ProKart Challenge February 11, 2006
An Old Enemy Makes an Appearance
"If it wasn't for bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all"

Raceaflais (Race-a-flay-us), the Greek god of racing chaos, comes back to haunt us

We haven't had any "prolonged" bouts with Raceaflais in a long time.  He made some big appearances back in  May 1999, October 2000. and Summer 2001.  I mean, we always have some Raceaflais problems that we have to solve (like all racers have) but no long streaks of bad luck in quite some time.   We must have recently done something to piss off the racing gods, as Raceaflais is really kicking our ass at the moment.  Checkout the score card.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
We go to a Wednesday open practice day at Cal Speedway.  Track opens at 10:00 a.m., and I tell everyone to get there on time, as they close at 5:00 p.m.  I'm never late, so I figure I'll get there with Michael at 9:15 a.m. and be first in line, and maybe start unpacking early.  Traffic looks horrible on the 22 freeway, so we decide to take Beach Blvd for about 9 miles and get on the 91 freeway.  The 22 freeway sucks with all their construction and their onramp lights are not working properly to control traffic onto the freeway.  Another mile down the road on Beach Blvd, there is a "trailer checkpoint".  WTF?  We pass four big rigs that are pulled over to the side of the road and are being inspected by CHP/Sheriff/Police officers.  We almost make it through, but the very last checkpoint points to us and motions us to pull over. (Raceaflais 1, Pulp Racing 0) They said that they are doing a safety check on big rigs, and they want to see license, registration, registration for the trailer, etc.  I have all the docs.  Heh.  Then the officer says he can't find the VIN number on the 48 foot trailer.  After searching for 10 minutes, we find it.  Whew!  He then says he has to call it in.  After another 10 minutes, he finally comes back, and says that he thinks that I need a Class C commercial license to drive the rig, but he can't prove it via the VIN number, so he lets me go.  That slowed us down by 25 minutes.   We get on the 91 freeway, and a guy pulls along side me and motions to the trailer.  Damn! The 2" x 3" generator side door is flapping in the wind.  I opened that to look for the VIN number.  We pull off the freeway, and find a place to park the trailer so I can secure the door, then have to make a U-turn back to the freeway. We wasted another 15 minutes. (Raceaflais 2, Pulp Racing 0) Five minutes later on the freeway, someone else motions to us about the generator door.  Damn!  It came unlatched again, and it is flopping in the wind.  (Raceaflais 3, Pulp Racing 0)

Generator side door that kept flapping in the wind

I have to pull over and fix it, as we don't want this piece of fairly heavy aluminum taking flight and wiping out someone's windshield.  It was a pain the ass trying to find a side street to pull the trailer over last time, so Michael says just pull over on the side of the freeway in the breakdown lane.  I do that, and re-latch the door.  Meanwhile, I discover why it is bad idea to pull over in the breakdown lane.  People are going 75 mph in the slow lane, 3 feet from my ass as I try to fix the door, talking on their cell phones and fixing their makeup.  And now and I have to merge 13 tons of Go-Fast Crack equipment into this high speed traffic from a standstill.  (Raceaflais 4, Pulp Racing 0) Crap.  After almost causing a collision, we merge and are on our way.  10 minutes later, a motorist signals us AGAIN that the generator door is flapping around.  (Raceaflais 5, Pulp Racing 0)  I pull over for a third time, this time on a side street so I don't risk our lives.  I inspect the door, and apparently it got bent out of shape from the first time it was unlatched, and now it won't properly secure back in with the latches.  I have no choice but to rip the door off its hinges, as it will not stay in place.  (Raceaflais 6, Pulp Racing 0) We finally make it to Cal Speedway at 10:30 a.m. 

