Agile Karing: Episode 2

In which we look at brakes and axles.  This lay down kart is much different from what I have been used to working on.  It something that could be very fast once setup right. 

Agile Karting: Episode 1

Now that the 2019 season is over we are going to try something new for 2020.  A laydown endurance kart has entered the duck blind and we are going to create some project management videos to document the project and the agile project management technique. 

The Struggle Continues: Cup Karts Grand Nationals 3

Jason is trying to earn InTech Trailer for 2020.
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When you head to a National level race you have to be prepared to put in full effort for the weekend to be competitive.   You can’t let up, everyone is working as hard or harder than you are.  Jason and I put in 3 solid days of hard work and pushed our skills and knowledge to this limits.  On the surface looking a the the results from you would think that this weekend was a disaster, but while it was all happening we were having a blast and working hard.  Just showing up to a National Level race and being competitive is saying something.

The Cup Karts of North America held its Grand Nationals October 4-6th at New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle Indiana.  We arranged to use a Coyote Combat kart and get support from Coyote Motorsports for the weekend.  This should give us a leg up for the weekend over our usual the mechanic is totally lost situation.  This was a new program for both us and Coyote so the weekend was very much and experiment.  It was successful experiment, we got great support and help and would definitely work with Jim and his team again. 

We arrived just after the gates closed on Thursday night and sleep on the floor of the trailer in the parking lot so we could get in early on Friday morning.  Since this was something like an arrive and drive, it was all hands from Coyote and Wild Duck Racing getting Jason’s kart build before practice.  We took the combat frame as a base and then tore down our two coyote wide tracks for parts, creating a hybrid bodied kart ready for racing in just about 2 hours.  We then executed the plan day of practice.  First get Jason used to the new kart and correcting things like improper steering shaft length quickly.  Then on to tuning to get the kart up to speed.  The afternoon of practice was was started a freshened motor and new tires for some qualifying practice ending the day running in front to see who was catching us.  All day the kart kept moving faster and near the top 10 of a 43 kart field.  The team put in a solid 12+ hours picking up 2 second throughout Friday just to keep up with the field.

Saturday practice and the heats from a speed perspective where pretty good, but the results weren’t that great.  The biggest thing we did was shed some weight on the kart, about 8-9 pound where found and we shifted the seat around to get the balance right.  He set an inadequate pre qualifying time which he was in the second group starting second, but put him behind a much slower kart for qualifying.  He caught the slower kart by the second qualifying lap and never got a good flying lap in.  The First heat with him in 28th and he made spots very quickly.  As he was working on 18th in the 5th lap he was bumped off the track in turn one ending his race.   He started heat 2 two in 40th of 43 and the the battle at the rear was brutal he have to fight very hard to stay on the track and gain a meare 8 spots to move up to 32nd and his nose was destroyed in the effort.  Overnight we cleaned up the kart and replaced damaged parts from the days battles and tried to get some rest.  

Sunday was going to be a long day there was only one practice, one heat, and the feature we still had to stay on our toes and keep Jason and the kart in top shape.   Heat 3 was probably the highlight of the weekend.  The morning had started with rain and everyone switched to a rain setup.  He had a great rain set up thanks to the folks at Coyote.  Jason started the race in 32nd and treading carefully but still very quickly on a very wet and slippery track moving, in 8 laps, all the way up to 9th.   The feature was probably the low light.  The rain had stopped and everyone had including us switched back to a dry setup.  As the green flag dropped the rain started again rain and karts started sliding everywhere.  During the first lap Jason hit a puddle under heaving breaking as he slowed for a accident in front of him.   He slid hard into another kart as was sent spinning over the top of karts.  After a rotation and a half, touching each corning in turn, he landed safely and drove hard for the next few laps picking up spots in very dense and chaotic traffic.  Having made his way up to 18th place by the 5th lap the the rear left tire damaged in the first lap crash let go and went flat and he pulled off to to watch the race relegating him to 38th place.  

