Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MSOKC Race No. 3 – May 17, 2009 – We Remembered the Chairs!

NEWS – After a qualifying format event and a reverse direction event to start the 2009 season, Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 3 was a standard heat race event in the normal direction a week ago Sunday at Circleville Raceway Park. In the mean time, Conor, Peter, and I have been to Indianapolis and back for the Indy 500 and Laura has been to Providence and back to pick up Henry at Brown University. We have never been so prepared for a race weekend. In addition to a clutch rebuild for Peter and a gear change for Conor, we paid extra attention to not leaving anything at home – especially the chairs!

PRACTICE – As has become our normal practice these days, both boys practiced on older tires in their first practice session and then switched to their race tires for the remainder of the day. This has increased the longevity of a set of tires by about one race (to four for Peter and three for Conor). We chased the adjustment on Peter’s clutch all morning, but Conor seemed to like the new gear we had decided to try.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Peter should get the “Lucky Dog” award for his performance in his first heat race, where he started from the outside of the front row. He maintained his position through the first few corners, but when he got to Turn 5 at the end on the back straightaway, he overshot the exit and went into the grass. Incredibly, the next five or so karts, who had been battling hard for position, all did the same thing. Four of these did not get going again. An off-course excursion on the first lap, when all of the karts are running together, is usually a recipe for disaster but only one kart got past Peter while he got up to speed again. He went on to finish third, dropping his personal best lap time to 46.972 seconds (53.649 mph average speed) in the process. While his first heat incident was of his own doing, this must have been Peter’s day for getting tangled up. In both his second heat race and his feature, Peter was forced to charge from the rear as the result of first turn incidents. The first was the result of the pole-sitter bringing the field around too quickly on the pace lap. There was contact in Turn 1 and Peter got turned around in the process. The second was the result of someone in the outside row having to check up to avoid going into the grass in Turn 1. Peter recovered to finish sixth in his heat race and fifth in his feature. In his feature, he further lowered his personal best lap time to 46.644 seconds (54.026 mph).

8Occ SHIFTER – Conor’s class had its biggest turnout of the year so far last Sunday – 11 karts – including two visitors from Northern Ohio, one of whose name is Connor! Conor (one “n”) got a good start from the ninth position in the first heat. He made several well-timed passes and finished fifth. While Conor’s standing starts have gotten better, he was not anticipating what happened in his second heat. The procedure is as follows; 1) the flag goes up, 2) after 10 to 15 seconds, the flag goes sideways, 3) after 2 to 5 seconds, the flag drops. In Conor’s second heat, the “2 to 5 seconds” was more like 1 second and Conor was still looking down when the flag dropped. He dropped from third to eight at the start. He gained a position on Lap 3 due to attrition but found himself behind a slower kart he was having trouble getting around. He tried several times, but couldn’t make it stick (the driver of the other kart would later tell Conor he was being way too kind). This caused Conor to slip into the clutches of the kart behind him. On Lap 5, the kart in front of this three-kart train got loose on the exit of Turn 10. Conor went to the inside in Turn 1, but the other kart went to the inside of Conor at the same time. These three went side-by-side through Turn 1. Conor kept his right foot planted and managed to come out in front and went on the finish fifth. A pair of fifth place heat race finishes netted Conor the fourth starting position for the feature. He got away well (see picture sequence below) and ran in fourth for the first few laps. He made a well-timed pass in Turn 3 on Lap 5 to move up to third. He quickly caught the second place kart, but could not find a way to pass. While he did not better his personal best lap time (44.896), he did manage to drop into the 44 second range on three-race-old tires on his way to a third place finish, which is his second podium finish in three starts in this class.

NEXT RACE – Peter improved his position in the championship from sixth to fifth in his class and Conor improved from fourth to third in his. MSOKC Race No. 4 is another regular direction at event at Circleville Raceway Park on Sunday, May 31, 2009. The “twist” for this event is that all classes will have a standing start like the 8Occ Shifter class. It should be interesting.


p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=418244

Standing Start Sequence from MSOKC Race No. 3 – May 17, 2009

Conor is the yellow 07 kart on the outside of the second row (click to enlarge).


Monday, May 18, 2009

MSOKC Race No. 3 – May 17, 2009

Some pictures from Race No. 3 are shown below (click to enlarge). The full report will follow.

This is the gismo we use to get Peter's Yamaha KT-100 engine started. It's as heavy as it looks.

Peter takes the checkered flag for his feature event.

Peter crosses the scales after the conclusion of his feature event.

This is the electric kart lift we have borrowed for the past two races for Conor's very heavy kart.

Conor pulls his gloves on. The gismo around his neck is one of the new-style head and neck supports that he and Peter got for Christmas.

Lining up for the standing start of Conor's 8Occ feature event.

Conor provides feedback after the conclusion of his feature event.


