Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MSOKC Race No. 9 – August 20, 2011 – Conor’s Win Streak Continues

NEWS – We had a very eventful day last Saturday at Mid State of Ohio Kart Club (MSOKC) Race No. 9, which was an under-the-lights night race at Circleville Raceway Park on August 20, 2011. I didn’t have time to take many notes, and this was our fourth race weekend in a row, so what appears below is how I remember it.

PRACTICE – After Race No. 8, we rebuilt the carburetor on Peter’s kart and mounted up a set of lightly used tires. On Conor’s kart, we rebuilt the fuel pump and, in our continuing our quest to sort out the problem that causes his front brakes to drag when they heat up, replaced the pins that hold his front brake pads in place. We wanted to try out these changes before the official practice sessions got underway, so we arrived at the track about an hour early on Saturday. Both karts ran great the first time out. On Peter’s second run, he came to a stop at the end of the long back straightaway. Thinking he may have just spun and stalled the engine, I took the starter with me when I went to retrieve him. He reported that the engine just died, so we loaded him up and returned to the pits where we realized something was seriously wrong. The crank would not turn. We took the cylinder head off and discovered that the piston was no longer pointing in correct direction. As we continued to disassemble the engine, we discovered lots of big chunks of aluminum piston and miscellaneous bearing components in both the intake and exhaust side of the engine. As David Hobbs says on SpeedTV’s Formula 1 coverage, it went ka-BLAM-o. .After a few inquiries around the pits, we found a fellow competitor who was more than happy to loan us their back-up engine for the day. It had recently been assembled using spare parts and they were anxious to see how well it would run. With the help of several volunteers, we frantically swapped engines and got Peter out for one of the regular practice sessions. On his second lap, he came to a stop in Turn 3. Being optimistic, I took the starter with me again. I decided that, since this was not our engine, we should load him up and investigate in the pits. When we did, we discovered… …another ka-BLAM-o. Not as catastrophic as the first – a skirt had broken off the piston – but this wasn’t even our engine! As we were investigating, several other competitors offered the use of their spare engines. I was just about the throw in the towel when one insisted that we use theirs. I hadn’t even had the chance to mix fuel yet, and it was getting close to race time, so the boys assured me that they would do most of the work if we would give it a try, which is what we did. The work was completed, again with the help of volunteers, just in time to allow Peter to have a few practice laps prior to the driver’s meeting. This engine was not configured for Peter’s class when it was presented to us, so we used our carburetor, exhaust, and clutch, and it actually ran fairly well.

SPEC 100 PIPE – There were only four karts in Peter’s class on Saturday. I can’t remember where Peter started in his first heat race, but he finished the first lap in third. He made a pass on Lap 4 (of eight) and finished second. Peter also finished the first lap of his second heat race in third. He hung with the leaders until Lap 5 or so when he began to fall back. His fastest lap was his second (46.425 seconds), which was only 0.2 slower than the blistering lap he recorded the weekend before (46.226). In his feature, Peter started and finished third, again hanging with the leaders for a while and then dropping back. Not a bad result for a day in which he was fortunate to be racing at all. Best of all, the second borrowed engine can be returned in one piece.

80cc SHIFTER – Four race weekends in a row must take its toll on not only us, because there were only six karts in Conor’s class instead of the usual 8 to 10. Conor started his heat races from the middle of the group – fourth in the first and third in the second. In the first, he gained one position at the start and ran in third until the leader spun on Lap 3. While Conor was working on getting past the new leader, the third place kart slipped by on the inside in Turn 7. Conor worked his way back to second on Lap 5, which is where he finished. Conor made a great start in his second heat race, but unfortunately the pole-sitter in front of him did not. Conor had nowhere to go and lost two positions in the process. He made a rare double pass on Lap 4 which promoted him to second. The leader had gotten away by that time, and while Conor did catch up, he ran out of laps. Starting from second in his feature, Conor made another great start and was in the lead by Turn 3. He extended his lead by over a second per lap over the first seven laps (of 10). With a massive lead established, he finally slowed down on Lap 8 to save his tires. This was Conor’s fourth MSOKC feature race win in a row and his fifth of the season in nine events so far.

NEXT RACE – Peter may be done for the season. His engine is on its way back to the engine builder for an assessment, but I suspect that the damage may be terminal. Even if it can be rebuilt, the cost is likely going to be beyond what remains of our budget for this season. Our next race is MSOKC Race No. 10 on Saturday September 3, 2011. This will be a qualifying format event at CRP that follows the normal Sunday (day race) schedule to allow time in the afternoon/evening for the annual MSOKC Hog Roast. There will be plenty of food for everyone, a variety of games, and a Powder Puff race in the rental karts for wives, girlfriends, and mothers of the regular racers. Hopefully we can talk Laura into doing this again.


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