I have never raced a kart at Cal Speedway.  Wayne attempted to run last year's PKC race here, but he blew up his Vortex motor in practice.  Parts of the track appear to be resurfaced, and it is very, very slippery.  There are some turns like Dromo One indoor karting, where it is like a slick track.  Today we are on the "normal configuration" as opposed to the "new national configuration" that the ProKart Challenge will be running.  We check the times from last year's race, and we aren't even close to those times, but we figure it is because the track has been resurfaced and is extremely slippery.  On this day, I run a 42.48 laptime, the fastest among us on this day.  There are a couple of turns that are like Moran Turn 4 and Willow Springs Big track Turn 8, where I think you have to mash the pedal and not lift, and steer your way through the turn.  Otherwise, you'll wimp out and lift a tiny bit, which I think hurts your laptimes.  Other people will argue that it is better to modulate the throttle and drive through these turns, but I think it is better to throw the kart/car into certain turns and commit to never lifting.  My justification is that I can catch people who are "modulating" the throttle in these turns.  My "technique" in turns like these is to commit and push on the gas pedal as hard as you can, as if you are leg pressing 150 lbs.  That way, you can't possibly lift off the throttle.  For those of you that think I'm full of it, you probably lift in turn 8 at big wusses.

Jason is running my beat up old Tony/Vortex kart

Later in the day, I make a gearing change.  For some reason,  when going down a particularly bumpy section of the track, when I upshift, the tranny seems to momentarily get stuck in neutral, thus the revs on the motor spike up high, and I have to bang on the shifter lever again to make it upshift.  Hummm.....that's a problem.  (Raceaflais 7, Pulp Racing 0) It happens about seven times in the session.  After the session, I check the motor, check the kart, and everything seems okay.  Hummm.....maybe it was a fluke?   

Next session, the same thing intermittently happens, where it pops out of gear on the upshift.  This is bad.  We check everything afterwards to make sure things are tight.  Things look okay.  It is time to go home now, so I guess we will screw around with it later.   Jeff and Wayne said that it looks like that since I changed gears, the motor mount had to be moved backwards, so now the shifter rod is starting to touch the seat frame bar when I shift, especially in the bumpy section, which causes the tranny to momentarily disengage.  Shit.  I'll fix it later at the shop.  (Raceaflais 8 Pulp Racing 0)

Ota's renovated Tony Kart running in the Spec 2 class

A couple of months ago, Doug Ota bought Wayne's old blue Tony Kart frame, and starts to meticulously rebuild it.  He works part time as an airplane mechanic, so he's a a little more exact than we are in his mechanic skills when putting it back together.  He ends up buying new bearings/rotors/caliper/side pods/etc, and runs up a huge bill in new parts.  He gets the frame powder coated.  We think he's going a little too far overboard in his rebuilding of this kart, as he is now putting a ton of money into it.  He buys a stock Darcy Decoste Honda motor like ours, and will be running in the Spec 2 class(Stock Honda, beginner).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Cal Speedway kart track is resurfaced for the new national configuration.  It takes 48 hours or so for it to "cure".  A nice long section is added to the track, which gives us another couple of passing zones.

Wednesday night, January 25, 2006 [from last chapter]
After winning the Championship of the World (or at least our own little World) last season, they moved us up from Coed C-3 to Coed C-2 in our softball league.  We were dreading this, as the level of playing between the two leagues is pretty big.  There are nine divisions, ranging from C-9 (short bus people) to C-1 (ex-college players).  In our first game, the other team has several guys hitting 330 foot bombs, and all their girls are hitting good line drives.  We are quickly down 14-2.  Mercy rule is they call the game after you are losing by 15 runs and have played 5 innings.  The other team starts screwing around, hitting home runs and just walking to second base so they don't mercy us. They could have easily scored another 15 runs on us.  In the last inning, we are the home team and down 11 runs.  The other team starts to collapse.  The ball starts bouncing our way.  They start dropping balls, kicking balls, throwing balls in the dirt. We score nine runs, and suddenly it is 17-15, and they are sweating bullets and regretting that they took us lightly.  Never say die, sometimes you can come back and kill a heavily favored opponent!  Unfortunately, we can't get two more runs, and end up losing by two.  Damn.  I have a feeling next time we play them, they won't screw around and they'll beat us 20-0 and get it over with.

