Thursday, October 28, 2010

MSOKC Race No. 12 – October 17, 2010 – Season Finale Redux

NEWS – The make-up date for the rained-out Mid State of Ohio Kart Club season finale was a week ago Sunday, October 17, 2010. Unfortunately, my work required me to be out of the country that day (Berlin, Germany, and then Sofia, Bulgaria). Peter, who has taken up the sport of Crew, had secured fourth place in the MSOKC championship in his class by simply showing up for the original date of the season finale. He had a regatta the day before the make-up date and elected to spend the day at home recovering from the extensive physical exertion that this sport requires. Conor stood to lose second place in the championship in his class if he failed to show up for the make-up date, so we recruited friends and family to give Conor the support he needed. I prepared his kart and had everything loaded up and ready to go before I left for my trip. My dad offered to accompany Conor to the track, our good friend Greg Wilkinson offered to help with the at-the-track activities, and Laura took over as scribe and caterer. While Conor was on the track, Greg provided me with live commentary via cell phone – into late Sunday evening in Berlin.

PRACTICE – My first phone call didn’t come until Conor’s first heat race, so apparently everything went well during practice. I did learn later that it became apparent during practice that the run-away championship leader in Conor’s class had elected to sit out for the make-up, since he had already clinched the championship.

80cc SHIFTER – The random draw from the previous attempt at the season finale, which had Conor starting from pole position in his first heat race, was used again for the make-up. Conor got away well and settled into the lead easily in the first few corners. He and his rival for second position in the championship, who had started from the second position, quickly pulled away from the rest of the field during the first few laps. Conor was able to extend his lead by 0.1 second or so each lap. His rival backed off a bit on the last lap and Conor won by a margin of just over 2 seconds. With the order reversed for the start of the second heat, Conor would have to follow his rival through the field to avoid negating the advantage he had gained by winning the first heat. Conor’s rival managed to improve from sixth to third on the first lap (of eight) while Conor went from seventh to fifth. Both improved one more position on Lap 2. On Lap 3, Conor’s rival improved one more position into the lead, but Conor improved two positions into second. Conor reeled in the leader during Laps 4 through 6, but seemed to back off knowing that damage would be minimized by finishing right behind his rival. A first and a second earned Conor the second starting position for his feature. All Conor would need to do was finish one place behind (or ahead of) his rival to secure second place in the championship. Conor got away well again but couldn’t manage to get ahead of his rival at the start. These two traded fast laps through the first half of the 10 lap feature. The leader began to feel the pressure that Conor was applying just past half distance. Conor even pulled along side his rival on the entrance to Turn 9 after getting a good run through Turn 10 (the previous corner when going in the opposite direction) on Lap 7. Conor’s pressure paid dividends a lap later when the leader dropped two wheels into the grass on the exit of Turn 1, which allowed Conor to slip by into the lead. Conor pulled away over the next two laps for his first feature race win of the season.

NEXT RACE – That’s a wrap for the 2010 MSOKC season. I was apprehensive about the boys racing in my absence, so I was pleased when Peter decided to give the make-up a miss and to see Conor do so well without me – maybe I should plan to be away more often! While Conor is highly capable on his own, his performance was enhanced by friends and family who stepped up to the plate in my absence. I hereby extend my heart-felt thanks to Greg, my dad, and Laura. Kudos also go to Greg for thinking to call me with live coverage by cell phone. Both boys ended the season on a high note – Peter with a win and a fourth place finish that would have earned him a front row feature race starting position before the rain ruined the original attempt at the season finale, and Conor with a feature race win during the make-up that secured his second place finish in the championship. The season-ending MSOKC banquet is January 8, 2011.


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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

MSOKC Race No. 12 – October 3, 2010 – Rain Delay

NEWS – The weather cooperated for the first 11 races of the Mid State of Ohio Kart Club season, but that streak came to an end for Race No. 12, which was supposed to be the season finale a week ago Sunday. The day dawned cool and partly cloudy, which necessitated more warm clothing than we had brought.

PRACTICE – Race No. 12 was a reverse direction event at Circleville Raceway Park in which all classes would have standing starts like the shifter karts. The weather was such that neither Peter nor Conor wanted to do extra laps in the morning – both spent a significant part of the morning in the cab of the truck “doing homework”. While preparing for Race No. 12, I noticed that Conor’s throttle cable had stretched a bit to the point where it was questionable whether or not he was getting full throttle with the pedal all the way down. After this was adjusted, I decided to check Peter’s kart. With the pedal all the way down, his throttle was only three-fourths of the way open. This has certainly contributed to the fall-off in performance Peter has experienced in the later part of the season. When they finally did go out for class practice, both boys recorded some excellent lap times.

YAMAHA JUNIOR – From the second starting position in his first heat race, Peter got away well and settled into second in the first few corners. He got a good run through Turn 5 on the second lap and managed to out-brake the leader going into Turn 4 (the following corner going in the reverse direction). He extended his lead over the next few laps but began to come under some pressure at about mid distance (Lap 4 of 8). Peter responded to the pressure and led to the end for his first MSOKC heat race win since Race No. 3 on May 16. Peter started his second heat race from the sixth position (of seven in his class on Sunday). He gained a position at the start and another on Lap 3. The top five karts or so in Peter’s class have become very closely matched as the season had progressed, so further progress through the field was not possible. A first and a fourth place finish would have earned Peter the second starting position for his feature race, but a steady drizzle started before that could happen and the events of the day were suspended.

