Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 3 – May 24, 2008 – No Go, No Stop

NEWS – A three week break preceded MSOKC Race No. 3, which was held on a Saturday to avoid the middle of the Memorial Day weekend. Life at the Bruce household has been hectic with end-of-school-year activities, so not much preparation occurred between races. Henry got new front tires, but that was about it. I had not even unloaded the trailer before installing Henry’s tires on Thursday. Earlier in the week, we received news that Henry had been accepted for admission at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Admission to Brown, which is a member of the Ivy League, is extremely competitive, so we were are extremely proud of Henry for this outstanding academic achievement. Orientation begins August 30 and classes start September 3.

PRACTICE – We managed to arrive at a reasonable time on Saturday, so practice started out routinely. Henry decided to use his practice rear tires while breaking in his new fronts. When we went to bolt his primary rears back on, we discovered a big chunk missing from one of his magnesium rims – a product of contact from his feature race incident in Race No. 2. Laura, who had not left home yet, agreed to bring a spare from the garage, but would not arrive in time to make the change prior to the start of Henry’s first heat. Henry seemed to like the balance with the old/new combination, and decided he would try to run the whole day like that, preserving his primary rears. Conor reported that a slight vibration that he originally reported after his feature in Race No. 2 was still persisting. Upon closer examination, we discovered that his rear axle was slightly bent. We rotated the rear wheel on the bent side to minimize the eccentricity and decide that this would get us through the day. Fortunately, Peter’s practice sessions were trouble free.

BRIGGS JUNIOR –Peter was the only one in his class again, but we did meet a dad and a son on Saturday who plan to join this class soon. Peter’s class was again combined with the class that he ran last year, which included the national points-leader in this class. They were visiting from Virginia in preparation for a WKA Hortsman Gold Cup national championship race at Circleville Raceway Park later this year. Peter took the lead and led every lap of the heat races and the feature in this combined class, but the national level guy was not far behind. We were happy that he had Peter as someone to keep in his sights.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Conor started his first heat race from the third position (of eight). He gained a spot in Turn 5 on the first lap and set out for the leader. He made several passing attempts over the next few laps but had to settle for second when he needed to defend his position from Lap 4 on. Conor’s fifth starting position in the second heat race seemed like a good place to be when the inside row got up to speed a little bit sooner than the outside row. On the exit of Turn 1, Conor and a kart from the outside row made contact however, which sent the rear of Conor’s kart in the air momentarily. Conor kept his foot on the throttle and actually gained a position as the result. He was able to get around another kart in Turn 5 on the first lap. In Turn 7 of the following lap, the two karts in front touched which allowed Conor to slip into the lead. He held on for his second heat race win of the season. Back in the pits, he reported a big vibration. If his axle was slightly bent before, it was significantly bent now. We do not have a spare for this kart yet, but were able to borrow a slightly different spec axle from one of Conor’s competitors. We completed the work in plenty of time for the feature but had to make some guesses as to what other changes were necessary for the different spec (less stiff) axle. I had also made a brake adjustment during the change-over to address a brake pedal that was getting ‘long’. This ended up to be an inopportune time for this as Conor reported having no braking power in the first lap of his feature. He started from the pole position and maintained the lead through most of the first lap. I could tell something was not right when he did not pull away from the pack immediately. The first few karts behind Conor were right on his tail as they approached Turn 9. Conor, knowing he was holding them up and not knowing if his brakes would come back, went wide to let them through. The first kart through bumped Conor even wider and he began to slide on the ‘marbles’. Conor made a gallant effort to save it, but ended up backwards at a dead stop and in last place. He got going again and caught up with the tail-enders and passed two at about the mid-way point. He made his way up to the next two on Lap 7 and got by them in two consecutive turns. He had closed the majority of the gap to third place when the checkered flag flew. His best lap time in the feature was a 45.710, which is not his personal best. That was a 45.610 in the second heat, after he bent his axle. Maybe I should have left it alone…

80cc SHIFTER – Henry started his first heat race from outside the front row (second of nine). I had a feeling that he could win this heat race since some of the faster karts were starting from the rear. At the green flag, Henry began to roll immediately and appeared to be headed for the lead in the short run to Turn 1. That’s when it all went wrong. He lost all momentum and raised his hand as all the other karts when flying past. He came to a stop between Turns 1 and 2 and hopped out to survey the situation. The culprit ended up being a broken throttle cable. He hopped back in and puttered back to the pits while operating the throttle with his hand. The design of the throttle cable attachment point on this kart is not ideal, and we’ve had to fix a frayed cable several times over the past few years, but we had not checked it recently. A ninth place finish was the result. Henry made another great start in his second heat, promoting himself from seventh to sixth position. While pressuring the kart in front of him, he lost the position again on Lap 2. He was able to make up two more positions on Lap 4 and finished fifth. A ninth and a fifth resulted in a seventh place starting position for the feature. There was a lot of bumping and banging going on in front of Henry on Lap 1. As a result, he found himself up to fourth at the beginning of Lap 2. Henry and the kart in front of him were being held up by a kart that I knew would be disqualified at the end of the day for using non-club spec tires. The kart in front of Henry was able to get by on Lap 4. I was content to see Henry follow this other kart to the finish, but he apparently did not know about the tire issue. He pushed hard to the finish and was eventually promoted to third, which is not a bad way to end a day that started out poorly.

NEXT RACE – While Peter’s day was uneventful, Henry (no go) and Conor (no stop) had problems that were quite the opposite of each other. Both rebounded for respectable finishes, however. Conor will get a new axle for Race No. 4, which is the first night race of the season on Saturday, June 7, and Henry will get his throttle cable reconfigured. Hopefully, there will be at least two karts in Peter’s class. We also know now that Henry will miss the last three races of the season, which is a small price to pay for such an excellent education opportunity.


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