Monday, August 31, 2009

MSOKC Race No. 9 – August 15, 2009 – Hot August Night

NEWS – Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 9 was a Saturday night event under the lights at Circleville Raceway Park and another event that featured standing starts for all classes. Thank goodness that most of the activity took place after the hottest part of the day because it was hot – and humid. Many repairs were required prior to this event following the Commercial Point Grand Prix. The one repair I saved for the day before – installing a new spindle on our Yamaha SuperCan cart – is the only one that didn’t go well. The spindle I ordered had the wrong size bearing, so I straightened the old one out for the third time and reused it. We also devised and installed a brake cooling duct on our 8Occ shifter kart – using a piece of downspout that was left over from when we had new gutters put on the house…

PRACTICE – We arrived at the track a bit early for shake-down runs to test all of the repairs we made. Peter felt comfortable in his kart, but Conor complained of massive understeer in his – in spite of using Bridgestone YKC tires that are only one race old. We tried increasing tire pressure in his first class practice, which didn’t help. We have his front end as wide as it will go using his standard wheels, so we went narrower for his second class practice to see if that would help. It didn’t. For the last-chance practice prior to the driver’s meeting, we decided to try the front wheels, hubs, and tires from Peter’s kart, which allow the front end on Conor’s kart to be about an inch wider per side than with his own wheels. This was a massive improvement – partly because of the width and partly because Peter is still using Bridgestone YHC tires. We put Peter’s practice tires on the front of his kart, which felt fine to him, and decided to go with this swap and some heavily used YHC rears for Conor for the race.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – Peter started his first heat race from the third position (of six karts in his class). We obviously have a good clutch setup on this kart because, like Henry at the CPGP, Peter had good starts all day. He gained a position at the start and ran in third until Lap 4 (of 8) when he dropped one position. He held on to finish fourth. He also gained a position from third at the start of his second heat and ran in second until Turn 1 of the last lap. He had a wiggle coming out of the previous corner and the kart behind made an aggressive move up the inside from quite a ways back. The contact allowed two karts to get by, which resulted in another fourth place finish. The offending driver received a rolled black flag warning for the infraction. Peter made another great start in his feature but had another incident in Turn 1 of the first lap with the same kart. Peter had to recover from being completely sideways, which put him at the tail end of the field. Just as he was beginning to find his groove, he experienced a rare mechanical failure that put him out of the race – the same clutch that had provided him with such good starts all day lost the gear off of the drive basket.

8Occ SHIFTER – Conor started his first heat race from the fourth position (of seven karts in his class). He maintained his position at the start, made one pass on Lap 2, and another on Lap 3. He ran in second to the finish but, on the last lap, the lead kart lost an exhaust silencer and was disqualified, which gave the win to Conor. In his second heat race, Conor started fourth again but dropped a position on Lap 2. He caught up to the new fourth place kart on Lap 4 and followed closely for two laps. Conor was setting up for a pass when the kart in front slowed dramatically. Conor could not back off quickly enough and hit the other kart from behind. After another momentary airborne adventure, Conor landed hard on his right rear wheel, which bent a wheel and flattened the tire. A first and a last were good enough for a third place feature race starting position. He maintained his position at the start and set out after the second place kart. He got a good run through Turn 4 on Lap 7 (of 10) and made the pass in Turn 5. He then set out after the leader, and while he came up a bit short in the end, he did set the fastest lap of the race (44.733 seconds) in the process. In addition to the other changes we made, the downspout-based brake cooling duct seemed to help, too.

NEXT RACE – The annual MSOKC Hog Roast is Saturday, September 5, 2009. This event is preceded by MSOKC Race No. 10, which is a qualifying format event at CRP that follows the normal Sunday (non-night race) schedule. There will be plenty of food for all and all are welcome to attend. Laura will be taking Henry back to Providence for the start of his sophomore year at Brown University that weekend, so they will miss the fun (we'll miss them, too). In the mean time, Peter has attended a driving clinic given by a club member/racer/parent who is also a test driver for Honda Research and Development in Marysville, Ohio. Peter is looking forward to putting what he learned into practice. We also did some back-to-back tire testing with Conor that day and clawed back most of the time we lost when we switched from YHCs to YKCs. Peter’s clutch has been repaired and his new spindle has been installed, Conor will have new wheels and extended front hubs, and both boys will have new tires – YHCs for Peter and YKCs for Conor.


