Saturday, August 21, 2010

Commercial Point Grand Prix of Karting – August 14-15, 2010 – Peter Sweeps and Conor Collects

NEWS – The Commercial Point Grand Prix of Karting, which is a street race through the village of Commercial Point, Ohio, that benefits the Jackson Township Fireman's Association, has always been the highlight of the season for Bruce Brothers Racing. This year was no different. It can be challenging, because unlike our club races, the event proceeds rain or shine and damage to the karts is more likely because of the straw bales that line the circuit. While weather was definitely a factor this year, there were no incidents with the bales for Bruce Brothers Racing. We had planned to run three drivers in two karts like last year, but after the weather did its thing on Saturday, Henry decided that he would rather spend what little time he has left of the summer with friends before going back to school.

PRACTICE – Practice is about all we got accomplished on Saturday, which had been slated to include a qualifying session and a heat race as well. The sky began to darken after Peter finished his practice session. The wind began to pick up and rain drops about the size of marbles began to fall. We scrambled to get everything that was sitting out either into the bed of the truck or the trailer. The two E-Z Up canopies that we have normally provide reasonable shelter from the rain, but on this day, the rain decided to come down sideways. During the worst of it, the canopies began to act like airfoils. Even though they were staked down, it took all of us just to hold on to them. Just as it became apparent that the one Laura was holding onto was about to take her away with it (Dorothy!!!), the part she was holding onto broke and it went sailing. The other one was right behind it. With nothing left to hold onto and no more shelter, everyone piled into either the bed of the truck or the trailer. I made it into the cab of the truck and remember worrying that the trailer and its precious cargo were going to go next! After it subsided, the pit area was littered with the remains of canopies – close to 50 of them – along with various motor home awnings and other bits and pieces. Unfortunately, one of our canopies landed on Laura’s new car and did a significant amount of damage. The track dried up faster that the recovery efforts in the pit area, so practice resumed without having to resort to rain tires. All three boys came up to speed quickly during their practice sessions. As preparations were being made for the qualifying session, the skies opened up again. It became apparent rather quickly that the delays caused by the weather were going to preclude any further on-track action, so the remainder of the events scheduled for the day was postponed until the following day.

YAMAHA JUNIOR – During his practice session, there was one kart in particular that seemed to be able to keep up with Peter, so we decided that he should go out behind her in the qualifying session on Sunday morning. It’s often advantageous to have a target to shoot at. This seemed to work out perfectly, as Peter posted the fastest qualifying time – by a scant 0.066 seconds. To make up some time, the organizers elected to forgo the traditional Le Mans style standing start (used for most of the classes at the CPGP) for the heat races in favor of a rolling start. Peter timed the start well, but had to concede the lead in Turn 1. Our choice of gear ratio resulted in a bit more top speed than the lead kart down the 900 ft long front straightaway. Peter used the slipstream at the end of Lap 2 and took the leader deep into Turn 1. She went in a bit too deep and got sideways on the exit. Peter had the momentum to get by but these two touched briefly, which let the third place kart slip into the lead and the previous leader back around Peter. Peter and the previous leader both got around the new leader on the next lap. On Lap 6 (of 8), Peter made an excellent (and apparently unexpected) inside move going into the revised-for-2010 Turn 6. This turn had been a very fast sweeper but was made into a sharp turn with a run-off area to keep speeds down and encourage passing. Well, it worked. Peter completed the remaining two laps uncontested for a comfortable win. With the weather cooperating and a sufficient amount of time made up, the organizers went back to a Le Mans style start for the feature races. We had done some work on Peter’s clutch leading up to the CPGP, and that seemed to work, too. He pulled away easily at the start and continued to pull away lap after lap. Even though he acknowledged my signals to back off a bit, he continued to improve his lap times. Peter won comfortably and his fastest lap time was set on his final lap.

80cc SHIFTER – Conor also went out second in his qualifying session. We’d have been perfectly happy with the second fastest qualifying time, but one other kart snuck in a flyer, which resulted in the third fastest qualifying time for Conor. Since the 80cc Shifter karts have a manually-actuated clutch, they use a Formula 1 style standing start regardless of what the other classes do. At the start of Conor’s heat race, I saw him sit there momentarily while everyone else took off. I later learned that he was watching the wrong flagman! The flagman who lined them up and the head flagman are similar in build and were both wearing a bright orange official tee-shirt, so Conor was surprised when everyone left without him when the guy he was watching didn’t throw the green flag. He quickly selected first gear and got going, but this dropped him to last (eighth) in the process. He eventually worked his way back up to third at the finish, and seemed to have a fun time doing it. The first few places came easily, but the closer he got to the front, the more difficult the passes became. Unfortunately, the organizers lost the MyLaps data for this event before it was posted, so I don’t have a record of which passes came on what laps. Conor had his eyes on the correct flagman for his feature race and maintained his third place starting position into Turn 1. The first two almost had a coming together in Turn 1 at the start. He made a pass for second at about mid distance when the kart ahead of him kart slowed slightly with a mechanical problem but then got reeled in by another kart towards the end. He finished third again, but reported that his brakes seemed to be dragging towards the end. Conor was also entered in the Pro race in his class, where a $500 purse was at stake. After a through brake cleaning, he once again lined up in third for the start. While the leader got away, Conor applied a significant amount of pressure to the second place kart over the first few laps. The second place kart pushed too hard and ended up in the run-off area for Turn 6. Conor cruised home to a second place finish in the Pro race and collected a $250 check for his efforts.

NEXT RACE – Peter achieved a perfect result at the CPGP in 2010, duplicating the feat that Conor accomplished in 2008. Conor had a rough start to the event, but managed to pad his bank account in the end. Bruce Brothers Racing would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of our friends and family who braved the elements on Saturday. Maybe 2011 will be the year for the relaxing picnic atmosphere at the CPGP that Laura was hoping for! Our next event is Mid State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 9 on Sunday, August 22, 2010, at Circleville Raceway Park. Peter will just have returned from a trip to Chicago with Laura and Henry where they have been seeing the sights with Laura’s mom and her brother and his family. Conor will still be at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where he is a member of a student-based team from The Ohio State University's Center for Automotive Research that is attempting to break the Land Speed Record for electric-powered vehicles, so he will miss Race No. 9.