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.