The first weekend of June the Championship Enduro Series visited Blackhawk Farms Raceway on of our favorite race tracks. It is a 1.9 mile road course through the woodlands. The track is as challenging as the facility is beautiful, but mostly the track is fast and fun.
We had hoped that Jason’s main competition in the series was going to be at the track so he and Jason could finally race on equal terms, but he was off at Summit Point winning WKA races. However, we did manage to talk one of the top Junior drivers from the 206 Cup into giving road racing a try, so maybe he would have an Animal or find him one.
Saturday practice was interrupted by rain but staff worked to get things back on track quickly. Despite the damp track kart was really fast. Jason’s first race of the day he started 2nd in his class(16th over all) and grabbed the class lead by turn 2 and then proceeded to pick up 7 more spots to finish 8th over all. Between races we had a chance to hang out with Dennis Michelsen from RaceTalkRadio. We had a good time swapping race stories and talking about racing promotion. The second race of the day put Jason first in his class. He pulled into the pits complaining of low fuel but it was just vacuum lock in the tank(fixed with some vent holes later), and he went out again to continue the race. Thankfully, he only dropped a single spot and that was not in his class. He still finished first in his class and 13th over all. After racing I talked to the LO206 driver’s dad about running Animal on Sunday and that he might be able to borrow one. It seemed that if we could find an animal Jason could have a race on his hands, so I got our old vega blue tires ready to put Jason on equal footing as the other driver also had is Blues on. As we learned at Gateway tires really matter.
Overnight other team found an an animal, so I finished setting up Jason’s kart and went over to the other pit to help get our friends ready to race. Jason’s practice session showed some promise, but I adjusted rear gear tooth up for a little more power out of the corners, which seem to do the trick. By the time we where ready for race 1 he had dropped 3 seconds from Saturdays best time. Race 1 started badly as he dropped to 2nd but was in front by the time his group hit the carousel, from there he was chasing down the 360 karts again moving from 16th to 8th by the finish. Jason’s last race of the weekend again started badly as he dropped from first to third, but again he was in the lead by the carousel but the new guy was hot on Jason’s heels. With in a couple of laps they both caught up the the tail of the 360 karts. Jason would pick off a 360 kart and make space but would be slowed by another as they leapfrogged up through the field. Our rival would catch up, but then Jason would get around the next guy. Eventually Jason passed a kart the the new driver could not get around. Within a few laps Jason was out of reach and making a clean sweep of the weekend in his class.
Sunday Race 1
As is our habit after CES races we took the kart and some trophies to the Monday Night Car Show at Old Orchard Mall. This time Jason did a few parade laps around the show, letting folks see and hear the power of that little kart. Folks think the kart is cute until we tell them how fast it goes.
Jason’s next race will be at Badge Kart Club’s Briggs and Stratton Raceway Park with the 206 cup. Badger is one of Jason stronger tracks so hopefully he rack up enough points to get to first place in the series.
Thanks to all our friends with the Championship Enduro Series. Thanks for keeping us posted on Katie’s event while we are off breathing gas fumes.
If you ever have a chance to race or just visit Road America, I highly recommend it. Where else can you race karts and watch race cars just by turning around? Road America’s kart track is very configurable and has a 50 ft elevation change, all surrounded by picturesque wooded hills and one of the best road courses in the country.
Our race expectations for the weekend were mixed since we have not been very successful here due to limited practice time. But we hoped Jason will be up front in his LO206 kart. The real wild card was the Animal race. He ran a special setup with lower weight and lower horse power from the rest of the field, and he was the youngest driver. The karts should have performed the same. The real test would be if I could get the kart tuned and if he could drive well enough to stay with some very experienced and talented drivers.
Friday, was all about practice, testing, and tuning. It was the first time we could try out the new Vega tires on both the karts on a sprint track. We were able to get the LO206 pretty well diaedl-in but the Animal kart was a really hard to drive. It was sticking to the track too much and Jason had to man-handle the kart around the corners as the kart jumped and skipped across the track. On top of that he grew and the Animal kart is no longer comfortable and required a pedal adjustment so he could stretch his legs out again. At the end of the day we made some progress with the Animal kart but it was still pretty sketchy.