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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Commercial Point Grand Prix of Karting – August 1-2, 2009 – Lots of Destruction, but Lots of Fun

NEWS – Always the highlight of our season, this year’s Commercial Point Grand Prix, which is a street race through the town of Commercial Point, Ohio, that benefits the Jackson Township Fireman's Association, did not disappoint (see pictures and video clip below). We are only running two karts this season, but we had three drivers for the CPGP. The schedule was such that Peter’s class was directly opposite a class in which Henry could compete in the same kart, so we offered him the opportunity and he gladly took us up on it. It would mean some extra work, however, and Peter agreed to share this responsibility with Henry (teamwork!). The minimum weight in our Yamaha SuperCan kart for Peter’s class is 305 lbs and 360 lbs for Henry’s class. Since Henry weighs only 10 lbs or so more than Peter, this meant adding or removing about 45 lbs of lead weight during each changeover. The gear ratio also needed to be changed to accommodate the weight difference. I was a bit apprehensive about this, and while this ended up going rather smoothly during the course of the weekend, there are always surprises at the CPGP that keep you on your toes. There is an open tire rule for the CPGP, so we elected to run the relatively sticky Vega SL4 tires we used last year on both karts. Our freshly rebuilt Yamaha SuperCan kart got a new clutch disk prior to this event and our 8Occ shifter kart got a gear change and some additional attentions to the rear axle that we hoped would further improve the braking performance. Since 2007, the CPGP has consisted of a six-turn street course lined with an incredible number of hay bales and 55-gallon plastic drums. The longest straightaway is 900 feet, on which the 8Occ shifter karts approach 75 mph at the entrance to Turn 1. The second of two practice sessions on Saturday morning determine starting positions for the Merchandise races on Saturday afternoon. Finishing positions from the Merchandise races determine starting positions for the Trophy races on Sunday. As in years past, there are also Pro races on Sunday, including one for Conor’s class, in which he was entered.

PRACTICE – Peter has never participated in the CPGP, so the first practice session on Saturday was his first experience on a street circuit. He seemed to catch on rather quickly. As he was making his way around a slower kart on about the third lap of practice, he went wide at the exit of Turn 1 the clipped a hay bale. While sitting sideways on the track, he was broadsided by another kart. Not only did he loose precious practice time, the collision resulted in a bent a front spindle, tie rod, and side pod (‘nerf’ bar) bracket. So, our first surprise for the weekend involved lots of pounding, straightening, and welding in order to get Henry out in time for his practice. Fortunately, practice sessions for both Conor and Henry went smoothly.

QUALIFYING – Peter was the first of our three to take to the track for the qualifying session. Peter’s lack of practice, and his apprehension after finding the hay bales, resulted in a disappointing tail-end qualifying position for his Merchandise race. Fortunately , there were only four karts in his class and he was only 0.1 second behind the third place kart. Before Henry’s session was called to the grid, the skies opened up and doused the track with water. Unlike our Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club races, the CPGP proceeds rain or shine. After a relatively long delay, Henry’s class was called to the grid under “wet” conditions, which means that treaded rain tires were required. Some of the competitors either didn’t have rain tires or elected not to go out in the rain. Fortunately, we have a set of old rain tires that I had mounted on spare rims in the event of such a surprise (there wasn’t supposed to be chance of rain until Sunday). Because of the number of karts entered in Henry’s class (28), it was split into two groups. Henry was in the first group and posted one of the faster qualifying times. The track was significantly drier for the second group, so Henry’s time ended up bring ninth fastest overall. The extra time that resulted from Henry’s class being split into two groups allowed us to get our rain tires onto Conor’s kart in plenty of time for his qualifying session. He received some advice from Henry and posted the third fastest qualifying time in his class. Because of the rain delay, and an extended delay that resulted from an incident with a corner worker being hit by a kart, the Merchandise races were postponed until Sunday morning.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – The postponement of the Merchandise races to Sunday morning meant that Peter would get even fewer much-needed practice laps. He responded nicely in his Merchandise race, however, by sticking with the pack, shaving over a second off of his qualifying time, and making a nice pass on Lap 5 (of 10) to finish third. Starting from third in his Trophy race, he maintained his position at the start and again latched onto the tail of the group in front of him. At one point, he actually recorded the fastest lap time of the race. As the result of the gear choice we had made and Peter’s ability to make himself aerodynamic when he needed to, he had a lot of speed at the end of the long straightaway. He used this to his advantage on Lap 12 (of 15) by going up the inside on the approach to Turn 1 and making the pass stick. Having made his way into the second position, and with the leader having checked out, Peter seemed to have backed off a bit. With his superior top speed, he had the third place kart covered in the best passing zone, and in spite of several passing attempts, Peter went on to finish a well-deserved second place.