Friday, May 15, 2009

MSOKC Race No. 2 – May 9, 2009 – A Significant Improvement

NEWS – MSOKC Race No. 2 was a reverse direction event at Circleville Raceway Park last Saturday. Preparations included a carburetor rebuild and new rear tires for Peter and a clutch adjustment for Conor. I had taken Conor to the track the previous Sunday so that he could practice and get his shift points down for the reverse (clock-wise) direction in our 80cc shifter kart. He also spent quite a bit of time practicing his standing starts. Peter’s Track and Field schedule once again prevented him for joining us for this between-race practice session (see http://brucebrothersracing.blogspot.com/2002/05/peter-throws-31-3-14-at-invitational.html for news about Peter’s Track and Field adventures). I had hoped we would be more organized on race day, but once again, we left the folding chairs at home and had nowhere to sit all day…

PRACTICE – Peter went out briefly during the open practice session Saturday morning to acclimate himself to the reverse direction in our Yamaha SuperCan kart. Both boys practiced on older tires in their first organized practice session and then switched to their race tires, which for Peter consisted of new rears, for the remainder of the day. The track was quite slippery from the morning dampness, which made assessing relative speed between the competitors a bit difficult. Conor did set another personal best lap time (45.22 seconds) in his second session, however, which was a good sign of things to come.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Peter had a great day on Saturday, although he did grumble about it several times during the day. He got a great start from the third starting position in his first heat by following the pole-sitter past the second place kart through the first turn (Turn 10 in the reverse direction). These two made it through Turn 9 okay, although the track was still a bit slippery. Several karts behind them got sideways, which allowed Peter and the leader to open up a bit of a gap. Peter held on to second place (of nine karts in his class on Saturday) but began to receive significant pressure at about mid distance (Lap 3 of 6 for the heat races). I thought he was going to be able to hold on to the end, but the third place kart tried to muscle his way past on the outside of Turn 5, which sent them both into the grass. Peter recovered to finish fifth. He was not too happy about this (the source of his grumbling), but I was glad to see him running up front for most of the heat. In his second heat, he dropped from seventh position to eighth at the start. He made up one position on Lap 2 and another on Lap 4 to finish sixth, improving his personal best lap time to 47.29 in the process. Peter started sixth in the feature and made his way up to third on the first lap. He went around the first turn on the outside, which put him on the inside for Turn 9. Two karts on the outside of Turn 9 made contact, which allowed Peter to slide through. His other first lap promotion was the result of an off-course excursion by the kart in front of him. The kart that caused Peter problems in his first heat caught and passed him (cleanly this time) on Lap 6 (of 10 for the feature). He recorded another personal best lap time (47.23) on his way to a fourth place finish – his best yet in this class.

80cc SHIFTER – Conor drew the last starting position (seventh) for his first heat race, which meant that he would have an opportunity to display his honed starting skills from the pole position in his second heat. During practice, I had encouraged him to be a bit more aggressive on the clutch. I used an analogy from golf – if you leave a putt short, you can be fairly certain that it’s not going in the hole. His start in the first heat wasn’t good – he bogged the engine down – but it didn’t matter because he was already at the rear. He caught the kart in front of him on the first lap and made several passing attempts over the next lap or so. Conor got a good run through the turn leading onto the back straightaway (Turn 5 going in the reverse direction) and tried an out-braking maneuver in Turn 4. He ended up out-braking himself, however, and went into the grass. He got going again after giving himself a push start, but with no attrition in this heat race, he finished where he started – last. I could tell that Conor was feeling a bit of pressure about starting on the pole for his second heat. He didn’t get away immediately when the green flag fell, but he got away well enough to maintain the lead. I’ve been waiting to see what Conor could do if he got out in front in this class, and he did not disappoint. He pulled away from the field at the rate of about a second per lap and won easily, improving his personal best lap time to 44.80 in the process – an improvement of 0.40 over his previous personal best. A seventh and a first were good enough for the third starting position for the feature (there was a three-way tie in heat race finishing points for the third starting position, but second-heat finishing position is the tie breaker). While Conor didn’t gain any positions at the start of his feature, he obviously had figured something out, because he got away like a rocket. It turned out that he didn’t need to gain any positions at the start – they were given to him over the next few laps. The second place kart slowed abruptly on Lap 1 (broken throttle cable), which caused a moment of panic but allowed Conor to move up one spot. Conor hounded the leader and was lining him up for a pass when he pulled off on Lap 3 (loose ignition coil). This put Conor in the lead, which is where he stayed to the finish, maintaining a comfortable gap in the process. For a day that didn’t start out too well for Conor, it ended with the most points scored in the class and fastest lap times in both heat races and the feature.

NEXT RACE – There is just a short one-week break to MSOKC Race No. 3 on Sunday, May 17, 2009, which will see a return to the regular direction at Circleville Raceway Park. In the mean time, Laura and I have been to Italy and back for a conference in Milan, where we also had a very enjoyable visit with family we scarcely knew we had (Laura’s sister’s husband’s [Uncle Howard’s] sister and her family). Fortunately, there is not a lot of preparation to do for Race No. 3. We borrowed an electric kart stand to use for last Saturday to cope with the massive weight of Conor’s kart, which must have 50 lbs of lead weight to meet the minimum-required weight requirement – it was a life saver. We hope to do that again on Sunday and we have once again vowed not to forget the chairs.


p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=413782

Saturday, May 9, 2009

MSOKC Race No. 2 – Saturday, May 9, 2009

Here are some pictures from Race No. 2. The full report will follow (click to enlarge).

