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.
April brought no showers for the the first race of the Mid-American Sprint Series at Mid-State Kart club. We have only been to this track once, when we ran this series two years ago, and looked forward to racing on it again. To get the required practice and tuning in we left for Springfield on Thursday afternoon right after school. We were surprised to find the the track gates locked when we arrived. Our trailer is small and does not really allow storage of the karts and sleeping at the same time, making boon-docking with karts difficult. Thankfully, while we were struggling to figure out sleeping arrangements, the locals noticed us and let us in. We picked a nice spot with good access to the track, and did a little unpacking to make room for a good night sleep.
Friday morning, we finished unpacking the karts and put the Animal on the track for a some “fun” practice and testing. You never know what you might learn. It seemed to perform much better than it did in the snow which allowed Jason to really drive it fast. After lunch we put the Animal away, since it would not be racing and got out the LO206 kart. Over the next 100 or so laps we started to figure out the setup sweet spots. This track is unusual for the sportsman class because we gear for power to exit corners instead of gearing for top speed. The green slide restricts the engine’s power enough getting through the corners quickly and hitting max rpm in the straight is impossible. This means we had to really pay attention to lap times and gearing to find the right balance. In the near future we are going to need this skill to set up the animal motor which does not have a rev limiter so we need to hunt for the max speed and power balance.
The kart count for the sportsman class was low, so Jason practiced and raced with the LO206 Junior class (older drivers and more horsepower). Jason took to the track and demonstrated how far he as come since he was last at Mid-State; first by racing around and past Junior drivers and then by showing he could run with the top sportsman drivers with consistent low 37 second laps. Jason’s fastest clean air lap was 37.174. He even managed to have a lap 36.9 second lap by drafting(just like NASCAR) a Junior kart. At the end of the weekend Jason finished first in his class and fourth over all in both the Saturday and Sunday races.
Thanks to my Dad for hanging out with us this weekend. Karen for putting up with our loud re-entry into the house after an exciting race weekend.
Thanks to Bell Helmets for joining the team and helping us with a new helmet. We love the fit and form of the Star helmet. Its a great helmet for karting with its heads up design and ample ventilation for those hot days at the track.
The racing season has at long last started. We haven’t been just sitting around just pinning for race day. We have been very busy working, while pining for race day. Last season the animal motor spun its bearings and died. We had a new one built using some of the parts from the LO206 motor we blew up at the last years first race. Jason has been practicing at K1 Speed and has now moved up from their small karts to the adult karts. I have been inspecting and repairing lots of little things on both karts as well as adjusting the karts to accommodate Jason’s growth over the winter. The LO206 kart remained mostly the same just a bigger seat, while the Animal kart kept is seat but got bigger tires, more weight, and a more powerful motor from Regan at 4 Cycle Central.
The racing weekend started with some hockey practice, then Jason and I headed up to Badger Kart Club for their first race of the season. As a bonus Karen and Katie would meet us at the track. Karen was towing our old trailer to deliver to its new owner. I was hauling the new to us toy hauler with a, also new to us, pickup. It was a cold and SNOWY(!?!?) day. I managed to get the 206 kart ready for Jason to get a few rounds of practice in but they were very short due to freezing hands. The rest of the night was spend in the trailer hanging out and keeping warm. The warmth lasted till about 8 pm when the trailers heater stopped working. Thankfully, our friends the Murray’s live near by and brought us a space heater for the night.
Sunday’s race day started early with some last minute work(and snow) on the animal kart to get it road worthy. Badger has moved to a single practice format and added laps to the races. This is great for racing but makes fine tuning the setup a challenge. During the LO206 pracatice the kart took some damage as he was collected some novice drivers crashing in the hair pin, but was repaired with lots of orange Duck Tape just like NASCAR. The Animal, on the other hand, was having handling issues and the break caliper too tight. Most of my time was spent working on itto get the brake to stop rubbing and then repairing a broken brake line. It was finally fixed by adding some washer as emergency shims.
