2017 Season Finale: Pittsburgh

There is a saying, that “Races are won in the garage”.  Racing the big track at Pittsburgh started the minute we rolled out of post tech at MIS.  We started planning the needed changes and continued to ponder the problems.   The actual work started the weekend before with taking apart and cleaning the fuel system and converting the driveline to chain.  I am hoping giving the fuel system a good cleaning on the road kart will resolve the burping condition that has been experienced for that few races.  Dart Kart Club requires the black restrictor plate and we have been having issues the motors speed to the ideal rpm with the limited gear set available.  By converting to chain, We can use our full set of gears and drivers to do fine tuning and find the fastest gearing.  After every race both motors and tanks are drained of gas and the oil changed, and the clutches are inspected, rebuilt, and adjusted.  This being karting and not NASCAR where they spend 1000’s of man hours getting read for a race.  We only require about 10-20 hours of preparation to stage both karts and and pack trailer for the next event depending on the extent of changes. 

Pittsburgh International Race Complex is the last stop for the Wild Duck Racing team’s 2017 season.  This Dart Kart Club race is the first kart race is the first one hosted by this track.  At 2.8 miles with 19 turns, it is also the longest track and most complex track he has ever driven.  While we were there not only did we enjoy the kart racing, there was autocross on Sunday and Jason even got to take his sprint kart out on the Wilson Circuit for some early preparation of his return to sprint racing.  He thought it was a great track but did not how he had not drive like that for a while. 

Jason piloted the sprint kart very well in both Saturdays and Sundays races.  We have not been making many adjustments to the kart, just using the race time to practice and refine track knowledge.  The only problem with the kart all season has been the development of cracks in the frame.  During Sunday’s race the frame developed another crack this time in the front porch which is a weird place.  At the end of Sunday’s race the throttle linkage snapped In the last lap, he tried to bring it home pulling on the cable with his hand but it was more than he could pull off.  With this latest failure the chassis is now retired from racing.  It carried three drivers to multiple sprint and road racing championships, it’s time. 

Post Race Conference

The garage work on the road kart was a mixed bag of results.  The gearing was wrong and we ended up converting back to belt drive after a couple of practice sessions.  However, the burping seems to have been cured by the thorough cleaning of the fuel system.  Saturdays Sprint Junior race included 4 drivers and Jason needed to get third or better on both days to win the championship.  He had a great start leaping away but immediately got stuck in traffic and then had to check up as the first lap closed to avoid an out of control kart.  The gap between him and the field grew to seven seconds in first few laps. The leader was just gone, the real race was for 2nd place as 2 and 3 swapped back and forth lap after lap while Jason quietly settled into his pace.  As the fought they slowed and Jason began to creep closer, slowly at first, then, once he had them in sight again he push hard and suddenly dropped 2 seconds a lap.  As the crossed the finish line for the penultimate lap he was mere tenths back.  During the closing lap he fell back  as faster traffic cut through the class and then he pulled in close behind 3rd place.  As they entered the final hairpin turn, using late breaking, Jason pulled in front of third place. As the group exited the turn the second place driver bobbled and lost momentum allowing Jason to fly by and finish in 2nd place.  Sunday’s, race was between Jason and one other driver who simply had a much faster kart.  Jason ran some fast laps but they were not fast enough to keep up.  At the end of the weekend Jason had sealed his 4th Championship of the season.  

Thanks to the Junior Sprint drivers: Mathew, Christine, Adam, David and their families for some great racing this season.  Thanks to the Pittsburgh international race complex team for putting on this great event.  

Remembering Joe Pribyl, without whom this would have never been possible. 
Oct 29, 1940 – July 2, 2017

Enjoying the Indy 500 2015
Thanks Dad and Grandpa

Next up for the team is rebuilding and planning for the 2018 season.  Schedules should be out in the next couple of months.  We are going to need to do something about the sprint kart chassis, new kart or new frame, this is one many decisions we are going to have to contemplate over cold winter off season. 

