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.

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


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


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.


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.

Mid-American Sprint Series – Race 5

This last weekend we went to our favorite motor-sports complex at Road America for the last race with the Mid-American Sprint Series.  The series has been a lot of work and time spent on the road away from home, but every time we go out we have some kind of adventure and learn something new.  Jason has improved his driving from start to finish and I could not be prouder of the work he has done.

WIMG_2306hen the kids aren’t actually on the track racing, they are running around playing.  It could be any number of games from tag, to complicated versions of “Ghost in the Graveyard” or catch.  At some of the recent races they have been racing scooters around the pits.   This week, there was a perfect storm of old school dirt bikes, which they literally raced around the pit area, including pit stops between laps, each in front of their own kart.  I have no idea who won the the races but they were having a good time.

IMG_2279On the kart racing side it was a hunt for the line and the kart setup.  Friday during practice, I tried all kinds of gearing configurations and the kart was no faster.  Most of the time, it was slower.  While I was changing gears Jason was continuing to work out what was the fastest line around the track.  It was a lot effort without much gain.

Saturday’s racing was the same as practice on Friday.   Fiddling with the gears a bit but getting nowhere.  I finally just gave up and settled on a setup that others had done well with, and was the setup we started with.  Turnout for the race was light with only Jason and Ashton racing in the class.  Again it was a pretty frustrating day, though Jason did get a trophy and that makes any kid happy.IMG_2304

For the last day of racing I just stopped tuning the kart.  I did not have the tools or experience to make any more adjustments.  Jason started third and finished third in qualifying, pre-feature and feature.  It was a less frustrating day, but because we had mostly given up.  Despite all of out trouble Jason did get his fastest lap of the weekend during the feature.IMG_2320

We have definitely reached a plateau as a team and are going to need to work hard to start making progress again.  That said, we have made some great progress this season.  Jason and his kart are so close to being very fast.  We are going to continue to make adjustments to find that elusive go-fast magic.

This weekend is the LO206 Race at Sugar River Raceway.  We are going to run the green slide this time so look for us with a group of LO206 sportsman or the JR1 class depending on the numbers.   After that, we are taking a week off before last CES race at Gingerman in Michigan.  After that we are going to play it by ear, visiting tracks as we have time.

Thanks to the Mersberger’s for all the air, folks to hang out with, and a place to stay.  To Scott Vielgut and the Two Cycle Technology team for putting MASS together and letting run at some real challenging tracks.  Thanks to all of our competitors.  We have learned a lot from you and plan to put it to good use next season.  Karen, thanks for editing the posts it really means a lot to me.

Animal Nationals at Badger

This weekend was spent at at Badger Kart Club for the Briggs Animal Nationals.  There are all the normal races but also an extra race for the Junior and Senior Animal classes.  Since Badger has a Briggs Animal Sportsman class we decided to leave our animal on after last weekend road race and learn some new tricks.


Found an old friend, Jason’s old kid kart.

Saturday’s race used the qualifying format, not Jason’s favorite but it would put him right where he should compared to other drivers.  As he improved through the day he will an opportunity to move up spots in each race.  He qualified 7th right between the track veterans and the newbies.    In both the pre-feature and the feature, as expected the fast kids pulled away,  while Jason pulled away from the kids that were still learning to drive.  He finished 7th of 10 in both races.  Really, it was not bad each time he was on the track his lap times improved.

Racing on Sunday was a Heat format with a random draw for heat 1, the reverse for heat 2 and the results of both for the feature.  Jason started heat 1 in the sixth position.  Again, this was a good place for him, since it would give him the opportunity to move forward if he could in both heats.  In the 5th lap, one of the newer drivers spun in the hairpin and was t-boned by a faster drivers, causing the race to be red flagged.  Jason was in 5th place at the time.  Since the was over halfway completed, the placing at that point became official.  Thankfully, the injured driver was only sore but his kart was damaged beyond quick repair. The second Heat looked like it was going to start well with Jason making a run on the inside of turn one to pick up a spots but was pushed into the grass causing him to drop far back.  Undeterred, he drove fast and made up lots of time and finished 6th.   His heat one and two finished put him in the 5 position for the feature.  He got good start but dropped a spot, to 6th, a few laps in and stayed there until the checkered flag.

The weekend of we will of August 22nd we where at the last race of the Mid-American Sprint Series at Road America.  On August 31st we are planning to be at Sugar River again to race with a group of LO206 karts.

We owe a great deal of thanks to Regan at 4 Cycle Central who helped us with motor setup and event lent us motor to try.  To Karen, who has been by herself for the last two weekends while we raced, but really enjoyed the quiet down time.

Blackhawk Farms CES 6 and 7

After arriving late and setting up in the dark after football practice, Saturday morning and Blackhawk Farms started quiet.  The wind was cool with a touch of dampness in between the morntrackmaping calls of the birds.  There was a soft clinking of tools and parts, with the occasional thump and swear as teams started to get karts ready for a day of road racing with the Championship Enduro Series.  For our team it was going to be the usual with the additional excitement of the Animal Nationals and the Adam Shartz team races.

