Roadracing in Arizona & New Mexico

Firebird East – April 1 & 2, 2006

Tyler and I went out to run an IKF race with SoCal Karters for an event at Firebird East on Saturday and then with our own local club on the West Track the next day on Sunday.

Had a couple of famous drivers/riders out with us this weekend.  Eddie Lawson four time Grand Prix bike World Champion (MotoGP 500cc biles) 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1989 ( was out running his 250cc Shifter Superkart and his friend and fellow three time consecutive Grand Prix bike World Champion (MotoGP 500cc) 1990, 1991 and 1992 Wayne Rainey ( was out to watch.  Even though Wayne suffered a career ending accident in 1993 when his bike hit him breaking his back and leaving him in a wheelchair he too has a SuperKart setup with hand controls but was just out to watch and not drive this weekend.

I talked to both of them over the weekend and I must say a nicer and friendlier pair of guys you would be hard pressed to fine.  No airs or pretense about them.

During open practice on Saturday morning it was amazing to see how fast a 250cc Superkart closes and blows away ALL the other shifters.  Tyler’s 80cc shifter tops out about 95mph due to aero drag and a 125cc shifter will hit about 112mph.  A 250cc kart can hit 150mph!  One time Lawson came up on Tyler coming out of Turn 1 on the East Track (the track next to the freeway) and while Tyler gets good launches off of corners Eddie passed him like Tyler had somehow discovered a reverse gear on his kart.  Tyler said he did not even remember Eddie passing him it was over and gone so quick.

Later in a qualifying race on Sunday for the final “Pursuit Race” format Tyler did complain about the 250cc karts causing him to have to slow down into corners if he was right behind them because the 250cc karts are “slower” into corners.  I had to point out that they get to speed so quick coming off the previous corner that they have to use the breaks to get into the next corner whereas Tyler is still accelerating coming up to that corner and thus does not need to slow down going through the corner.

We had a problem on Saturday with being unable to remove a bolt that holds the left front brake caliper on the kart and I needed to place a shim between the caliper and the kart to move the caliper out on the rotor to get it centered.  Otherwise Tyler would have had rear brake and right front brakes.  Asymetictcally front brakes would have been bad.  The bolt head is partially stripped and I could not get it out so for the weekend I dialed all the front brakes out of the kart with the bias adjuster and told Tyler he was going to have to be careful going into corners until he was used to only have rear brakes again.

Despite the warning he overcooked it going into T1 on lap 2 and spun off.  Managed to get going again by push starting it and then three laps later spun again this time in the freeway straight chicane and got going again after another push start.

The afternoon race was much better and he and his teammate William Herr (driving a 4-stroke 250cc Biland powered kart) were having a fantastic race nose to tail.  William would use the tremendous torque of the Biland to power out of the corner and then Tyler would close on him when the 80 got back into it’s high end power and would repass or attempt to pass under braking.  William had to pull off just after the mid point of the race with a power issue (later determined to be a worn engine drive sprocket that was slipping and Tyler motored on to take the win.

Sunday’s race was back to our normal local Club, Southwest Karters, rules of Practice, Quali, Quali Race and then Pursuit race.

After Practice Tyler was complaining that the kart seemed to be bogging a bit when shifting into the higher gears.  Fortunately the young man, Carl Scott, that I had previously hired to driver coach Tyler was also out that weekend running his Formula Continental ( so Tyler ran over to his paddock space and talked to him a bit to come up with something he could try to see about fixing the problem from his end since everything seemed fine mechanically (took the fuel pump and carb apart and replaced the fuel filter,  things seemed “better” after Qualifing.

However after the Qualifying race Tyler was again complaining that the kart was having intermittent problems with acceleration in different gears and at different points on the track.  It was certainly not noticable during the race as he and three other karts (another 80, a 125 TaG and a light weight unrestricted MiniMax) were having a great tussle with Tyler leading the fray and slamming the door closed on the 125 TaG when he tried to pass up the inside on the kink after the oval where the TaG with new tires (ours were three races old) would reel him in and get a good launch for the front side “straight”.  After the Race the TaG driver had a huge grin on his face even though Tyler beat him) because of how close the racing had been and the appreactiation he said he had for how clean Tyler had raced him with both leaving each other just “enough” room.

Our Mychron data logger was having problems draining batteries and I was unable to get some reliable data to help diagnose the problem.  At that point Carl’s Dad John walked past our paddock space and I asked him for some help since he had worked on Carl’s kart for years and years and was now working on the Continental.

John jumped and found that one of the bolts (bottom inside edge) that attached the carb boot to the intake was a little bit loose.  A vacuum leak there would certainly be a cause for a noticable problem in the high gears since Tyler is through 3rd and 4th gears so quickly he would not notice it at much there.  Due to a build up of aero drag he spends a considerable amount of time on the longer pulls in 5th gear and 6th gear on the longer straights.

In the Pursuit race our main competition (Mike Laycook) finally got around Tyler at about the mid point of the race and Tyler really had a heck of a time to get back around him.  One time Tyler got a fantastic launch off the corner leading to the back straight and the rate at which he was closing on Mike had us wondering if he had broken.  as them came up to the turn on the back straight Tyler realized that he was going to run out of track before he could overtake Mike for the corner no matter how deep he braked and ended up having to get on the brakes really hard braking the read end loose and driving the corner sideways like a Drifter.  The people around me that were watching could not believer how deep Tyler was willing to drive into a corner.

Tyler finally got around Mike three laps from the end and then he and his teammate spent the final three laps literally battling for dominance.  Tyler drove around the outside of William on the turn on the back straight and then William used his greater torque to drive up the inside coming out of the oval with the Tylers right read wheel bumping William’s Side pod at the apex.  Coming around the final turn Tyler had a great draft going on William and was going to try to sling shop past him at the checker but as he later said h was so caught up in concentrating on the draft and the back of William’s helmet that he forgot to up shift!  He said that he was wondering why he was not accelerating like he should when it dawned on him what he had forgotten to do! He was alongside and just slightly behind William at the Checker.  Have not seen the final results from the race yet but it appears that Tyler took first in the Challenge Class and William took second in the TaG Class.

Eddie was wondering going into this Pursuit race how the in the world he was going to be able to work his way to the front since a Pursuit race is inverted with the slowest kart out first and then each subsequent kart hitting track based on a separation time that theoretically should have all karts crossing the finish line together.  This means that for this 16 lap race Eddie had to start 6 min AFTER the first karts went on track (KT-100 powered Laydown karts)!  Tyler was lapping the 1.1 mile track in the mid 1:03’s while Eddie was lapping in the 55 second range and hit a 54.8 in the Pursuit Race.  The 125 Shifters were running around 1 minute flat.

A great time was had by all and Eddie indicated he might have to travel back over here and run with us some more as the event was very fun and laid back.

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