the back straightaway.

ROOKIE BOX - Peter started his first heat race from outside the front row. He made a great start and was in the lead in Turn 1. There was a bit of contact between several of the karts in Turn 3, which allowed Peter and the pole sitter to get away from the field. He ran in the lead for two laps before getting passed. He ran in second until the checkered flag, equaling his best finish ever and recording his personal best lap time in the process (56.63 seconds). In the second heat, starting from the fourth position (of five), he maintained his position at the start. He benefited by an off-course excursion by one of the karts in front of him and finished third. Starting from outside the front row in the feature, he hesitated a bit in Turn 1 but maintained his position. He ran in second for several laps before being caught up and passed by one of the faster karts in his class. He ran there to the finish earning his second podium finish in a row.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor had a difficult first heat. Starting from the fifth position (of 6), he was squeezed off in Turn 1, dropped two wheels off the track, and fell to sixth. While attempting to pass a slower kart between Turns 6 and 7 on Lap 1, the slower kart moved in a direction that Conor was not anticipating and the two karts became momentarily entangled. By the time Conor got going again, he was about half a lap down to the leaders. He had caught and passed two other karts by Lap 4 and was catching the second place kart by the end, but had to settle for third. In the second heat, starting from second, he maintained his position at the start, then made a pass for the lead on the back straightaway. He ran unopposed to the checkered flag, equaling his personal best lap time in the process (50.05 seconds). His heat race finishes were good enough for an outside-front-row starting position for the feature. At the start, the flagman waived the green flag later than usual. Conor was still on the gas (methanol, actually), but the pole sitter backed off momentarily, which allowed Conor into the lead in Turn 1. He pulled out about a kart-length lead or so in the next few turns. By the end of the first lap, the two leaders were nose to tail, however. They ran that way for most of the race, with Conor able to pull away a bit between Turns 1 and 5, only to have his competitor close back in between Turns 6 and 10. He was able to hold her off, however, recording another feature race win (eight of nine this season).

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - The start of Henry's first heat race was a lot like Peter's. From his position outside the front row, he made a great start and was in the lead in Turn 1. He ran there for several laps before being caught and passed by the two fastest karts in his class. He faded a bit towards the end, he was also caught by another kart. He was able to hold on until a slight mistake in Turn 4 on the last lap allowed this other kart to pass on the long straightaway. For Henry's second heat, we made a gear ratio change along with a chassis adjustment. He started from the fourth position, and while the front-runners were able to get away, Henry was latched onto the bumper of the kart in front of him. He was getting through Turn 4 a bit better and had a bit more speed down the long straightaway, which enable him to make the pass on Lap 3. He could not get away, however, and in Turn 9 on the last lap, the trailing kart made a bonsai move down the inside. There was significant contact which caused both karts to half-spin, but Henry got going again first and was able to make it to the checkered flag in third. The race officials had a few words with the other driver about the bonsai move in Turn 9. We made yet another gear change for the feature. Henry started in third and ran there comfortably to the finish earning his second podium finish in a row.

NEXT RACE - The next race is Sunday, September 18 (the day before Conor's 13th birthday). For Peter, we will give a 0.375 in. diameter restrictor plate another try with an even lower gear ratio. We will also continue searching for the proper gear ratio and chassis setup for Henry. For Conor, since this was the ninth race of the 12-race season, and only the best nine races count for the championship, it is not possible for his closest competitor to make up enough points to catch him. So, Congratulations Conor - 2005 MSOKC Junior Sportsman II Champion!!!


Thursday, August 25, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 10 - August 20, 2005 - Three on the Podium

Originally sent: Thursday, August 25, 2005 4:18 PM

NEWS - This past Saturday, Circleville Raceway Park hosted another Mid State of Ohio Kart Club night race. During the two week break since the previous race, we acquired some wider rims and tested a reserve engine for Henry, tested a reserve engine for Conor while his race engine was being rebuilt, and made plans for some additional testing of a new generation Rookie Box class engine for Peter. During a mid-week practice session with Henry and Conor, the wider rims for Henry seemed to have the desired effect and the reserve engine proved to be stronger than his race engine. We decided that the reserve engine for Conor would do in a pinch, but were holding out hope for better results with his rebuilt race engine. We also installed a different restrictor plate in the Briggs and Stratton Intek engine which Peter has been asked to test. The weather forecast, which called for a 70% chance of thunder storms ("some severe"), seemed to have affected the turnout on Saturday, as there were quite a few regulars missing. We again had visitors on Saturday - Laura's brother Mathew and his family from California, who scheduled their visit so that they could see Bruce Brothers Racing in action.

PRACTICE - Conor's race engine arrived on Friday, so we set out for the track early on Saturday to break it in and for Peter to test the Intek engine. After a few warm up laps, it became apparent that our engine builder, SRD Racing, had once again done a great job with Conor's engine. The smaller restrictor plate that we were given for Peter to try in the Intek engine resulted in lap times that were about 3 to 4 seconds off of his regular pace. We had some extra time, so we decided to try the larger restrictor plate one more time. When we did, his lap times were right on pace with his regular lap times. During the first of his regular class practices, the other karts were getting away from Peter on the long straight away, so we made a gear change which had the desired effect. I had the other Rookie Box dads watch Peter during their regular class practices, and everyone agreed that it would be okay to let him run the Intek engine in the race. During Conor's regular class practices, his lap times were about half a second faster than the best in his class. Henry struggled a bit during practice with an engine that was bogging in the left hand corners. We overcame this with a carburetor jet change, but that did not leave much time for fine tuning his chassis.

ROOKIE BOX - Peter's class was the first one out on Saturday. He started his first heat race from the fourth position (of 5). He was able to get by one kart at the start and settled into third place. He ran there comfortably until the end. Just after the checkered flag flew, the wind picked up and then the rain came. It only lasted for 20 minutes or so, but the proceedings were interrupted for about an hour while the track was dried (more on that later). Starting from outside the front row in his second heat, Peter made a great start and took the lead in Turn 3. He led for nearly two laps, but it was apparent that he was holding up two of the faster karts. As has been the case in the past, when they did get around him, Peter's lap times improved by about a second a lap. He again finished a comfortable third. In the feature, starting from third, he held his position at the start and ran there to the finish. For his effort, Peter collected his first podium finish and earned his first kart racing trophy. Way to go Peter!

