Mid-American Sprint Series at CHMS

IMG_4331This weekend was the inaugural race of the Mid-American Sprint Series at Concept Haulers Motor Speedway.  This is a track that Jason knows well.  He raced here the entire 2013 season, finished second in his class and still comes to practice and tune. We only had one kart to manage this week, the LO206, since MASS does not have Animal classes.  At some point we are going to need to bring the Animal here to test and get us and the kart ready for the 206 Cup Series

Jason was very eager to see how he stacked up against the other drivers now that he has some more skills in his gloves and the confidence to go with them.  I managed to get us there just as the first practice of the day started, so my morning was a littlIMG_4346e crazier then usual as I filled out registration forms, unpacked, prepped, and pre-teched the kart, had to borrow some gas too(Thanks Jeff).  After that the day was actually fairly relaxing, there were an unusual 5 rounds of practice in the morning, usually there are 3 maybe 4.  There were only 2 other LO206 sportsman karts, which was a little disappointing,  Ashton, last years champion, who is super fast and clean, and Payton in his first sportsman race moving up from kid karts.

Jason has finally settled into qualifying races.  He no longer complains they are “not racing” for those three laps.  This time he was able to qualify for the second position just a second behind Ashton, a far cry from last year where he was seconds behind the field.  Payton qualified one second behind Jason in third place.  The pre-feature was exciting with Jason just hanging onto the back of Ashton for all 8 laps.  He was not quite able to get close enough to make any real attempts at passing but it was still impressive that he was able to stay right there with him, even setting the fastest lap of the race.

Jason’s great pre-feature put in the second spot for the feature.  By the start of the race the temperature had risen from the 50s and 60s into the low 70s.  The warmer temperatures meant slightly lower horsepower.  Low enough that Jason was no longer able to keep up with Ashton and was barely able to stay ahead of Payton.  Though Payton gave a really great effort, Jason stayed just ahead of him for 14 long laps.  Had I known that this could happen, I would have changed the gearing to bring the power back and let him keep up.  Another lesson learned and added to the notebook.

Sunday was not anywhere near as relaxed as Saturday.  There had been predictions of rain all week and it was expected to arrive with vigor in the afternoon.  The race marshal decided that there would be one practice and then racing straight through to the morning to get all the racing in before the afternoon rain.  Jason went out for practice and got loose in turn two of the first lap and ended up stuck in the grass.  The track crew was not allowed to help him get back on the track so he had to sit there and stew.  Thankfully, he was able to go out and practice with the Yamaha rookies for some fast laps and was able to collect enough data to let me know that I need to drop the rear gear back down.  This would let him run faster in the now cooler weather.

He qualified 2nd and ran the whole pre-feature right behind Ashton.  He continued making aggressive attempts at passing, often pulling alongside, but not in exactly the right place or time to make it stick.  He finished the race 3 seconds back in the end, but still close.  A really great race.  After the checked flag, as he came around turn 3, the left rear wheel rolled away from the kart and through the grass.  IMG_4462He and his kart slid to a stop in the grassy infield, and he hopped out and chased down his loose wheel.   His kart was picked up by the track crew and he got a ride in the golf kart with this wheel in his lap.  Somehow, that wheel and the right front had worked their way loose and had wallowed out the hole.  Eventually the nuts came off and then the wheel.  This necessitated a mad scramble to find spare wheels with tires and get them checked out by tech since we can’t change tires during the weekend without approval.  Thankfully, the Peschangs had a spare set that were ready to goIMG_4394 and had some lug nuts as well.  On top of the errant wheels, an aluminum body mount strut was broken.  Some quick but frustrating work with a drill and that was was fixed too, well in time for the feature race.  Regrettably, we don’t have video of the wheel chase, that would have made some great GoPro footage.

