Saturday, December 10, 2011

What I've been doing for the past 7 Months...

So, it's been quite a while since there has been a post and for that I apologize; but like any racing driver I have my excuses. I've been very busy with school and haven't had enough time to keep this up to date and unfortunately didn't make a post for basically the entire season. On most days the page featured anywhere from 60-110 viewers per day, but obviously that has dropped. In addition to being ridiculously busy, my camera went caput making helmet cam footage impossible. I'm going to try and work on that.

In that seven month absence I had a few wins, a track record (only to be broken by .005 two weeks later) and a few regional podiums. My pace was pretty good throughout the season, although my luck wasn't. Two DNF's due to clutch failure and severe rib pain essentially ruined any opportunity for notable point finishes in the Route 66 Series. I did horrible at NCMP. And I didn't run enough club races to be eligible for points there either. In all honesty though, we had a pretty decent season and I think what we've learned will be apparent with a fresh start to the 2012 season in just over two weeks.

Here's some pictures I could scrape up from the web, look for the helmet with the black stripe.
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So with the 2011 season covered (exaggeration) I can let you know about what's happening in 2012. We're still running the Route 66 Series and running the usual local races, but we're going to try and race the WKA Manufacturers Cup again. So that means we'll be racing in Florida this December for the first race in Daytona. I'm going to be racing Yamaha Light and Heavy, possibly KPV Heavy too.

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I'll be driving the X1-28 for Yamaha classes that was originally intended for my brother. I'll let you guys know on the twitter any updates regarding a helmet camera for the race. In the meantime, have a nice holiday!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Clone Racing!

This previous weekend there weren't many races running, possibly due to the ManCup at MRP. We need to save some money for RT66, so a WKA race was out of the question. When I first started karting about 2 years ago we went and did a practice day at 61 Kartway. Long story short, they were running all the practice sessions backwards on the track due to a backwards race that was going to happen the next weekend. Although I only ran about 10 laps in the normal direction, 61 Kartway instantly became my favorite track. Tons of elevation changes on a very smooth track surface. The track is very technical, demanding patient and smooth hands.

Now at 61 Kartway they've started a pretty big clone class using Lifan 6.5 Horsepower engines with some modifications. Sometimes they get up to 20 drivers. So I stole my dads clone when he wasn't looking, slapped it on my X1-30 and left at 8am that Saturday morning. It would be just me and Christian Vega, using just the pickup, and bringing only the necessities. There was rain on the forecast, but only a few squirts of rain actually came.

Arriving at the track, Christian and I began to double check everything on the kart. We initially had troubles getting the throttle to return smoothly, so we made the peddle travel long to compensate the lack of tension. After asking around for an idea on gearing, we were ready to hit the track. Right off the bat the kart was good. We originally only removed the seat struts, and later added short rear hubs to help further free the kart. Then we played with tire pressures, eventually running them 8 pounds higher than we would have in 2 cycle classes at other tracks.

We were stuck around a 54.5 lap time and really didn't know why. After talking with some people, we learned that we are allowed to run a larger header than the one we were running. We also learned that by lengthening the distance between the header and the muffler helps generate more power. We were able to move the muffler out about 5 inches and gained over a second a lap. The engine felt much better and had better torque. We were pretty confident in the kart at this point. We were hovering around 53.5 per lap. Throughout the day I was struggling in the Toilet Bowl, a tight, uphill, left turn. The fastest way we (Christian and I) found through there was by locking the brakes and pitching the kart up the hill. This was fast, but not always predictable. In a few of the practice sessions we'd get through perfect and get lap times around 52.6 seconds, but it was by pure luck.

After the morning practice, which is free with your race entry, it was time for qualifying. There were only 7 karts in Clone Light, but everyone was pretty close for lap times. I ended up getting pole position and came in to get the kart ready for the pre-final. We added fuel, lowered tire pressures and pushed the kart up to the grid.

The pre-final was relatively uneventful; I got a good start and held the lead the entire race. I never did get the toilet bowl right, only getting 53.5 for my best lap. Coming into the pits they checked our fuel, and it was apparent I accidentally bought the wrong fuel. So I got DQ'ed and would have to start from the back of the grid for the feature.

After running to the gas station a few minutes away, we made a few minor adjustments to the kart and swapped the fuel. I wasn't too worried about struggling to make up positions; but it didn't matter. In the first lap, it was apparent I was down on power. Basically, sometime in the first lap my header snapped in half at the flange and was being held in place by the brace. I ran as well as I could, and got that damn toilet bowl right once, but it wasn't as fast as it should have been because I had no power. Without an exhaust, I ran a 53.6 that lap and was the fastest time of the race. Eventually I was black flagged.