Saturday started with practice and the Animal class was first up. The kart was still really too rough to drive. Jason toughed it out but it was not going to last with the physical demands the kart was making. He qualified 5th of a tough field of 6. Both he and I were on the verge of giving up and he was really struggling keeping his emotions in check. One of the other Animal competitors made some helpful comments regarding his driving that was out his normal style, breaking hard and pointing the kart. That led me to ask Regan, of 4 Cycle Central, for advice on setup, which prompsted a tire pressure adjustment. In Heat 1, it all came together. The kart was a joy to drive, his line smoothed out, and he was fast. You could see the huge smile on his face. He finished in third place, only 0.34 seconds behind the leader, 0.04 seconds behind second, and 2 seconds faster then his qualifying time. Each time he went out in the kart he got faster. The second heat he finished 2nd by staying out of a tangle in the first lap and keeping pace with the leader. The feature was very exciting with Jason in the thick of the battle for one of the top spots, and each the 4 drivers in the pack making moves every lap. In the end, Jason took fourth, with all the drivers putting on a great show of clean but aggressive driving.
Saturday Animal Feature
The LO206 was running pretty well. Well enough that he qualified on the pole. Having rough starts in the heats and feature, Jason spent his time catching up and then working hard to get around the leader. Despite all his attempts, the leader was able to fend Jason off and retained the lead in each race. Really, though, it was great fun to to watch the two boys push each other to driver faster and harder, yet they kept the race clean. Never pushing or shoving for advantage.
Only Jason and one other driver showed up for Sunday’s Animal qualifying. He went out and set a great time that was on par with the fastest drivers from Saturday and this gave him the pole for heat 1. While wrapping up the final laps of qualifying his kart’s brakes failed as he drove up the hill at top speed into the kink. His kart went off the track and slid for a good 20-30 feet up hill kicking up dust and grass. Thankfully, he did not hit anything and he quickly hopped out if his kart and moved to a safe area. His karts brake lines had failed and dumped all the fluid. Now there is another item on the list of things keep an eye on and inspect more often. The brakes were easily repaired, but the challenge was to make sure that Jason was OK and up to continuing the day, with 206 qualifying in just a few minutes. He was rattled and hesitant to get back into his Animal kart. I suggested that he go out and have a Sunday drive just to get back in, but he wanted to race. Once he collected himself and drove on onto the track he produced on great first heat race, keeping up with the lead pack and even taking second place for a bit. When the race was over he was all smiles and in third place. Heat 2 was similar with Jason hanging with the leaders, watching, learning, and waiting for an opportunity. He even manged to get out front and lead for a bit. For the feature he had a little trouble at the start. He was forced to the back, but kept his composure and caught back up and started pressing the lead pack. At the finish line, Jason landed on the podium in third place.
He did a really great job and many people complimented him on his abilities for not only what he did, but also what he did not do. He drove just to his limits and only pushed hard enough to stretch himself, knowing that his kart may have been faster but that he was not yet ready to engage in full on battle. At his home track at Concept Haulers and the next Animal race, we might see a different, more confident driver.
LO206 Sportsman from #43 (Holtz Racing)
Sundays LO206 racing was very similar as Saturday’s race, just faster. Everyone found some more fight in their bellies and speed in their karts. Jason qualifying time was affected by his run off in the Animal kart. He did not have much time to get himself together with only a few minutes between getting the “scary kart” back and getting in the LO206. If there had been more time between evens he might have had some time to process what happened. Jason did qualify second only a few tenths back, nearly a 1 second faster over Saturday’s qualifying time. For the rest of the day Jason played second fiddle in both heats and the feature, though he really drove hard, pressing for the lead at every corner. In the end it was just not meant to be. All in all he did a great job of keeping the pressure on and working to force a mistake from the other driver. Some times you can make it happen, sometimes not.
Next up for the team is a return to one of the kart racers’ favorite tracks Blackhawk Farms Raceway with the Championship Enduro Series the first weekend of June. Jason will be competing in the Animal Junior class in four 15 minute races with some of the fastest Animal drivers in the Midwest.
Glodowski Motorsports gets a huge shout out for hosting the whole LO206 sportsman class, and hangers on, in their trailer. The challenge of running two classes is staying sharp, which means keeping driver and crew rested, fueled, and hydrated between practice sessions, 1 qualifying session, and 3 races in each kart with sparse time between. It would have been that much harder without their help. Karen we missed you this weekend and can’t wait for you to get back to the track and hang out with us this summer.
Every kart racer should have a notebook with details on kart setup and kart performance for each race and practice session run. Things like gearing, tire pressure, castor, and lap time and max rpm. This makes it easy to get a kart ready for a race ahead of time and will give you more time for fine tuning during practice. I have a notebook that has pretty good notes and I check it before every race. However, I apparently don’t believe everything I read. I didn’t follow my notes this weekend and the setup was not accurate. This would have a detrimental effect on the weekend’s racing, with added cold, wind, and snow.