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for their continuing support.
Bell HelmetsGoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, AmsoilWinning SyntheticsEVS Sports, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, Christian Lantry Photographer, Jennings Chevrolet, Xona Software

Pure Michigan: Big Speedway Racing

The penultimate race of the 2017 season was at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mi the weekend of September 16th and 17th.  This track is home to several NASCAR races and in the past has hosted Indy cars and cart racing.  The oval is steeply banked all the way around and 2 miles long.  The road configuration is 1.9 miles long and the includes turn 4 and 3 by passing 2 and 1 as it winds through the infield and runs in the opposite direction from the oval events.  This is one of the best facilities we have ever raced at.

The sprint kart ran great al weekend.  We tuned it up very quickly and Jason out paced the field all weekend, winning on both days.  The road kart was another matter., it had problems motor problems all weekend.  It stumbled on the long front stretch taking away the precious rpm and speed needed to keep up with the well tuned 2 cycle karts he was racing.  This is the same gremlin we chased a Gingerman last race.   On top of the motor issues we did not get the gearing correct because we did not have belt gears of the right size.  Saturday’s race was great fun, Jason got a pretty good start and was in the lead into turn one, but dropped to second as they drove through the big oval.  Then he was caught out by slower traffic, the lead made the pass but Jason lost time searching for a clean pass.  As the race progressed he would catch up and fallback as he drove well through the corners but dropped back in the straights lacking top speed.  As they drove through the narrow infield he would look for an opening.  He made a final attempt on the last lap sticking his nose up on the inside but did not have the room to complete the pass and backed off.  We swapped back to the what we call the Murray motor to see if we could squeeze bit more speed for Sunday’s race, but it was not too be, he was slower and still was not running right.  After nine laps he pulled off with another issue.  A floor pan bolt had pulled through the pan and was being noisy, an easy fix, and the motor mystery still remains.

We had lots of help this weekend with folks lending us gears and providing racing advice.  Thanks to Jack Reall, who has been rescuing people from hurricane flooded cities between race weekends.  Stay safe.

Remembering Joe Pribyl, without whom this would have never been possible. 
Oct 29, 1940 – July 2, 2017

Supervising work on Kid Kart at Badger Kart Club

Thanks Dad and Grandpa

The last race of the season will be at Pittsburgh International Race Complex north of Pittsburg, Pa.  The karts will be racing the combined track for 2.8 miles of roller coaster.  This will be the furthest we have ever traveled for a race.  The 4 cycle junior class is locked up, but he still has to do some work to win the Sprint Junior class.

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for their continuing support.
Bell HelmetsGoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, AmsoilWinning SyntheticsEVS Sports, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, Christian Lantry Photographer, Jennings Chevrolet, Xona Software

 

 

Gingerman: 2017 CES Finale

September 9th and 10th was last race of the 2017 Championship Enduro Series.  Gingerman Raceway is also the venue for the 2016 CES Banquet where Jason received his trophy for 2nd place in last years  Animal Junior class.  The 2016 visit was the last time my Dad was healthy enough to travel to a race.  It made for a bittersweet weekend with lots of fun memories from last year and made some new ones him missing his presence.  He is the reason Jason started racing otherwise I would have been trying to figure out how to coach some sport with a ball, stick, or something and be totally lost.

Camden(Champion) and Jason(2nd)

This weekend was yet another, struggle with motors at least these did not seem to be self inflicted.  The Briggs Animal motor is tough and reliable but sometimes race motors can be baffling and subject to mysterious ailments and failures.  The motor on the sprint kart oil fouled another plug and we swapped that it out for freshly built spare for Saturday’s racing.  The fresh motor ran great and Saturday Jason finished 10th and 10th, starting in 13th with no starting gap in the sprint kart.  

