Friday, July 27, 2007

MSOKC Race No. 7 – July 22, 2007 – Three in a Row

Originally sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 11:46 AM

NEWS – Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 7 last Sunday was just two days after we returned from a whirlwind trip to Iowa City and Kansas City . Conor had a check-up at the hospital in Iowa City, where he received an encouraging report from his doctor, and we were able to spend some quality time with family in Kansas City. After very hot weather in Kansas City, we were relieved by the unseasonably cool weather in central Ohio. Henry got new tires and brake pads for Race No. 7 and we once again left well enough alone for Peter. Race No. 7 was the second 'backwards' race of the season and the first of two races this season that will use a timed qualifying session in place of the first heat race.

PRACTICE – Henry took it easy for the first few laps of his first practice session to break in his new tires and brake pads. Something was not quite right with his engine, as it was noticeably off-song coming around the final turn (the normal Turn 1). We checked electrical connections and cleaned the spark plug between practice sessions but this did not alleviate the problem. We installed a new spark plug that we were able to scrounge from one of his competitors and hoped this would do the trick for the qualifying session. We know from experience that it is easy to get behind the eight ball during a race day with a qualifying format (I forgot to install Henry's transponder during a qualifying race last year and he had to start from the rear). Once again, Peter's practice times seemed to be about a second faster than the rest of the field.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN 2 – Peter's class had five karts again on Sunday. For the qualifying session, all five karts were on the track at once, but spaced out at even intervals. Qualifying consists of a warm-up lap, two flying laps, and a cool down lap. Peter's best time was good enough for the pole position by about 3/4 of a second. In the heat race, Peter brought the field around a bit faster than he normally does, and the outside pole sitter got the best of him going into the first turn (the normal Turn 10). It can be difficult to pass at Circleville Raceway Park unless you're aggressive or a lot faster. Peter does not tend to be aggressive enough on the race track, and 3/4 of a second is not a big difference. Peter had several runs at the lead kart during the first few laps. On the last lap, he got a good run through the turn leading to the back straightaway and was able to pull along the inside into the following turn. Peter held his position but the other kart did not concede and the two banged wheels. Both lost momentum but the other kart was now on the inside for the following turn, which foiled Peter's attempt. Peter hung on to finish second. Because of his recent success, we had become a bit complacent with the preparation of Peter kart. For one, he has been 15 lbs over the minimum-required weight for his class. We decided to remove some ballast and make some minor chassis adjustment for the feature. Starting positions for the feature are determined by an aggregate score of qualifying and the heat race, which put Peter on the outside of the front row. At the start, he was able to return the favor from the heat race and slid into the lead going into the first turn. He quickly opened up a lead. His third lap was a 51.30, which is a personal best for Peter in either direction at CRP (previous best was 51.46 in the normal direction). He backed off a bit after that but continued to build his lead to the end. Although it was not another perfect day for Peter, it was his third feature race win in a row.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry's class had 10 karts on Sunday, which is a relatively light turnout for this class. To avoid any chance of congestion on the track, the class was split into two groups for the qualifying session. I was relieved to hear Henry's engine singing its normal song as he came around to start his first flying lap. He must have known that this lap was a good one, because he pushed a bit too hard on the second one. He came to a stop in the grass after dropping two wheels off the edge of the track about half way through. One lap is all it takes in qualifying however and Henry's was good enough to start the heat race from the front half of the grid (fifth). There is usually a lot of action in normal heat races, as the starting positions are determined by a random draw. The faster guys sometimes start from the rear and the slower guys sometimes start at the front. There wasn't a lot of action in Henry's heat race (which is fine by me). Henry got a great start and completed the first lap where he started – in fifth. He benefited from one retirement and finished fourth while pressuring the third place kart. Starting from the fourth position in the feature, he got away well and settled into fourth. A faster kart who had not qualified well nipped at Henry's heals for several laps before parking it with mechanical problems at about mid distance. Henry was right on the tail of the third place kart until the last lap or so when he backed off a bit. Driving a shifter kart is a very physical activity, particularly in the reverse direction at CRP where there is a nasty bump in the normal Turn 1 which is taken wide open at about 60 mph. Henry went on the finish fourth, but complained of aching neck muscle afterwards. His results for the day were encouraging enough (reasonable finishes and lap times in the mid 44 second range all day), but we later learned that the third place kart was disqualified during technical inspection for using non-spec fuel. This promoted Henry one place in each of the three sessions. A third place feature race finish equals Henry's personal best in a shifter kart.