Sunday’s feature was very similar to Saturday’s,  Jason and the kart were in tune and running fast keeping, up with with the #7 of Ashton for about 7 laps.  Then Jason started to slow down and drop back while still staying far ahead of Payton.  In the end he finished in second place, a few seconds back.  We were all happy with his performance and glad to put a much better end on this weekend than last weekend.

Thanks to my parents who came to cheer Jason on.  As always, Karen, who was there taking some great pictures.  Yes, Katie, thank you too, even though you were “forced” to come.  Special thanks goes to Peschang Racing and Faitz Racing for their help in our hour of need with parts and tools.  Thank you to the crew of Mid-American Sprint Series and Concept Haulers Motor Speedway for putting on a great and safe show.

Mona Peschang there is a space where you where.  We miss you.

The next race planned is the first official race at Badger Kart Club where we are expecting to race both LO206 and Animal classes.

Thanks to our 2015 Sponsors for their continuing support.
GoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, Amsoil, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, T.J. Ross.

Working Weekend

This weekend we had three very specific goals.  The first is to get both karts setup for race speed.  We have not run either of them in this configuration this year, the white kart with the LO206 motor and the orange kart with our freshly rebuilt 4 Cycle Central Animal.  The second was to get Jason some coaching to break some old habits and bring some new one to find those those elusive seconds.  At lastly, simply see if we were capable of managing two classes.  If things go really well, Jason should win some races this weekend.

IMG_4284The first challenge of running two karts, is getting them there, so, I rented a trailer to transport the second kart and a bit of equipment to the track.  The first trailer had a tail light out and it took some extra time to figure that out and get a new one hooked up.  We still were able to have a relaxing breakfast at The Greenwood Restaurant before hitting the road.  A few hours later we were unpacking karts and getting them ready for a day of practice.  We met up a veteran Badger driver Robert Murray and his father for some assistance for the day.  Robert was going to help Jason find a faster line around the track and give him some general driving tips.  Robert is a former champion at Badger and knows his way around this and other local tracks.  He is also now an Eagle Scout,  Congratulations Robert!

Once the karts were ready, Jason took a few warm up laps in the orange Animal kart and found that it really pushed, the front was sliding instead of turning.  While I fixed the pushing by moving the front wheels our by 1/4 inch,  Jason and Robert discussed how he could go faster if he turned deeper(later) into the corner and let the kart slid to the outside more in the first corner.  The gearing seemed about right, he was hitting the right RPM at the end of the straight for maximum speed.   When Jason the the track again working with Robert he got faster and faster with each lap.

We then began working on the LO206,  this is a well known kart for us and we can tune up quickly since we have run it this way for 2 years.  Robert and Jason began working their way round the track giving each corner adjustments that where really shaving time and altering his style.  The kart its self only needed some minor gear changes to keep up with his new found speed.  The only thing that went wrong the 206 kart was a lost bolt on that held a side panned bracket on and it suddenly “would not turn”, I found a new bolt and he was back out.  It is amazing how he can feel the changes in the kart to that degree.  He knows when something is not right, can’t always tell me why but has the clues to find the problem.

IMG_4300While practicing with the animal kart the clutch came loose and the exhaust bolts started pulling out of the head, that put the Animal on hold for the day.  Jason was also starting to lose focus, so, he took a quick trip around the old practice track in the 206, which was a bumpy kidney buster, we packed up the trailer for the night.  We put the Animal in the truck and took it to Regan to fix the head bolts and get clutch parts.  Jason’s repaired primary LO206 motor was also ready for pick up as well.   After returning from 4 Cycle Central, we grilled meatballs for dinner, did a bit of kart work(LO206 motor swap, fix animal clutch), hung out with friends, and got a good nights sleep in the tent.

First lap of first Sunday practice and he is pushed into the bags
Sunday was race day and the test of Saturday’s work.  Jason now needed to put all the things he learned on Saturday to the test and I needed to keep track of two karts and one boy.  The LO206 class qualified first, Jason ran his three hot laps, and then he got the Animal for its turn.  As we waited for Animal qualifying to start it was announced that the LO206 class would have to re-qualify because the timing computer crashed, so right after Animal qualifying he and another driver quickly walk over the their LO206 kart, hopped in, and drove off.  The rest of the racing day was a bit like that out of one and into the other.  Jason qualified 3rd in LO206 and 1st in his Animal besting his lap time from last year by nearly 2 second in both classes.