IMG_2035While Jason slept, I set the kart up for the day and tried to put together a plan of attack in my head.  I had acquired a larger drive gear so that I could possibly tune the kart to go faster.  The first practice went well.  I recorded it and wanted to watch it so we could make adjustment in the second and third rounds.  Jason did a good job getting around smoothly, but he was grumpy with my suggestions.  I had to let it go and let him find his way.  Looking at his RPM (revolutions per minute) during his fastest lap he was standing on the gas pedal and braking just enough for the corner.   For the rest of the practice sessions I made some gear changes, trying to find that sweet spot between horsepower and speed.

IMG_2102During Saturday’s race Jason and Pete were very close.  Pete was faster in the straights and Jason was faster in the corners.  After about 20 minutes of the 25 minute race, Jason started a pass by drafting another driver while Pete came up on slower traffic.  Drafting is the technique of using the slight vacuum created by the driver in front of you to pull you along and go faster then you could by your self.  In the next lap Pete passed him back.  When you watch the video, pay attention to Jason’s feet.  His right foot is hard on the gas while the left is light and gentle as he enters the corners.  The kart is going as nearly as fast as it can go around the track.  It’s up to him to follow the optimal line, and up to me to get the setup just right for those fast laps.

InTheGrassJason’s start to Sunday’s race was pretty aggressive.  He jumped to the outside and onto the grass to get by some slower starters but then was trapped by more traffic and hindered by less traction on the grass.  The rest of the race was less exciting.  Pete had tuned his kart just right and was much faster, pulling away pretty quickly.  Jason’s goal for the day was to beat his best time and that he did by nearly a full second putting in a 1:38.827.  What I like about this accomplishment, is that he hates driving by himself – he loves the challenge of passing any nearby kart – and yet he still got his fastest lap ever.

IMG_2182Jason received 2 first place finishers trophies, and a honorary Road Racing National Championship.  Next weekend we will be at the Sprint Animal Nationals at Badger where he will be competing in the Briggs Animal Sportsman class.  After that, it is back to Road America for the last race of the Mid-American Sprint Series.

Thanks to all the folks at Blackhawk Farms, Dave Larson and the Championship Enduro Series team,  RedLine Photo for some great pictures, Bob and Regan at 4 Cycle Central for the support and great racing.  And to Karen, the newest football parent, thanks for keeping my life interesting.

RAKC 6 – Tune up Race

Motorplex_Arial3The week’s race was at our old kid kart racing ground, Road America.  We needed to get more seat time here to get the kart tuned up for the last Mid-American Sprint Series race in a few weeks.  Road America has a very nice track with a long front straight, followed by a run up hill (50ft elevation change),  a switchback downhill with off camber turns, and an oval or monza turn just before the finish, depending on the configuration.  With some more practice and tuning wanted to get him and the kart ready to run with the fast kids.

IMG_1978Jason started heat 1 on the outside of the first row with Sarah (#52) on the pole, Riley (#91) in 3, Randy (#23) in 4 and a new racer Ryan (#4) bringing up rear.  This is a pretty good spot for him.  If he times the start right, he has a good shot at getting the lead and that is exactly what happened.  He timed it just right and was past Sarah before the first corner and heading up the hill.  He held that spot and pulled away for 3 laps until Randy finally got around Sarah and then picked Jason off at on the corner at the bottom of the hill.  Not a bad start to the race day.

The field order was reversed for Heat 2 which placed Jason in the #4 spot.  Ryan opted to start at the rear.  This was going to be a tricky start and he was going to need to be on his toes IMG_1993to move up.  Luckily, Riley got a good jump on the start and gave Jason room to move into 3rd while Randy smoothly pulled into second.  Randy and Riley pulled away but Jason was able to catch them again at the kink on the way uphill as Randy passed Riley.  Jason almost made a pass on Riley as they rounded the top and started their way down.  During practice, Jason had been passing Riley just before the kink as they zipped up the hill.  For three laps, he worked on passing her.   He got a little closer every time, until he completed the pass on the last lap.  He pulled away, racing to the finish for second.

With his excellent finishes in the two heats Jason started in the second position with Randy on the pole.  At the drop of the green flag he shot to the front with Randy hot on his heels.  Unfortunately, his lead did not last long and Randy passed him at the bottom of the hill again.  From then on Randy pulled away from Jason and Jason pulled away from the rest of the field.  In the end Jason finished in second.

There is still a lot of work to do to get this track down but progress has been made compared to the last time we were here.   Jason’s next race is at BlackHawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, IL with the Championship Enduro Series.

Thanks to my parents who came out to visit us at the track and cheer on Jason, The Road America Kart Club for putting on a great show.  To all of our race friends.  Karen who makes sure he has other things to do like football.  Karen would also like to thank the RAKC for using Race Monitor, so that she can keep an eye on her boy.


