2015 Race Prep and more.

The tension is mounting in the duck garage as we rapidly approach the first race of the season at Concept Haulers Motor Speedway this weekend.  There is so much work to do in the next few days it feels like we will never be ready.  Jason is getting a antsy and keeps asking to buzz around the neighborhood in the kart.

Until very recently I had been rebuilding last year’s kart.  I had taken it apart and stripped and inspected the frame for cracks or other problems.  Not seeing any problems we took it to a powder coater for a nice clean black finish.  In the meantime, I turned the motors – a Briggs Animal and a Briggs LO206 – over to Regan at 4 Cycle Central for upgrades and tune ups.  Once the chassis was back I started to put all the pieces back on trying to remember the fine details of installation and setup.

The LO206 Cup recently announced that they are adding Briggs Animal classes.  Then, working with the Championship Enduro Series, they announced that there would be a championship that would cover both series using combined points.  We had already planned to race the LO206 motor with the 206cup and the Animal motor with CES.  If we got a second kart Jason could also race the sprint with the Animal motor.  This means a run for 4 championships in 2 series: LO206 Sportsman (206 Cup), Animal Sportsman (206 Cup), Novice Jr (CES), and Animal Sportsman (Combined).  It gave me pause, lots of driving and lots of work, but lots of fun.

IMG_4174So, after much consideration and number crunching, we headed to 4 Cycle Central to pick up the refreshed motors and a 2004 Coyote Kryptonite.  While we where there we added seats, installed the motors, and aligned and scaled the karts.  To scale the kart we put each wheel on a scale and then made sure that the weight was equal with a slight bias toward the rear.  The balance makes sure that the kart can turn equally well left and right, and the rear bias helps keep the rear wheels and the power on the ground.

The first race of the season and test of the new kart will be this Saturday at Concept Haulers Motor Speedway.  The weather is expected to be cold but dry.

Thanks for Regan and the 4 Cycle Central team for getting ready so quickly for our very early start,  My lovely wife and daughter who are about to embark on their own summer adventure by competing in western horse shows.

K1 Speed Race 2

IMG_4095The day for MINI GP race 2 at K1 Speed in Buffalo Grove arrived and once again Karen was in charge of the evening’s pit crew which included Katie.  This race also brought out some old friends Sophia and Skyler, who raced with Jason at Concept Haulers a few years ago.  In addition to Skyler and Jason there where a total of 17 junior drivers.  This would make the evening a bit longer with two qualifying sessions and two features, because the track can only handle 13 karts at one time.

Jason had a plan for qualifying: get into open space as quickly as possible and start setting fast laps.  The means he will either push forward to pass the leaders or hang back to create distance between him and the next racers.  He started in second and he was able to nurse his kart in pre-start low speed mode, setting up a move to the lead as soon as the green flag dropped.  By the third lap he had the fastest lap, and his times where continuing to drop as the kart reached its top speed and he settled into a rhythm.  In lap nine, after a few cautions and mucking with slower traffic, Jason moved down to third.  But in the very next lap, he set the fastest lap of the evening 18.208.  This lap time would pay off with pole position in the feature giving great prospects of winning the race.

With his excellent qualifying effort, Jason was in the faster of the two features and started on the pole.  This is the best place to be because it means that everyone is behind and passing is very difficult.  As long as he gets a good start and drives clean he should be able to win the race.  In the second lap Jason fended off an attempt to pass with a small adjustment to close the opening, forcing the other driver to brake.  From there he pulled away from the group and started to catch up IMG_4107to the trailing drivers.  With four laps to go Jason caught up to last place driver.  He worked very hard to get by but the driver was inconsistent and ignored the slow traffic flag.  In the next lap the driver was signaled by the official  to let Jason and the driver behind him pass, but instead, cut off and bumped Jason.  This caused Jason to loose speed and momentum and the driver behind got by.  Jason pushed for the last two laps but there was not enough time.  He finished in 2nd and was disappointed despite his excellent work.

Despite the second place finish Jason really brought his ‘A’ game to the track.  He came with a plan and executed it successfully.  He did not get first place but he race with his heart and the results where somewhat out of his control.  Sometimes that is just how racing goes.  He is now in 3rd place in the series, just 8 points back from first and 10 points in front of 4th place.  Overall it was a pretty good night and is still a very tight series.