Friday, January 27, 2006
Track has cured for 48 hours. Guess who is the first group to rent the track in the "national configuration" and lay down some rubber on the track?  You guessed it....the Pulp Racing Cheating Bastards.  I figure most of the karters ran here last year and have experience on most of the track, and I have never been at California Speedway Kart track until last week.  Wayne and I can't be at the track for very long for next Wednesday's formal "opening" of the new configuration due to softball.  I'm thinking that we need all the practice possible since we suck at learning new tracks, so we should rent the track and get our own practice day.  I call 2Wild and ask if they have any people that are interested, and they say they will take up all the remaining slots.  Half the customers from 2Wild flake on the morning of the practice day, but at least we have 13 people to help pay for the track expense.  I start lugging around a 3 burner barbeque around to the track, so we can fire up some burgers and hotdogs.  We consume about 40 burgers and 30 hot dogs for lunch.  I change gears on the kart again, and it is still slightly bumping the seat frame.  If I position the J-shifter arm further forward to avoid having the back of the arm hit the seat frame, the shifter arm is about four finger widths away from the steering wheel instead of 2, and since we are trying to cut down hundredths of a second, I'm convinced this is slowing me down by having to move my hand another 1.5 inches.    (Raceaflais 9, Pulp Racing 0) I re-adjust it so that it is barely hitting the seat frame rail.  Maybe that will work.  I go out again, and the tranny bangs out of gear into neutral a couple of times again, and then suddenly it ain't shifting at all.  Uh oh.  I limp the kart into the pit area, and it looks like someone shot a bullet into the tranny case.  Shit.  I've done the impossible....I've blown up a stock honda CR125 motor.  Specifically, blown up the tranny, which is supposedly even harder to blow up than the motor.  (Raceaflais 10, Pulp Racing 0)

Ooops.  Tranny exploded, cracking the case

Meanwhile, Jeff's kicking our ass on this day, running about 50.40, and I was at 50.70.  The track is still real slippery, hopefully some more rubber will get laid down before race day.  Wayne was struggling to get out of the 51's today, despite his innumerable changes to his chassis, hubs, bars, etc, trying to find the magic setup to make his kart fly.  Ota asks Wayne to drive his kart to see if it is handling correctly, as Ota isn't sure how it is supposed to feel.  So Wayne hops into Ota's used kart and after 3 laps drops into the 50.xx time range.  Only three laps in Ota's "rebuilt used kart" that Wayne sold to Ota, and he's faster in the Ota kart than his own newer kart that he's been monkeying around with all day.  Now that is ffing funny.  Frustrating to him, but damn funny to me and Raceaflais.  (Raceaflais 11, Pulp Racing 0) 

I should be able to pilot the big trailer down this alley, right?

On the way back home, Michael was with me in the truck and trailer.  I needed to drop the barbeque and my kart off at my house.  If I parked the truck and trailer in front of my house (which is in the middle of the block), we would have to walk the barbeque and kart all the way around the block, through the alley, into my garage.  Screw that.  I'll just drive the 48 footer right down the back alley, drop the rear door, pull the barbeque and kart out, and in 3 minutes we are outta there.  After all, I'm a professional driver and I don't need a stinking commercial license.  The driveway is kinda steep on the exit, but I can get lowered sports cars down the small hill, so I don't foresee any problem.  I squeeze the trailer into the alleyway, and park by my garage.  We drop the kart, barbeque, laptops, camera equipment, etc, off and in 3 minutes we are headed back to the shop to drop the trailer off.  Heh.  Except going down the hill of the alley, the truck suddenly stops.  Uh oh......all six wheels of the trailer are OFF the ground, and the rear of the trailer frame is dug into the small hill on the alley.  (Raceaflais 12 , Pulp Racing 0) I floor the truck, but it goes nowhere. 