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor's first heat race was not long after the proceedings resumed following the rain. The track was still quite damp, so the starter allowed them to run an entire warm up lap as opposed to their usual warm-up around the small oval between Turns 10 and 1. Conor lined up on the outside of the front row (of 5). He held his position at the start and went through Turn 3 in second. The leader went wide on the damp track at the exit of Turn 4, which allowed Conor to pass. Over the course of the next four turns, he pulled out about a six kart-length lead. This did not last, however, as he spun on the exit of Turn 8. Everyone got by and Conor lost about half a lap getting going again. Over the next few laps, on a drying track, he caught and passed one kart. On the white flag lap, he caught the three leaders who were still bunched up in a pack. He tried to make a pass on the outside of Turn 10 but was not given enough room and finished fourth. He started his second heat from the fourth position. He made three well executed passes during Laps 2 and 3 and cruised to an easy win. In the feature, starting again from outside the front row, Conor went side-by-side with the pole sitter through Turns 1 and 2, which put him on the inside for the tight Turn 3 and allowed him to take the lead. Over the next two laps, he pulled out about a 10 kart-length lead. His primary competition made her way into second by about this time and began to close the gap. Conor picked up the pace a bit and his lead stabilized and then began to grow again. His last lap was his fastest of the day. Conor was able to collect his seventh feature race win of eight starts this season.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - By the time Henry's first heat race got underway, the track was almost completely dry. He started both of his heat races from the third position (of 5). In both heats, he made good starts and ran with the leaders initially, but then faded. He also had a spin in his second heat and had to come from the rear. He finished both heats in third. Between heats, we discovered that one of his disc brake pads was sticking. With the help of our good friends Ed and Adam Roberts, we were able to partially correct this problem, but this certainly contributed to his inability to keep up with the leaders. He started his feature race in third and again ran with the leaders initially. He had another small spin but did not loose a position and finished third. As an indication of how competitive Henry's class is, Adam, who is the runaway points leader in the class, won the World Karting Association Gold Cup Grand National race at Badger Raceway in Wisconsin the weekend before, and Zakk, Henry's other main rival in the class actually beat Adam in the second heat. We made some progress on Henry's chassis setup during the course of the day (he is no longer getting up on two wheels) and we have decided to have his race engine rebuilt for the remaining four races of the season. We will also replace his unevenly worn brake pads with new ones, which seems to be the source of his brake problem. We hope to have Henry running with Adam and Zakk again soon.

NEXT RACE - Saturday was the first time for us to have all three boys on the podium. It was nice to have this happen while family was visiting. The rain also made for an interesting day of racing. Conor enjoyed the experience of racing on a damp track, even though he did have a spin while leading. My favorite part was when there was an invitation for anyone with a spare vehicle to run some laps to help dry the track out. I borrowed my mom's Honda Civic and did about 20 laps. We have the next two weekends off, after which we have four races in a row - two regularly scheduled and two weather-related make ups. The next race is Sunday, September 11.


Monday, August 8, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 5 - Saturday, June 4, 2005 - Three for Three

Originally sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 4:15 PM

NEWS - This past Saturday was Mid State of Ohio Kart Club's first night race of the 2005 season. The weather was oppressively hot and humid at mid-day when we arrived, so we were thankful that the majority of the day's activities would occur during the evening. A good friend of ours, Mike Fagan at Full Automotive (3334 W. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43204 - 614-279-8988), loaned us a chassis and engine for Henry to try, which he thought would improve his performance. Henry's existing chassis, which is an older Coyote Wide Track just like Conor's, is well suited for Conor and his class (265 lbs and restrictor plate engines) but does not seem to perform as well in Henry's class (310 lbs and unrestricted engines). We spent most of Friday evening getting Mike's kart prepared, so the first chance Henry had to try it was on Saturday.

PRACTICE - We arrived early enough for Henry to take part in the open practice session that precedes the regular class practices for Saturday evening races. During his first run, it became apparent that there was some engine/clutch set-up issues that needed to be taken care of (carburetor jetting, clutch engagement speed, etc.), as his lap times were several seconds off of his normal pace. Instead of dealing with these, we decided to switch to his regular engine, which we had brought with us and knew had the right set-up. This would allow us to make a direct comparison between Mike's chassis and Henry's regular one. On his second run, his lap time were comparable to his normal pace. These improved a bit during the regular class practices, but were never substantially faster than he had run before. Conor was on the pace immediately during his regular practices (his final three laps were within 0.02 seconds of each other), and Peter took his time working up to his normal pace (as usual).

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - Henry drew the fourth starting position (of six) for his first heat race. He made a fantastic start and moved up to second by Turn 3. He moved into the lead on lap two with an unlikely pass in Turn 1 which was set up by a strong run through Turn 9. He was later passed by the eventual winner but easily finished second. He started third (of six) in the second heat, and again made a fantastic start. He followed the pole-sitter (and eventual winner) through the first turn and was in second again by Turn 3. He ran there to the finish. Henry was excited about his heat race performances as, in both, he finished two spots in front of the driver with whom he is tied in the championship – a potential eight point advantage. Starting from the second position in the feature, he maintained his position at the start while the eventual winner disappeared into the distance. Even though his lap times were similar to his heat race lap times, he had two competitors close on his tail in the opening laps. He was able to hold them off until about lap six (of eight). A slight mistake in Turn 10 allowed the kart behind Henry to get a nose underneath him going into Turn 1. This forced Henry wide on the exit and both karts were able to get through. By finishing fourth, he lost all of the potential eight point advantage he stood to gain and is again tied for second in the championship. The borrowed chassis experiment seemed to work well during the heat of the day, but when the sun went down prior to the feature, Henry may have done better with his usual chassis, which tends to work well in cooler conditions.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor started his first heat race from the second position (of seven). He made a good start and was in the lead by Turn 3. He then motored away into the distance. On lap four, I began to give him the 'way out front' signal from my position in the observation tower, but he didn't seem to be paying attention. He turned his fastest lap of the year (50.52) on lap five (of six). He started his second heat race from the fifth position. At the start, Conor saw an opportunity to gain two positions in Turn 1 by splitting two of the karts in front of him. Unfortunately, another kart was trying to make a move on the inside of one of the two karts Conor was trying to pass. Conor was pushed into a 180 degree spin and came to a complete stop while the rest of the field roared away. He was able to get headed in the right direction again and set out after the pack. By lap two, he began picking them off one by one. By lap five, he was up to second (one of the other moms told me later that she had to remind Laura to breathe during all of this). On his final lap (50.61), he had the leader in his sights but finished second. A first and a second earned him the pole position for the feature. He made a good start and again motored away into the distance, recording his third feature race win in three events. He also extended his championship lead by 20 points. Conor has come close on several occasions, but the perfect 160 point day (40 for each of the two heat races and 80 for the feature) has eluded him. This was the closest he has come.

