4 Hour Perris Enduro, KRC Super Cup, and Dromo One
It's About Measuring Performance
"Are you faster? Are you getting faster? Are you the fastest?"
Getting ready for the four hour enduro
Measuring performance. I mean, this is the key to improvement in anything. If you can't measure what you are doing, your past results, etc, how the hell can you getting better at what you do? At work, or at play, if you aren't striving to be better than before, you might as well just hang it up and sit the on the couch all day watching Oprah. Especially when it comes to people talking about theoretical stuff about how fast they are or how fast their car is. If you are really fast, or your car is really fast, sign up for a track event that publishes lap times and show us what ya got. www.opentrackchallenge.com will be the the Mother of All Timed events.
In terms of measuring performance, I just bought one of those AMB timing transponders for the car. The Touring Car Racing Association is selling them for $302. TCRA, Open-Track/NASA, Wurth Motorsports, etc. are all using the AMB timing devices to give accurate, up-to-date results of your previous session. You can see on a printout your fastest lap, your second fastest lap, and how you compare to other people in your run groups.
So we decided to go to this four hour karting enduro at Lake Perris. It sounded like most of the teams were going to use four drivers. The problem with a four hour enduro is that it is like that television show, "The Weakest Link". Meaning you are only as good as your slowest driver. Meaning you can have that three great drivers, put if your fourth driver spins out a lot and crashes, your team will suck. These are single speed karts, eight measly horsepower. Which means that momentum through the turns is extremely important, as it takes forever to get the kart moving again.
So Wayne and I figure we will just get one other guy, and we get our friend Dave, who races with us in the KRC Cup, to be our third driver. Dave is an ex-Marine officer dude, and he also has a cheating bastard advantage: he weighs less than us, which means he has less weight to carry around the track. And he doesn't wreck as much as most of us in the KRC series. We figure that Dave will be the perfect 3rd person on our team. Cost for the event is about $150 a person if you have a four person team, slightly more if you only split the cost with three people.
Saturday, November 17th:
We show up at Lake Perris on race day, figuring that we don't need any practice, as we feel we are professionals, and we have an advantage in that all three of us do a lot of kart racing, albeit in shifters, not single speed/centrifugal clutch karts. And we have a weight advantage in that all of us weigh less than 168 lbs or so, and there will probably be some big guys on the other teams that should join Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers...
We look at the front of our kart, and they look like extremely simple karts compared to our shifter karts. Then we look at the back of our kart, and this is what we see:
Uhhh....can you say, "Weight Equalization"?
When you sign up for the race, the organizers ask you the height of the drivers so they can get the right size seat, and then ask you about your weight, also under the presumption so they don't give you too big or too small a seat for your team. Unfortunately, they also add lead weight to your kart according to some predetermined formula based on I guess the weight of your entire team. Since we are are lean and mean dudes, less than 12% body fat, they throw on another 20 lbs of lead weight on our karts, more than any other kart that is racing today. Damn......I should of said we all weighed 200 lbs....
The format is simple. The karts are rationed gas so that you can go about 18-22 minutes before they start sputtering. You then pit, add gas (don't spill, it is a penalty if you do), do a driver change if you wish, and then you are off. You also have to do one oil change in your four hour race, with minor assistance from one of the track mechanics. No tire change allowed, as the tires are pretty hard, and will last for the entire race. Sounds pretty simple, right? But they they also throw in that someone on your team has to be a corner worker for 15 minutes once every hour, which kinds of throws us off, as we are short staffed compared to the other teams. There is also a short 15 minute practice session, in which every team member gets to take the kart around the track a couple of laps to familiarize themselves with the kart. We each buzz around the track, and we figure we are gonna do pretty good in this event. The karts are not even close to be as physically exhausting as our shifter karts, as you are going slower, and less g forces around the turns. So we figure we can finish the race without a problem.
Wayne and Dave trying to figure out how to make our kart go faster....