Artist rendition of what happened on steep driveway exit. Ooops.

I floor the truck in reverse, and it goes no where.  Oh shit.  Worse yet, now I'm blocking the street as the truck and most of the trailer is out of the alley way, so now people are honking their horns and looking at me like I'm a moron. to get out of this one.  Maybe if I lower the pressure in the rear of the truck tires, if I can make the rear end of the truck go down 2 inches, it might increase the angle so the back of the trailer goes up two inches, and maybe I can power outta here.  That doesn't work.  Oh man, this is bad.  I call Wayne and ask for suggestions, and he doesn't have any.  I'm a little worried that the trailer is going to snap in half, as the weight of the trailer is now on the gooseneck connection in the truckbed, and the rear of the trailer frame.

Luckily, a neighbor from across the street, sensing that I screwed up royally by blocking off the street with the truck and trailer, comes out with his heavy duty jack.  He thinks that he should put the back of trailer under the jack, and raise it up a bit and see if the wheels of the jack will help move the trailer just enough to it it unstuck.  I'm thinking the weight of the trailer is going to instantly break his jack.  We agree to try it.  Michael is in the back with the two-way radio, telling me when to move forward.  Michael said the jack handle was bending as John was trying to get the jack to raise the back of the trailer.  Michael and another neighbor cleared out of the way incase that 60 lbs jack exploded or came flying out the back of the trailer.  I floored the truck, and was able to drag the trailer inch by inch to get it off the hill.  Whew!  If it wasn't for my neighbor and his heavy duty jack, I'm not sure how we woulda got outta there.

Trailer dug into the driveway with the bottom part of the frame at the rear of the trailer

Monday, January 30, 2006
The truck is parked in my alley, and it won't start.  Battery dead.  Damn! (Raceaflais 13, Pulp Racing 0) I try to jump it with the station wagon, but the wagon doesn't have enough juice.  Last time the battery died, we had to have two trucks with jumper cables to connect to the two batteries in the dually to jump it.  I guess diesels take more juice to start up.  I call the Auto Club, and they come out and jump start it with two batteries.   I drop the truck off at Precision Diesel, as I don't have time to dick with it, and I wanted to have them check the brakes also, as it isn't stopping like it used to.  I tell them that the batteries might be dead from when the car stereo guy was fixing the alarm/radar detector power/satellite radio antennae, as he may have kept the door open for a long period of time. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Precision Diesel says that my alternator is dying, both front rotors are cracking, front pads have 15% left on them,  and one of the front calipers appears to have a piston that is frozen in it that won't move.  (Raceaflais 14, Pulp Racing 0) Shit.  Towing the trailers is taking a toll on the truck brakes.  The bill is big.  $1350 bucks worth.  Ouch.  Wayne stops by to inspect the old parts, and he says they are trashed.

National configuration is the added blue part - Picture by Bill Cox

Wed, February 1, 2006
Today is the first "official" public practice day in the new configuration.  Quite a few people are here today.  From our group, it is just Wayne, Doug Ota, Jason Steaman, and myself.  It is real windy today, probably gusts to 30 mph.  Wayne insists we setup the new 20 foot EZ-UP that Jeff bought to get us out of the sun, and as soon as we put it up, Raceaflais sends a big gust of wind and almost throws it over the trailer like a windsurfer going airborne.  (Raceaflais 15, Pulp Racing 0) Five of us are trying to hold it down so it doesn't launch over the trailer, and in doing so, we snap one of the steel frame rods on it.  (Raceaflais 16, Pulp Racing 0) Damn!

I have a new motor in the kart, so the first couple of sessions I have to take it easy to break in the new motor.  There is enough rubber on the track from the previous practice days and another race event the previous weekend,  so the karts start sticking.  We are now in the high 48.x range.  I had 2Wild fab me up a shorter shifting rod that will work for shorter chains/bigger gears, and that seems to be working fine.  No more stupidity.