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The next race is Concept Haulers Motor Speedway‘s opening day on March 28th.  Two years ago we had an early April opening and the day was delayed by snow.  With the weather this year we are just going to hope for the best.  We need to spend the remaining little time putting the final touches on the kart and getting major pieces attached.

Very special thanks goes to Karen and Katie who had to hang out at the track for an extra long time.  To the folks running the races at K1 they work hard and and put up with a lot of BS.

2015 Schedule

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Here it is the 2015 Wild Duck Racing Schedule.  This summer, Jason will be entering three series in the Midwest region.  This should be a very exciting summer with over 20 events planned.

Championship Enduro Series – Road Racing – Novice Junior Class
Briggs and Stratton LO206 Cup – Sprint Racing – LO206 Sportsman Class
K1 Speed Buffalo Grove Junior League – Indoor Sprint Racing – Junior Class

2015 Pre-Season/Tune Up Races

K1 Indoor Series Buffalo Grove

  • February 3 K1 Speed Mini GP
  • March 3 K1 Speed Mini GP
  • April 7 K1 Speed Mini GP
  • May 5 K1 Speed Mini GP
  • June 2 K1 Speed Grand Prix Final

LO206 Cup Sprint Series

Championship Enduro Series

We also plan to race a few club races Concept Haulers Motor Speedway, Badger Kart Club, and Road America.  We will announce new dates as they approach.


First Race of 2015

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In race mode

The 2015 race season has begun.  The first race of the season was at K1 Speed in Buffalo Grove.  This will also be Karen’s first time being the track parent.  I had tried to prep both Karen and Jason with what to expect and some strategy, but there is only so much you can do.

The starting position for qualifying is random and racers start single file.  The drivers are then sorted by fastest lap time for the feature.  The strategy for Jason for qualifying was that if he was near the front, he should just run and try to pass.  If he was in the middle or back of the pack he should hold back to create space between him and the leaders, so that he could get a couple of clean fast laps in.

The first race brought good crowd of 12 drivers.   Jason started the qualifying race in 7th position.  Right off the bat, he got a quick lap that qualified him 5th, but instead of making room to get a fast lap in he stuck behind a slower driver.  He spent a lot of time trying to make the pass but the driver was unpredictable.  After three laps one of the drivers in front pushed too hard and spun, taking a number of other karts with him.  Jason managed to get through the chaos cleanly and had some room to run.   He ran the next few laps anywhere from 3rd to 5th, and finally 2nd, before getting caught behind a slower driver again.  By the 10th lap two drivers were now faster then he was but they had all bunched up again and time had run out.  In the end Jason was able to qualify 3rd.

20150203_185243Jason started the feature in the third position.   This is a very tricky spot to do well in.  The driver in the lead position is either going to get keep the lead or prevent Jason from moving up.  Jason needs to try to get in front of the second and prevent #4 from passing him.  Unfortunately, Jason took the racing line which is good if you have speed but not if you are just getting started, and dropped from 3 to 5th by the first corner.  With little room to pass he spent the race right on the heals of fourth.  In the last lap the 3rd place driver made a mistake and let 4th place and Jason, by giving Jason a 4th place finish.  Despite being stuck he managed to run the 2nd fastest lap of the race and 3rd fastest of the evening.

Jason has raced at K1 only one other time with more serious drivers on these really short tracks.  On non-race days he easily beat the other kids who were driving for fun to the point he has been told to slow down.  Now that he was racing, he was frustrated that they didn’t always drive the line, and there was little room to pass.  Challenges come in many forms, and this indoor league is a has many of them.  Despite this frustration, he rose to meet them and preformed remarkably well, keeping focused on moment and the task at hand.

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Some pool with Mom, post race

Special thanks goes to Karen who is a very supportive kart mom even though she does fully understand his passion.  Most of the race description came from her and she did a great job of keeping the driver focused on the task.  She did a great job with photos and video.   BTW, congratulations on your first GoPro face.

The next race will be March 3rd at K1 again.  With some hard work we should have the sprint kart back together and ready for the next warm weekend to shake it out and get ready for the season.

