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 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