Tyler’s 1st Outing to Firebird East
Yesterday (Sunday, April 3, 2005) was Tyler’s first time to drive the East Track at Firebird (http://www.firebirdraceway.com/2005web/2005_facilityrental.htm). The goal of attending this session with Southwest Karters (http://homepage.mac.com/kartdesign1/SWKR.html) that was hosted by ProAutoSports (http://www.proautosports.com/) so that Tyler could continue to work out the requirements of his kart and what he needs to do as well as familiarize himself with this track (he has now driven at Phoenix Kart Racing Association’s (PKRA – http://www.pkra.com) sprint track as well as the West Track at Firebird).
ProAutoSports had set aside three sessions for the karts and they gave us access to a really nice covered facility right at the exit of the pits and across the turn 8-9 complex.
There were about 18 karts out to run on this road course with five of the karts being classed as “Juniors”. Tyler with his 80cc Shifter was of course in the group as was his Kart Design teammate, William Herr, (from the “Arizona Indoor Karting Championship” series) with his Briggs “World Formula” powered kart.
Because this track has longer straights than PKRA’s tight twisty sprint track we decided to swap gears to give him a higher top end and sacrifice just a little bottom end pull since the slowest corner would only see him dropping into 3rd once a lap and taking the rest of the corners flat out in 5th gear before upshifting to sixth on three of the straights.
His first session ended rather abruptly as he discovered what happens when you swap out a gear and don’t doublecheck that you have tightened up the allen head bolts that hold the two halves of the gear together. It loosened up, the key fell out of the keyway on the axle and Tyler went spinning off into the weeds at the exit of the difficult Turn 1. He was shortly joined by another driver who also went spinning off into the weeds.
When we got the kart back to the tent and figured out what the issue was we discovered that the only piece of keyway material that I had in the toolbox was too long so I handed Tyler a hacksaw and had him trim the piece we did have down to size. Once the driveline was back together I had him put a hose clamp on the key so that if the gear came apart again we would probably not lose the key.
Tyler’s second session seemed to be going well until he got a little over ambitious (again in turn 1) and went spinning off into the weeds again. This time because he got over ambitious with braking and downshifting while in mid corner. Right at the end of the session another driver spun off into T1 and Tyler got that driver to push him back out so that he drove the kart back to the pits and didn’t make Dad fetch from the north 40.
The Third session was at nearly the end of the day and Benn and I had great fun standing out on the Freeway straight watching Tyler and William chase each other around t1 up the freeway straight, through the chicane and up and around the carousal turn at the far south end of the track.
Tyler easily kept William at bay with his superior top end on the straights and William was doing a better job coming off the corners smoothly and using the full track width. Finally one time they came around Turn 1 with William in the lead and Tyler quickly blew by him on the straight. The next time around Tyler was still in the lead but William was running right on Tyler’s tail and we thought that William must have caught a draft and was running in Tyler’s slipstream until they got to the carousal and William passed Tyler on the inside. When William came round Turn 1 again Tyler was nowhere to be seen. We looked back to pitlane and saw that Tyler had brought his kart in. I ran back to see what the issue was and Tyler explained that he had no power and thought that the gear had slipped again. We checked and saw that the gear was fine, however one of the jam nuts on the engine tensioner had come loose so the engine was rocking back and forth causing the chain to “disengage” from the gears.
After Tyler gets the kart thoroughly cleaned and washed from his two agricultural excursions, spends a little elbow grease scrubbing the “patina” of racing and use off the car and follows his new checklist to double-check that every bolt and fastener is secure we’ll make a couple of runs up and down the street to make sure that nothing was damaged in the gearbox from that last mishap.
If everything checks out fine we should next be out on track again on the East Track on Saturday April 16 when the SoCal karters group comes across from San Diego (http://www.socalkarters.net) I have heard that there may be anywhere from 40 to 150 karts at this event. Here’s hoping from the higher number!
With the possibility of more sessions next time we will look at swapping at the gears each session so that Tyler can begin to feel how they change the kart.
We also gave the “Kart Van” it’s inaugural shakedown. Once we get it and the kart squared away we will post them to the new website that we will setup.