Jason’s LO206 pre-feature was probably the best race I watched all day and one of his best ever.  He qualified in third putting him at the very back of the pack.  The Senior Class was also in this race starting in front of the Sportsman.  He made a quick shift to the outside to get the fast line at the green but was a little late and far back to gain position.  In the hair pin of the first lap Jason and Camden #57 both passed Riley #91, putting Jason in second, 4th over all.   By the hair pin of lap 2 they both had caught up to a slower LO206 Senior and Jason was putting pressure on #57.  They both passed the Senior in the boot and as they came out of the tree turn Jason made a good attempt at a pass on #57 but it didn’t stick.  For the next four laps Jason just dogged #57 looking for the mistake or way around.  In lap 7, Jason made the pass out of the tree turn as #57 bobbled, just as Jason perfected his timing through corner.  They flew passed the white flag into turn one where #57 tired to pass on the out side but Jason held his foot down into and through the sweeper and headed down into the hair pin in first place.  He started to pull away and took the checker with a very loud yell and fist pumps.  A really great race, no matter who won, both drivers really worked hard and challenged each other.

LO206 Pre-Feature
The Animal race was not quite as exciting but still very good, there were four drivers and Jason was on the pole.  At the green flag Jason took the lead and never looked back.  With each lap Jason pulled farther ahead and in end he held the lead with out a challenge.  At this point the Animal kart was really dialed in and ready for more racing.

Animal Pre-Feature
Jason started the LO206 feature race on the pole but gave up the lead at the start as #57 got the start right.  He stayed on #57 for 4 laps until they caught up to a senior driver in the sweeper.  #57 kept looking behind him to see where Jason was as they drove through the infield turns.  As they came up to the tree turn he looked back again and lost concentration and drove wide touching the grass and dirt loosing momentum.  Jason took that moment to drive throughIMG_4303 and start to work on the senior driver.  By the time they hit the boot again he was first in his class and second over all.  With two laps to go Jason was making distance and as he entered the boot, the motor suddenly sounded “faster”, the drive chain had fallen off forcing him to pull to the infield and retire from the race.  If you remember the new LO206 motor, I had put it on the night before in the dark and put the wrong washer on the clutch.   I found the mistake before the feature and fixed it, but did not tighten the motor mount down enough.  This allowed the chain to pull motor back and loosening the chain until it fell off.  Drat.

Even worse, the Animal feature never started for us.  The motor stalled out during the parade lap and I was not able to get it to keep running to start the race and that was that.  IMG_4314It was a really disappointing way to end what ultimately was a great weekend.   However, we were  able to get him and the karts in a state where he can go fast and win races.  All of the problems we had we fixed before the race or will be fixable in time for the next weekend.  Once he got over the shock of not finishing both feature he was proud of the work he did and was looking forward to the next race.  I think we are in pretty good shape to race two classes as long and we stay focused and keep our wits about us.  Though, I have to admit, it was a lot of hard work for both of us.

Next weekend Jason will be at Concept Haulers Motor Speedway for the first race of the Mid-American Sprint Series.  The weather on Saturday is looking good but Sunday has a good chance for rain.  As long as its not a monsoon rain there should be racing.

We owe a heap of thanks to Regan at 4 Cycle Central getting the motors in shape for the season and help us out this weekend.  Marty and Robert Murray both of which provided in valuable assistance in keeping the karts on the track and getting Jason driving tuned up.  To Karen for not being to ticked off about renting a trailer, it seemed to work and will keep up on budget and out of trouble.

Thanks to our 2015 Sponsors for their continuing support.
GoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, Amsoil, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, T.J. Ross.