Yes, the vibrations are nuts in this video and the world is slowly falling over; but its better than nothing :p.

This didn't really bother me though, because I had a great time. The family that runs the track are excellent people and really know what makes karting fun. All of the racers were more than helpful with fixing a few odd ends in their garages and making sure I had everything I needed to hit the track. Probably going to be heading out there a few more times this year. And I can't wait.

Should be racing KPV this weekend to get ready for RT66 the next weekend. Should have a camera on the helmet too. See-ya.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Experience Earned.

Well, I'm very late but I've been busy with work and school. April 16-17 we had the first race for Route 66 at Midstate Kart Club. On Thursday, the day before we left, I took the X1-30 completely apart and inspected every bolt and ensured we wouldn't be getting any DNF's for the first RT66 of the year. Confident in my wrenching, I bolted on our Adkin's Yamaha Supercan engine as that would be the first class of the weekend, KPV being Sunday. Since last season, the Yamaha Light and Heavy classes were switched so Light would run on Saturday; making me 20 pounds overwieght for my Saturday races. Either way, its what I've got to race. We left Friday afternoon for Springfield and drove through hail, thunderstorms and tornadoes to get there, but arrived by sunset to drop the trailer off at the track.

The glamor of kart racing: waking up at 5am to be at the track in time for the morning meetings. After a pretty rough morning, we arrived at the track to a miserable, cold mist. No, miserable doesn't even do the weather that day justice. An nondrying mist until about 11am that made drying the track impossible. Karts would go out for an hour, make a dry line, and the mist would start again. The race director decided to wait it out and try to race in dry conditions, which we eventually did. Initially the practice sessions were OK, the engine was rev'ing properly and the clutch was engaging right; the kart was just snappy loose. Nothing that I couldn't drive, but it wasn't predictable. I knew I was going to be about .2 slow due to my weight (researched last years light vs. heavy times) but not as slow as I was. By the third and final session, I was ranked 10th and over a second off the pace. Didn't really make sense and I didn't really know what to do to make my kart handle.

I assumed it was my driving, although my MyChron E-Box indicated I was only .2 of my theoretical best lap, and .3 is considered pretty consistent. This data is gathered by counting the rotations of the rear axle, then is put into separate sectors. The best sectors are put together to create the theoretical best lap.

At the drivers meeting the usual stuff went on, but theres a new twist to the RT66 Series: one race per day will be chosen to be run as a random grid pea pick like at Norway club races. Well, our class (Yamaha Supercan Light) was chosen as the random grid. I don't like this setup, but it certainly is carnage to watch. Also, Midstate Kart Club put together a super impressive drivers presentation with the National Anthem played by the St. Andrews Bag Pipe and Drum Corps.

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After I pushed my kart up to the grid, I was told I would be starting 12th. This actually relieved me, because I would be starting where I belong. We were the largest class of the day and I knew not everyone was going to be nice passing me, so I was prepared for the worst. And thats basically what I saw. The most unnecessarily rough driving I have seen in the 2 full years I've been racing karts. It was like wars against lines of karts, viking style, and I was stuck in the middle. I put my blinders on and just did my best to hold my pace, and did just that until I saw a wreck in front of me involving one kart being sent skyward like an airplane taking off a runway. I was being passed at the time, so what do I do? Lock my brakes up, back into the pile up and wave my hands at drivers trying to make it clear I was stuck. I still got hit in my front bumper. Ripped my decals off and put a big dent in it, but otherwise no damage. Luckily I kept it running and just brought it home ending 20th.

For the second heat, I switched up my tire pressures and made a few adjustments to help tighten my kart. This heat was equally rough, but went much better than the last. I ended 13th and improved my times making me only .6 off the pace of the pace of the fastest lap.

Finally, for the final I would be starting 13th. As most drivers were where they should have been, there wasn't much going on for me throughout the race. I had a decent battle throughout the race for 11th but ended up .05 behind Matthew Roberts because I was counting on taking the position back in the last lap, coming barely short. So, I ended the final in 12th. Where I belonged that race at least. Heres a picture from the start. And me WAAAYYY back there.

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That night, I did my usual cleaning and setup changes for KPV Heavy. I normally do better in this class at Midstate, so I felt Sunday would be a much better day. After getting to the hotel at almost midnight, team Prokup had the usual meeting discussing what we needed to change while laying in bed trying to sleep. After the 5:30am wake up, it was time to head back to the track and get the karts perfect. I didn't change anything from Saturday, as by Saturdays setup for the Final was my Norway KPV setup. I went out for the only practice session and felt much better about my kart setup; although it was still twitchy. In that session I was 6th fastest, and knew a few things needed to be changed. My tire pressures needed to drop considerably and the karts twitch needed to be taken care of. The kart scaled perfect, so I knew it wasn't bent. I lowered my pressures and decided I wanted to see if the tire pressures were attributing to the twitch.