ROOKIE BOX - Peter started his first heat race from the pole (of seven). The second place starter passed Peter in Turn 1, but Peter was able to maintain second position. He then began to receive pressure from three karts behind him. He was able to hold them off to the finish, however, equaling his best-ever finish. When you start on the pole for one heat race, you start at the rear for the other. He made his way past one kart on lap two. On lap four, he began to apply pressure to a kart driven by a much younger driver (6) who was given special dispensation to be in Peter's class (8-12 year olds). This younger driver has been known to block when being passed (the term 'bumper cars' comes to mind), and that's just what he did when Peter tried to pass him between Turns 7 and 8. I have since reminded the race officials to keep an eye on him in the future. Peter was not able to get around him and finished sixth. His heat race finishes earned him the fourth starting position for the feature (two places ahead of Mr. Bumper Cars). He lost one position at the start while the eventual winner checked out. Peter and the group of three immediately in front of him ran nose to tail for the entire distance. There was some swapping of positions in front of him, but I was very pleased to see Peter keep up with this group. On lap 3, he equaled his best-ever lap of 58.52. It won't be long before Peter earns his first top-three feature race finish.

NEXT RACE - The next race is MSOKC Race No. 6 at Circleville Raceway Park on Sunday, June 19, 2005. We have since returned the chassis we borrowed for Henry, but Mike wants to do some fine tuning and have Henry try it again. We're going to think about it. Peter will have new tires for the next race. We're going to leave Conor's kart just the way it is...


Thursday, August 4, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 8 - July 30, 2005 - A Pair of Deuces

Originally sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 3:12 PM

NEWS - Henry and Conor participated in MSOKC Race No. 8 this past Saturday. Peter sat this one out while recovering from a gash to the back of his head that he managed to get while we were on vacation (he and Henry were wrestling). The race on Saturday was supposed to be an evening event. When we arrived at the track, we learned that the proprietor, Steve Tatman, had suffered a mild stroke that morning. We have since learned that he is expected to make a full recovery, but his absence did necessitate compressing the schedule on Saturday (he is the only one who knows how to work the fragile lighting system). Saturday was also Henry's 16th birthday!

PRACTICE - I had done some maintenance to both Henry's and Conor's karts, so upon our arrival, we decided to take advantage of the open practice session that precedes evening races. Reasonable lap times were recorded, but no significant advances were made. During the organized class practices, Henry's lap times were on par with his main rivals, but Conor's main rival had obviously made a significant advance.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - Henry started his first heat from the sixth position (of seven). The slowest kart in his class elected to keep his outside front row starting position. When the green flag flew, the outside row of karts dove under the slower kart in Turn 1. By Turn 2, several karts were in a tangle. Henry managed to get through without too much damage, but the heat was red-flagged in order to clear the track. At the restart, there was a similar incident in Turn 2, but this time everyone managed to keep going. In the scramble between Turns 2 and 3, Henry managed to squeeze by everyone into the lead. He lead for several laps but was passed by the eventual winner on Lap 3. He held on to finish second. In his second heat, starting from the second position, he made a great start and was in the lead again by Turn 3. Both he and the second place kart were passed by the eventual winner at the end of the long straightaway leading to Turn 5. The kart behind Henry managed to get by on the next lap, but Henry was able to return the favor on the lap after that. Henry was able to hold the other kart off for the next lap or so, but Henry eventually finished third. Henry's heat race finishes earned him the third starting position for the feature. He followed the pole sitter through Turns 1 and 2 and established himself in second between Turns 3 and 4. By mid distance, the top three has separated themselves from each other and the rest of the pack. The fourth place kart eventually made his way into third and began to close in on Henry, but was stopped by a broken chain on the white flag lap. Henry cruised home to his best feature race finish of the year (second). Not a bad result for the birthday boy.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor started from the fifth position (of six) in his first heat race. He was able to pick off one kart at the start, another in Turn 9 on the first lap, and another between Turns 7 and 8 on lap 3, bringing him up to second. His main rival, who had started on the front row, had gotten away by then, so second is where he finished. Because of the compressed schedule, we just about missed getting Conor to the grid for his second heat. After being paged on the public address system, we got him there just as engines were being fired up. Starting from the pole, he was passed going into Turn 1. He ran second for a lap before he was able to get by into the lead. Over the next few laps, he extended his lead while recording some reasonable lap times. By Lap 4 (of 6), he was caught by his main rival, who had started from the rear. He was able to hold her off until the end, but just barely (less than a kart length at the end). In the feature, starting from outside the front row, Conor made a great start and was in the lead by Turn 3. I was hoping that if he got into the lead, he would be able to hold off his main rival for the distance. His lead was short lived, however. Be bobbled a bit in Turn 4 on the first lap and his main rival got around him on the long run to Turn 5. The leader disappeared at a rate of about half a second a lap, which is about the rate that Conor was leaving the rest of the field. Like Henry, Conor cruised to a second place finish.