The LO206 ran very well and Jason brought home second all day long with some excellent driving. He led the feature for most of the race but the local favorite was able to catch him. There was a puckering 3 wide pass in the hair pin involving Jason, the leader and lapped traffic, all made it out clean. The kart just needs some fine tuning and seat time to run out front again. The animal kart is another story. The kart was reconfigure with more weight to run the Jr class and was out of balance and over weight by 22 pounds. Fixing the weight made the kart more out of balance and hard to turn right. The breaks are better but need some TLC to be perfect. The feature race was exciting from the stands and there was smoke coming from brakes, later it was discovered that number plate was rubbing the break disk and smoking. It will be a challenge this week to get kart balanced correctly in just a few hours of work each night. Despite the wacky kart Jason met some luck and finished second due to two other drivers falling out due to their own mechanical issues.
Jason’s next race will be this weekend at the Mid-State Kart Club in Springfield, IL for the Mid-American Sprint Series’ first race of the season. The races at Badger last weekend were rained out, but we did get some practice in on Saturday and the Animal kart is starting to shape up. Some more seat time and tuning should get it right.
Thanks Marty Murray for preventing our untimely frozen demise and doing technical inspection for both CES and Badger. Karen and Katie it great to have you around cheering us on and lending a hand. Reagan of 4 Cycle Central saw the problem with the sticky brakes and built a great Animal for the season.
Jason and I got to spend Father’s Day weekend at Briggs and Stratton Raceway Park at the first Briggs and Stratton LO206 Cup race of the season. It was one of my favorite weekends so far. The only thing missing was my own Dad, who was home with the rest of the family. Though they were cheering us on via the internet and text messages. We were in for a lot of work, with this being our first real competitive run with two karts. It was all worth the effort.
Jason has been racing and practicing most at Badger this year, but he has not yet used the 206 Cup’s spec tire, Vega FH Blue. Usually, we use Bridgestone YDS tires, which is the spec for most local tracks. The YDS tires are very hard and the karts tend to slide sideways (drift) as they fly through the corners. The Vege Blue is very soft and sticky, giving loads of grip to the track. This allows for faster speeds through corners but requires a different chassis setup. The drivers need to adjust their line, style, and speed to account for what has turned out to be a dramatic change in kart handling. After consulting with some experts, we made some adjustments to both of the karts on Thursday night and then spent Friday fine tuning. We managed to drop several seconds from our normal Badger lap times mostly due to tire changes but also due to changes in Jason’s driving over the last few weeks. He has gotten much faster, to the point were he is driving most of the track with gas held to the floor and just a touch of break to slow into the corners as he pitches the kart sideways.
The Briggs Animal Sportsman class turnout was not the best, with only Jason and one other driver. We made the best of it though. We got some more laps in the kart and made small changes to the kart to try to eek out a little more speed and improve handling. In the end it was really just good practice for Jason. He was about one quarter of a second slower then the other driver, who also happens to be the Animal Sportsman class champion at Badger. Both Saturday and Sunday Jason took second place but was able to keep up, only dropping back when the other, more experienced teams’ tires really started to work. As the weekend progressed Jason’s extra seat time really showed and he made steady improvement in both classes.
Jason’s second class, Briggs LO206 Sportsman, on the other hand, was great. It was everything that the LO206 racing is supposed to be. The motors are basically equal, so it is all about chassis setup and driver skill. The class had five very good drivers, all of whom Jason has raced before at one time or another. Their mechanics all had done a great job of getting karts prepped. All weekend long these kids were running nose to tail with each other, each one of them in contention for a position. It made for some very exciting racing. Jason raced extremely well on both days. On Saturday he finished 2nd in the first two heats starting from the middle. The first heat was marred by a pileup in the third corner. Jason, who was in the lead, was tapped by another kart in the rear and spun, causing a chain reaction. The resulting damage slowed some karts in the second and third races of the day. In the feature (on board video) he started in second and got a good start. Halfway through the race, the leader made a mistake heading in to the boot. Jason took quick advantage and moved into first. He led to the checkered flag, taking his first regional win!
