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