Our friend Robert came out on Saturday morning to help us with a bit of coaching. His dad, Marty, also gave me some tuning advice. The days temps were not expected to reach much above freezing, and there where light flurries before and during practice. Jason took to the track but could not get the kart to turn to the right and reported general handling awfulness. Robert and I struggled to find the cause and find the setting to get the kart to hook up on the track. Jason and Robert did try to work on his racing line and set some goals for when the kart did start working, if it started working. During qualifying, the right nerf bar broke, which would have put us out of the race. But once again, Marty saved us and welded it up just in time for the pre-feature, where Jason took third. We eventually found the problem with the kart; the rear wheel spacing was not set correctly. The left wheel was set 1/2 inch too far out and the right wheel was 1/4 inch out and the castor was 0 instead of -2. The settings were in my notebook (sigh). This would cause the kart to not turn right and have generally poor handling. Even then the kart was still a handful to get through corners due to the cold tires and track. The Feature was actually very exciting with Jason putting on a great show with a Junior driver and a sportsman driver, all three fighting for the same position. Each of them working together and against each other using bump drafting trying to get the advantage. Eventually, Jason found it and made some great front straight passes to take a very well earned second place.
Jason turned 11 while he was on the track for practice on Sunday. During the drivers meeting, all the drivers, crew and families sang “Happy Birthday” to him, and we served birthday cake later that day. The racing brought more bump drafting and very fierce racing between the same three drivers. Jason managed to make a really cool 2 kart pass in the front straight but was not able to make it stick in turn one. He settled for third place all day. Not the best ending to a birthday but he worked very hard and showed some determined spirit and skill. I was impressed by the trust of his drafting partners in each other.
These drivers will meet again at the first race of the 206 Cup at Road America, next weekend. We will be using Jason’s favorite sticky tires and the weather is expected to be much better. This time I will make sure to check my notes carefully and check my work before packing up the trailer for the weekend. Even so, there will be some guess work for the Animal kart which will be running a new configuration in an experimental class.
Thanks as always to my lovely wife Karen. We could not do this without you and without your very generous permission. Thanks to Katie and my parents to taking the time from other things to hang out with us enjoying the racing and celebrating Jason’s birthday. Happy Birthday Jason!! Once again a huge thanks the Robert and Marty Murray for helping us improve our skill set and getting us back on the track quickly.
This time around Jason was racing with the Animal Junior class in two 15 minute races each day with some fast and talented drivers. These races are crowd favorites with big classes and fast and close racing. Jason was driving a his Animal kart, the motor is unrestricted, putting out about 12 HP and weighing about 300 lbs with the driver, compare that to the 5 HP and 265 lbs of his LO206 Kart of just a few years ago.
Saturday’s race 1 was a bit of a surprise, Jason’s main competitor had softer tires(better speed in the corners) then we did. This allowed him to pull away from Jason quickly from the start. It was still a great race to with Jason and an Animal 360 kart trading places just about every lap. Jason would catch and pass the 360 in the twisty infield and the 360 would return the favor on the long straight. While all this was happening Jason and most of the Animal drivers were lapping the ~15 kart LO206 class. Jason crossed the finish line in 9th over all and 2nd in his class only 6 seconds back from the class leader.
The second race was rained out by a fast moving storm, but not before a great attempt at getting everyone on the line and ready. When the tornado siren rang out from the near by town we knew it was time to give up, put the karts to bed, and seek shelter. After the storm passed we had a chance to hang out with our kart friend and family. My aunt and uncle came to visit and watch racing and just like last time did not have a change to see Jason race, still good company. Hopefully, we will be back here next year, and they can watch us play.
Watch for the yellow blur!
For Sunday’s race 1 I put on softer tires on Jason’s kart. With a little gearing adjustment he had dropped 2 seconds a lap by the end of practice and was looking good for the race. At the start he stuck behind his class mate for the opening laps and then passed and pulled away, never looking back(Video from classmate). He was flying around the track lapping the slower traffic and his lap times only a second off from the Animal 360 front runners. In the end he finished 5th over all and 1st in his class, beating second by 13 seconds.