We play "Pick the hand/pocket with the quarter in it" to see who starts the race, and since I never lose at this guessing game, Dave and Wayne both guess the wrong way, and I get to be the guy piloting our kart from a standing start against seven other drivers. The green flag drops, and we are off! The karts are unbearably slow when going from a standing start, but once they are moving, they can probably hit 40 mph. Cornering isn't too bad, but it seems that if you spin, you really screw up your team. Each lap takes about 41-43 seconds or so, and if you spin, you lose at least 20 seconds because it take so long to get back to speed. I pilot our kart to somewhere around 2nd or 3rd place after my stint. I drive into the pit area, and we have problems with out pitting technique. It takes us a little bit of time to put in the gas, get Wayne in the seat, and restart the kart, so we lose a little time here. The first place team has obviously done this before, and they look like a Formula One pit stop. We look like the Moron Racing Team, forgetting to turn the ignition switch to "On" as we frantically pull the lawnmower style rope to start the engine.....we repeat something similar to this pit stop fiasco about eight more times in the race...forget to turn the switch on....forget to get a gas can filled with gas prior to the driver pitting....driver forgetting to put their helmet/gloves on, etc.
They are posting the standings about every 30 minutes. Halfway through the race, we are doing pretty good, and are still around 2nd or 3rd, down by about five laps to the first place team according to the hand written "leader board". Not bad for our first time. We have gone about 150 laps, and we plan on kicking some ass in the second half of this race. The first place team then has a minor disaster, supposedly their brakes are locking up, and their driver comes in and they frantically try to fix it with the aid of a mechanic. Dave starts his stopwatch, and they are in the pits for five minutes, or about six laps. Humm......looks like we gonna be on top of the leader board. Right after that, Wayne spins. He is the Weakest Link! Wayne spins again. Dave says let's get that guy out of our kart before he screws us up more. I agree, and we bring him in about 2 minutes earlier than usual. I hop into the kart, trying to make up the time that Wayne lost us by spinning. Four laps later, I spin. Uh....I guess the tires are no longer sticking, as the race is 2.5 hours old.....and I spin again.....and now I am the Weakest Link. We look at the leader board, and we are STILL down five laps, which can't be right. We start bitching about how something seems to be wrong here. Another disadvantage of us only having three people on our team is that we don't have anyone keeping a lap chart of our times, so we can protest about the timing and scoring. Oh well....
The dirt pit area
Three hours and ten minutes into the race, Wayne is hauling butt around the track, and taking names. Since we are experienced karters, we can get a little more exit speed out of the turn than most of the other teams, draft down the straight, and dive in and make a clean pass on people. This is fun, as we can pass people on just about each lap. Wayne is doing a good job, but then we see a big puff of white smoking coming from the back of our kart, and Wayne is slowing down dramatically. And we all know what that means.......Wayne blows our engine. Supposedly these Honda powered karts never blow engines, but our team manages do to it. And the organizers are scratching their heads, as two other teams blow up their motors in the next 20 minutes. So our quest for glory in our first enduro race is denied, and we finish around 5th or 6th as a DNF. Damn. But it was a lot of fun, and I would highly recommend it. There were quite a few people racing with little or no experience on karts in this enduro. Dan's team opted for the cheating bastard approach, and was there the day before renting karts to get some more experience with them. Dan's team finished 4th, but by their calculations they thought they were 3rd.
I ask to see the printouts of our laptimes, so I can see who was fastest among us, and if there are any timing errors which would explain why we were still five laps behind the 1st place team halfway through the race, even though they pitted for braking problems......but their printer isn't working, so I could not see how we did. What's with THAT? Anyways, it looks like the "local team" won the enduro on this day, but we will be back to dole out an ass whipping next time. This was an extremely fun event, and I would highly recommend it. Contact name is Phil Landman firstname.lastname@example.org. They run an enduro once a month. And tell him to fix his damn printer! Cause we want to measure every damn lap!
