The team has been working hard all summer long and Jason was in the hunt for season championships in the last two series weekends. It is your support this season that has gotten us here, all we can say is “Thanks!”
We visited Grattan Raceway Park near South Haven, MI over the weekend of September 10th to finish the season with the Championship Enduro Series. He had missed two weekends of racing but had done well enough to still be able to move to first place if he won the last four races. This was very possible as long as our new(to us) kart performed and held together. We had a tested it at Badger Kart club the weekend before and it was very promising. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. It rained all day Saturday giving everyone rain points and putting the championship out of reach. On Sunday, the new chassis broke but we were able to repair it and Jason went on to win both races for an exciting but slightly frustrating weekend.
The weekend of September 17, we finished out the Briggs 206 cup at USA International Raceway in Shawano, WI. The LO206 sportsman class was already decided with Jason locked into 2nd place. Jason struggled with an underperforming 206 kart all weekend but he still was able to finish in 4th place on both days. In the Animal Sr class he still needed to finish the weekend’s races near the front of the pack become Champion. Saturday’s racing was excellent with Jason keeping up with the leader and finishing both heats and the feature in second. On Sunday, Jason set the fastest lap in qualifying, repeating Saturday’s feat, and finished 2nd in the first two heat races. Starting 2nd in the feature Jason dogged Regan Vehring, his motor builder and race leader, for the first 8 laps of 10 laps, but not pushing too hard. In the 9th lap, Jason feigned attempt to pass in the back stretch looking to the inside before hairpin corner. As they made the final lap the Regan moved to the inside to block in the same place as Jason moved to the outside making the pass for the lead. Just a quarter lap later Jason earned his first Animal win of the season. These results where more than enough to seal the Championship. Congratulations Jason.
The last race of the year was at the happiest place on earth Road America. They held a 100 lap Endurance race. Jason partnered with on of his sportsman competitor Will to run LO206 Junior. We knew we would not have the fastest kart racing against animals and yamahas, so we planned to pick up time during driver changes. We put on a big gas tank that would easily finished the two 50 lap stints. This made our two pit stops very fast, as we only needed to change drivers. Other teams needed to change drivers and fuel, putting their pit stops on the order of minutes compared to our seconds. The boys drove very well at one point they were as high as 3rd but eventually fell back to 6th as the fastest karts were able to make up their pit time. At the end of the day Will and Jason finished first in their class and 6th overall.
A short video we made for a school about me project
Here is where things ended with all of the series Jason raced with.
Thanks to all of you for your support this season, it would not have not been possible without this great team to support us. We are already starting work on the 2017 season starting with getting his sportsman karts ready for sale so we can build new karts for even more racing next season.
This is hardest part of the season, there are only a few more weekends of racing left and the long weekends are starting to take their toll on us. Add to that, school has started causing our focus to start to wander a bit. So far, Jason has locked up 2nd place in his LO206 Sportsman in Mid-American Sprint Series and the Briggs 206 Cup. With one race left in each series the Championship is still on line in the Championship Enduro Series and Briggs 206 Cup Animal Class, so we need to stay on task to do well in these last weekends.
For the last four years Jason drove karts that are build for smaller drivers. It’s made with smaller tubes and has more flex to help the light weight driver for better grip and handling. Jason has been growing all season we have had to move the pedals twice and change out a seat on one kart. His growth is starting to affect the karts drivability. A few weeks ago we purchased a “new to us” kart for the Animal class, a 2005 Coyote LE from Robert Murray Racing. We have just a couple of weeks to get the kart tuned up and ready to attempt to finish with some wins.
Initially, we had just planned to race at Badger Kart Club on Sunday to give the new kart a shake down, but, about 10 am on Saturday the plans changed. I made a comment to Jason about getting in on the night race and Concept Haulers Motor Speedway he was all on board with that. So we spent the next 2 1/2 hours getting both karts ready. We staged the Animal for a Sunday morning load and then tossed the 206 and tools, in the back of the pickup and headed out to Norway for a 4:30 pm practice. He have not done a two track weekend since the kid kart days. It’s lots of fun but takes some perseverance to pull off.
Our expectations for the night race where high, I tried to keep things on a even keel, its important to not get a full head. Jason had always done well against the local kids at Concept Haulers, but we also knew they had been getting faster. Jason started every practice session in the back and was able to work his way up to 2nd or 3rd by the end. His passing was getting a bit aggressive and pressing other drivers to let him by, but he still kept it clean. The random draw for the first heat started him in second for the first heat and finished there, the fast local driver was seconds ahead by the end. He started 6th for the second heat and was up to 4th with in a few laps but was unable to make moves on slightly off line and but just a hair slower traffic. Jason started in second the feature, he dropped back to third and then was passed in the back stretch for 4th but gained it back in a really great pass as he exited the hair pin. Seven laps in with 5 to go, he was working on 2nd place as he exited turn three but closed the gap to fast and had to break hard on the causing the 4th place kart to bang in to his rear and sending him spinning into the grass and ending his race. Our ride home was quiet but we learned some new tricks, some of it what not to do. At home we unpacked the kart and headed to bed for a few hours sleep before more racing the next day.
Up early on Sunday, we loaded up spare set of tires and the new kart in to the truck and headed to Badger Kart Club . There was quite a large crowd for their last race as number of championships were still in dispute including in the Animal Junior class. Our goal was to stay out their way and learn to tune the kart and have some fun. Practice was awful, with cold and slick tires he spun off the track in the third turn, the kart was way too loose for his driving style. I tried to make adjustments to the wheels to fix the problem but to no avail, the kart was still driving him. We finally removed the wide squished wheels and tires and put on the newer, skinnier, and taller set for the feature and he was able to get the kart under control but the gearing was off by a half dozen teeth so he lacked top speed. Despite finishing 6th of 7 it was a good day of testing, we were both pleased with the results and the knowledge and experience gained. This should bode well for the critical last few races.
The next race will be after the weekend after Labor day. It is the last road race of the season and Jason is in second place with a good chance of winning the Championship he just needs to finish in front of the class leader in all four races. He can do this, hopefully we will be able to keep the kart in shape.
Thanks to Robert, Marty and Kat Murray for the help all season long and getting the new kart ready for us. Thanks to my parents who came out to the Concept Haulers race to cheer Jason. Good Luck to Katie and Karen this weekend at the Walworth County Fair this is one of our favorite non-karting weekends of the summer. We get to watch Katie ride and hang out at the fair all weekend.
It has been well over a month since our last update, we have been so busyracing this year it has been hard to keep up with everything we need to do. Since the start of June we have race every weekend but two, and one of those weekends we were at Road America watching Indy Car racing.
Jason is now in 2nd place in the Championship Enduro Series, 2nd place in 206 Sportsman and 1st in Animal in the 206 Cup , and 2nd place in the Mid-American Sprint series.
In sad news, the original Wild Duck Truck has retired from the team. We started karting out of the back of that truck almost 5 years ago. It served us well with the help of C&M Auto Service’s regular maintenance. It will be missed. We have a new(to us) truck from Jennings Chevrolet that should give us many years of service.
With only 2 more races to go the season is wrapping up fast and we are already making plans for 2017 when Jason will move up to the Jr class in LO206
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.