K1 Race 3, Luck of the Draw

It was the first Tuesday night of the month and that meant a K1 Speed Jr race.  This is the 3rd race of a 5 race series at K1 Speed, and Jason was ready and psyched up for the event.  He got even more amp’ed when he found two face up “lucky” pennies on the way in.  Kids are funny.

IMG_4253The night’s race brought 14 drivers and with a few of the 13 karts down, they split the racers into two groups of 7.  The upside to this is that there are fewer karts on the track making it easier to get a clean lap in.  The down side is it will be a longer evening and scoring two races as one is a little funny.

Jason qualified in spectacular fashion, even though he started in the middle of the field.  He was able to get some competitive laps in early, moving as high as second, but then down a bit in subsequent laps.  At about lap 6, the drivers immediately in front of Jason got tangled up.  He managed to drive by and into clean track and press on the speed.  In lap nine he set a blazing 17.722 second lap.  This is a personal best, fastest lap of the night and the 2nd fastest time this month (yeah, 7 days in).  This put him on the pole for the feature.  In addition to putting in fast laps he was making great moves on the other drivers, including some well-timed passes in the closing laps.

The karts are assigned by the order they come in from the last race and then by the position you start in.  This gives a “random” draw for what kart you get.  Some are better then others depending on a number of factors including battery charge.  Jason got a kart thatIMG_4253 was low on power on the start and he quickly dropped to 2nd and the leader pulled away.  He was still turning good lap times and was running a very tight line making passing difficult.  In the 12th lap he entered the second corner a bit wide giving room for the drivers in 3rd and 4th to push by, knocking him off the podium.  He finished 4th two laps later and was bummed, despite his excellent drive.

He had no reason to be disappointed with the finish.  He did a great job of running the kart he had, and kept all his laps at or under 18.5 seconds.  On top of that, he is now in second place, 8 points back from the lead, with third place 4 points behind him.  It is possible for Jason to move into first but it is a pretty tall order.  He will need to beat the #1 driver in two races or two positions and there are two races left.

IMG_4279The next outdoor race has been changed from our previously announced schedule.  We are going to skip the CHMS Race 2.  We determined that it is too much work without enough value.  Instead we are going head to Badger Kart Club on Saturday for some practice, tuning, and and coaching, followed by camping at the track and racing on Sunday.  This will also be the first race with two karts and two classes and I am hoping neither us or the equipment breaks under the strain.

Thanks to Katie for putting up with yet another race at K1 speed.  We are working on your races.  And to Karen who got him there and kept him sane between races.

Thanks to our 2015 Sponsors for their continuing support.
GoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, Amsoil, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, T.J. Ross.

First race, Ups and Downs

The night before a race is always a little hectic.  Being the first race in almost 6 months I was a bit out of sorts trying to remember exactly what needed to be packed.  There is a lot of work to finish up, inspect, and pack.   I did make an attempt to put stickers on the kart but the cleaner froze as soon as I sprayed it on making a huge mess of the body.  CHMSI have talked about a rhythm to a race day and Jason and I fell back into it pretty quickly, enjoying having our time working on a project together.  Some families play baseball, garden, or build furniture in the garage, We Race Go Karts.

We were the first to arrive and register for the season.  Despite the freezing cold and wind, we focused unpacking and began to get the last minute setup and inspection done.  After getting the kart inspected, Jason hit the track for the first round of practice.  Unfortunately, it did not last very long.  Due to a oversight of the crew chief, there was no oil in the motor.  After most of a lap it made a bad noise and seized.  Jason and his kart had to take the tractor ride into the scale house.  Luckily, we still had his old kid kart motor.  IMG_4222With some help from Jason we got the motor installed in about 10 minutes and he was back on the track for practice rounds 2 and 3.  His driving was pretty good and he seemed to be one of the faster ones out there but there were many new faces that my have been just getting warmed up.  We really did not have much time to spend on tuning the new kart since we were concentrating on getting the kart around the track as much as possible to get a feel for it.