KRC Super Cup Race at the Streets
Final Race of the Season
Lined up in the cold pit at the Streets of Willow
Anyways, on to the next event, which is the KRC Cup at the Streets of Willow. The scheduling on this got screwed up a couple of times. We were supposed to be on the regular karting track, which sucks, because we suck at that track. Then we heard that it was going to be at the Streets of Willow, which is about a 1.8 mile high speed track for karts, and a low speed track for cars. This was going to fun, as we really have been on this track before. Then we heard that we are running the course in the REVERSE direction, which we have never done before, and had us scratching our heads, trying to drive the course in reverse from memory. So the next thing to do of course is to call Willow Springs and see when the Streets of Willow is open for testing, so we can get some cheating bastard practice without telling anyone. But for the next three weeks, the track is booked solid. Unbelievable. It looks like racing is getting bigger and bigger, especially with all the new "clubs" that have come up over the past few years. Locally for us, it used to be just the Touring Car Club and the Alfa Club of Southern California that ran regular events, but now everybody and their mother is organizing events on a regular basis.
So the event is on Sunday, December 9th, with joint practice on the 8th with another karting club that we are racing with. Wayne and I don't like to race two days in a row, but we find out that there is an open practice session on the Friday the 7th that we decide to go to. We blast around for a couple of hours, and I run about a 1:12:8 or so in the configuration that we are using for race day, and Wayne is a couple of tenths of a second behind me. Matt is there, and he tells us that the proper way to go into the mini-bowl section is to go full blast, don't lift, until you get close to the halfway point of the bowl, as the banking of the bowl will slow your down, and then downshift a couple of times to make it to the apex. Easier said than done, as we are probably hitting 90 mph going into the bowl, and then hanging on for dear life as we trying not to wuss out and brake before entering the bowl. Since the course isn't that technical, we feel we are pretty much ready for race day. There are a couple of the 250 cc "laydown" shifter karts that are there, and these guys must be doing 120 MPH before they hit the bowl. These type of karts did a demo of their skills for a warm up race at a NASCAR event at Laguna, but that will probably be the last time they are asked to to that.....as their lap times were faster than the NASCAR main event.....
The configuration we run is a little shorter than what the karting organization that we are running with is using, as we cut down the main straight coming down from the hill (reverse, remember), and make a sharp left hand turn at the start/finish tower, insteading of going all the way down to the skid pad area. We do this as some people are worrying that our Vortex motors do not like to be revved at the redline for long periods of time, as they are Italian "sprint kart" motors.
Track babes and Wally's son
Sunday, December 9th, Race Day
Jeff shows up late. He didn't practice on Friday or Saturday, and he missed most of the practice session on Sunday, and only gets in about 3 hot laps before qualifying. Rumor has it that the fast guys are running in the low 1:11's, which is fast, but not insurmountable. I run a couple of practice sessions in the morning to get my rhythem down, and then put on some new tires. My first qualifying lap I run a 1:12.05, and I am feeling real good about my next lap. Unfortunately for me, in a low speed turn, my left front spindle snaps and my wheel/rotor go flying off the track, and I skid and spark for about 100 feet down the track. Fortunately for me, it didn't break off when I was going 90 mph into the bowl.....that would have been ugly. So I only get one qualifying lap in. Damn. And that lap that I broke on was going to be easily in the 1:11's. Steve blows up his Vortex motor, and he is done for the day. He ain't happy at all about his motor.
Jeff smokes a 1:11.7 or so for qualifying. Which is depressing, as he claims he didn't even practice prior to today's event. Maybe he is a cheating bastard and he out-cheated us on practice time somehow? Wayne is gridded a little behind me.
The configuration that we ran for this weekend
We are gridded on the straightaway, pointed downhill. We have to make a sharp left hand turn going into Turn 1, and the berm there is kinda high on the inside. Humm....I need to avoid that. Green flag drops, and I take the middle line, as I need to get around that berm without hitting it. Karts all get in real tight, as everyone tries to snake a position into the first turn. Wayne, that bastard, shoots to the extreme inside, and cuts me off. He ain't gonna make it.......he hits the berm, his kart goes up in the air a couple of inches, and he has to brake extra hard to avoid hitting the guy in front of him. I can't see that he has to brake extra hard, so I ahhh....rear end him, and push him off the track. Wayne then rear ends the guy in front of him, and punts him off the track. Wayne's tie rods are severely bent, and he is out of the race. Serves him right for cutting me on, going over the damn berm, and causing a wreck......