SCCA OVR Points Event No. 1 (re-scheduled) - We also decided to try our first 'double header' last weekend. After a long day at the track on Saturday, Henry and Conor decided that they wanted to participate in another SCCA Solo 2 event. So, on Sunday morning, we packed everything back up and headed for the parking lot at Cooper Stadium. The morning was spent converting both karts over to SCCA configuration (tire and gear changes, removing Conor's restrictor plate, etc.). During the first few runs of the first heat, which was to include the karts, it became apparent that there was a problem with the timing system. After a long delay, it was announced that the problem was insurmountable and that the event would be run as a non-points 'fun' event with no official timing. This was a big disappointment for the boys, as they were hoping to participate in enough points events to be eligible for the championship. This would have necessitated at least another double header, but the problems on Sunday put an end to those hopes. The boys made their un-timed runs anyway and had fun doing so.

NEXT RACE - The next MSOKC race is a Sunday, August 7. I sent Conor's engine back to our engine builder, SRD Racing ( on Monday (UPS Next Day Air) for a freshen up and ordered some clutch parts for him. The new clutch parts arrived and have been installed, but UPS seems to be having trouble with Conor's engine. They misdirected it on the way to the engine builder, which resulted in it arriving a day too late for the work to take place. The engine builder sent it back without opening it, but UPS misdirected it again. As of now (Thursday afternoon), we are just hoping that it arrives in time for the next race. If it doesn't show up tomorrow, we're going to have some scrambling to do. For Sunday, I have a few setup changes to try that I hope will be beneficial to both Henry and Conor. The five surgical staples that Peter received in the Emergency Room in Kansas City came out on Monday, so he should be ready to go on Sunday, too. Practice starts at 10:30 and the green flag falls at Noon. In the mean time our thoughts and prayers are with Steve Tatman and his family.


Monday, July 18, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 7 - July 17, 2005 - Five for Five

Originally sent: Monday, July 18, 2005 10:42 AM

NEWS - Just a quick report before we head off for a much needed summer vacation. Yesterday was Race No. 7 (the fifth race after two weather related postponements) for Mid State of Ohio Kart Club. We made few changes for Conor and Peter, but for Henry, we tossed his setup out the window and went back to square one.

PRACTICE - The track was damp in the morning after some overnight showers. Conor and Peter both did fine in practice, but I was anxious to see how Henry would do with his new setup. His lap times were reasonable, which eased my mind a bit. His new setup appears to be a better place from which to improve than his previous setup.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - Henry started his first heat race from mid pack (third of seven). He maintained his position at the start but got passed at about mid distance and finished fourth. Henry decided to make a few minor chassis adjustments for Heat 2. Starting from fourth, he gained a position at the start. On the back straightaway on Lap 1, he made a pass for the lead at the same time both he and an the kart he was passing were overtaken by the eventual winner (three wide!). He eventually was passed again and finished a strong third, which was very encouraging. In the feature, he lined up fourth. On the formation lap, it became evident that the had an engine problem. As the green flag flew, he was left behind with a sputtering engine. He kept his cool and began adjusting his carburetor on the move. After several adjustments throughout the course of the first lap (of eight) he was back up to speed but about half a lap down. He began picking off some of the slower karts and was making a move for fourth when he was badly blocked. This allowed the kart he had passed for fifth to re-pass Henry. At the next corner (Turn 6), Henry was re-passing for fifth when the kart he was passing tried to close the door. Henry's right rear wheel got caught in front of the other karts left rear wheel and both were stationary for several seconds. Henry got going first, and after both were put a lap down by the leaders, Henry finished fifth. There was some confusion about the finishing order as the result of Henry and the sixth place kart being a lap down. We had to argue our case about Henry being in front of the kart that caused the incident in Turn 6, and eventually both were awarded fifth place points for the feature. That left us with a somewhat empty feeling, but the more disturbing aspect of Henry's feature race was his engine problem. Henry reported that he had to screw the needle valve on his carburetor in a full two and a half turns before his engine would run properly. The only way for this to have been so far out of adjustment was for someone to have tampered with it. I'd like to think that, while Henry's kart was sitting unattended in the grid area, like it often is when Henry is helping me with one of the other boys, some little kid inadvertently screwed it out (it consists of a slotted screw with a nickel attached to it). If that wasn't the case, we have some serious sportsmanship issues to deal with in Henry's class.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor started on the pole (of seven) in his first heat race. He made a good start, led every lap, and won by a comfortable margin. He started from sixth in Heat 2. When he got to Turn 3, several karts were spinning and one actually went over top of another. This brought out the red flag. There were no serious injuries and everyone made it back to the grid for the restart. The two primary karts that were involved in the incident were made to start from the rear, which moved Conor up to fourth. He maintained his position at the start and on Lap 2, made a great pass in Turn 9. Two laps later, he repeated the move in Turn 9 and was up to second. He drew up along side the lead kart on the last lap, but backed off and settled for second. He started the feature from the pole and made a good start. He had a bit more trouble opening up a gap than he has had recently, but by Lap 3, led comfortably. He went on to record his fifth feature race in a row.

ROOKIE BOX - Peter developed a large case of apprehension prior to the start of his first heat. I was supportive of him sitting this one out, but after a pep talk with his mom, he came running to the grid just as engines were being fired. He started mid pack in both of his heat races and fell back a bit with an engine that I was having trouble adjusting to suit the hot and humid conditions. In the feature, starting fifth (of seven), he did much better after I finally got his engine performing up to par. He dropped a position at the start but made it back up on the first lap. He ran fifth for the remainder of the feature, right behind the pack that was contesting second place. He lowered his personal best lap time again in the feature to 57.67 seconds.

NEXT RACE - The next MSOKC race is a Saturday afternoon event on July 30 (Henry's birthday!). In the mean time, we're off to Kansas City to visit family and then to Iowa for some time at the cabin.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

SCCA OVR Points Event No. 5 – July 10, 2005

Originally sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2005 1:54 PM

Conor and Henry participated in another SCCA Solo II event (timed runs through a parking lot course full of pylons) this past Sunday. The event was held in the OSU parking lot just south of Ackerman Road.