The sky’s remained open and bright for race 2 on Sunday. The down side of soft tires is they wear out faster. To save these fast tires, for other racing, I needed to switch back to the hard tires. At the start his class mate pulled away and Jason again traded spots every lap with an Animal 360 kart. There was a chance that the class leaders tires would fall off dramatically and Jason would be able to catch him, but, that gamble did not pay off. Jason did finish 8th over all and 2nd in his class. Unfortunately, the first place driver was disqualified handing Jason a technically earn first place. No one likes to win this way, it sucks the fun out of things. We have been DQd and it is no fun no matter who looses out.
CES rules allow the use any tire compound. The softer the tire the better the kart will stick in the corners but the faster it will wear out. Harder tires will last longer and let the kart slide more. Event the construction of the tire side wall can make a difference, soft sidewall give more lateral grip then a stiff tire. We normally run a Bridgestone YDS tire on our animal kart. It’s a hard tire and allows the kart to drift through corners on both road and sprint tracks, however, you do need to keep the corner entry speeds down to prevent the kart from drifting off the track. For the first race on Sunday we used a Vega Red which is a medium tire, turns out to have about the right grip for road racing but might wear out quicker. We might try to use the reds again, but for the moment we are going to stick to the YDS or find some used Bridgestone YLC tires that are similar to the Vega Reds but are more readily available.
In other news, the fiercely competitive, Katie won 5 of 8 blue ribbons and Grand Champion at a show this weekend. She is preparing for a summer of competition with this summers horse friend Simba.
Yes, we are again racing on Mother’s Day. We are very grateful that our mothers let us not just race but do it on this of all weekends. Thanks to all of our Moms for taking care of us and letting us race this weekend. Wish you where there.
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.
It has been far too long since our last update, and now the season is over Since we last sent an update Jason wrapped up the season traveling to old and new tracks. At USA International Raceway, after locking up the LO206 sportsman championship in the 206 Cup he moved up to the Junior LO206 class and took home second place in his first race(video) in this class. He also brought home his first Animal Sportsman race(video) win in a very tight race, swapped the lead 4 or 5 times, until he took the win on the last corner. In early October, Jason traveled to Delmar, Iowa for the 61 Kartway Challenge(video), a 30 lap endurance race. He spent the morning learning a new track, and that same evening, as the sun set during the race, took home second place just half a second back from the local favorite.
It has been quite a season of racing, it started off a little rough as we brought two karts up to speed. Despite, early motor and wheel issues, Jason and the karts were very fast out of the gate, picking up an early 206 Cup win. As the season progressed Jason received some coaching and I got the karts really dialed in, leading to a podium almost every race. At a race at Concept Haulers Jason dominated the track(Heat 1) to the point of breaking the track record for the year by nearly a second. Our lowest point was at MKA with the 206 Cup where Jason was driving very well but the karts where bedeviled by broken chains and the animal motor problems. The high point was at USA International Raceway with this Animal win and his first LO206 Junior podium.
Here are some of the honors from Jason’s 2015 season
Briggs and Stratton 206 Cup LO206 Sportsman Champion
Championship Enduro Series Novice Jr Champion
Briggs and Stratton 206 Cup Animal Sportsman 2nd Place
Mid-American Sprint Series LO206 Sportsman 3rd Place
61 Challenge LO206 Sportsman 30 Lap Race 2nd Place
Some statistics. Because a good race team is about numbers.
3 racing series, 3 local track series
20 weekends of racing, 28 racing days, 4 full practice days, 39 races
40 gallons of racing methanol
11 sets of tires
1 driver and 1 mechanic
Miles and miles of track time and truck time.
Fun Fact: Jason has driven approximately 400 miles on BlackHawk Farms Raceway since 2013.
In other news, it seems the TV show that Jason was interviewed for has been put on the shelf. Hopefully,Adventure Aaron and the producers will find a way to get it out there.
On a more positive note Jason was recently mentioned in a press release from Coyote Motorsports, the manufacturer of his chassis. The press release highlighted his Championship in the LO206 Cup and featured his first Junior LO206 race and subsequent 2nd place finish.
Lastly, our friend Christian Lantry has taken some end of season pictures of Jason, kart, and trophies. Christian is a professional photographer with deep experience in the professional sports, entertainment, and advertising industries.
Looking forward to next year, Jason is hoping to start racing in the Senior League at K1 Speed now that he is tall enough. Over the winter, time will be spent in the garage tearing down the karts for inspection and rebuilding to prepare them for racing in Junior classes.
Thanks to Dave Larsen and the Championship Enduro Series team, and Greg Jasperson, Steven Vermeer and the Briggs 206 Cup Team. Without these guys and their supporting groups this would not have been possible. Thanks to Regan Verhing at 4 Cycle Central for all his support and giving us a motor that runs fast.