Things in the road kart were getting better, but not good enough, still tuning tire pressure and gearing.  He finished 2nd but not as far back as previous races.  In an effort to put together the best road kart we could for Sunday’s race on Saturday night we swapped motors between the karts, to put the fresher motor on the road kart.  Sunday’s practice validated this was the correct move.  The kart started fast and got faster as we adjusted setup.  However, despite the speed, the motor was burping/cutting out during the final practice, this did not bode well for the race.  I went through the carb and eventually ended up just swapping in different carb and crossed my fingers for the race.  

The sprint race he finished 10th and 8th again starting 13th with no gap. He managed to avoid a big wreck in front of him with some smart driving in the final corner of the last race.  He saw the drivers just ahead of him were going to wreck nearly two turns before they did.  The road race started off poorly, he managed to stick to the heals of the leader and was keeping pace as the approached slower traffic.  The leader passed traffic quick and clean while Jason got stuck behind and a good gap developed between him and the leader.  He pushed hard and was catching when the leaders kart suddenly lost power and pulled off.  This put Jason in the lead.  Unfortunately, after a few laps Jason pulled in complaining of sputtering.  Deciding to not risk damaging the motor we retired the kart for the day.  It was not our great moment of victory but we had some fun chasing it.  Now we need to figure out what is going on with the motor, for ext weekend.  At this point we only have one good motor and two karts to race to complete the rest of the season.

The Championship Enduro Series season is over and Jason is the 2017 Animal Junior Champion and the Sprint Junior Champion.  The Wild Duck Racing team will be heading back to Michigan next weekend for the second Michigan International Raceway race with the Michigan Kart Club and the penultimate Dart Kart Club race.  Jason is the current leader in Animal Junior and 2nd in Sprint Junior, he could move into first if we can put together some good runs. 

Remembering Joe Pribyl, without whom this would have never been possible. 
Oct 29, 1940 – July 2, 2017

Dad a the Sherman Dairy after Grattan 2016
Thanks Dad and Grandpa

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for their continuing support.
Bell HelmetsGoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, AmsoilWinning SyntheticsEVS Sports, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, Christian Lantry Photographer, Jennings Chevrolet, Xona Software

Friends and Family at the Track

The weekend of August 12th brought us to the Championship Enduro SeriesBlackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, IL.  We also had many visitors this weekend and had a blast sharing the sport of karting with friends and family.  Friday, brought my aunt and her friend Jim for a night of hanging out in the pits while telling race and baseball stories.  Saturday added my cousin Dave(Ricky Bobby) and his friend Ginger.  Ginger is an former Porsche racer and instructor.  She and Jason swapped race stories and lore all day.  The weekend ended on Sunday with the arrival of my mom and sisters family.  My mom has been to a race before but this was her first road race and my sisters and family’s first race.   It was lots of fun to have all these visitors pass through our pits and share our racing passion.

The Animal Junior racing was good in that nothing broke and Jason picked off the Animal 360 back field after make up the 10 second start gap. He won is class and finished mid pack in all four races.  The best race of the weekend was race 1 one Sunday.  This race included drivers of race 6 including Sr Super Heavy, and some folks that Jason has not raced with since for since he moved up to Junior.  Keith started with the 360s class and Jason caught up to him in a few laps and started working on finding ways to get around him.  By then Keith had gotten comfortable in his kart and was able to continually fend Jason off, often nosing just ahead as then entered turn one.  Jason would catch Keith by turn 7 again but not have quite enough steam to compete the pass, and continued to test Keith on the front straight throughout the race.  In the last lap Jason got slowed by lapped traffic and Keith beat him to the line but just a few tenths in the end.   Both came off the the track with smiles of good clean racing. 

After the success at Mid-Ohio and then again at Grattan we had hoped that the road kart was going to be competitive at Blackhawk this time.  We struggled to keep up during the first Blackhawk race earlier this year.  Saturday practice went well the kart was definitely faster and Jason was working on 1:29 laps during practice.   During the race Jason as nearly 2 seconds a lap slower than the lead driver.  Sigh, guess we will try again on Sunday.  Sunday we borrowed a set of tires and wheels, which changes the setup, to see if they made a difference.  The mornings practice went much better he was closer to speed.  I made some minor adjustments to gearing and he looked good.  Between practice sessions we found the brake disk guard was broken.  This was likely a result of the crash at Gateway.  I had the part and quickly put it in.  During the last practice session all looked good, the race was a different matter.  The got three laps when he pulled in with brake failure.  While he is still getting comfortable with piloting this kart I think we are starting to fight with setup and we are making progress.

