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!!!