Mid-American Sprint Series Banquet

We finally put a cap on the 2014 season as we headed to the Mid-American Sprint Series Banquet.  But before that, we need to drop the kart frame off at the powder coat shop and the body at Danrr Auto Body for some new paint.  Oh yeah, a horse riding lesson too.  Then off to the banquet in West Bend, WI.

What better place to hold a kart racing series banquet but at a indoor kart track?  Stocky’s Fast Track in West Bend, Wisconsin.  It was good season for us.  We definitely learned a lot.  Some of of what TO do, but there was much of what NOT to do.  Jason finished the series in third place with his best performance at USAir, a track he had only a few hours practice on before finishing 3rd on both days.  Jason and I both had a turn on Stocky’s indoor oval track.  Jason was not impressed with the karts.  I, on the other hand had a blast and did not spin out or crash.  Katie and Karen elected to not partake but instead played air hockey, video games, and tried to not get any motor oil on themselves.  We were glad to have another chance to be with our racing friends and families.  Thanks to all of the drivers and their families, Mark Vielgut and team, and sponsors: Bridgestone Tires, Franklin Motorsports, Margay Racing, and Grand Products.

The 2015 race season is just around the corner.  Our plans are still in the works but you can expect lots of racing in the Midwest. This Tuesday is the first race of the 2015 season at K1 Speed.  Official schedule for the summer will be out soon so stay tuned.

IMG_1189Special thanks to the Mersburgers for hanging out with us. Thanks to our 2014 sponsors, my lovely wife Karen and of course Katie who is not really sure what to make of all this crazy karting, “It’s not a horse!”.

Off Season Racing

The season is over and Jason and I are suffering from a bit of “Parked Kart Syndrome”.  The first few weeks I had it pretty bad.  I did not know what to do with myself.  Spent a few weekends literally wandering around the house.  Jason was not as bad but every few days he said, “I miss karting”.   For the moment we have put it behind us but I should really start tearing the kart down for inspection and rebuild. In the meantime there is indoor racing at K1 Speed to keep the reflexes sharp.

IMG_20141207_102422K1 is a national indoor electric kart chain.  The adult karts are very fast.  They claim they reach 60 mph but I suspect the top track speed is closer to 40-50 mph.  Jason is a few inches too short for them, so he has to use the Junior karts which are slower.  I think the fast kids are hitting 30.  The tracks at K1 are smaller and tighter than what he is used to, and the drivers really need to drive a very smooth line to maintain speed and momentum.  The folks that make fast laps don’t slow down.  Jason says, he floors the pedal for every lap and just touches the brakes to adjust speed for corners.  In the normal race sessions, the fastest lap of the race is the winner.  The racing leagues are one race a month for five months, and use a standard race format where the first to finish is the winner.

A few weeks ago Jason and I decided to crash the last race of the K1 Speed Addison racing league and see what happened.   He had only been on the track once and that was in 2012.  Perhaps we could be spoilers.  Not really a nice way to introduce yourself, but sometimes that’s racing.  Jason raced really well,  He qualified second in his race and finished second.  He had a faster lap but it was not faster enough.  Still all in all a good time.

This week we took some time to see what he could do at K1 Speed Buffalo Grove.  It is actually a slightly easier track, and is a little bit longer and wider.  Jason had a goal of working on passing and learning to do it everywhere on the track.   Most of the drivers that day were first timers or very novice, so he was going to have a lot of practice.

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Setting up the kart

First run of the day was just him, which was fun.  His twelfth lap was the fourth fastest lap of the week and month.  Being the only one on the track certainly helped.  For the next five sessions Jason set the fastest lap times and worked on passing.  He started off a little slow but by the end of the day he was passing everyone, everywhere on the track.  He finished the last race two laps ahead of everyone else and set his own third fastest lap of the day.

We are going to try to get to K1 every couple weeks to stay sharp and keep learning.  The next K1 race league will start in January and run the first Tuesday of every month.

Thanks to Jason for learning to put his own helmet on today, all I had to do was watch drive.  Thanks to Karen to keeping positive about this.  We’re having lots of fun.

2014 Recap

IMG_3729Whew, it was a long race season!

We weren’t exactly prepared for the start.  No practice, no testing, no setup, a new motor, and a kart that was adjusted to hold a bigger Jason.  The first race was at Concept Haulers and he took a chilly second place.  From there the season raced off at top speed heading down to Mid-State Kart Club in Springfield, IL.  For the rest of the season, pretty much every weekend we were packing up the truck and heading someplace.  We visited 3 states and 11 different tracks putting on countless laps on the kart and untold miles on the truck.