On his first run, Conor pushed too hard too quickly and had a lazy spin about one third of the way through the course. He also made a mistake by cutting short a later part of the course, resulting in a DNF (did not finish). Both boys had walked the course only twice, preferring to sit in the shade of our E-Z-Up tent and read the Sunday comics instead. Henry seemed to have taken notice of Conor's spin and recorded a safe 49.448 sec on his first run. The course on Sunday was relatively tight, and after reviewing the data from the first runs, I decided to change the gearing on both karts. On their second runs, Conor recorded a 50.498 and Henry improved to 48.400. I made another gear change on Conor's kart for his third run, which was a 48.201. Henry regained the advantage on his third run by improving to 48.084. Both boys improved on their fourth runs, this time with Conor holding a slight advantage (47.452 to 47.548). Conor had to abort his fifth and final run when the kart in front of him came to a stop on the course, which gave him an opportunity for a re-run on warm tires. Henry, knowing he would have to improve on his final run to regain the advantage, did just that, recording a 47.113. Conor was able to watch Henry's run from where he was waiting to take his re-run, but could not see the timing display. I wasn't sure if should tell Conor that Henry had improved or not - but I did. I could tell that Conor's first attempt at his final run was going to be a good one and I wondered if he could do it again. Henry sometimes refers to Conor as "The Iceman" (the nick-name of Conor's favorite Formula 1 driver, Kimi Raikkonen) because of his ability to respond under pressure, which is exactly what he did. Conor's final run was a 46.570 - almost a second faster that his previous run and nearly half a second faster than Henry's best effort. As in the past, both boys were several seconds faster than the next fastest kart in their class.

We loaded up and made the short trip home with the intent of returning for the trophy presentation. When we did, Conor and Henry received trophies for first and second place in their class, respectively. Henry had been feeling badly about being beaten by his younger brother. I tried to consul him by reminding him that, because of his size, he is nearly 35 lbs over the minimum-required weight, whereas Conor is right at the minimum-required weight. Henry's mood would improve later in the trophy presentation. SCCA has a handicapping system called PAX for comparing times of entries which are not in the same class. The index is intended to take the cars out of the equation and compare only the drivers. SCCA changed the PAX index for karts from last year to make it more difficult for drivers in their class. In spite of this, Conor and Henry received trophies for the top two PAX scores of the day out of 160 or so entries. Henry may have gotten beat by his brother, but finding out that he had bested everyone but his brother in PAX was not a bad way to end the day.

There was a photographer at the event on Sunday. There are a couple of great pictures of Henry and Conor on his website:

Henry -
Conor -

Our next race is MSOKC Race No. 7 at Circleville Raceway Park on Sunday, July 17, 2005.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 6 - June 19, 2005 - Four for Four

Originally sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 12:15 PM

NEWS - MSOKC Race No. 6 (the fourth race of the year after two weather-related postponements) was this past Sunday. In the two weeks since the previous race, Peter was drafted to test a new engine that the club would like to transition to for the Rookie Box class - an overhead valve Briggs & Stratton 5.5 HP Intek. In exchange for Peter testing this engine, the club representative in charge of this transition, Butch McCall at McCall Motorsports (, offered to rebuild Peter’s existing engine at no cost. Peter also had new tires for this race and Henry got to try out the new axle in his existing chassis.

PRACTICE - Peter and I had a practice session on Saturday to test the Intek engine. The model that we were given to try still had the governor installed, as opposed to a restrictor plate. While we were able to find settings that would give us lap times that were similar to his existing setup, the governor made his kart very difficult to drive through the corners. When Peter would begin to scrub off speed in the corners (most of which he is able to take wide open), the governor would open the throttle further to compensate, pushing him through the corner. In light of this difficulty, we decided to spend the remainder of the session breaking in his rebuilt engine. We returned the Intek engine to Butch and will test it again with a restrictor plate installed in the next few weeks. On Sunday, class practices before the race went well. Peter’s recorded a personal best lap time of 58.01 sec in his second session and Conor was also quickly on the pace. We tried a few changes on Henry’s kart with mixed results.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - Henry started his first heat race from the back of the grid - outside of the third row (sixth of six). The two karts that were in front of him belonged to drivers with whom Henry is very comfortable, and at the drop of the flag, these three hooked up and ran through Turns 1 and 2 with noses touching tails (literally). At the entrance to Turn 3 (a right hander following two lefts), those who started on the inside had to wait their turn to turn in. This put Henry up to third position, past the pole sitter. He ran there for most of the heat but got passed in Turn 6 on the last lap when he got up on his two outside wheels - the result of a less than ideal chassis setup - and went wide at the exit. He started the second heat from pole position and ran in the lead for several laps. He dropped a position to the eventual winner on the second lap and another at the beginning of the last lap and finished third. Starting fourth in the feature, he gained a position with another great start. He ran third until the final lap when, again in Turn 6, he went wide at the exit. Henry finished a close fourth and recorded some reasonable lap times throughout the day (including a bunch in the 48.7 to 48.8 sec range), but we still have some work to do on his chassis setup.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor drew the third starting position (of six) for his first heat race. He followed the pole sitter through to second by Turn 3. For the next two laps, he followed the leader looking for a way past. There was an uncomfortable moment on Lap 2 when, after a good run though Turn 1, he thought he could get around on the inside of Turn 2. He ran out of room and had to drop two wheels off of the racing surface to avoid contact. He didn't loose much momentum, however, and managed to get by later on that lap. He then cruised to the finish for the win. In the second heat race, Conor started fourth. Pole position belonged to one of the less experienced drivers and Conor was easily able to move up to second at the start. He made his way past the kart that had started in front of him into the lead before the end of the first lap. After I had given him the 'way out front' signal two weeks ago, he explained to me that it was more likely for him to make a mistake if he was taking it easy. So he continued to push all the way to the finish and recorded a personal best lap time of 50.05 sec on the last lap. He started from the pole position for the feature and led every lap comfortably to the finish, recording his fourth feature race win in a row and completing his first ever 160 point sweep.

ROOKIE BOX – Peter started his first heat from the third position (of six). With a freshly rebuilt engine, he made good starts throughout the day. In the first heat, he moved up to second at the start. Two of the faster karts got around him on Lap 3, and when they did, Peter's lap time actually improved. He seems to do better when a faster kart sets the pace for him. He did a reasonable job of keeping up and finished fourth. He started the second heat from the forth position and ran there to the finish. In the feature, again starting and running fourth to the finish, he recorded another personal best lap time of 57.93 sec.

