Thursday, September 25, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 11 – Sunday, September 21, 2008

NEWS – Bruce Brothers Racing had a successful day at the races last Sunday for Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 11. Conor did well on a day that both of his closest competitors in the championship faltered, and Peter managed to extend his championship lead by the slimmest of margins. Laura missed her second race of the season (and her second ever) because she wanted to be with her dad in Kansas City as he recovered from kidney transplant surgery (he seems to be doing much better, thank you). Conor got a clutch rebuild and a new set of tires for Race No. 11, and Peter got some clutch maintenance and a set of tires cobbled together from Conor's old sets.

PRACTICE – Peter's practice sessions were once again uneventful. Conor practiced on his old tires during his first session, during which we noticed that one of his closest competitors was using a brand new chassis. When we came to the grid for Conor's second session, we noticed that he and two others in his class were on new tires, although one of these (the one with the new chassis) puts on new tires for every race weekend. On Conor's third lap, he was a full 0.6 seconds faster than he was in his first session. This was also close to the fastest lap time he has run on Bridgestone tires this season, which was a promising sign of things to come. As they say in racing, the answer to the question 'How fast do you want to go?' is always 'How much money do you want to spend?'.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – Peter's class once again consisted of four karts – the two other regulars in his class and one from another class who would otherwise have to run alone. They started these two groups (if you can call one kart a group) separately so as not to interfere with each another. Peter started his first heat race from the third position. He managed to make his way into second by Turn 3 at the start. He immediately was on the tail of the leader, and got a bit too close on Lap 3. Peter and the other kart take different lines through Turn 4, through which Peter made a good run on Lap 3. His momentum carried him into the rear wheel of the other kart, which momentarily lifted the front of Peter's kart front off of the ground. Both were able to continue, but Peter lost several seconds in the process. With clear track in front of him, he recorded the fastest lap of the heat, which was nearly a second faster than the lead kart had run on the lap before the incident. Peter caught up to the lead kart on the next lap but was not able to find a way past. Peter got an uncharacteristically poor start from the pole position in his second heat. The kart on the outside, which is the slowest of the three, made his way past and managed to stay there the entire race. After the checkered flag flew, he was demoted two positions for blocking. Unfortunately, the blocking allowed the other kart to get around Peter on Lap 3. A pair of seconds resulted in a second place starting position for Peter in the feature. He did his best to gain the lead at the start, but had to concede the position in Turn 3. He was on the tail of the leader for the first four laps while running lap times that were over a second slower than his only clear lap of the day up to that point. On Lap 5 (of 10) he went for an inside pass in Turn 4. He made the pass, but there was a bit of contact which put the other kart in the grass momentarily. Peter went on for the win, recording his personal best lap time on Bridgestone tires in this class in the process (51.54). Afterwards, Peter tried to apologize for the contact in Turn 4, but the other competitor and his dad (not necessarily in that order) were quite upset. I'm not sure why they expected Peter to soldier around behind when he was clearly much faster. I suppose that championship battles at the end of the season bring this out in people.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were 11 karts in Conor's class last Sunday. One was a 'sometime' competitor who has focused mainly on regional and national events in the latter part of the season and will not have raced in enough MSOKC events to qualify for the championship. From the fifth position in his first heat race, Conor gained a position at the start and ran in fourth for the first four laps (of eight). The leader got away while the next three ran nose-to tail. Conor was in the right place when the two in front of him battled a bit too hard and he was able to pass both of them between Turns 5 and 6. He pulled away and finished second. Conor's seventh starting position in his second heat turned into fifth when one of the karts ahead of him developed engine trouble on the formation lap. Conor's row made a much better start than the outside row, and Conor found himself in third on the first lap. He made a pass for second on the next lap. The leader was holding Conor up a bit, and while he was looking for a way to pass, the sometime competitor began to pressure Conor. He made an aggressive pass in Turn 3 that allowed two other karts to pass Conor. What looked like might be a heat race win (and pole position for the feature) ended up being fourth as the result. There was really only one development in the feature, but it was a big one. Conor started in third and held his position at the start. In Turn 6 on the first lap, the leader, who is one of Conor's closest competitors in the championship (new tires, too, but after both practice sessions), made a mistake and went into the grass. This promoted Conor to second and dropped the competitor to last. Conor pressured the new leader (the sometimes competitor) to the end but eventually finished second.

NEXT RACE – Peter extended his championship lead by a single point on Sunday, although there were some hard feelings about his feature race pass. I hope that these will have subsided by the time of the MSOKC season finale, which is a qualifying format event on Sunday, October 5, 2008, at CRP. Conor is back in the lead in his class as the result of an excellent performance on his part and some miscues on the part of his closest competitors. One made an unfortunately-timed mistake, and the other never came to grips with running a new chassis. It wasn't necessarily the chassis itself, which is a proven winner. It seemed to be switching so late in the season. There are always teething problems with a new package, and they certainly seemed to have their share on Sunday. Both Peter and Conor lead the championship in their classes, but only by slim margins, so the season finale should be an exciting one.