We went into the season knowing it was going to be a challenge.  Last year he raced with a local club to get him in the new kart and figure out where he stood, and he did well.  This year we decided to move up from local club racing to the regional racing, pitting us against teams that had well more then 2 years of experience.  And I do mean teams.  Very skilled mechanic parent and child drivers working together on a single goal of finishing first.   Jason and I had to work together to find the speed he needed to keep up with these folks.   Last year he was at the front of the pack all year long.  This year he was not with the fastest but but in the middle and learning, getting faster every race.

I got us into this sport because Jason is a sports nut and I am not an athlete.  I did have some mechanical ability from years of working on VWs and motorcycles, albeit still limited understanding.  Add to this my enjoyment of technical minutia.  Jason loved to get in the kart and race and then get out and run around with his fellow drivers.  Traveling has led us on several great adventures and brought us new friends.  While I did not count on actually working with my son, this has been my greatest source of enjoyment.  We are both getting better at working together and learning skills that we never expected.

This years accomplishments

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Some Statistics

  • Finishes: 7 firsts, 4 seconds, 9 thirds, 3 fourths, 1 fifth, 3 sixths, 1 seventh
  • 20 Blog posts
  • 28 Races
  • 10 Tracks (7 Kart Sprint, 3 Road)
  • 3 Car Shows
  • 14 Trophies
  • 160 Video Clips, 55 YouTube Videos
  • 2700 Pictures,
  • 3 Race Motors, 12 Pints of Amsoil Briggs & Stratton 4T Race Oil, Race Gas!!!
  • 3 sets of tires
  • Countless miles on the truck
  • Countless kart laps

Tracks Visited

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Jason and I would like to thank our sponsors.  The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Danrr Autobody, Atomic Decals, Stardust Memorials,  GoPro, and AMSOIL.  We could not have done this without your support.  We look forward to continuing to work hard and promoting your businesses.

We must thank Regan and Bob Vehring at 4 Cycle Central for their support and advice this season.  Congratulations to Regan and Jennifer on their recent nuptials.

IMG_3741Karen, I know this racing drives you crazy and but we both love it.  Please let us do this next year.  Katie, I know these are not the kind of horses you love but we miss you every weekend we are away.

Last Points Race of the season

The last race of the Road America weekend series was also a night race and even on the full track.  Our plan was to hang out with friends and race one last time at Road America and get one last change to see how we measure up.  I looked at my notes and set up the kart with the lessons I learned from the last Mid-America race there.  I anticipated a good night of racing.

The evening started off a little sketchy with light rain early on.  Thanks to the hard work of the Road America folks the track was dry enough to get a single practice in.  For us it went reasonably well.  Jason was setting competitive lap times, so no kart adjustments were made.  There were nine drivers – 6 veteran and 3 new guys.  During practice they ran all of the Briggs classes at once.  It was quite something to hear and watch as they roared around the track.


Jason started heat one in the middle of the pack which was good.  If he was slow he won’t hold anyone up.  But if he was fast he could practice passing.  It turned out he was right in the middle of the pack.  I thought hard about making any adjustments to the kart.  I did not want to make things worse.  He started 6th and finished 6th.  There was no doubt of his finishing position, and so that is where they scored him.

The only real problem of the night was that our timing transponder’s battery was dead so no official lap times were counted.  As the white flag dropped on the race prior to Jason’s, I ran to the timing tower to get his transponder, waiting to the last second to get the maximum charge.  Then I’d run back to install it on his kart and start the motor.  It felt like I had no time but there was easily 2-3 minutes between classes.

Heat 2 started with him on the pole, which promised to be interesting.  He has a reputation of not being easy to pass unless you are really faster then he is.  That reputation was again earned.  The two fast drivers passed him in the first lap and then a few laps later.  The rest of the class was either left behind, not able to keep up, or not able to find a way around.  There were some sharp words between drivers at the scale but that was quickly disrupted by the need to scale the karts and move on to Frisbee by the stands.

