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.