YAMAHA SUPERCAN HEAVY – Henry got a great start from the ninth position in his Merchandise race. At the end of Lap 1, he had made his way up to the sixth position. On the exit of Turn 6 on Lap 3, it all went wrong, however. The kart in front of him clipped a hay bake and ricocheted into Henry’s path. Henry not only hit this kart, but also got hit hard by the kart behind him. This sent Henry into the hay bales himself. He was unable to continue and finished 25th. The damage included another bent spindle, a bent axle, and a destroyed rear bumper. Again, we were able to make the repairs with time to spare, but Henry was not looking forward to starting 25th for his Trophy race. I told him I'd give him a dollar if he finished in the top 10. Laura matched this offer. During the aborted first start of his Trophy race, he made a great start up the inside but got bumped as he crossed the starting line and took out the hay bale that the head flagman was standing on. He continued without delay and made up about six positions on the first lap. During the red flag period that followed, we realized that he had bent another axle – that replacement axle lasted an entire 40 feet before being bent! After gaining six positions at the start, Henry was disappointed about having to restart. This disappointment was short-lived however, as during the restart, he made up nine positions on the first lap. He was really hooked up because he made another pass on Lap 2, four more on Lap 3, two on Lap 4 and another on lap 8. This brought him up to the eighth position and clear of the majority of the field. There was a group of four karts in front of him, and while he caught up with them in the end, he ran out of time to pass. He ended up with the fifth fastest lap time of the race, which included some of the best racers in the Mid-West. With Henry’s eighth place finish, both Laura and I are now a dollar poorer.

8Occ SHIFTER – A third place starting position for Conor’s Merchandise race was a promising way to start his day on Sunday, but unfortunately he had difficulty getting off of the line and dropped to last in the process. He made up one position on the first lap and another on Lap 4. He caught up with the next kart on Lap 6. On Lap 8, he got a good run down the front straightaway and made the pass going into Turn 1. Unfortunately, he was carrying a bit too much speed and clipped a hay bale on the exit of Turn 1 – all three boys had now sampled the hay bales. Conor had his work cut out for him starting from the seventh position for his Trophy race. He got a great start however and made up two positions on the first lap. He pushed hard over the next few laps, recording the second fastest lap of the race. Conor made another pass on Lap 8, which resulted in a fourth place finish. The second fastest lap in his Trophy race was a promising sign for his Pro race. He maintained his fourth starting position at the start and immediately put pressure on the two karts in front of him. On lap 4, he brushed the hay bale on the inside of Turn 4, loosing two positions in the process. He made up one position on Lap 6 only to loose it again on Lap 7. He regained it again on Lap 8 and ran in fifth for the next 10 laps (of 20). During this time, he was much faster than the fourth place kart, but the lack of front brakes on his kart prevented him from making a pass in Turn 1. He would draw up along side down the front straightaway, only to have to brake earlier than the leading kart. Both benefited from the retirement of the second place kart on Lap 18, which moved Conor up to the fourth position. At the beginning of the last lap, Conor went into Turn 1 a bit deeper that he had been going. The kart in front responded by doing the same but got sideways in the process. I didn’t see this but was told that wheel-to-wheel contact sent Conor vertical for a moment to the point that you could see the whole kart above the hay bales. Conor made a last-ditch effort at the end of the last lap but came up about six inches short (0.025 seconds). Conor’s fourth place finish did earn him $50 in prize money, however.

NEXT RACE – In spite of all of the damage, a good time was had by all. Just about all of the damage has since been repaired in preparation for MSOKC Race No. 9 on August 16, 2009, which is another Saturday night race under the lights at Circleville Raceway Park.


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

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Video Clip from 2009 CPGP

Here is a video clip from the start of Henry's Trophy race on Sunday (courtesy of Julie Conlin - He Started 25th (of 28 karts) and is already up to 16th in Turn 1 (Kart No. 2H on the inside at about mid-pack - the camera pretty much follows him through Turn 1).

I just noticed that the guy in the black hat holding a water bottle is Dave Fisher - the dad of IndyCar driver Sarah ( He had some nice things to say about the boys on Sunday.


Pictures from 2009 Commercial Point Grand Prix

Here are a few pictures from the 2009 Commercial Point Grand Prix of Karting (click to enlarge). The full race report will follow.

Peter prepares himself for qualifying on Saturday - before the rain.

Peter mixes it up in traffic during his Merchandice race on Sunday.

Conor gets some advice from Henry before qualifying in wet conditions on Saturday while Bill Willis from PowerSports looks on.

Conor crosses it up on the exit of Turn 1 during qualifying in the wet on Saturday.

The start of Conor's Pro race on Sunday.

Conor exits Turn 1 during his Pro race on Sunday.

Henry enters the braking zone for Turn 1 after breaking away during his Trophy race on Sunday. He and Peter shared our Yamaha SuperCan kart.

After moving up from 25th to 8th position, Henry chases down the next group in front of him (photo courtesy of Julie Conlin).

Henry learns that he earned $2 ($1 from me and $1 from Laura) for finishing in the top 10.

The lap chart for the first 10 laps from Henry's Trophy race. After starting from 25th, he made up nine places on the first lap and eight more over the next seven laps...

Conor's winnings from the 8Occ Pro Race (photo courtesy of Greg Wilkinson).