With the sixth place finish in the first heat and the third place finish in the second heat he was placed in the sixth position behind his main rivals but in front of the rookie drivers.  He got a good start and was making progress getting around the driver in 5th.  With two laps to go, he went wide at the top of the hat as a junior class driver passed underneath him.  I thought the a junior driver shoved him off the track and was more then a little upset.  Jason got back on the track and finished the race in 6th place.  It turned out he was confused by the white flag for the junior and thought the race was over.  Oh well, not much to be done.

Despite the finish in the feature, it was a pretty good night.  After the races we headed over to our good friends the Mersburgers for a relaxing evening and bed.  The next morning Jason woke to the sound of F1 races from Singapore, which also happened to be a night race.

This season is winding down, there might be a race yet at Concept Haulers but that’s it.  Time to start thinking about next year and preparing the kart for winter storage.

Thanks to the folks at Road America for the great evening of racing.  To the Mersburgers for putting us up.  Thanks

Getting Gingerman Right

The last race of the 2014 Championship Enduro Series took place last weekend at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI.  Last year it went so poorly that I never got around to GingerMan-Raceway-Overview2writing the post but there is some video.  Saturday was rained out and Sunday was his first race ever with our untested Briggs animal motor.  During the first practice the clutch failed, and the rest of the day was a gearing struggle.

This year’s race was much more relaxed.  The Novice Junior championship was already locked up by Jason, we have been running the Animal all summer long, the kart was well tuned, and the driver and crew were ready.

We arrived Friday night and set up camp.  The weather was expected to be cold with a chance of rain.  The night did bring some light rain, and so did Saturday morning.  All eyes were on smart phone radar maps, wondering if it was going to clear in time to get some racing in.  Thankfully, the sky cleared and the track was IMG_2604dried by noon.  Race director Earl and the track crew managed to get 3 practice sessions in and the races started only 2 hours late, with the expectation that we would get them all in.  During practice, I managed to get the kart running better with a couple of gear changes and Jason settled into the track dropping 2 seconds throughout the day.  The race was uneventful,  he ran clean and finished first in his class, with a best lap of 2:14 over 2.14 miles, average speed of 60 mph.  After racing we went to the 2013 season’s award banquet and hung out with some of the great friends we have made over the last two seasons.  That evening Jason received his 2013 2nd place trophy.

Sunday morning was cool and a little overcast but no rain to speak of.  Excellent racing weather.  During practice Jason picked up two more seconds (2.12 seconds a lap) over Saturday just by pushing hard and chasing his friends during practice.   As the race started he made his usual jump from 7th place up to second, but the folks in the faster classes passed him within a few laps.  In the third lap, just after he lapped the novice driver, he misjudged the exit to turn 2 and went for a little drive in the grass.  He held on and returned to the track.  From then on out he continued to run clean and finished the day and the series with three fist pumps as he crossed the finish line.  A great finish to the weekend and the series.

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The C&M Team

The next race is the last race and night at Road American on 9/20.  This is a last chance to try some of the adjustments we have learned over the last few weeks since we where last there.

Sunday’s racing was supported by C&M Auto Service of Glenview, IL.  This is the third year that Chuck and his team has supported us.  They have serviced five generations of Pribyl vehicles, including both of Jason’s karts.   Just this week our 2009 VW Jetta Wagon’s check engine light came on.  There were 4 codes that lead to,a dead fan system, failed intake manifold, and a clogged EGR filter.  The guys did a lot of research to make sure that they fixed the parts that actually needed fixing and retested after each system was repaired.  It turned out that only the fan and the intake where truly at fault.  We are very grateful that they took the time to do the repairs correctly and only did the work that was necessary.

Thanks again to C&M Auto for their continued support, Regan at 4 Cycle Central for getting us through some tough times this year. Dave Larson and the whole CES team for putting this on.  Karen, thanks for not losing it when I suggested we go to Daytona for Christmas in 2015, but there are no 4 cycle classes.

Some Magic at Sugar River

With the season winding down we headed to Sugar River Raceway hoping it would go better than the previous weekend at Road America.  This was our second visit to this track; our first was back in June.  Last time, Jason ran with his LO206, stock slide and 6 inch wheels.  At other tracks this setup is for Seniors.  But at Sugar River the setup is for the Junior 2 class.  This time I set him up with the LO206 Sportsman class, with the hope that he would be able to run with Sugar River’s Clone Junior 1 class.