Despite not finish the feature for the second year we had a great time racing.  The help and support from Jim and Coyote team was superb, we would definitely do that again.  Rob from Kart City also gave us some great support as well.  He helped us find a bit more speed and gave us the clues and hints we needed to get his motor race ready.

Thanks to the Greg, Steve and the whole Cup Karts of North America Team this season has been great and we have learned a lot and race with some very tough competition.  You guys have come a long way since you started with a barn storming 206 series. 

Happish Returns: CNKA at 61 kartway

61 Kartway has not been on the Wild Duck Racing schedule for two years and it’s too bad.  It is an awesome technical track that Jason really enjoies racing on.  Jason last raced at 61 in the beginning of 2017 for the spring classic.  We returned this summer for the Cup Karts of North America.  We have been working on qualifying so that he can keep clear of mid-pack chaos during starts.  After the success at Badger Kart club earlier in the month we hopped he could continue to be successful.     

Our usual arrive on Thursday night and prep the kart on Friday morning worked out great.  We were very relaxed in getting the kart ready and well rested for the days work.  Practice started at noon and went well as Jason adjusting quickly and refreshing his memory.  Jason and the kart were close to the front pack and he should be fairly competitive with some more seat time and some persuasion gently applied to the kart.

Saturday, we tried to duplicate the plan we used at Badger, practice twice on old tires and then put on the new ones for the final practice for a qualifying test.  That test went poorly, he was a second off the pace and qualifying did not go better, 14th.  The track had started to gain grip as the karts laid more rubber on the track and we missed the queue to adjust the kart.  The first heat start one was red flagged as karts piled up in turn one, on the second try, he made some quick moves forward on the green flag but was shoved off the track and had to fight hard to get to 16th from a 20th.   The second heat started with bang as the field piled up behind a spin in turn one collecting Jason.  The second start was cleaner and he moved quick and hard to move from 16th to 11th.  Unfortunately, kart setup was undone by the 2nd heat accident and the kart was very hard to drive never mid fast.  He started 11th and then quickly dropped back to a 15th place finish.  Over night we inspected the kart and found the issue but suspected that it might also be bent, something we could not fix at the track.

Qualifying on Sunday went very poorly again there was too much grip in the kart, he was 16th.  To add to this the field had gotten much faster and tighter, the top 10 where only a few 10ths apart.  We need to practice that and understand how to get the kart up to speed faster and pay better attention to changing track conditions Starting the first heat in the middle and getting spun off the track in the middle of turn three was not a great start to the day.  Thing got slightly better in heat 2 with a good clean start and he moved up to finish 11th.  As the feature started he was again driven off the track but this time in turn 4 and has work to catch the tail of karts.  He again pushed hard and make up time and moved from 20th to finish 13th after penalties were given out.  After returning home we checked the kart carefully and found that it is not bent, so we need to keep working on setup and keeping up with track conditions. 

Mid-West Kart Association

Next is Advanced Racing School followed by some time off, though we might try to get a club race in for some more practice.  We want to reach out and offer our condolences to the Midwest Kart Association on their last race weekend at the their current track.  Hopefully, they will find a new place to race.   Jason has only raced there once and will miss the track, but we still will race with the folks we met there. 

Cup Karts at Badger 2019: Cheese Cows

The weekend of July 12-14 we had a choice, go to Grattan with Championship Enduro Series and road race or head to Badger Kart Club with Cup Karts of North America and sprint race.  It was really a tough choice to make, Jason loves to race and we are not running for points in either series.  A phone call from Jim at Coyote put us over the edge to go to Badger.  It’s also helps that Badger only two hours away making for a slightly easier weekend.  Lastly,  badger gives wisconsin cheese cows to each of the podium winners, this is a great motivator for Jason. 

After the previous hard weekend at the battle of the brickyard we were all ready well prepared for sprint racing.  So much so, we never unloaded the trailer, we just changed tires and dressed the clutch with the kart on the stand.  The only stress came from preparing for another very hot  weekend and letter from village complaining about the trailer in the driveway. 