The Championship Enduro Series finale Gingerman and will include the 2016 banquet.  Jason earned 2nd place in the 2016 Animal Junior class.  As per usual we owe gratitude to the Murray’s and Regan at 4 Cycle Central for keeping our karts fast and on the track.  

Remembering Joe Pribyl, without whom this would have never been possible. Oct 29, 1940 – July 2, 2017
Thanks Dad and Grandpa

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for their continuing support.
Bell HelmetsGoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, AmsoilWinning SyntheticsEVS Sports, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, Christian Lantry Photographer, Jennings Chevrolet, Xona Software

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nd

Grattan: Race, Fish, Repeat

This season so far has been a real struggle. We have had accidents, broken karts, blown motors and injuries holding the team back, but there has alway been a drive to keep going and work through the problems.  Mid-Ohio was the start of getting things back on track.  At Grattan Raceway over the July 14th weekend some of the struggles continued but they were bearable and It turned out to be some of the most fun we have had in awhile. 

Things got started on Friday this year with a full day of testing and practice, a new feature of this years race.  Jason put in a lot of hard work despite being discouraged with a rocky start to the day.  The last race for the road kart at Mid-Ohio left it hopping in the corners. This means that there was too much grip and the tires were sticking to the track and then suddenly breaking free and the sticking again, really fast.  This slows the kart and makes driving nerve racking, “is the kart going to really break free and spin or stick again”.  He reported the same issue at during the first practice session.  First we changed the rear wheels to make the tires wider, this is supposed to make them loose. That did not help, finally near the end of the day we lowered the tire pressure by 4 pounds and it freed up nicely. Jason was able to driving it into the corners and his lap times dropped quickly.  He is only a second or two off lap from the Animal 360 karts which is a great start to the weekend.  The sprint kart was burping at the end of Mid-Ohio and it continued to do that here.  Eventually, we found that the carburetor float no longer floating and causing fuel to flood the carburetor.  Now that both karts are sorted out they just need a few gear changes to find the sweet spot for fast racing.  It was a good day of work, but it was long and tiring.

The sprint kart was great for Saturday’s practice and racing.  The kart was fast and reliable.  He was also running the 4 Cycle Central Animal Road Nationals in this kart,  Unfortunately he is the only one in his class and he is the Animal Road Nationals Champion.  The goal for the weekend is to keep trimming lap times and keep the kart in one piece.  Jason started in 16th to 8th in race 1 and 10th in race 7 in Saturday’s races, a pretty good day.  On Sunday practice was uneventful during the first race there was a clunk and “a part fell off and the kart got loose”.  Jason pulled in but we could not find anything wrong so he went back out to finish the race.  The kart was very loose and the back end kept wanting to step out but he held on till checkered flag.  Post race we found that seat bolts had come loose on one of front struts.  We fixed that, however, in the second race it was still not quite right.  He stuck it out and battled the kart, all the while still driving some impressive lap times.  During clean up we found the seat strut clamping bolt had fallen out and the seat was still loose and allowed the kart to flex and lose grip.  We are still learning some of the racing fundamentals. In this case, be thorough and check every bolt. 

