Saturday, August 18, 2007

Commercial Point Grand Prix and MSOKC Race No. 8 (2007)

Originally sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 2:32 PM

NEWS – Bruce Brothers Racing has had two race weekends in a row but only one participant in each. Henry participated in the Commercial Point Grand Prix on August 4 and 5. There was no class for Peter, so Henry was our lone participant. Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 8 was last Saturday (August 11), but Henry had decided to attend a camping/kayaking trip with his high school cross country team instead, so Peter was our lone participant. Conor had the weekend of the CPGP off, but was back in the timing and scoring tower for MSOKC Race No. 8, where he helped commission a new laptop computer for the system.

COMMERCIAL POINT GRAND PRIX – The CPGP – a street race through the town of Commercial Point, Ohio, that benefits the Jackson Township Fireman's Association – was the highlight of the season for us last year. Qualifying and merchandise races were on Saturday and trophy and 'pro' races were on Sunday. The track layout was shortened from last year to avoid a very narrow, bumpy section known as the 'bowling alley'. The track went from a 0.6 mile nine turn circuit to a very fast 0.5 mile six-turn circuit. To make up for the loss of the bowling alley, the front straightaway was extended to 900 ft (from 600 ft). Before we even arrived, we had decided that a big gear change was in order. In practice under sunny skies on Saturday, Henry was pushing 75 mph before breaking for Turn 1.

CPGP Qualifying – Lap times from the second timed practice would set the grid for the 15 lap merchandise races on Saturday. Henry adapted quickly to the new course layout and ended up fourth fastest of the 12 karts in his class.

CPGP Merchandise Race – Henry got away well from the standing start in his lone Saturday race and ran in fourth place for the first 10 laps or so. He was nipping at heels at the kart in front of him while the kart behind was nipping at his heels. On Lap 11 (of 15), he tried to gain an advantage by taking a different line through the final corner leading onto the front straightaway. Unfortunately, he clipped a hay bale on the exit and did a quick spin. He ended up pointed in the right direction and was able to continue while only loosing one position. He went on to finish fifth, but there were repairs to do (bent tie rod) overnight.

CPGP Trophy Race – Sunday dawned mostly cloudy with a distinct chance of rain. The repairs must have been effective, because Henrys practice times on Sunday were impressive. Finishing positions from Saturday set the grid for the 15 lap Trophy races on Sunday. Before those got underway, the skies opened up. Our normal club races are postponed in the event of rain, but that is not the case with the CPGP. Fortunately, we have an older set of rain tires that I had thought to mount on spare rims in the event of rain. We bolted these on and made what we thought were the necessary chassis adjustments. Henry had never raced in the rain before, so we were all a bit apprehensive as we headed for the grid. Henry's class was the last out, and there had been plenty of action in the preceding races. Many of the competitors had elected not to start in the rain. Eight showed up on the grid for Henry's race. He got away well again and gained a position on lap one when a kart in front of him went into the hay bales. He settled into fourth position and began to get the hang of the wet weather business. Even so, lap times were about seven seconds slower than in dry conditions (38 second laps as opposed to 31). He was obviously being held up by two karts in front of him. On lap 7, he pushed too hard going into Turn 2, twitched, tried to catch it, and ended up hard into the hay bales. From where we were positioned, our only indication of this was that he did not come around for Lap 8. As worry began to settle in, Laura's cell phone rang. Henry had borrowed a spectator's cell phone so that he could let us know he was all right!

CPGP Pro Race – Henry's pro race was third in the order on Sunday afternoon. This gave us little time for repairs. We scrambled to replace a bent tie rod (again!), realign the front end, repair body work, and clean up an incredible amount of hay. To make things worse, the rain had subsided, so there was some doubt that rain tires and the rain setup were the right choice. The first two pro races were run under what were declared 'wet conditions', but just before Henry was called to the grid, the conditions were declared 'dry' again. The entire Bruce Brothers Racing team sprung into action – the rain tires came off and the chassis adjustments were made in plenty of time. Finishing positions from the Trophy races set the grid for the 20 lap Pro races. Henry was running sixth when he had his incident in the rain, so that's where he started. He made a great start and went around the outside of two karts on the approach to Turn 1. He made his way around another kart on Lap 2 and ran in third before being passed on Lap 4 by a faster kart that had not done well in the rain. Henry again found himself between a kart he could not get around and a kart that wanted to get around him. On Lap 7, the kart behind ran out of patience and tried a bold move up the inside in Turn 1. Both Henry and the kart ahead let him go, but the move was too aggressive and the overtaking kart ended up in the hay bales. Henry received a glancing blow from the rebound but was able to continue without delay. On Lap 13, the faster kart that had passed on Lap 4 came to a stop, which promoted Henry back to third. Henry continued to pressure the second place kart to the end, even pulling along side several times, but could not find a way around. His third place finish earned him a cool $125 in prize money.

MSOKC RACE NO. 8 – MSOKC Race No. 8 last Saturday was the second night race of the season. Preparations were fairly straightforward with only one kart to worry about again. The gap between Peter and the second fastest kart in his class has grown smaller over the last few races, so we did decide to make some chassis adjustments. In Peter's second practice session, he nearly equaled his personal best lap time at Circleville Raceway Park (51.50 seconds compared to a personal best of 51.30). His lap times usually improve throughout the day, so we were encouraged by the changes. The Junior Sportsman 2 class had a season-high of six karts, including a former club member who has been running regional and national events for the past year or so, and would be disqualified at the end of the day for running on non-club-spec tires. Peter drew mid-field starting positions for both of his heat races (fourth in the first heat and third in the second). When the green flag dropped in the first heat, Peter was held up by the kart in front of him and dropped to last. He made up two positions on the first lap, another one on the third, and then made a well timed pass in Turn 5 on the last lap. He finished second behind the kart who would be disqualified, but with no clear laps, he was unable to improve on his personal best lap time. The second heat and the feature were frustrating for Peter. In the second heat race, he started in third and ran there to the finish. If he could have gotten around the regular club member in front of him, I'm sure he could have given the former club member a run for his money. His finishing positions in the heat races put him on the outside of the front row for the feature 'under the lights'. The regular club member was able to follow the pole sitter through to second at the start. Peter spent 10 long laps trying to find a way past while running lap times over a second slower that his practice times. He finished third in the feature and was promoted to second after the disqualification, so the day wasn't a disaster by any means, but it was certainly frustrating to have no clear laps following the practice sessions. We have decided on a clutch rebuild for Peter prior to the next race to help him with his starts and we will also replace the set of tires he has been running on since the beginning of the season. Peter has a healthy lead in the championship, but these improvements should allow him to show what he's capable of. Peter has his eye on Conor's fastest lap at CRP in this class, which is a 49.62 set on September 18, 2005. This is a lofty goal, but it's nice to have something to shoot for.

NEXT RACE – MSOKC Race No. 9 – a qualifying format race in the regular direction – is August 26, 2006. In the mean time the boys will start back to school – Henry in his last year at high school, and Conor and Peter in their first years of high school and middle school, respectively.