I duke it out with Wally and Scott, fighting for 5th place. I try to take Wally on the inside of the bowl, but it is too risky a pass, especially going 90 mph. I try to take him on the top half of the bowl, but that seems even riskier. Wally races a 360 in the Ferrari Challenge series, and Scott has been racing karts with KRC for a few years. Wally is damn tough to pass. Scott and I swap places a couple of times, and the finishing order for our little group is Wally, me, and Scott. Wayne says that some moron crashed into him in Turn 1 and put him out of the race......and I have to confess to him that it was me. I tell him that he should have never passed there and gone over the berm and caused the wreck. Wayne replies that you have to pass whenever possible, even if it means going off the track a bit......and accuses me of driving recklessly, since I punted him off the track and into the rocks and dirt.
I am gridded 5th. Wayne is around 8th. Jeff, that bastard, is 2nd. They grid the F2 class along with us, and will be starting them a little after us. Our race is scheduled for 15 laps. Green flag is off, and we take off. I hold my position through the turn. The Streets of Willow is a very intense kart track, simply because it is so damn fast. Gene, 2nd in points and chasing Fast Bob for first place, wipes out part of the way through the race, not sure if it was mechanical or not. Vivek blows by me in the bowl, taking the bottom line, damn his kart is fast. I can't catch him. Unfortunately for him, the Italian jinx hits him, and he blows up his motor and is out of the race. I am in fourth now, and trying to catch Imron so I can finish on the podium, but I can't make any headway. Shit. I hold my position, and I make my way though some of the slower F2 guys. I end up taking 4th place. Jeff is furious, as he said he was in first place, and at the halfway point of our race, they raised the flag halfway to indicate that 7 more laps to go, but they used the checkered flag instead of the white flag, so Jeff thought the race was over and he won. So instead of making the sharp left hand turn at turn 1 and continuing the race, he just kept going straight to the skid pad to the scales to claim his victory. Needless to say, he ain't happy about this, but hell, can't ya count to 15? Didn't you realize that you only went 7 or 8 laps at the halfway mark?
Fast Bob takes 1st, Oscar 2nd, Imron 3rd.....me 4th....
So, to sum up the 2001 KRC Cup Season in terms of overall points for the 8 race series, Bob takes 1st place over all. Gene takes 2nd. Oscar 3rd. Jeff 4th. Me 5th. Damn. I ended up only about 4 points behind Jeff for 4th place. That means out of 8 total races, if I could have just finished a total of 5 spots higher, I could have whupped Jeff for the season, and I could gloat for AN ENTIRE YEAR. If only I would have remembered to tighten my damn radiator cap last race, I would have picked up 10 more points. Or if Wayne wouldn't have taken me out in the Amago race when we blew by Boris Said, I would have picked up 8 more points. Of course Jeff has similar complaints, such as if they wouldn't have used the damn checkered flag for the halfway point, if his kart didn't break down twice, etc. etc., he wouldn't have to listen to any of this drivel, as he would be 20+ points ahead of me...
1-800-PhoneGuys Dromo One Invitational
28 of the World's Finest 1-800-Phoneguys Kart Racers
So there is still one last karting race for the year. And that is the First Annual 1-800-PhoneGuys Dromo One Invitational Christmas Party race. Wayne rented out Dromo One for three hours to assemble 28 of the fastest karters in the world (uh...that would be twenty eight of the fastest 1-800-Phoneguys employees and their spouses) for the Christmas race. Each racer would get four heat races, with seven people in each race. Positions/laptimes would then determine four semi-final heats (I think that one of the four fastest karters are then put in each of these semi-final heats, kinda like how they seed the Final Four college basketball tournament), and then the positions/laptimes determine the nine people that make it to the Final Race. Dromo One karts are single speed, indoor karts, probably 8 hp. Sophisticated electronic timing and printouts are given to each person after each race, so you know your lap times, finishing position, etc. The probably have the best measurement system of any racing event that I have ever been to in my life. They even start the event with the National Anthem playing, and a spotlight on the American Flag. Cost for the rental of the entire track was $80 a person.