IMG_20150328_103436Not only did we battle the busted motor and the cold, we have been having issues with the 360 collar not quite fitting right.  It has been causing Jason’s helmet to rise up and interfere with his vision and put pressure on his neck and shoulders.  This is the same collar that caused him to pull off in the first CES race 2 years ago.  We were both pretty stressed out by this and it almost ruined the day, to the point where we considered going home after the drivers meeting.  We tried on a number of collars in the shop and none made any improvement.  We finally tried on Ryan’s collar which seemed to fit much better.  We made some adjustments to the current collar to give it a slightly better fit, and added some caramel corn and soda. Jason soon recovered and was ready to go for the race day.

IMG_4176Jason started Heat 1, by random draw, in the 7th position.  This should give him a chance to see what the others could do and give him a chance to practice passing.  The start, in classic junior style, did not go well.  The novices were not well versed on start procedures and half of them did not take the cut off on the parade lap and took a full rap around.  It was another 2 parade laps before they were even close to being sorted out.  By then Jason was moved to 4th and the green flag was thrown.  Jason made a good entry into turn one moving up to third.  He spent the rest of the heat attempting to get around #42 Ryan who had fallen back to 2nd to from the pole.  He was just not getting the timing right.  In the 6th and final lap Jason made a charge at Ryan just before the hairpin. He made it by, but it opened an opportunity for #10 Daniel to slip by them both.  As they approached the finish line It was a drag race as Jason and Daniel made the final charge to the finish.  Jason came up short by just inches and had to settle for 4th.

As usual heat 2 started the reverse of heat 1 with Jason on the pole.  and #56 Chad is his was also in a bright orange kart.  What you can’t see in the video are the drivers behind Jason and Chad who out again and where not able to maintain a rolling grid forcing the group to take second parade lap.  This time on the around they were close enough and the flagman just let them go.  Chad managed to beat Jason into the first corner and moved into first.  For the first two laps Jason was dogged by Daniel until Daniel locked up his rear and spun off just before the hairpin.  From then on it was Chad pulling away from Jason and Jason pulling away from #3 Kaleb  and the remaining field until the end, with Jason finishing 2nd.  At the scale house, they all got a much needed talking to by the race director about parade lap procedures, including Jason who did not slow down enough when directed.

Between the last heat and feature I did some minor tuning and changed the rear gear to see if we could get a little more speed at the end of the straights.  Jason started in second and Chad was on the pole.  This time the parade lap was clean and they were off with out a hitch, Chad in first, Jason in second, and Ryan in third.  Again they all pulled away from each otherm stringing out the whole field.  In lap 9, Jason was getting ready to set up to pass and lap Yosel in the #15 as they entered the monza turn, and Yosel spun.  Jason had to make a quick dodge to the inside as Yosel slowly rolled over the outer lip and down the back of the turn.  The rest of the race was uneventful and Jason took his mighty fist pumps and checkered flag for 2nd place.

IMG_4214Despite breaking some equipment it was a good day of racing.  We were able to successfully field a new – to us – and untested kart .  We managed to find a solution to a lingering problem with his collar.  We still have some work to do to find those remaining seconds to get him up with the leaders but we at least have some plans and starting places to work with now.

The next race is going to be at K1 Speed on Tuesday with the Jr League.  The next track race weekend will be a doozy for us.  We are planning to go to Race 2 at Concept Haulers on Saturday and then race both the LO206 class and the Animal class at Badger on Sunday.  This will be a real test of whether or not we can put two classes together for the LO206 cup.

Thanks Jason for letting me do this with him and learn to do these cool things.  To Karen for not being too upset at the loss of the motor and even a little bit understanding.  To the crew at Concept Hauler Motor Speedway for putting on a great first race of the season.

Thanks to our 2015 Sponsors for their continuing support.
GoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, Amsoil, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, T.J. Ross.

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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.