The road kart was pretty good all weekend long.  He certainly has become much more comfortable driving it and keeps grinning when he pulls in.  Probably the most difficult part of the both days was running 30 minutes in the road kart and then jumping out grabbing bottle of water while heading down to the grid for another 15 minutes in the sprint kart.  He had to transition very quickly to a different style of driving and maintain the energy to keep going.  Saturdays race was fun he pulled out to an early overall lead and looked to be walking away from everyone.  As the race progressed he slowed as he tired and the kart tightened up.  By the second to last lap another full bodied yamaha senior kart caught up to him and passed him in the heading into turn one.  He gave chase but lapped traffic keep him from committing to a pass in the last lap. He finishing first in his class, of 5, and 2nd, of 13, over all.  Sunday’s race 6 was a first as he lead the entire field start to finish for his 5th win of the day and first ever overall win.

Animal Junior Animal Nationals Road Racing Champion

I have seen a change in Jason in the last few races, he is more focused and having more fun on the track.  Oh, don’t worry, he still spent most of his non-track time catching a lot of fish.  He is providing great feedback on handling and could tell me where and what the kart was doing.  He is starting to look for a better kart instead of just the kart he is given.  This is great, we know he can drive a less than ideal kart fast, but now he is starting to try to figure out what makes a really fast kart and driver.  I have said he is fast but if I can get him a kart that was setup right he could be really fast, this is how we get him that kart.

The Championship Enduro Series will be returning to Blackhawk Farms for their second race on August 12-13.  We can be expected to attend a Monday Night Car Show between now and then as well.  

Remembering Joe Pribyl, without whom this would have never been possible. 
Oct 29, 1940 – July 2, 2017
Thanks Dad and Grandpa

Thanks to the teams at Grattan Raceway, AKRA, Dart Kart Club, and Championship Enduro Series for putting on a great event.  As per usual we owe gratitude to the Murray’s and Regan at 4 Cycle Central for keeping our karts fast and on the track.  

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for their continuing support.
Bell HelmetsGoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, AmsoilWinning SyntheticsEVS Sports, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, Christian Lantry Photographer, Jennings Chevrolet, Xona Software

Mid-Ohio, Finally Success

June 16-18 brought us to Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course in Lexington, Ohio for a combined Championship Enduro Series Race 3 and Dart Kart Club Race 2.  Dart Kart club hosted this event on Mid-Ohio is a rolling 2.4 mile course.  The track is tricky with long fast straights and several challenging corners including a blind downhill off camber and a carousel.   Mid-Ohio is also home to a great Indy Car race second only to Road America’s.  This being a Dart Kart Club event we needed to follow their rule set which includes using a restrictor on both of his motors slowing him down and annoys him very much. 

We arrived Friday morning for a day of practice.   Jason need to learn this track, while still getting used to his road kart.  The sprint kart still needed to be buttoned up after replacing the nerf bar and have the new body panel put on.  In the first practice session Jason went out in his sprint kart and promptly broke down after the first lap.  Upon his return on the trailer of shame, I found no oil in the motor, a scored tire from a body panel screw, and the frame was also cracked.  That left him to run in his road kart for most of the day, which thankfully was holding together and running nicely.  Once again Marty Murray had his welder out and fixed the sprint frame, I put the spare motor, and spare tires on by late afternoon it was on the track for shake down.  Both karts were running pretty well and did not require much tuning.  Only thing left to do is race and see where we stack up against the locals. 

In his first race on Saturday the problems continued.  His sprint kart left with a great start and his competition had motor issues and started half a minute after Jason left.  The other driver was in a road kart and ran laps about 4 seconds faster.  Nearly halfway through the race he was getting close enough to start thinking about passing Jason, when Jason’s kart threw the chain.  Due to a bit of luck,  the other kart broke down too and stopped 50 yards behind.  Jason was in the lead in the last counted lap which gave him a lucky win.  They had a nice chat while waiting for race to end pickup. The afternoon race in the road kart was more interesting.  He had 3 other drivers to contend with and got a great start but the others missed the green and started many seconds behind.  Jason led the race and built on the already large gap, sealing the second win of he day. 