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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Picture from New Castle Motorsports Park

Here is a picture that was taken by a professional photographer during the Zoom-Zoom Nationals at New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Indiana (click to enlarge). We bought an 8 by 10 color glossy for Conor.

Photo Courtesy of On Track Promotions -


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 10 – Sunday, September 7, 2008

NEWS – It’s been an interesting week and a half since Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 10, which was a reverse direction (clockwise) event at Circleville Raceway Park a week ago Sunday. Hurricane Ike blew through central Ohio last Sunday taking many trees, tree limbs, and power lines with it. We were without power for two days and many are still without power. The boys had their third consecutive day off of school today. Race No. 10 was the first of three ‘bonus points’ races, which are intended to encourage participation late in the season. Conor and I broke down and did a test session at CRP during the week leading up to Race No. 10 in an effort to rediscover the chassis settings that gave us the excellent lap times he was able to run earlier in the season. The track conditions were less than ideal, so it was difficult to determine more than what seemed to work best.

PRACTICE – Peter ran well in his first practice session on Sunday. It sprinkled just prior to his second session, so he didn’t bother to go back out after the sprinkles subsided. Conor ran a full complement of laps in his first practice session, but just two laps in his second session to save his tires.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – Peter ran with three other karts on Sunday, but one was a visitor and inadvertently registered in the wrong class, which was combined with Peter’s class anyway. Peter lined up for his first heat race on the outside of the front row. He went side-by-side with the pole sitter through Turn 10 (the first turn when running the reverse direction) which put him on the inside for Turn 9. He established himself in the lead on the run to Turn 8. While the pole sitter nipped at his heels all the way to the finish, Peter went on to record another heat race win. He somehow got lined up in fourth for his second heat race. He should have lined up third, but there was some confusion caused by the presence of the visiting kart. Peter was delayed at the start by another regular in his class. He made his way up to second on Lap 2, but could not catch the leader. From the outside of the front row in his feature race, Peter timed the start well and went side-by-side through the first few turns again. These two were still battling for the lead as the came onto the long back straightaway. There was a fairly significant tailwind blowing down the back straightaway at several times during the day (a sign of things to come a week later?). Peter’s data acquisition system normally records engine RPMs in the 5800 to 5900 range. In his second heat, he recorded a 6500 RPM, indicating a much higher top speed than normal. The other kart misjudged his braking point as the result of this and spun as he drew up along side of Peter in Turn 5. This allowed Peter to cruise home to another feature race win, his fourth in seven races this year in this class.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were just enough karts in Conor’s class (10) to invoke the new eight lap heat race rule. It didn’t matter for Conor in his first heat race, however. After settling in from his fourth starting position, Conor dropped a wheel off of the edge of the track while trying to make a pass on Lap 3 and broke a sprocket and a chain, which left him stranded by the side of the track. One other kart had dropped out earlier, so he finished ninth. From the sixth starting position in his second heat, he battled hard to work his way up to fourth at the finish. His lap times and top speed were not quite what we had hoped for after the changes we made during our practice session earlier in the week. We have since attributed this to a problem with his clutch, which we were aware of on Sunday, but had discounted its significance. In his feature race, starting from sixth, he worked his way up to fifth by mid-distance but could not get around several karts he normally has little trouble getting around. While the leader got away, there was an exciting three-way battle going on for second ahead of Conor, who finished fifth.

NEXT RACE – Peter once again extended his championship lead by several points on Sunday. Conor’s results for the day produced the lowest number of championship points for him this season. Only the best nine of 12 finishes count toward the championship, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. Fortunately, his closest rival was not the one who got away in the feature and only established a lead of one point over Conor in the championship. Unfortunately, the one who did get away closed the gap to Conor to one point. So with two races to go, two points separate the top three in Conor’s class. Since Peter will have just the minimum number of races to be eligible for the championship in his class (he started the season in another class), he will have to maintain his consistency if he is going to end up on top. For Conor, we’re hoping that a clutch rebuild and a new set of tires will return him to his winning ways. With the top three that close however, anything can happen. MSOKC Race No. 11 is Sunday, September 21, 2008, at CRP.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 9 – Saturday, August 23, 2008

NEWS – Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 9 was the seventh day of karting for us in the past 15. It also represented the last race of the season for Henry, who we moved into his dorm at Brown University in Providence over Labor Day weekend. His biggest complaint so far has been that they stop serving breakfast at 10:00 AM... An entire day of preparation was required to reconfigure Henry’s kart from his Commercial Point Grand Prix setup, Conor’s kart from his New Castle Motorsports Park setup, and Peter’s kart from the long layoff since MSOKC Race No. 8. This also involved dismounting and remounting 12 tires (four of which I got wrong and had to dismount and remount), which provided me with my exercise for the week.