I lowered the pressures and readied for the first Heat. We got stuck with that annoying random grid again, and I would be starting 6th. The start went well, and I was comfortably 6th, but on the edge of 5th. The tires were better, but still needed to be lowered and the twitch hadn't been fixed. I was about .4 off the pace.

I further lowered the tire pressures and decided to narrow the front width. I started 4th and held my position as well as I could. I ended 6th. The twitch wasn't fixed and my engine was turning into a gamblers game. Oh, I forgot to mention; MY ADKINS KPV IS RIDICULOUSLY POWERFUL. I'm not going to give away details, but many drivers were running 4 teeth more than me and my engine was STILL rev'ing to 16,200 in the draft. I normally wouldn't crank my engine like this, but we were worried that if we lost the draft we would be geared too low due to the extra air resistance. -As a note, I was also geared 3 lower than the last time I was at Midstate with a KPV

Stan Guess (Express Karts and Parts) and I decided we were going to make some big changes as there was a considerable gap between me and 7th. We moved the ackerman to a slower position hoping to rid of the twitch, added toe, widened front track, widened rear track and installed short hubs. How'd it go?

Here's a picture of the start:
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So much better. I would be starting the Final in 6th and would remain there on Nick Niles' tail the entire race. I had runs on him early into the race, but was playing the waiting game to limit his time to strike back. Unfortunately my tires began to go away and dropped several tenths back from Nick. My kart wasn't twitching, but was very loose. My tires were also one of the only used sets on the track. All top 6 finishers for the race were on new tires, except Kyle. Might it have made a difference? Probably. All of the drivers from me to first were within 2 tenths of each others fast times. If I had my ackerman set differently before that first practice session of the day, I know I could've been there; with old tires.

Here's a picture of the Top 6:
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After the race, I knew I've learned some very important things about the X1-30 that are going to help me at Norway and other tracks. I know my setup for the X1-30 has to be nearly perfect now. I'm excited to see how it does at the next club race at Norway. That isn't until May 7th, so I'm going to slap a clone on my X1-30 and go run it at 61 Kartway! Should be a ton of fun. I'll keep the Facebook page up to date until then. Thanks Guys!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finally a Feature Win!

Race 2 at Norway went well. Lets just start off with that.

We arrived at the track after a morning drizzle and had to wait for the track to dry. I waited until the sun came out around the second practice session to hit the track. Since the track was still damp, I decided I'd be best off with running my YKC's in practice that I used the previous race. Initially, the kart felt excellent. I love driving in damp conditions; the slithering under braking, constantly loose through the corner and the challenge of predicting the grip of a corner. I actually like to think it's what I'm best at, especially when it comes to braking.

After a promising couple of practice sessions the track was nearly dry and was up to full speed. Once the practice sessions were over there was an extremely long meeting with the race director and all the crews. After a heated 45 minute conversation, the decision was made to allow bump drafting on the straights. This was something that we racers have been asking to be allowed at club races for a long time.

As the track continued to heat up, my tuner Christian Vega and I went around the kart making changes and predicting what we would need to be changed by the feature. We knew I had troubles with creating a baseline preasure for the new YLC compound tires so that was what our goal was for the first heat. I would be starting that heat in the back of the field, and decided to take the first few corners slow to avoid any wrecks. It seems many racers throughout the day had the same idea of staying on our best behavior to not have any major incidents because of the new rule. The first corners went well and I slowly began to pick off drivers one by one. Eventually I got within about 5 seconds of Nick Grommes who was leading the heat with three laps to go as I drove past the flagmen holding the flag still in the air indicating that the white flag was next. I started to drive as hard as I could, tucking my head under the wheel and braking as late as I could. The tires weren't near their optimum pressure and the kart was hoping all over the place. Eventually, I came to the realization I wouldn't be able to catch Nick and would be best off bringing the kart across the line in second.

When we came into the pits, the main thing we wanted to do was get rid of the hopping. Jeff Stamper, who was helping me out throughout the day, said he could see my sidewall on the front tires fold in under turning. When we looked at the tires, we could see marks from where the sidewall was scraping the ground. Naturally, we decided to raise the pressures to rid of this which seemed to be binding the kart up. I would be starting the second Heat in the front of the grid this time, and felt pretty good about the changes we made. Upon entering the track and hitting the corners hard to try and scrub some heat into the tires, I could tell we were wrong. The start went well and I was able to hold first the entire race despite my kart becoming ever tight and slowly losing straight-a-way speed. Samantha Kelley was hot behind me the entire race and give 2 more laps she probably could have had an opportunity to pass me. Luckily, I won the second heat being over 3 tenths per lap slower than the previous Heat.

