Friday, April 15, 2005

MSOKC Race No. 1 - April 10, 2005

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

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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