NEXT RACE - The next MSOKC race isn't until July 17. In the mean time, we may make a road trip to give the boys some experience on a different track, and Henry and Conor have another SCCA Solo II event that they want to contest (July 10 at Cooper Stadium). We will also spend some time working on Henry's chassis setup and having Peter test the Intek engine.


Thursday, June 2, 2005

SCCA OVR Points Event No. 3 – May 29, 2005

Originally sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:58 PM

Conor and Henry participated in another Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Ohio Valley Region (OVR) Solo II event last Sunday at Cooper Stadium in Columbus (home of the Columbus Clippers, a farm team for the New York Yankees). Solo II (a.k.a. autocross) consists of timed runs through a parking lot course full of pylons. There are no practice runs and the course layout is not known until the morning of the event, although participants are allowed to walk the course.

The age rules for SCCA are a bit different than our regular club racing, so both boys are in the same class (Formula Junior 2) this year. Each participant got five runs on Sunday. Henry did well on his first two runs, recording times of 60.362 and 59.625 seconds. Conor seemed to be trying a bit too hard on his first two runs, which were both in the mid 61 second range. On his third run, Conor knocked the benchmark down to 59.493 only to have Henry knock it down again to 59.299 on his third run. On their fourth runs, the timing light malfunctioned, allowing both boys to have a re-run. This was particularly good news for Conor, as he had a spin on his initial fourth run. On the re-run, with sticky tires and a warm engine, Conor knocked over a second off of his previous time, lowering the standard to 58.425. Henry again spoiled Conor’s glee with a time of 58.265 on his re-run. Neither boy could improve in their fifth run, in spite of Conor getting a second attempt as the result of another timing light malfunction. Both boys were over four seconds faster than the next fastest kart in their class and faster than all but two of the six stock Corvettes that were entered.

Henry earned the maximum 100 points for his effort. SCCA has a points scoring system that rewards close finishes, and because of the closeness of their finish (16/100ths of a second), Conor received 98 points. In spite of having missed the previous event (and having the event before that snowed out), Henry and Conor are in first and second place in the championship. Unfortunately, our schedule is such that nether will likely be able to participate in enough events (a minimum of six) to be eligible for the championship at the end of the season.

The next race for all three boys is MSOKC Race No. 5 at Circleville Raceway Park on Saturday, June 4, 2005. This will be the first of four night races of the season. Gates open at 1:00 PM, practice starts at 2:30, and the green flag falls at 5:00.


Friday, May 27, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 4 - May 22, 2005 - Postponed

Originally sent: Friday, May 27, 2005 11:35 AM

NEWS - The early morning weather last Sunday was cool and crisp, which suits our karts well, so we were looking forward to a good day of racing. As the day progressed, the weather got cooler and crisper, the wind picked up, and then it rained. The persistent nature of the rain resulted in the second event postponement of the season. The new date for Race No. 4 is October 2, 2005. We did get to practice and Henry and Conor got their first heat races in before the rain came however.

PRACTICE - Just after we unloaded the karts, we noticed that Henry had sustained a bent rear axle during his incident in the second heat of Race No. 3. I checked with a few other teams, but no one seemed to have a spare. While we were trying to decide whether to make due or to scratch his entry, the dad of the driver with whom Henry is tied for second place in the championship offered to have his wife drive home and bring back their spare. We gratefully accepted their offer and within an hour, we were making the switch. This made practice very hectic, however. We managed to get Conor and Peter on the track twice, change the axle, and get Henry on the track for one complete and one abbreviated practice session.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED - Henry started second (of eight) in the first heat race and both he and the pole-sitter held off Adam, who started from the rear, until Lap 5. A bit of a gap had developed between Henry and the kart in front of him (from whom we had borrowed the axle), but Henry reeled him in in the closing laps. The margin was less than a kart length at the finish. The bent rear axle must have been a factor in the feature of Race No. 3, because Henry recorded a personal best lap time of 48.44 sec on what would be his final lap on Sunday before the rain came.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II - Conor started sixth (of seven) in his first heat race. He made a good start and moved up a position by Turn 3. He made another pass and was up to fourth by the end of Lap 2. He then settled in behind the third place kart, who was having trouble getting around a slower kart in front of her. Conor waited patiently for an opportunity to arise, which it did at the end of Lap 4. The third place kart momentarily thought about making a pass on the outside in Turn 10, which left room for Conor to slip by on the inside. Conor was able to get around the second place kart between Turns 7 and 8 on the next lap. He then set out after the leader, and while he was able to make up a significant portion of the gap, he ran out of laps. He would have started on the front row for the second heat, which would have all but assured him of a good starting position for the feature, so when the rain came, it was a big disappointment for Conor.

ROOKIE BOX - The rain came as Peter's class, which consisted of seven karts, was sitting on the grid for their first heat. This was a disappointment for Peter, too, as the smaller rear tires we had switched to seemed to be working well for him. In practice, he also recorded a personal best lap time (58.52 sec) and is now consistently lapping in the 58 sec range.

NEXT RACE - The next race is MSOKC Race No. 5 on Saturday, June 4, 2005, which is the first night race of the season. In the mean time, Conor and Henry are going to participate in an SCCA Solo II event (OVR Points Event No. 3), which will be Sunday, May 29, 2005, at Cooper Stadium in Columbus.


Friday, May 20, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 3 – May 7, 2005

Originally sent: Friday, May 20, 2005 9:48 AM

NEWS – After beautiful weather for Race No. 1, MSOKC Race No. 2, which had been scheduled for April 24, 2005, was postponed due to… …not rain but snow! The weather on May 7 for Race No. 3 was much better, and I’ve let this go for so long that the details are sketchy, but early morning showers did delay the start by about an hour and a half.

PRACTICE – Peter got to try out his new bodywork in practice (Conor’s old bodywork). The bodywork was fine but he was uncomfortable with the dampness of the track. Conor and Henry also took it easy in the first practice because of the damp conditions, but were able to record reasonable times in the second practice session.