80cc SHIFTER – Conor’s first heat race was much like Peter’s except that the random draw for starting positions had him starting from pole position. He made an excellent start and led easily through the first few corners. The second place kart – Conor’s rival for second place in the championship – had started on new tires. Conor also had new tires, but we had him scrub them in with a few easy laps during his second practice session. New or “sticker” tires perform best on the second or third lap, but can be dicey on the first lap. They’re okay for qualifying sessions where only one lap counts, but are not ideal for heat races. This difference in tire strategy allowed Conor to develop a fairly healthy lead on the first lap. The advantage went the other way for Laps 2 and 3, which brought the first two, and the championship leader who was in third, nose-to tail. Conor was adamant in defending his position over his rival, who tried twice to out-brake him going into Turn 4. On the second attempt, Conor had to go wide on the exit to avoid contact. These two went side-by-side through Turns 3 and 2. Conor had the better line going into Turn 1, which allowed him to reestablish the lead. Over the next few laps, the championship leader began to pressure the second place kart. These two swapped places on Lap 5, which was promising for Conor from a championship-points perspective. Conor went on to win with a buffer between himself and his rival, which would have been ideal had it not been for the drizzle that started before Conor’s second heat race. Conor’s heat race win was the first time anyone has beaten the championship leader since Race No. 5 on June 26 when Conor did it.

NEXT RACE – If the final three classes could have finished their heat races either before the rain came or after it dried up (which it did eventually but after a decision had been made to suspend the events of the day), the season would have been complete (points for rained-out feature races are awarded based on earned starting positions). All Conor would have needed to do was finish one or two places behind (or ahead of) his rival to secure second place in the championship. By showing up for Race No. 12, Peter has secured his position in the championship. Because the heat races were not completed, the slate is wiped clean and a rain make-up date comes into effect, which is next Sunday, October 17. Unfortunately, my work requires me to be out of the country that day (Berlin, Germany). Friends and family have come to the rescue, however, and will see that Conor gets the support he needs during the rain make-up date. It’s going to be hard to top the way the day was going before the rain came.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pictures from MSOKC Race No. 11

Click to enlarge.

Peter on the grid.

Conor on the grid.

Friday, October 1, 2010

MSOKC Race No. 11 – September 26, 2010 – Down to the Wire

NEWS – Race No. 11 was the penultimate race of the 2010 MSOKC season last Sunday at Circleville Raceway Park. Peter’s position in the championship in his class is pretty well fixed, but Conor is embroiled in a battle for second place in his class. Conor entered Race No. 11, which was another qualifying format event, trailing by the slimmest of margins, but managed to improve by the end of the day.

PRACTICE – We had a belated birthday celebration for Conor’s 18th birthday at Japanese Steak House in the Short North area of Columbus the Friday before Race No. 11. All five of us (including Laura’s sister Kathy who was visiting from Kansas City) eventually succumbed to a healthy dose of food poisoning, but it hit each of us at different times. Laura was sick right away. It didn’t hit Kathy and me until the next day. Fortunately, both boys still felt reasonably well on Sunday morning. They practiced well with both recording reasonable lap times. They had to do much of the work required to get two karts on the track themselves as I spent time lying down in the back seat of the truck. Both Peter and Conor succumbed early the following week.

YAMAHA JUNIOR – The 2006 Margay Brava 1.6 chassis that Peter uses seems to like cooler conditions, which is what we had for Race No. 11. After qualifying sixth during the previous race, he improved to fourth in qualifying for Race No. 11. In his heat race, he improved his position by one at the start and held on all the way to the finish while keeping the leaders in his sights. The first lap of Peter’s feature race didn’t go so well. He didn’t quite time the start right and lost a position going into Turn 1. He lost another position in Turn 5 on the first lap. He had the speed to regain the position going in to Turn 10, but left the door open on the inside and lost another position. His qualifying position and heat race result took possible points away from his closest rival, so his feature race result – a respectable sixth – did not make much of a difference. Peter has to do little more than show up for Race No. 12 to claim fourth place in the championship.

80cc SHIFTER – I’m thinking about starting to call Conor “Mr. Excitement”. He easily posted the second fastest time during his qualifying session, two places ahead of his closest rival. Qualifying events tend to be processional affairs – if everyone gets a good start – which would have had him finishing second all day. Well, Conor bogged the engine down at the start of his heat race and lost two places. He pulled off an excellent pass on his rival in Turn 5 on Lap 5. He pulled out a gap but ran out of laps before he could further improve his position. From the third starting position in his feature race, Conor held his position at the start, but missed a shift in Turn 4, which caused him to loose a position to his rival in Turn 5. After several attempts, he regained the position on Lap 7. On Lap 9, the second place kart retired with a mechanical problem, which resulted in a second place finish for Conor.

NEXT RACE – Conor’s results gained him some valuable points and put him back in second place in the championship, but by a slim margins. While Peter can relax a bit at Race No. 12, as his points position is relatively secure, Conor has to at lease finish ahead of his rival in one race and be right behind in the others. Conor’s 2002 Trackmagic Dragon chassis seems to like cooler conditions more so than that of his rival, and cooler conditions are just what we are expecting for the season finale on Sunday, October 3, 2010, at CRP. We’re going to stay away from the Japanese Steak House between now and then…


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