The "pooch" joined us...

...and we had a pretty good day!


Friday, May 1, 2009

MSOKC Race No. 1 – April 26, 2009 – A Good Start to the Season

NEWS – It’s been quite a while since we’ve had only two karts to prepare for the first race of the season and I can’t remember when we’ve been so disorganized. When we finished unloading at the track last Sunday for Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 1, we soon realized we had nowhere to sit – we had left the folding chairs at home! We also ran short of food and beverages, and when we got home, we received a phone call indicating that we had left our battery-powered starter sitting on the starting grid. Fortunately, the preparations that mattered seemed to be adequate, as the racing went well on Sunday for Bruce Brothers Racing.

PRACTICE – With both Peter and Conor in new classes for 2009, we made it a point to get in several practice sessions prior to the season opener – two for Peter and three for Conor. While both Conor and Peter are on the track team at their respective schools (Peter throws discus and shot and Conor runs distance events), Peter’s track schedule prevented him from attending our final practice session. Last minute preparations for Race No. 1, which was a qualifying format event at Circleville Raceway Park, included bolting additional lead weight onto our 8Occ shifter kart for Conor to meet the minimum weight requirement. This kart is now a chore to lift. We were hoping that our Yamaha Jr. SuperCan kart didn’t need additional weight for Peter, which turned out to be the case – we actually had to remove 10 lbs or so on Sunday morning. Both boys practiced on older tires on Sunday morning and then switched to new (Conor) or slightly used (Peter) tires for the timed qualifying session. Conor has really gotten the hang of the shifter kart thing and seemed to be one of the faster karts in his practice sessions. Peter also recorded several personal best lap times in his practice sessions.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Peter’s class consisted of 10 karts on Sunday. All but he and two others were return competitors from this class last year. Peter went out near the back of the pack for his qualifying session, which consists of a warm-up, three timed laps, and a cool-down. He had a big slide through Turn 4 on his first timed lap. His second lap was his best at a 47.506, which is almost a second faster that he had practiced during his previous outing and almost 4 seconds faster than his personal best time from last year in his Briggs Junior kart. While the top three were quite a bit faster than the rest, the next seven were very close together. Peter’s time was only 0.4 seconds slower than the fourth place qualifier but ninth fastest overall. At the start of his heat race, he gained a position by taking the inside line going into Turn 3. On lap 2, he gained two more by taking advantage of mistakes by others. He managed to keep the karts he had passed behind him and finished sixth. For the feature, in which Peter would start seventh, we made a tire pressure adjustment and a gear change, which seemed to help. He was able to gain two positions on the opening lap and latched onto the bumper of the fourth place kart. Lap 8 was his fastest (47.368), which was a further improvement on his personal best. He held on for a comfortable fifth place finish while continuing to pressure the fourth place kart.

8Occ SHIFTER – Conor’s class consisted of 7 karts on Sunday with him being by far the youngest and the only newcomer. One veteran in this class suggested that we might want to put an “X” on the back of Conor's helmet (indicating rookie status) and have him start from the rear for the first few races. At first, I thought he was joking. The joke turned out to be on him – Conor out-qualified him and ran faster lap times all day long! With new tires on for his qualifying session, I really thought that Conor could take pole position. He went out first in his qualifying session but came to a stop on the back straightaway so that he could screw the cap onto the fuel tank, which resides between his legs. It seems that I had forgotten to replace it when I added fuel after his second practice session – oops! When he rejoined at the rear of the group, he appeared to have sufficient room between himself and the kart in front of him, but this was not the case. His first lap in the clear was a reasonable one (45.683), but he soon caught up with the kart in front of him, ruining the next lap and his final one. His first lap was good enough for the fourth starting position, however. This is the part that we’re going to have to work on – his standing starts. In all the practice starts he’s done recently, he hasn’t stalled or even bogged the engine down. The urgency with which he gets away needs some work however. In his heat race and his feature he lost positions all the way to the rear at the start. In his heat race, he found himself in a battle with several karts that were being held up by a slower kart, and finished sixth. In the feature, he made one pass on Lap 1 and another on Lap 6. The lap 6 pass was a clean one on the inside of Turn 3. This turned out to be his only clean lap, as he caught up to the next group on the following lap. This lap (45.374) also turned out to be fastest lap of the race by all of the competitors – by nearly 0.4 seconds! Conor finished fifth, but once he gets his starts down pat, I anticipate that he’s going to be running at the front.

NEXT RACE – MSOKC Race No. 2 is a reverse direction event at Circleville Raceway Park on Saturday, May 9, 2009. It’s a bit early in the season for a night race, so this event will follow the normal Sunday race-day schedule (racing action begins at noon). We have vowed to be a bit more organized this time, too.


p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=407880