Amy and Sidney doing their super model poses. Sidney's in high school. Amy's about same age!
Wayne and I fear no one except for Sean (who regularly races at Dromo), and Dave (raced the cleanest out of us in the four hour enduro at Perris). I finished my heat races with a 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, and also a 1st in my semi-final race, which means that I was gridded on pole for the Final. I take top time of the day with a 25.32. Wayne takes 2nd fastest time with at 25.36. Wayne finished 1st, 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 1st in his semi-final race, putting him in the #2 spot behind me. Sean botched up one of his races by getting black flagged for bumping, then compounded it by not going to the black flag station, and then compounded it even more by going into the hot pit for his black flag penalty, and compounded it more by having karts gridding for the next race blocking the entrance back to the track (Doh! That is why the black flag station isn't in the hot pit), thus putting him farther down in the qualifying grid for the final race then he felt he should have been.
Sidney preparing to kick ass in her heat race
Green flag is dropped, and then I experience what Fast Bob must experience when he is racing the KRC Cup. Meaning that when you grab the Pole, there are no bozos in front of you that crash/bump into each other and into you. All you have to do is keep your nose clean, while all the boneheads behind you fight and crash going into Turn 1, trying to make up for the fact that they did not get pole, and they need to grab a couple of positions real quick as it is hard to pass. I cruise to victory, with Wayne about 2-3 second behind me the whole race. Two days later, Wayne and Amy take off to Hawaii for 10 days, as Wayne's ideal Christmas is being on the beach in 90 degree weather. Plus he doesn't have to buy anyone Xmas gifts, as he can say, "Uh...sorry, I was in Hawaii for Christmas".
Finally.......I make it to the top of the podium before the New Year kicks in!
Monday, December 24th.
Wayne proposes to Amy in Hawaii! She accepts!
Wayne and Amy having fun in Hawaii, swimming with the dolphins!
Tuesday, December 25th.
Wednesday, December 26th.
I take the karts, brother-in-law Tony, and Kevin to Amago. We meet Jeff there. Jeff is kicking my ass by a full second on the kart track, running 32.79. Jeff offers to trade karts, my guess is that he wanted to prove that he can run faster in my kart than I can. It backfires......he also runs a second slower in my kart, and I run a 32.83 after only seven laps in his kart, almost beating Jeff's time in his own damn kart. My analysis: All these years, I thought Jeff was tiny bit faster than I was as a kart driver. IT'S HIS DAMN KART THAT IS FASTER! <grin>
Victory lap with the checkered flag after winning the 1st Annual 1-800-PhoneGuys Invitational
Monday, December 31st
Amir sends in his check to enter the Open Track Challenge to beat the December 31st deadline for the early entry fee of $1750. He is ready to stand up and be measured against the competition, with his ass kicking Ferrari F40. Terry C. says he is sending in his check to enter his Lotus Elise racecar. James Sofronas, World Challenge Driver, says he is entering an M3 in Unlimited Two to take down Wayne's 944 Turbo and the Flamemobile. So I will repeat the mantra:
"Are you faster? Are you getting faster? Are you the fastest?".
Enter the OTC, and let's see what ya got. Strap on a transponder, and let's see if you can get faster each lap at seven different tracks. And even if you don't plan on kicking everyone's ass, wouldn't it be cool to be at the track with cars like World Challenge Corvette, Ferrari F40, Viper ACR with smack talkers it in, the Doug/Wayne/Larry traveling circus, Lotus Elise race car, The Pony guys, and a slew of other sandbaggers waiting in the wings to send in their entry forms......
Think you can beat this car at the OTC? Put yer money where yer mouth is.....