Mini-Sportscasters coverage of Saturdays LO206 races
Sunday’s racing was more complicated. Jason started the first heat on the pole. His start was a little off and he dropped to second and stayed there. He started last in the second heat, picking up two spots by turn one, and finished third after a defending his line and trying to make it past the drivers in front. He started the 12 lap feature in 4th and was not able to make any progress but neither was anyone else. Those kids drove hard and pushed each other to drive smart and fast. All of their lap times were within a quarter of a second. Despite the lack of action it was very exciting.
Jason is now in first place in the Mid-American Sprint Series and the Championship Enduro Series, and is in 2nd place in both classes in the Briggs 206 Cup. His Animal finish also puts him in first place for the CES/206Cup Challenge. After taking a few weekends off, on of July 11th and 12th we will be heading to Grattan Raceway for the next race with the Championship Enduro Series and Jason’s favorite track.
Happy Father’s Day to Joe, and to Gary, who is very much missed here on earth. Thanks to T.J. Ross for this weekend’s support. It means a great deal to us. Thanks Steve, Greg, Briggs and Stratton racing, and the Badger Kart Club for putting on a great weekend. Regan at 4 Cycle Central – thank you for your technical support. Thanks to the Murray clan for feeding us chocolate and lending us tools. Payton and family – thank you for helping me keep Jason sufficiently rested and hydrated so we could race safely.
This 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 little 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. He 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 go 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.
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.
The 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.
While 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.
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.
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 through 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. It 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.
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.
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.
The 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 that 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.
The 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.
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 writing 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 dried 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.
The 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. Somehow 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.
Sunday 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 to 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.
This was Jason’s plan for the weekend at Grattan.
Friday: Drive to Track and Fish till dark then bed
Saturday: Wake up, Practice, Fish, Race, Fish, bed
Sunday: Wake up, Practice, Fish, Race, Fish, home
That and as it turns out that is how it pretty much went. He raced very well and caught many bull heads and bluegill in the pond at the track.
This weekend we went to Grattan Raceway for the 5th and 6th race of the Championship Enduro Series. From what we had heard it is supposed to be a spectacular and very challenging track. We were not disappointed. It is a 2 mile course that starts with a very long front straight and and heads back around in a twisted writhing snake of hills and curves that includes three off camber turns. Jason loved it.
Carol and Karl Watching their first Kart race.
Jason’s Grandma and Uncle Carl came to watch him race on Saturday. There were expecting sprint oval racing but got something very different. This was the first time Grandma Diener got to watch him race. I am not quite sure what she thinks of all this but she seems to have a good time as did uncle Carl. We where both very happy to have them around and appreciated their company.
Saturday’s lap times started slow, as expected, first time on the track and I had the gearing all wrong. First laps where in the 2 min 40 second range during the first practice. With some more tuning and more practice we got it to a respectable lap time of just over 2 min, but there was still more to go. Finally, I checked my notes from Gateway and Blackhawk Farms and found I already had knew the right gearing 17/55. I did that late on Saturday after the race. I take notes, I should look at them. Sunday before practice, I got the kart set up right and he was off and chasing the grown ups. I wish I had the video for the Sunday race, he was battling with #31 a senor heavy Briggs LO206. Jason would pass him in the straights and #31 would pass Jason in the corners. It was great racing right down to the end.
2 Firsts and a Championship
Saturday Best Lap 01:57.915
Finished 1st in class (7th overall)
Sunday Best Lap 01:50.406
Finished 1st in class (7th over all)
As a bonus this weekend was the Briggs Animal Road Racing Nationals. Jason’s first place finishes in the Novice Junior also gave him that trophy as well. Thanks to Reagan, Briggs, and 4 Cycle Central for setting this race up.
Thanks this week to the Losches and Ed and Ben Leonhardt for letting share your garage and playing with us, your insite and enthusiasm is invaluable. Stardust Memorials for sponsoring us for the weekend your support is invaluable. Last but not least to my wife and her mother we are very glad you are around an let up play with our fast toys. Our next race is August 3rd Concept Haulers and then back to Blackhawk Farms with CES on August 9-11. Karen is going to run a 5K on the track before Sunday’s race to please cheer her on too.