ROOKIE BOX – Peter drew the third starting position (of six in his class) for his first heat. He dropped two positions at the start, but made one back up at about mid distance and finished fourth. Starting fourth in the second heat, he again dropped a position at the start and ran fifth to the finish. In the feature, starting from fifth, he again dropped to the rear at the start. He benefited from off-course excursions by two of his competitors, and was challenging for third when he decided to try an outside move in Turn 10. The kart behind Peter tried to go around the third place kart on the inside at the same time, however. Three-wide is no way to go through Turn 10, and Peter was pushed up into the ‘marbles’ where he had a half spin into the grass. He was able to get going again, but finished sixth. Peter recorded good lap times throughout the day, setting a new personal best of 0:58.76 seconds in the first heat, but we’re going to have to work on his lack of urgency at the starts so that he in not mired in the back of the pack.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN II – There were eight karts in Conor’s class for Race No. 3. He made a great start from the fourth position and was up to third by Turn 3. The second place kart was holding up a faster group behind it, and it took Conor several laps, bur he was able to move up to second on Lap 4 (of six). By then the leader had gotten away. Conor was able to reel him in at the finish, but too late to challenge for the win. Starting third in the second heat, he again got bottled up behind the second place kart. By the time he made his way past, the leader had again gotten away. In a re-play of the first heat, he reeled the leader in, but could not get past. Two seconds did earn him the pole position fro the feature, however. He made a great start and held a somewhat comfortable lead for the first few laps. He then began to be the recipient of quite a bit of pressure from the second place kart, who with Conor, were distancing themselves from the field. The second place kart seemed to be getting a better run through Turn 4, which leads onto the back straight-away. She was able to pull along side Conor sever times, and on Lap 6 (of eight), got by... …momentarily. In order to get by, she had to carry a bit too much speed going into Turn 5, and went wide on the exit. It was one of those classic get-passed/re-pass things and Conor was back in the lead. When the white flag came out on the next lap, Conor had a lead of about two kart lengths. The next time by, as the leaders were coming up on a back-marker, they got the white flag… …AGAIN!!! I’ve always told the boys to race to the checkered flag, and I hoped that Conor had that in mind. He did seem to back off a bit, but I was relieved to see him continue at what appeared to be full pace past the cut-off area. By that time, the second place kart was also back on his tail. At the end of the back straight-away, Conor had no choice but to make his way around the back-marker, who apparently didn’t see him coming. There was brief wheel-to-wheel contact going into Turn 5, but Conor kept it under control. The second place kart also had trouble getting around the back-marker, so when the checkered flag finally flew (a lap later than scheduled), Conor was ahead by a comfortable margin. By recording his second consecutive win of the season, he extended his lead in the championship to 18 points.

JUNIOR UNRESTRICTED – Henry made a great start from the second position (of six) in the first heat to gain the lead. He ran in the lead for about a lap until he was passed by the locomotive of his class, Adam, who again won both heats and the feature (this will be a recurring theme this season). Henry ran second for the next few laps, but it became apparent that his lap times were not quite up to snuff. He seemed to be holding up the third and fourth place karts, who eventually got by in Turn 6 on Lap 3. He then had a half spin in Turn 6 on the next lap and lost another position. On Lap 5, the second and third place kart tangled in Turn 5 with one going off into the grass, elevating Henry to fourth, which is where he finished. The benefactor of the incident in Turn 5 was later found guilty and demoted three places, which moved Henry up to third. Starting from third in the second heat, Henry followed the pole-sitter through Turn 1 and into second by Turn 3. Both were passed by Adam on Lap 2. At about mid-distance, Henry was able to get along side the second place kart on the inside of Turn 10. Despite a blatant attempt at closing the door by the second place kart, which resulted in wheel-to-wheel contact, he and another kart were able to get by. At one point when it did appear that he might come under some pressure, the third place kart had an uncharacteristic spin. A third and a second place finish in the heat races earned him the second starting position for the feature. He made a great start and led through Turns 1 and 2, but relinquished the lead to Adam in Turn 3. He held off the third place kart until about Lap 5 and finished third. This, along with his strong heat race finishes, was enough to bring him from third in the championship to a tie for second, however.

NEXT RACE - Even though Conor and Henry ran well in Race No. 3, we may have tried to extend the life of the old tires on which we started the season one race too many. Both have new tires for Race No. 4, which is Sunday, May 22. We will also try something new on Peter's kart (smaller rear tires), which we are hoping will help him in the opening laps. Springtime weather in central Ohio can be fickle, so we're also hoping that it won't snow...


Monday, May 16, 2005

Friday, April 15, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 1 - April 10, 2005

Originally sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 4:22 PM

First of all, if you'd like to discontinue receiving these updates (or if you never wanted to receive them in the first place), just let me know by return email. No hard feelings - I promise.

NEWS - The 2005 Mid State of Ohio Kart Club season got off to a great start this past Sundays with clear skies and unseasonably warm temperatures. During the off-season, we performed routine maintenance (chassis rebuilds and a much-needed engine rebuild for Henry), and Henry and Conor got new bodywork and seats installed. I also had to do some adjusting of pedal positions - these boys just won't stop growing! We didn't change a whole lot other than that, as both were running well at the end of last season. Since Peter was still coming to terms with active competition, we made few changes to his kart also. A new club-spec tire was also mandated during the off-season, but we decided to take advantage of the three-race transition period to make use of the rubber we had left over from last season. With my travels, our Spring Break trip, and typical Spring weather in Ohio, we only had one opportunity to practice prior to the season opener.

PRACTICE - During the practice sessions on Sunday, all three boys recorded competitive lap times. This was comforting given our decision to start the season on old tires. In the second practice session, Peter had a half spin in Turn 10 and was clobbered by one of his competitors, which broke the nose of his bodywork. About half a roll of duct tape later, we had him back in business.