Racing on Sunday started in the with bit of practice and a boring solo race for Jason and his sprint kart win number 3.  Due to registration issues Jason started afternoon race in the last spot behind 4 karts, the other drivers had lap times near Jason’s but he was a little faster in practice.   Did they tune? Did we tune enough, argg!?!, it’s too late now and the flag drops.   Within the first 100 feet,  Jason passed the first two by the end of the first lap he grabbed the lead and never looked back.  Each lap he put another second on the field, he was in a different time zone.  After 31 minutes and 14 laps Jason was 20 second ahead of the field completing the sweep of the weekend.

Jason will be at the July 3rd Monday Night Car Show(Old Orchard Mall) and on the 4th he will be in the Glenview 4th of July parade.   The next race will the a Championship Enduro Series and Dart Kart Club event at Grattan Raceway Park, Jason’s favorite track.  Grattan will include a Friday practice and will be  hosting the 4 Cycle Central Animal Nationals as well as some pro racing in other classes on Friday and Saturday night.  

Remembering Joe Pribyl, without whom this would have never been possible. 
Oct 29, 1940 – July 2, 2017
Thanks Dad and Grandpa

Thanks to the teams at Mid-Ohio, AKRA, Dart Kart Club, and Championship Enduro Series for putting on a great event.  As per usual we owe gratitude to the Murray’s and Regan at 4 Cycle Central for keeping our karts fast and on the track.  

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for their continuing support.
Bell HelmetsGoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, AmsoilWinning SyntheticsEVS Sports, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, Christian Lantry Photographer, Jennings Chevrolet, Xona Software

One step forward and…

It’s been two weeks since we returned from the second Championship Enduro Series weekend this time at Blackhawk Farms.  The week prior we were waiting for Jason to heal and scrambling to find a source for racing methanol.  We found  a local source at Chicago Connection a race shop that is associated with US 41 Motorplex.  Thanks to them we are now the proud owners of a 55 gallon drum of Sunoco 99% Pure Methanol.   By Wednesday Jason was cleared to race again.  I picked up the barrel on Friday morning and that afternoon as soon as school let out we piled into the truck and went to try our luck again an see if we could beat our gremlins. 

We met up with my Aunt and her friend on Friday night.  We hung out in the pit/camp and caught up on family events, relaxed, after doing last minute kart adjustments.  They returned on Saturday morning to watch a full day of racing.  Saturdays practice went really well.  The sprint kart as usual was really hooked up right.  It was turning super fast laps and handling really well.   The road kart was starting come together it was faster than the sprint kart few seconds and was handling pretty well.  Jason was starting to get the hang of driving it.   Race 1, in his sprint kart, went great and he started 23rd overall and finished 11th.  Race 6 , in his road kart, started well, but after three laps he took turn seven too wide and clipped a hump with the rear wheel and bent the rim.  Once again he was out of the race.  The last race of the day was in his sprint kart and again he did very well moving from 23rd to 11th.  We were able to source a wheel from our parts bin and the kart was ready for the next day of racing. 

Sunday brought two rounds of practice and then right into racing.  During race 1 Jason in turn one of the second lap the print kart was collected by another kart as it spun out.  The contact bent his left side nerf bar and totaled the side panel.  Thankfully, Jason was not hurt but the kart was not going to be repaired for race 7, no parts.  Jason was eager to race in his road kart but with the heat of the day and the days earlier incident we we decided that he should take a token lap to register a start and call it a weekend.  The karts were packed into the trailer and we headed home disappointed but looking to race another day.  

We have been very busy fixing the sprint kart and it is almost ready for the second Dart kart club race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington Ohio.  This will be our first trip track and are very excited to see what it is like.  It has an nice off camber turn and some really long straights.  Practice starts on Friday and we will posting live videos and pictures all weekend long on our facebook, twitter,  and instagram pages.

Thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for their continuing support.
Bell HelmetsGoPro, Slick Products, Shorai, AmsoilWinning SyntheticsEVS Sports, Stardust Memorials, The Greenwood Restaurant, C&M Auto Service, Atomic Decals, Danrr Autobody, Christian Lantry Photographer, Jennings Chevrolet, Xona Software