Race weekends for the last year and half, since returning to sprint racing, have followed a pattern.  Friday practice goes well with Jason and the kart showing speed, running with the fast karts with room for improvement.   Saturday morning, things fall apart and we have to start hunting for speed again.  They ended on Sunday finally getting the speed back for the feature but having to start from a poor position on the grid and battling slower karts.  In hindsight, Indy was a hint of that changing.  There he started pretty fast and kept building all weekend.  It felt like he was on the cusp of returning as a driver to battling in the fast pack. 

The weekend started with fast practice sessions on Friday.  The kart was hopping as usual but we ignored that and focused on speed.  At Indy and this weekend we had made a number of big setup changes.  We put narrower front wheels for better grip in the turns, moved the front wheels in a bit again for better rotation.  We also moved the rear wheels in to allow the kart to jack(lift up the inside wheel) so it does not drag through the corner.  The jack does cause the outside to hop as it grips and releases from the track surface as the kart corners at speed.  As the day progressed we dropped the air pressure and narrowed the front we experimented with some fine tuning.  In the past, this was the opposite of what we have been trying previously.  We ignored the hop and looked for a fast setup while Jason cut a fast line around the track and it seemed to be working.

Saturday started with one round of practice on used tires to make sure we were still on pace.  For rounds two and three we broke in a new set of tires and pick up more speed and he became one of the fastest karts on the track.  He pre-qualified in 3rd and then qualified in 9th.  This put him in a bad place with some slower but hard to pass karts.  He finished heat 1 in 8th, and Heat 2 in 9th.  The feature only made one more position and then was gifted an additional spot for 7th due to a penalty on another driver.  During the feature he set the 2nd fastest lap but was not able to capitalize on his speed.  He was no longer struggling with the kart but working with it and getting it to go very fast. 

With only one practice on Sunday, we decided to use it to practice qualifying and work on getting a better starting position for the first heat.  We set the kart up getting up to speed in just a lap or two instead of the usual five or six laps.   That practice paid off, he qualified 6th only .099 seconds behind the fastest kart.  In the heats, Jason stayed in 6th or 7th throughout most of the races but this time he was running with the lead pack and was getting faster as the race went on.  He started the feature in 6th place and moved up to 5th by turn one.  He fell back to 7th after the first couple of laps.  At the halfway mark he dodged a tangle of three karts, giving him 4th, 3rd was now too far to catch but he was well if front 5th.  The leaders drafted each other and Jason slowly crept up to them as they battled.  The white flag flew declaring the final lap.  As the leaders entered the boot the karts in 2nd and 3rd connected and peeled off course and tossing up a dust cloud as Jason zoomed by.  He kept calm and clean for the remains of the lap and seized second and most importantly earning a cheese cow for his first 2019 sprint racing podium. 

This weekend showed a change of team dynamics, instead of trying to make the kart perfect we worked to just be fast.  Jason took more of lead in tuning and we listened to each other as we made plans for each session.  There was a real difference in his driving as well it was smooth and crips.  It was great to see him move from the best of the rest to hanging with the lead pack again.  It’s been a long time since he was running fast and have the ability to stand on the podium.

The next race will be Cup Karts of North America race in Delmar, Iowa’s 61 Kartway.  It’s been a few years since we have been here and we are looking forward to having a go at this tight and rolling track now that we have a better plan and some new skills. 

Thanks to Jim Coyote Motorsports and Reagan from 4 Cycle Central for the tuning advice.  Rob at Kart City Performance for putting together a great motor for us.   Everyone that offered words of encouragement this weekend, it really meant a great deal to us. 

Battle of the Brickyard 2019:More weather

There are few race tracks in the world that can come as close to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  LeMons is older, Monaco has a more rarefied crowd, and Daytona is famous in the US, but the Brickyard has everything a motorsport fan could ask for.  Fast cars with historic drivers and history making races.  As an facility it is beyond amazing for both driver and fan.  We spent the 4th of July weekend at the track racing with some fastest drivers including a couple of Indycar drivers, Conor Daly and Gabby Chaves.  Just one part of the amazing experience was his ‘parade lap’ around the big oval, add another story to his pocket. 

