Wednesday, April 25, 2007

MSOKC Race No. 1 – April 22, 2007

Originally sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 12:41 AM

NEWS – The 2007 Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club season got off to an excellent start for Bruce Brother Racing last weekend despite only a minimal about of preparation. Peter and I were able to get in one short practice session about a month ago following the reconfiguration of his kart for the Junior Sportsman 2 class he will contest this season. Henry and I also had a short practice session two weekends ago to break in his engine following a freshening up and the addition of a few bits and pieces by his engine builder. Both got new tires for the start of the season. The club had been looking for a helper for the timing and scoring staff on race days, and this ended up being an excellent opportunity for Conor.

PRACTICE – It sure was nice to see all of our racing friends on Sunday after a long winter. We also had excellent weather on Sunday, with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70s. The first race of the season is the first real chance to see how many competitors will be in each class. The overall turnout was good, and Henry's class was as strong as ever with 11 even though several regulars were absent. Peter's class consisted of only four, but we know of several others who will compete but were not ready in time for the season opener. Peter practiced first and it became immediately apparent that we had done something right with the reconfiguration of his kart, as he was at least a second a lap faster than everyone else. We have a lot of data from when Conor won the championship in this class in 2005, which helped immensely. Peter also adapted quickly to almost twice the amount of horsepower he had last year. Henry was also on the pace immediately and seemed to be extremely pleased with the increased horsepower as the result of his engine work.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN 2 – Peter's class consisted of him, the Rookie Box class champion from last year, and two relative newcomers, one of whom ran several races last year. The newcomers started from the rear all day and Peter started the first heat from outside the front row. He fell in behind the pole sitter in Turn 1 and was tight on his tail for the first few laps. Knowing he was faster, he bided his time until the leader made a mistake, which came on Lap 3. Peter tucked underneath in Turn 4 and had the lead by Turn 5. He pulled away and, in spite of having to cope with lapped traffic, won by a comfortable margin. Starting from the pole in Heat 2, Peter made an excellent start and just edged his primary competitor going into Turn 1. There was a bit of contact between Peter's right rear wheel and the other kart's left front wheel between Turns 1 and 2, but both continued without delay. Peter was able to disappear into the distance for another heat race win. Peter also started the feature from the pole position. He got a good start, but so did his primary competitor. They went side-by-side through Turns 1 and 2, which put the other kart on the inside for Turn 3. I was confident that if Peter could not hold the lead, he could certainly challenge from second. Unfortunately, the kart behind clobbered Peter from the rear and sent him into the grass. He became high-centered on the curbing and had to get out and push to get going again. By the time he was underway, he was 35 seconds or so behind the leader. Once he had a clear track ahead of him, he lowered his lap times into the low 52 second range. His best was a 51.93, which compares to a best of 56.49 from the Rookie Box class last year. At about mid distance, I realized that he was catching the leader at quite a pace – like 2 or 3 seconds a lap. At the end of the 10 lap event, he was still second but was able to cut the deficit to about 7 seconds. Peter was fortunate to finish at all, as the Turn 3 incident on Lap 1 resulted in a significant methanol leak from his fuel tank. Because of a broken chain mishap in the second heat by his primary competitor, Peter came away from the day leading the championship in his class.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry was not in the best of shape on Sunday. The night before had been his Junior/Senior prom, and he had been out (by special permission) until about 3:30 AM. I got him up at about 6:45 AM on Sunday. He started his first heat from fifth position. He got away from the standing start well, but dropped a position in the process. He ran in sixth position for a few laps with traffic in front and behind. On Lap 4, the kart behind was able to dive underneath going into in Turn 5, but Henry was able to repay the favor on the exit of Turn 5 when the other kart went in a little too deep (he called it a 'Lewis Hamilton move' in reference to a similar bold move by Formula 1's hottest rookie in the season opener). Henry finally had to concede the position on the next lap and finished seventh. He also started the second heat from the fifth position. He timed the dropping of the flag well, but at the last second, bogged the engine allowing several karts to pass. It was fortunate that he did, because there was a melee in Turn 1. Henry used a strategy that I told him about a while back, which I learned from watching too much racing on television. I once heard an ESPN pit reporter say that, when someone spins in front of you, you should aim right for them, because by the time you get there, they'll be gone. That's just what Henry said he did and it worked like a charm. He came through the mess right where he started – in fourth position. He benefited from the misfortune of several others and ended up in second position by about mid distance. He cruised there to the end and recorded his best ever finish in the 80cc Shifter class. Henry's heat race finishes earned him the fourth starting position for the feature. He got away reasonably well, but dropped two positions in the process. On Lap 3, he benefited from a mechanical failure, which promoted him to fifth. The leader had gotten away at that point, but the next four were nose-to-tail. I was happy to see Henry holding onto the tail of this group. On Lap 4, one of the karts in from of Henry seemed to have made a clean pass on the inside going into Turn 5, but the door was closed on him which sent him briefly into the grass. This promoted Henry to fourth. He ran there for three laps before having to re-concede the position. He finished the feature in fifth, but recorded the fourth fastest lap time of 44.76. Another 1/10 off of that would have given him the second fastest lap time. Overall it was an excellent result for a bleary-eyed boy.

NEXT RACE – Peter and Henry both had excellent days on the track, and Conor enjoyed himself in the scoring tower as well. He even got paid for his efforts, which he thought was pretty cool for mostly sitting in the air conditioning all day. Everyone seemed to be glad to see him and many took time out to wish him a speedy recovery from what the next month or so holds in store. The next race is Sunday, May 6, 2007. Peter and Henry will do there best to even better their performances from this past Sunday, and Conor will have even increased responsibilities in the tower. After that, it will be off to Iowa City for Conor's surgery, which is scheduled for May 17.


p.s., Lap times and results can be found at