IMG_1722The Mid-American Sprint Series race 4 took place at USA International Speedway (US Air Motorsports Raceway).  If you are into motorsports (motorcycle road and dirt, kart, and Drift and Autocross) you should make the effort to visit and give it a go.  It was built in the early 2000s by a group who had a lot of money and didn’t know what to do with it.  Somehowaerial-view-US-Air-2013 they decided to build a state-of-the-art kart track and amusement park in Shawano, WI.  The support buildings are nice –  on the scale of what you would find at a large track like Road America or Blackhawk Farms.  The track itself rolls up and down over the area hills and is very configurable, including a dirt section.  The configuration of the track for the weekend included 3 fast straights, lots of technical corners and a monza corner just over the start/finish line.  The only down side is you can’t really see all of the action.  There is one spot near near the tower where you can see a lot, but most of the track is hidden below a hill from the pits.

We arrived late Friday morning.  We unpacked and got on the track to start practicing and fine tuning the kart.  USAIR is a technical track with a variety of corner combinations that require some thought and planning to stay fast in straights.  Jason took to this track pretty well.  Right off the bat he was running laps in the 1:19-1:20 range and starting to approach 1:18 by the end of the day.  Since this is the first kart race on this track in awhile, and not with the LO206 sportsman, it took a bit of guesswork to find the sweet spot.  It turns out that it is much like Concept Haulers with long straights and fast corners.

The race day Saturday was an exercise in frustration.  Partly because Jason was distracted by a video game all day, and partly because qualifying is not Jason’s favorite thing.  He prefers to chase or be chased.  It gives him something to immediate to work on.  During qualifying, it’s just him out there by himself, without motivation.  In the end he qualified 5th of 5 with a 19.720.  Not even his fastest practice time by a half second, a few seconds behind the front and a fraction behind the fourth fastest.  In the pre-feature he was not able to gain any positions on the start and was not able to find a way around a slower driver, so he finished 5th, and was really irritated in his inability to get around.  USAIR is a difficult track to pass on, especially, if you are only a fraction of a second faster than your competition.

The feature started with #7 (Ashton) on the pole, followed by #88 (Seth), #55 (Christian), #91 (Riley), and #59 (Jason).  Jason got a pretty bad start and even dropped back from #91 while the front 3 pulled away with #55 in taking the lead through the monza and down the hill.  #55 made the turn at the bottom of the hill but overshot the next turn and ended up riding backwards through the grass as the field drove by.  He recovered but it was too late to catch up.  The front two (#7 and #88) pulled away and Jason began to search for away around #91.  After about 5 laps the rear sprocket on #91’s kart loosened up and her chain came off and she pulled off.  Jason continued on with #55 slow catching up.  After a bit of nail biting during the last few laps Jason finished 3rd.

IMG_1721Sunday started a little better.  The games were put away, Jason was more focused on the day and it showed in his driving.  Still, he qualified 5th again, with 1.19.129.   He was dismayed that he would be starting in the back again and would have to figure out how to pass.  Like Saturday, he did not get the best start.  He was going to have to find away around.  There were several pass attempts and opportunities, mistakes by #91 and attempts on the inside of the monza, but none of them stuck.  Finally, just after the white flag, he entered the monza with the right speed and headed to the outside of #91 to set up for the inside of he next corner for the pass.  He kept on going, making some distance in the last lap finishing 4th.

All weekend long I worked with Jason to adjust his line and increase his corner speed.  He has been consistently turning too early for the feature.  I gave him two instructions: Turn late and break late.  It seems he finally took this to heart.  Starting the race in the 4th spot, he had a better chance of getting off to a good start.  He did, using the same technique as in the pre-feature.  He stayed on the outside and was in 3rd place by the exit of the monza, with Seth in first and Aston in second, Christian in 4th and Riley in 5th.  He kept his foot on the gas and was hitting the corners just right and keeping up with them.  It was nerve-wracking IMG_1703to watch.  Eventually, Aston pulled in front and started to walk away from the pack.  Jason then started to work on Seth and Christian worked on Jason.  Halfway through, Jason got clipped by Seth in the back field and slowed up.  This  let Christian catch up and eventually make a pass on the inside of the monza.   They stayed together for like this for a few more laps.  When it started to look like Jason was being left behind for a few laps, but then he cleaned his lines and caught up.  In the 11th lap Christian got loose in the back field and dropped a lot of speed and Jason got by.   With two to go Seth started to pull away, and try as he might, Jason was not going to catch him.  Jason stayed on the ball and finished third, giving lots of fist pumps and shouts as he crossed the line.  His lap time was 1:17.45.  The top lap of the class is in the area of 1:16.

The team will be headed back to the track that started this all, Road America, in two weeks for the RAKC race 6.  Jason will be using this race to get ready for the last Mid-American race in late August.

This race’s thanks go to the guys that currently run USAIR, with the hope that the track is soon in good hands.  To Katie, who is currently at the Lake County Fair showing her lamb.  Karen, thanks for taking me to Wagner Farm so my kid knows where things come from.