The Battle of the Brickyard was a great experience for the team.  This race is a true international race with drivers from the US, Canada, South America, and as far away as Australia.  The track could called a street style layout at around 1.2 miles, it has the long smooth lines of a road race and the tight technical corners.  Jason has the unique experience as a road and sprint racer to quickly understand the speed of the track.  The challenge will be getting the kart into a state where he can drive it fast and stay in the draft. 

Our pre race preparation and experience paid off quickly in Friday’s practice 3 short practice sessions.  The kart only required minor adjustment to get it up to speed where Jason could drive near the front.  He wasn’t the fastest but he was able to run with the front pack and as long as we kept moving the kart forward he should be able to get a top 10 finish.   As usual, we needed to work hard to search for the karts sweat spot, not over think things, and not succumb to the weekends oppressive heat and hold off on rain. 

Qualifying was on Friday night after practice and was a very informal process.  The karts were sent out in bulk with instructions allowing drafting but no bump drafting.   Unfortunately, Jason was not able t find a suitable drafting partner and qualified 14.  This forced him to battle for position during most the Saturday’s heat race instead of moving forward and finished 14th.   The pre-feature was rained out on Saturday night and was rescheduled for a shorter 5 lap race on Saturday morning.  With a great start he moved up to as high as 11th but then fell off the draft and had to fight very hard in a 4 way battle for 12th.  He made a great last corner pass to capture 12th at the checkered.   In the 14 lap feature  Jason moved from 12th to 11th in a few laps and started to pull away with the lead pack.  However, a few minor mistakes plucked him out of the draft.  Unable to draft he was forced to wait for the pack a few seconds behind him to catch up to him for new draft partners.  While they were not able to help move back to the found he was able to race and with them easily.   He was able to swap places with this pack and  made moves at key moments to take the pack lead retaining 12th as the race ended.  

The next race is Cup Karts of North America at Badger Kart Club.  This kart is pretty much ready to go, just need to change the clutch and tires.   We had an attempted test race a few weeks ago and got some limited data and practice.  Hopefully, he can make some ground.

Thanks to Karen my lovely wife and Jason’s mother for letting us race on our wedding anniversary.  Thanks to TJ Holingsworth of Winning Synthetics for the Amsoil and the seeds of the 2020.  Lastly, a thanks to Jim Lipari at Coyote Motorsports for the weekends tuning advice. 

Fathers 2019 Day At Mid-Ohio: More Rain

Father’s day weekend was spent at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as we raced with the Dart Kart Club and Championship Enduro Series.  The weather for the weekend was not expected to be great but Dart Kart Club has been great about getting racing in and they will race in the rain at Mid-Ohio. 

After the previous races disaster our plan to have motors came together nicely, 4 Cycle Central built us a new motor using what remained of all of our old motors and a used 206 case.  We took off the loaner and put on our very own motor and for Friday’s practice.  Though, we had to wait for the rest of the kart, it needed tires, other adjustments, and the track need some dry time.   Once out there the kart was still a little tight but showed pace.  The wet weather kept us from really tuning the kart the track did not really get dry and fast until later in the afternoon which left little time.  We did scale and align the kart post practice, we are still trying to work that skill out for ourselves. 

Saturday morning brought some more rain, but once it dried up the racing was great.   Jason started on the pole for reasons unknown to us and was able to start well.  His youth showed a bit as he dropped back to 8th or 9th, but he skillfully worked his way back up.  In the Animal 350 race he finished 6th and in th 370 race he finished 4th.  Between races one of our competitors blew a motor, they too had a PT4 with a cracked motor mount which led failure.  Both Jason and I put in some time in getting that kart apart and repaired.  While looking at our own kart Jason and I found and repaired a broken seat strut.  We celebrated a great day of racing with our fellow animals by having some low country boil fixed up by Jack, bench racing, and watching the 24 hours of LeMons well into the evening. 

Regrettably the rain continued into Sunday morning.  I had a plan to get the kart out on rain tires if need be.  However, Jason felt that since he was going to be the only one on track for the 350 race he was going to take the rain points and things weren’t looking good for the 370 race.  We decided to bail on the day and head home.  I don’t often have regrets about racing, but all the way home I watch the sky clear.  Once home we heard that the 370 race was held in the dry, but most of the Animals had packed up and left. 