When we came back to the trailer, we had a new idea that possibly the front tire width was too narrow causing too high of center of gravity in the front of the kart. We widened the front of the kart and discovered the root of the power loss. The throttle pedal stop became loose and began to back out therefore I only had 3/4 throttle. The threads on the bolt actually flattened where the backing nut is because I tightened it too much. I didn't have a proper bolt to replace it with so I used a bunch of washers and nuts to ensure it wouldn't back out again. Knowing that my throttle was only 3/4 open has definitely built my confidence in my engines speed considering I kept up well.

The final went well performing wise. I started on pole, maintained the lead through the first couple of corners and held it for the remainder of the feature. The tires still overheated and became tight, although adjusting the front track had fixed the hopping problem. Other than that it went flawless. I had a clear view of Jeff throughout the race letting me know my lead over the other karts and was able to keep calm the entire race. I have video from the feature, but will post it later. I'll be honest it's pretty boring and you don't see another kart in it for 10 minutes, so don't expect anything too riveting. Tech went well too. They had me remove my exhaust, carburetter and engine head for scrutineering. We passed all the tech inspections and were pretty happy at the end of the day.

Unfortunately I still haven't figured out these new tires, and don't like that as this would be the last time I would be able to experiment before the Route 66 Series race at Springfield next week. Hopefully during the AM practices on Saturday at MidState we can get them straightened out. I'm still working on a new camera. I know the current way its mounted is boring but once I get a new one I will be able to remount it as I am currently borrowing my brothers to use for the features.

Also as a final note: if you haven't joined the FaceBook page you should. Although everyone and their mom seemed to have made a page dedicated to their racing, I'm going to continue to use it to post media and updates throughout the weekend. All of the twitter updates are posted on there and it makes it all very easy to follow between Blog posts.

Stay tuned for next week! Its gonna be a wet race apparently 0.o

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Learned a lot. Know theres better to come.

The Season has finally started! Its been a long winter without racing, but happily its over. Theres lots of new challenges with changes with chassis and tires. In all the series we run, the Bridgestone YKC tire has now been replaced with the ├╝ber sticky YLC compound tires. In order to test these tires, we would have to buy a new set to practice on but like any racing team we are on a budget; so we didn't. I also will be running my brothers kart this year: The Arrow X1-30. So with no real testing on these new tires, we set out for the first club race at Norway!

Saturdays weather was a pretty bitter. The wind down the straight was strong and gusty and the temperature was around 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Each class was given three practice sessions, so I decided I would run a set of YKC tires the first 2 sessions and slap on some new YLC's for the final session. The first two sessions felt good, although I was a little rusty and really didn't feel I was consistent until the second session started. When the third session came around, I was going back and forth with my tire pressures. We had run MG Yellows before, a similar compound, and new what pressures they liked so I decided to start with 15psi because the track was very green. The kart felt good. These tires are very soft, almost spongy. The kart would react very quickly and was smoothly loose, just how I like it. Then engine also felt very good, although the wind was making it peak around 14,500 rpm. I decided to lower my pressures and make a few front end adjustments (Camber out). I also raised my gearing by one tooth on the rear sprocket.

For the first heat I would be starting outside on the third row. There was a bit of smashing between karts in the first corners, but I eventually ended up second behind Samantha Kelley. We had a few exchanges for the lead until I locked the lead in and eventually won the race. Here's a view of the first few corners from Tim Henions helmet.

           

Ok, so there was a lot of contact. For the second heat I would be starting in the middle of the pack and would eventually get up to second place, but unable to pass Drake Ostrom. Drake eventually built up a 2 second lead taking the win. No footage, sorry.


I had to find the tenths I was missing. I made two changes for the feature, and they were both wrong. The kart became tight and the tires were overheating. I ended the race 2nd with Drake just pulling away. After the day was over, I found out that many of my competitors were running anywhere from 2-4 teeth on their rear sprocket more than me to compensate for the wind. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Now I know what to do if a situation similiar ever happens, and to never tighten the front bar on my kart. Tightening the front bar did the absolute opposite that I was expecting. Here's the feature, but there isn't much to see and I'm not a fan of where the camera is mounted.


I used my brothers camera because mine is acting up. I think I might start looking for another. I'm going to get a hold of a few companies in the next week and see if they are interested what I am doing on here and would like to support me. Lets hope for the best. I'd also like to thank Christian Vega and Express Karts n' Parts for all the help! We are going to be even faster next time!