The weekend’s race was an opportunity to try to tune the kart without any pressure.  One of the things I have been meaning to try to adjust

casterwas the front wheel caster.  Caster is the angle between a vertical line and pivot line of the suspension.  The caster is there to add stability to the front of the kart in the straights, and influences how the kart turns.  More caster (positive) makes the kart easy to turn but more wobbly.  Think shopping kart.  Less caster (negative) means more stability but hard to turn.  By default, karts and cars are set up with negative caster because you want the front to be stable.  The trick it find out how much caster, to much and you have to fight the kart through the corners, too little and the front end slides(pushes) through the corner slowing you down.  During pre-race preparations I added some negative caster.  Jason came off the track early, complaining that the kart was really hard to steer.  Added some positive caster and we were off to the races.  In his first laps you can see the front end wiggle a little as he takes the turns a little fast, but the kart sticks and he looks comfortable and is not fighting the kart through the corners.

Sugar River is a little different than other track we have visited.  They qualify every race during the last practice.  Jason was running LO206 and was started at the back of the Honda pack because they didn’t want him interfering with the locals’ times.  I understand this.  We didn’t want to be spoilers in their season and not be welcomed back.  Unfortunately, the kart in front of him was not ready to take the track, and he and Jason were let out on the track very late.  This let the fast locals catch up to Jason from behind.  Jason did what he always does, which is to hold to his line, but that ended up blocking and slowing down the local racers, to everyones annoyance.  He qualified 8 of 9 with a 41.821; two seconds behind the leader.

Since he was running in his own class he was again required to start heat 1 in the back.  While he finds this annoying, ultimately it will be good for him because he will have to get a good start and then pass everyone he can as quickly as possible.  Jason had to bide his time behind the last of the Honda powered karts which were loose and not really following any line, let alone the racing line.  With two laps to go Jason made a drive for inside of turn one passing at turn 16 to move up a spot.  In the same lap just out of the 1 lane section, driver #6 bobbled the corner and went wide, letting Jason slip by.  Now that he was in open air, he picked up speed putting in his fastest lap of the race before taking the checkered flag.

The second heat for the junior 1 class at Sugar River is not like other tracks where they just line as they finished heat one.   They reverse the order of heat 1 starting single file, slowest to fastest.  Jason again started by himself in the back.  This setup forces the fastest kart to work their way to the front.  With young drivers it can be a little sketchy since they don’t always have the patience or experience to make sound racing decisions.  I asked Jason to hang back at the start so he would have clearance to get around any bumps during the start.  Jason spent this heat being patient and driving, letting those that made mistakes fall behind.  He picked up 3 spots and raced clean.

The feature went back to a normal two-wide start with the order decided by the previous heat finishes.  But again, the exception was that the classes were separated so Jason was in the back.  Into turn one Jason picked up a spot, then started to work on the rest.  In the second lap, #20, a front runner, lost it coming out of the backfield and everyone got by, up to 7th.  The next lap, the front runners pulled away while Jason was held up by 4, 16, and 5.  Those 3 tangled just before the finish line and Jason got by clean, now in 4th place.  But the crashed caused a full course caution with parade laps, confusion, and reorganization.  Jason got sent to the back and had to start the passing all over.

His restart was a little slow and was held up for two laps until he got a great three-wide pass in the the front straight with 3 laps left.  He then had to play catch up and started eating up the track between him and the next pack, even gaining in the corners, running laps a full second faster than his prey.  This was enough for him to catch and was on them as the white flag flew, signaling the start of the final lap.  He tried to find a spot to get ahead during the last lap, but couldn’t quite pull it off.  Overall, it was a great run, setting an even faster lap time for the the day of 40.649.  He is starting to get closer to the top.

This coming weekend is the last race of the Championship Enduro Series at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI.  While there Jason will receive his 2nd place accolades for the 2013 season.  He has already clinched the Championship spot this year.  Now that football has started and all of the our series have ended, racing is going to start winding down for the season.  The next planned sprint race is a night race at Road America on 8/20.

Thanks to Sugar River Raceway for letting us join in your races, the Peschang clan for saving a spot reminding us of the track.  Karen, so, football season has started and the NASCAR Chase has started, we might need a new TV.  Thanks for not saying no the first time.