The next two weekend are off with a trip to Road America for the Indycar race and then home for a weekend.  Though, we may head to Wolf Paving Raceway for some testing and a practice race.  Otherwise, we will be preparing the sprint kart for what is likely the biggest race we have ever attended, the Battle of the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The weekend after that will be the next Cup Karts of North America at Wolf Paving Raceway

On fathers day we are missing dad and grandpa.  My dad inspired me to take my son to the races Road America and then put him into a kart.  Much of the talk during Blackway Farms racing and during our Formula 1 weekend was about how much he would have enjoyed it.  Thanks Dad!  Thanks Mom for coming with us to both Blackhawk and Montreal and allowing us to share racing with you.  Thanks to all the folks in the banner picture, these are either dads supporting their family or family supporting a dad.  Thanks You all. 

This is why we race

The second Championship Enduro Series weekend, June 1-2, at Blackhawk Farms was probably one of the most challenging we have ever had.  Jason wasn’t involved in any wrecks but there was very little time to catch our breath with numerous mechanical issues.  We have been working on the Road Kart since we bought it, making little changes here and there in an effort to get it setup right.  It has been very very close on a couple of occasions.  As the season ended last year we went through two maybe three motors with failed side cover gaskets.  This seems to have been caused by a cracked chassis and thought that was solved.  This year we had already lost a motor Nelson Ledges, things went from bad to worse.  

The first race of the weekend a few laps in two karts got together in front of Jason and he had to head to the grass to avoid getting collected and he slid into the tire barrier with a less than gentle bump.  Thankfully, he was unharmed but a was little rattled.  He collected himself, as I inspected the kart for issues and was able to address the pushed in body work and he pushed the kart back up to the start finish line for the restart.  The restarted race went off with out any issues this time, starting from 21st he picked up 9 spots to finish 11th.  Between races I gave the kart a more detailed inspection and found that the steering was extremely notchy.  It was carefully disassembled to keep settings to find the sticking point.   I discovered he kingpin bolt on the left side was way too tight and pinching the bearing causing it to stick.  This was easily fixed and the front was reassembled.  Race two was, thankfully, uneventful.  Right at the start he picked up 4 or 5 spots and as the race progressed he moved up a spot just about every lap as they crossed the line he finishing 8th.

After racing was over there was time to get some extra practice in, practice and racing was earlier hampered by rain and a wet track.  Unfortunately, the motor very quickly died.  With the kart back in the pit we put the last motor on, filled it with oil and gave it a test start.  It immediately started leaking oil from the crank seal.  We started tearing down the motor and found the case had cracked from top to bottom allowing the crank seal to easily pop out.  We were out of motors and had just begun to think about what to do next, when Jason appeared with two motors.  Reagan and Jack lent us motors for Sunday racing and a backup for Mid-Ohio should we need it. 

Sunday racing was much worse and not much to tell.  The borrowed motor worked great but we broke a belt in the first race and in race two broke another both just a few laps in.  The rear gear hanger was loose and moved over causing the belt to slid off and catch on the gear bolts. 

We think we have the motor issue solved.  The motor mount was rebuilt and welded and it is something we will add to our list of things to keep an eye on.   Looking all of the cases and motors they all have signs of cracking that are probably a result of the loose mount and cracked chassis.  The loose mount allowed the motors to shake and bang the internal parts around enough to cause the crank and case failures.  We have a plan for a new primary and are working on a finding a secondary motor.  We should be back on our own equipment and ready for racing again at Mid-Ohio. 

Next up for us is a weekend “off” as we travel to Montreal to  enjoy our first F1 race.  The weekend after that we spending father’s day weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, one of our favorite tracks.  Jason will again be racing 350 and 370 Senior and will have some stiff competition.  

Thanks to Regan(4 Cycle Central) and Jack for their support this weekend.   Thanks to Jason for putting in the effort to get other drivers on the track after their karts where damaged, that effort will pay off.

