Oct 2007 Race Report – HUGE FIELD
Went out to Firebird West Track on Oct 7th for the second to last race of the 2007 season. Outside of replacing the left rear hub that we broke at the Sandia race we made no changes to the kart. I forgot to order new tires so Tyler did the weekend on the three heat cycled front tires from the last race and a set of six heat cycled rear tires that we had previously taken off the kart.
We got to the track pretty late in the morning (couldn’t get the tailgate down on the pickup truck and that of course delayed getting loaded up in the morning!) so we were pretty rushed when we finally got to the track.
I dumped in all the left over fuel we had from the last race into his tank and sent him after changing the jet in the carb from the really lean setup we had run at Sandia and a quick check of the tire pressures and the spark plug.
He was looking pretty good and was catching and passing the karts he normally runs with until a few laps from the end of the session when I saw him put his arm up, slow down and pull off the track over on the back straight. After the session he pulled the kart back on track and tried to push start it himself. No dice. As he came in on the tow strap I asked him was was wrong. Ran out of gas! I guess we need to fire the crew chief.
Put the kart on the stand and gave it a once over. Checked the plug (a little rich but looked ok), downloaded the data (top speed on the back straight at 89 mph and the temps and rpm looked good) and filled the tank. Seemed to be ready to go.
Hit the track for the second practice session. After a lap he came in complaining that the engine was sputtering. Quickly changed the plug and sent him back out. That seemed to have fixed the problem.
Tyler did come in a few laps early complaining that the kart was making odd noises on acceleration. Seems that we had again ripped the key out of the axle that hold the rear sprocket in place. Checked the key way on the gear and it is pretty beaten up. I did not have a spare 23 tooth gear so I asked Tyler how the acceleration was on the back straight and about how much more track he had to run when he shifted into 6th gear. He indicated that he was well into 6th and still accelerating and since I had already gotten feedback from another fast guy that Tyler was pulling him coming off the corners we decided (along with John Matthews from TMS Racing) to keep the 18 front gear and drop a tooth to the 22 rear sprocket.
Checked the plug again and downloaded the data. Things looked good with the plug again slightly on the “rich” side. Tyler was less then a second off the fastest 125 shifter’s time (1:01.233 v. 1:00.427) in that session so we made no changes to the kart since I did not have a new set of tires to throw on it.
Out for qualifying and things looked good.
Checked the plug again and downloaded the data. Top speed on the back stright went up to 93 mph so the gear change had found us four miles per hour on the section and did not seem to have affected us coming off the corners so we decided not to make any other changes.
When the Qual results were posted Tyler was in eighth place. The two karts in front of him and the two karts behind him had all qualified on the same tenth of a second! 1:00.6xx! You could throw a blanket over those karts and have room to spare it was that close!
With 48 karts (31 of which were 125 Shifters) taking the green flag (45 being timed plus three other karts running but not being scored for the race) the Race Director had a drivers meeting just before the race to caution everyone to be careful and to avoid any first corner incidents.
For the start everyone watching sure seemed to be holding their breath as the karts to the green flag on the back straight and rushed down into turn 1. Two karts did go off on their own but managed to come back on track on their own too. Big relief.
With the karts at the front all having qualified so close together the ability to make up places was going to be down to someone making a mistake. For the most part no one did and Tyler finished in the same place he started. 8th. Fast laps during the race again showed how competitive the field was. The fastest laps of the top ten karts were: 59.443, 58.848, 60.473, 61.491, 60.577, 60.071, 60.314, 60.639, 61.301 and 61.070. Probably should have leaned the jetting out a little.
Just what the drivers and the observers want to see. Good, fast and close racing with the drivers keeping it clean and allowing each other the room they need on track to avoid the “big one”. Especially in a field as large as we had. Of the 48 karts that took the green it looks like 37 saw the checkers. No significant wrecks. Mostly just attrition.
Since moving Tyler from the 80 Shifter (running in the TaG class) to the 125 Shifter class earlier this year we essentially threw away 115 points earned during the first three races of the year. Right now he is sitting with 226 Shifter 125 points placing him 14th overall. Pretty good climb up the ladder over this partial season (30th, 25th, 19th, 14th). If we had those additional 115 points to add to his total that would move him up to 6th place overall.
Next up: 45 minute Endurance Race Thanksgiving weekend on Firebird’s main track!