NEXT RACE – The next event for Bruce Brothers Racing is a Henry-only affair on August 4 and 5. The Commercial point Grand Prix is a street race through the town of Commercial Point, Ohio, which benefits the Jackson Township Fireman's Association. Unfortunately, there is no class for Peter again this year. Qualifying races are on Saturday beginning at 3:30 PM. The results set the starting order for the feature races on Sunday, which get underway at 1:00 PM. 'Pro' races follow the trophy races on Sunday. Henry will compete in both again this year. This was the highlight of the season for us last year where Conor won easily and Henry finished third on both Saturday and Sunday and collected a paycheck for his fourth place finish in the pro race. After that, it's back to CRP for MSOKC Race No. 8 on Saturday, August 11, which is the second night race of the season. In the mean time, we're all in the San Francisco Bay area where we are getting to spend more quality time with family and visiting a few potential universities for Henry.


Monday, July 16, 2007

MSOKC Race No. 6 - July 8, 2007

Originally sent: Monday, July 16, 2007 9:24 PM

NEWS – We're in Kansas City visiting family after an encouraging check-up for Conor in Iowa City last week, so I'll make this brief. The dog days of summer arrived for MSOKC Race No. 6 a week ago Sunday. Peter added to his string of impressive performances while Henry struggled a bit with brake and tire problems.

PRACTICE – Henry has only been getting two race weekends out of a set of tires, which is a bit rich for our race budget, so we decided to mix and match a set together to a third race out of his first two sets. This particular Sunday was probably not the best day to do this since grip was at a premium because of the hot weather. We have also been struggling a bit with Henry's dual caliper brake system, but made some changes that we hoped would help. Henry began practice on an old set of tires to save the set we put together for the race and did reasonably well. Peter, as usual, had no problem setting the pace in his class in practice.

JUNIOR SPORTSMAN 2 – For the first time since Race No. 2, there were finally five karts in Peter's class on Sunday. Peter started on the tail for his first heat. His lap chart for this heat looks like stair steps – one pass on the first lap, another on the second, another on the third, etc. By the end of Lap 4 he was in the lead and pulling away to a well deserved win. He timed the start perfectly from the pole position in the second heat and once again motored away. The feature was much the same – Peter led easily from the green flag for his second perfect 1-1-1 finish of the season. His fastest laps of the day were after taking the lead in Heat 1. I think he was holding back thereafter, which is an ominous sign for his competition.

80cc SHIFTER – Henry started his first heat from outside the fourth row. He made up a couple of places on the first lap and ran in sixth to the finish. He got away well from the second position in Heat 2 and ran there for three laps. While he was able to keep the leader in his sights, it became apparent on Lap 4 that he was holding up several karts behind him who were getting deeper into the heavy braking corners. When one kart got by, this opened the door for two others. Henry was able to hold on for a fifth place finish. Henry started the feature from the fifth position. He got away well and ran there for four laps. With tires that were just about spent, he conceded a position on Lap 5 and another on Lap 8. While he had some decent lap times throughout the day, his fastest was nearly a second slower than his personal best. This race for Henry is one that can best be described as being unremarkable, which is not bad considering the circumstances.

NEXT RACE – Henry will have new tires for Race No. 7, which is Sunday, July 22, 2007. This will be the second race in the opposite direction at Circleville Raceway Park this season. It will also be the first race of the season to use a timed qualifying format. Both Peter and Henry enjoy 'backwards' races, and as such, should benefit from the qualifying format.


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