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.
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.