New Tracks Are Awesome – Nelson Ledges

For the last 8 weeks the team has been working and racing hard.  The only weekends we did not race were rain outs.  The club race was rained out and Gateway was too but the preparation was done to get there.  The weekend of May 17-19, we had a chance to try a new to us track.  Dart Kart Club held their first race of the season at Nelson Ledges Road Course in Garrettsville, Ohio.   It’s been nearly 30 years since the last kart race there and we were very excited to have a go at it.  The track is similar to Blackhawk Farms in terms of style, long straights with sweeping turns an a few technical bits that should provide a weekend of close high speed racing, perfect for Animal Nation racers. 

The rain followed us form Illinois and the track was wet and green Friday morning.  The track crew worked quickly to dry the track and after a short delay it was open for practice.  Jason went out with instructions for a Sunday drive(he never holds back, sigh) and came back grinning and chattering about the speed and complexity the track.  It took him a few rounds of practice and some tuning on my part to get the kart really fast.  As the day wound down, we discussed possible changes for race day,  he was starting to slow as the tires wore out and fell off.  After much discussing, we choose to swing pretty big, changing gearing(up a tooth, less pull but faster), wheel width(looser kart), and put on new tires(more grip).  We hoped that the changes will keep him up to speed with the rest of the pack.

Again, the day started with rain, this time a few hours.  The track was ready for practice just before noon, and practice one gave us a gear change to drop the rpm again.  Then as the second round practice started a dog ran on to the track and a red flag halted the session.  Jason pulled around to the last corner to come off, the motor shutdown with a bang.  We don’t exactly know what went wrong but the rod gave way busted the cam, and damaged the case.  With only one real session available to tune now with a new motor, gearing, wheels, and tires, it was questionable if he would continue to be a front runner.  Jason is used to driving an kart out of tune, hopefully he could work through any issues as he races. 

Animal 350 Finish

Jason will be racing two classes with the Dart Kart Club, Animal 350 and Animal 370.  Both races will be 25 minutes, the only difference being weight.  The first of our day was race 2 in Animal 350.  Right from the start, Jason and his kart where with the lead pack the whole race and was battling for position every lap.   After race time ended the karts 2 by 2 and within 0.15 seconds as they crossed the line.  Jason set the fastest lap but finishing 4th, just missing 2nd by 2.6 hundredths of second.  In the day’s 370 race he was again in the hunt but a loose motor forced him to retire early but still finished 4th.  The karts were very fast and close, anyone could pull out a win this weekend, including Jason with a little luck. 

Sunday started no kart changes and two of quick rounds of practice.  The weather was just about perfect for racing warm track for good grip and cool air for great horsepower.  Jason got a great start in the 350 race moving up to third by the frist bend.  As the opening laps wound up so did Jason as he picked off second and then a took the lead.  He started to pull away as the pack battled behind him for second.  Jason continue widened his gap, no up to 5 or 6 seconds, as the 25 minute race reached the halfway point.   The karts behind stop fighting and started to together to drafting and pushing to catch up again.  As race time ticked down final minutes the pack caught up to Jason but he kept his foot down and this elbows out for the last few laps.  As they exiting the last corner Jason manged to have a half second game and crossing the finish for his first win of the season and as a senior.   Unfortunately, in the final 370 race he lost the draft and was in 5th place by a wide margin for most of the race.  Despite his gap, he ended up finishing 3rd as attrition picked off karts in front of him.

After this great weekend, we are taking some time off for Memorial day, but will still be hard at work in the garage as we prepare for the next race at Blackhawk Farms(Championship Enduro Series) the first of two races in June.   The turn out for Blackhawk is looking very good, there should have some great racing.  We are looking forward to trying to repeat last years great finish.  We are sad that we will be missing the Cup Karts of North America at Michiana Raceway Park.  Good luck to all the drivers wish we could be there too.

Thanks to all the guys at Animal Nation for accepting Jason as a young driver and working with us all these years.  We really love hanging out at the track and racing with you guys.  Thanks to Reagan at 4 Cycle Central and for the great motors and Jack Reall the advice and support.