PRACTICE – We decided to try some of the chassis settings on Conor’s kart that we learned at the Zoom-Zoom Nationals at NCMP for Race No. 9. He seemed to be comfortable with less bite in the front end, so we decided to give these settings a try. I also corrected a problem with Peter’s rear wheel size when I remounted his tires which resulted in excellent lap times for him during his practice sessions. Henry was content with minor tire pressure adjustments during his practice sessions and the maintenance I performed seemed to take care of the slight misfire at high rpm that he experienced at the Commercial Point Grand Prix.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – There were three karts in Peter’s class on Saturday, which were combined with one additional kart from the unrestricted junior class. In each of his heat races. Peter timed the start perfectly and pulled away to dominant victories. This earned him the pole position for his feature race. He got the field rolling a bit early at the start of his feature, which allowed the kart on the outside to sling-shot around him as they crossed the start/finish line. His lap times had been up to a full second faster than the rest of the field, so it was only a matter of time before he would have a chance to reclaim the lead. This opportunity came a bit sooner than Peter expected. On Lap 1, the leader made a mess of Turn 4 and Peter’s momentum carried him over the rear end of the leading kart as they got onto the back straightaway. These two became tangled and came to a stop. Peter had to get out of his kart and lift his front end off of the rear of other kart before he could resume. The kart that had been in third place had gotten by without incident and had amassed a 25 second or so lead by this point. Peter put the hammer down and was catching the leader at a rate of about one to two seconds per lap. That would not be enough in a 10 lap race, however. The leader made a mistake on Lap 9, which allowed Peter to close the gap to within striking distance. Had the race been one lap longer, I’m sure that Peter would have pulled off the remarkable comeback. The margin of victory was 0.337 seconds.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – For classes of 10 or more karts, the MSOKC Board of Directors voted to change heat races from six laps to eight laps to allow faster karts that start towards the rear more time to make their way to the front. Conor’s class consisted of 10 karts on Saturday, so they got 8/8/10 as opposed to 6/6/10. Conor started from the pole position in his first heat. He led the first two laps but got a little wide on the exit of 10 on Lap 2 and was passed. He ran in second to the finish. Conor made a great start from the back of the field in his second heat and was up to sixth by the end of in Lap 1. He lost a position on Lap 3 and then gained two on Lap 4 and another two on Lap 5. At this point, the two remaining karts in front of him were holding him up. On Lap 6, he made an unsuccessful attempt to pass for second, which ended up with him and the kart behind him in the grass. He fell to seventh but recovered to finish sixth. The heat race finishes resulted in three karts tied for the second starting position for the feature. Conor ended up with the short end of the stick and started fourth. The outside row lagged behind the inside row at the start, but the flagman threw the green flag anyway, which resulted in Conor ending up fifth at the end of Lap 1. He made his way up to fourth on Lap 3 but then got stuck while the leaders got away. Conor, who had been on the bumper of the kart in front of him for six laps, made a dive to the inside in Turn 4 on Lap 10 after the kart in front of him made a small bobble in Turn 3. He made the pass, albeit with a bit of contact, pulled away from the kart that had been holding him up, and finished third. We learned soon afterwards that Conor had been assessed a one position penalty for ‘rough driving’, which dropped him back to fourth. The irony in this is that we had been advised earlier in the season that we needed to get Conor some experience at the national level so that he could learn to be more assertive. When we did this, and he used what he had learned, he ended up getting a penalty. Go figure…

80cc SHIFTER – Henry had a relatively uneventful day on Saturday. He started fifth of nine karts in his class in his first heat. He lost two positions on Lap 2 and gained one on Lap 6 to finish sixth. In his second heat, again starting from fifth, he made one pass on Lap 3 and finished fourth. The heat races did an excellent job of sorting the karts out by their relative speed, because in the feature, there were no passes in the entire field except for a retirement towards the rear on Lap 9. Henry started fifth and ran there to the finish. His fastest lap was a bit better than the fourth place kart, but not by enough to do anything with it.

NEXT RACE – In spite of Peter’s mishap, he ended up extending his championship lead by several points. Conor’s results dropped him into a tie for the championship lead in his class. For MSOKC Race No. 10, which is another reverse direction (clockwise) event at Circleville Raceway Park is this coming Sunday (September 7, 2008), we will put some of the bite back into the front end of Conor’s kart. In the mean time, Henry will be busy manning the new Bruce Brothers Racing East Coast operation.


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