PETER - ROOKIE BOX - Peter's class had several return competitors and several new faces. He drew the 7th starting position (of 7) for Heat 1, but was moved up a spot when one of the rookies elected to start from the rear. At the start, he was able to move up another position going into Turn 2. He ran comfortably in fifth place for most of the heat and took advantage of several off-course excursions by his competitors. The first of these moved him up to fourth, and then on the same lap, two other competitors became entangled (literally). They were stationary long enough for Peter to get by, which put him into second, which is where he finished! He started the second heat on the pole, which was a new thing for him. He did well leading the pack around for the start, but when the green flag flew and he mashed the gas, the engine bogged. Several karts got around him, but he settled in at about mid pack. One of the faster karts, who started behind Peter also got past on Lap 2 (of 6). By now, Peter was running laps consistently in the mid 59 second range and ended up finishing fifth. His heat races finishes earned him the third starting position for the feature. He maintained his position at the start but was passed on Lap 1. He kept the bit between his teeth, recording his fastest lap time ever (59.13), and hung on to finish fourth in spite of some stiff pressure from one of the return competitors. An excellent result - one spot off of the rostrum - in just his third race. Way to go Peter!

CONOR - JR. SPORTSMAN II - Conor's main competitor from last season (Adam Roberts) had to move up a class because of his age. There were quite a few return competitors, however, and one new face. Like Peter, Conor drew the last starting position (6 of 6) for Heat 1, but was moved up a spot. He got a great start and was up to fourth by Turn 2. He made a nice pass at the end of the back straight-away on Lap 2, which put him into third. Recording a lap of 51.18 along the way, he then began to apply pressure to the second place kart. She responded by making a mistake in Turn 7 on Lap 4 and Conor got past. The lead kart had gotten away by that point, so Conor ended up second. In Heat 2, he started on the pole, made a great start, and motored off into the distance. The winning margin was about the length of the back straight-away, in spite of me giving him signals to slow down. Starting on the pole for the feature, Conor was passed going into Turn 1. He ran most of the feature in a close second place while receiving a bit of pressure from behind. On the penultimate lap, I looked away as Conor approached the end of the back straight-away. When I looked up again, the leader was in the grass and Conor was into the lead. When he crossed the start/finish line at the end of that lap, the flagman pointed a furled black flag at him, which indicates a warning of some type. He received quite a bit of pressure on the last lap, but crossed the finish line first. I was a bit concerned about the furled black flag, and then became more concerned when the flagman waived the black flag at him, which indicates a disqualification, along with the checkered flag at the finish. When he came off of the track, I asked Conor what had happened. He indicated that he and the leader did come together in Turn 6 after the leader had made a mistake, but that they were side-by-side when the contact occurred. The rules state that when the front wheels of a passing kart are up to the steering wheel of the leading kart, the leading kart must give the passing kart room. Conor indicated that the leading kart tried to close the door, which is when the contact occurred. Evidently, the corner worker reported that the contact was avoidable. By the time we got to the scoring tower to discuss the matter, the head race official had already over-ruled the corner worker, so Conor got by with a win and a warning. Conor felt bad about the incident, so much so that he never did collect his trophy, but that's the way racing goes sometimes. Like they say in NASCAR, "it's just one of them racin' deals." Unlike the 2003 season, when Conor won five of the nine races he entered, he went the whole season last year without a feature win. A win on Sunday, even if it was a bit tainted, was a nice way for him to start the season. During post race inspection, his kart passed without incident, but the race official did inform me that all three screws that hold his fuel tank to the carburetor were missing, which might explain Conor's complaint about a sputtering engine in the closing laps. Prior to the penultimate lap, he ran his fastest lap of the day (51.14). His last two laps were in the high 51 second range. I suppose that we should be happy that he finished the feature at all!

HENRY - JR. UNRESTRICTED - Adam's departure from Conor's class was good news for Conor, but bad news for Henry, as Adam is now in Henry's class. Adam, who won the WKA Grand National race at Lowes Motor Speedway in Rockingham in September last year, won both heats and the feature on Sunday. Henry and the other competitors in his class (6 in all) were left to fight it out for second place. Henry started Heat 1 from the third position. He maintained his position at the start and made a pass into second on Lap 1. Adam got past and then into the lead on Lap 2. Henry was on the bumper of the second place kart until Turn 10 of Lap 4, when he was able to draw up along side on the inside. He had set up this pass going into Turn 9 and it was a beautiful thing to watch. They went side-by-side through Turns 10 and 1, Henry had a slight margin by the time they got to Turn 2, and he completed the pass in Turn 3. He was able to pull away a bit and finished second. He also started Heat 2 from the third position, and ran third through most of the heat. When he and the second place kart came up to lap a slower kart, the second place kart went one way and Henry went the other. Henry got the best of that deal and went through to second, which is where he finished. Starting from outside the front row in the feature, he made a good start and ran in second for the first few laps. Even though he turned his fastest lap of the day on Lap 3 (48.83), the third and fourth place karts were right on his tail. On Lap 6 (of 8), he bobbled going through Turn 6 (he would later tell me that he got up on two wheels), and both karts got through. I had made a small tire pressure adjustment prior to the feature, which was obviously too small to compensate for the rising track temperatures. Henry backed off a bit, as he was comfortably ahead of the next kart, and finished fourth. He is just two points out of second place in the championship race, however.

NEXT RACE - The next race is Sunday, April 24, 2005, at Circleville Raceway Park. Prior to that, Peter will get Conor's old bodywork and a clutch rebuild, and I'll make sure that Conor's fuel tank is secure! The entire schedule for the 2005 season is shown below.


2005 MSOKC Schedule

April 10 - Sunday
April 24 - Sunday
May 7 - Saturday (Sunday schedule)
May 22 - Sunday
June 4 - Saturday
June 19 - Sunday
July 17 - Sunday
July 30 - Saturday
August 7 - Sunday
August 20 - Saturday - Bonus Points
September 11 - Sunday - Bonus Points
September 18 - Sunday - Rain Date
September 24 - Saturday - Bonus Points
October 2 - Sunday - Rain Date

Saturday Schedule (unless noted otherwise)
Gates: 2:00 p.m.
Practice: 3:30 p.m.
Driver's Meeting: 5:30 p.m.
Green Flag: 6:00 p.m.
Sunday Schedule
Gates: 8:00 a.m.
Practice: 9:30 a.m.
Driver's Meeting: 11:30 a.m.
Green Flag: Noon