Kart races at Firebird East – 5/7/2006
Tyler had a race at Firebird East yesterday. It was hot and Tyler’s kart was oversteering on almost every corner. His main competition, Mike Laycook, commented that it looked like Tyler was going through the corners sideways. It may be the “fun” way to drive the car and looks “cool” but it is the slowest way around the track.
After a horrible practice session where Mike just drove away from Tyler once he got around him we played with tire pressures to try and find some more grip. In practice he had gone out with the pressures set at 10 lbs so we dropped them to 8 lbs. I also loosened the rear bumper to try and dial some of the oversteer out of the kart. Our transponder (just back from being repaired) was not working so we did not get any lap times and our Mychron dash also decided to stop working so we were not able to capture any data so that I could see how the kart was performing.
The next session, Qualifying, was not much better. Grip was a little better but Tyler complained that the kart was not accelerating like it should on the straights. Again our transponder did not register any times despite the fact that it was tested and shown to be working when he was sitting on the grid. Tyler (#18) would have to be starting the race from dead last! I must have loosened up the rear bumper a bit “too” much because he left part of it out on the track (we were never able to find it by the end of the day)!
I threw a bunch of changes at the kart for the race. Even though the spark plug looked good (even slightly toward the lean side) I decided to see if throwing more fuel at the engine would help so I fattened up the jet from a 185 to a 195. This goes against standard thought in that as the day progressed and temperatures continued to increase that you would want to lean the motor out. From the race last month we knew that we running heavy so I took weight of the back of Tyler’s seat (a 15 lbs block of lead mounted on the left side of the seat) to see if that would help reduce inertia on the faster right hand corners (carousel turn and Turn 6). We had not wanted to take the weight off because while we were heavier then we needed to be the kart was 100% balanced. Changed the gearing to see if I could give him some lower end grunt to pull off the corner better if he was still having to hang the rear end out. I also changed the front tires since they were looking both grained and a little too worn to provide any help if I had made too many changes getting rid of the oversteer and had mistakenly dialed in an understeer condition.
Tyler started the Feature race from the back of the field including being next to and directly behind a pair of rookies running their first ever race.
Since I had, in desperation, thrown so many changes at the kart at once I can’t say for sure what made the difference but the kart was transformed! Tyler was quickly up through the rest of the pack and hounding Mike (#7) for the lead.
Coming out of the fast right-left Turn 6/Turn 7 combination Tyler got a great draft on Mike and did a classic sling-shot pass on him going into the even faster left hand Turn 8 (taken at about 73 mph in 6th gear and pulling 2 G). This turn is right in front of the pit straight so we all had a great view of it. We held our collective breath to see if Mike (who had the “line”) would be forced to lift and surrender the corner to Tyler dive bombing up the inside. Tyler was just enough inside and in front that Mike was forced to lift and Tyler was through! He held the lead despite Mike being all over the back of him for the rest of the race!
All racing came to a stop for about an hour (played havoc with the schedule for the rest of the day) when an older lady in a wheel chair who was out to watch her son in one of the racecar groups had not been drinking enough water and passed out. Fortunately the e-crew and the ambulance crew were able to respond to her and get an IV started while waiting on a second ambulance to arrive to see if she needed to be transported to the hospital. She was alert and responding when they did take her to the hospital.
In the final race of the day (the Pursuit format) we were hoping to increase our point tally for the day since Tyler is in 2nd place in points for the season to Mike due to a DNF earlier in the season.
In the pursuit race the grid in set according to your fastest recorded time during the day (Practice, Qualifying and Feature Race). While Tyler had a faster time then Mike in the feature race Mike had recorded an even faster lap time during the Qualifying session. This gave us an advantage in being girded in front of him for the pursuit.
In the Pursuit race the karts are grided in the pits slowest to fastest and are released out onto the track based on their handicap. Meaning (for easy math): Race is 10 laps log and kart 1 was lapping 2 seconds faster then kart 2. This means that kart 2 will hit the track first and kart 1 will be release 20 seconds later. Theoretically the two karts “should” cross the finish line at the same time. With a field of +20 karts this makes for an entertaining race. The fastest karts (125cc shifters) were lapping the track in about 59 seconds and the gap between the first kart out and the last kart out was almost 3 minutes. In this format you never really know where you stand because every driver is a “rabbit” for the kart behind him. The fastest Drivers do not have the luxury of pulling out a lead and cruising to the finish since they have started from the back. They have to drive their ultimate laps every time to whittle away the time advantage that the slower karts have.
Tyler took advantage of his position in front of Mike and proceeded to increase his lead with each lap. Unfortunately Tyler came coasting into the pits. The carb had come loose from the mounting boot (probably due to his jumping the curbing on drivers right each time at the exit of Turn 9. He started doing this during the Qualifying session and now has a nice permanent red scratch mark under the bottom of his seat beneath his right butt check.
The very next lap Mike came coasting into the pits too. He had broken the heim joint on his shifter linkage. Will be waiting to see if Mike is scorced in front of us or if they are both recorded DNF since neither had made it to half distance.
Unless we travel to California for races this summer at Willow Springs our season is over until September due to the heat down here. Gives us time to get her dash sent in to get it fixed and to save our pennies to travel up to St. Johns Arizona to run the four day Grand Prix weekend up in the mountains to get our season restarted.