Von's had some nice steaks on sale for 5 bucks a piece, so we cooked those along with a pot of steamed white rice.  It's like racing at the Ritz Carlton!  I'm in a rush to get out of here for our softball game.  I planned on leaving the trailer here for 3 days until the race, so I don't have to lug it home in traffic today.  In my rush to raise it off the truck and lower it back down, I forget that I put an ice chest under the trailer to keep it out of the sun.  I crush the ice chest with 19,000 lbs of trailer.  (Raceaflais 17, Pulp Racing 0)  Doh!  I raise the trailer with the electric lift, pull the ice chest out, and re-lower the trailer back down.  What an idiot.  Later on, Wayne calls me, and said I re-lowered the trailer back down on the other new EZ-UP that we just bought.  (Raceaflais 18, Pulp Racing 0) Gonna be a rough week....

We get back into town, rush around, and get to the Wednesday night softball game on time.  We end up tying, 13-13.  Arrrgh!

Dana pouring gas.  See anything wrong with the picture?

Friday, February 3, 2006
Today is the official practice day for the PKC race.  Grip is really coming in now, and I run a fast lap at 48.38.  Wayne finally has his kart re-dialed in, and runs a 48.33, beating me by 5/100ths of a second.  He's laughing in his helmet with glee, grinning from ear-to-ear, as he thinks he's a podium guy now.  He looks behind him, checks to see if anyone is on his butt, and uh...crashes into the tire wall.  Doh!  He bends his king bolts, steering column, tie rods, etc.  Shit.  (Raceaflais 19, Pulp Racing 0) Instead of going home early, he now has to spend an hour replacing all this stuff, and re-aligning the kart.  What a pain in the ass! 

Luckily for me, I don't have any major problems with the new motor.  With the shorter shifter arm, I no longer hit the damn seat rail, and the shifter is only two finger widths away from the steering wheel.  For the first time in many months, I have a nice relaxing day at the track.  I go out, do some laps, make some minor changes, do some faster laps, cook a steak, do some faster laps, watch other people struggle trying to get faster, cook a burger, do some faster laps, etc.  I gotta start eating more, for the first time in probably 25 years my weight almost goes below 160 lbs.  I attribute it to karting practice, and trying to beat Raceaflais three days a week  to get the karts/trailer/truck ready to go to the track.   Wayne drives back home today, and I decide to stay at a local hotel.  I take a shower, and head out to a local sushi place where I devour about 12 orders of sushi, a big bowl of noodles with seafood, an order of edamame beans, two beers, two teas, a Snapple, and a couple of waters.  Gotta get back to my fighting weight of 165 lbs.  I feel good.  I feel fast.  I think I have Raceaflais beat.

Hanging out at the track.  Do you see a safety hazard??

Saturday morning, February 4, 2006.  Race day!
Gates open at 6:30 a.m., I'm there at 5:45, first in line in the S2000, top down,  wearing a Rocky and Bullwinkle cap with driving gloves.  It's chilly for California, meaning it is about 40 degrees or so.  I'm eating my cereal in the car, and studying data from my kart and Wayne's kart from yesterday's practice session using AIM's Race Studio software.  And I see a section of the track where I can be faster.  Heh heh.

We have two 10 minute practice sessions, then 15 minute qualifying session, 10 lap first heat, 10 lap second heat, then a 20 lap main.  In the first practice session at 8:15 a.m., the track is cold and real slippery, and Jeff moronically puts his kart into the tire wall/barrier.  He bends his rear axle, which is a real pain in the ass to fix, probably takes 45-60 minutes to put a new one on.  (Raceaflais 20, Pulp Racing 0) He misses out out on the 2nd practice session.  The track is cold and slippery, but since I've been on the track when it is cold and slippery,  I'm blowing by people in the practice session.

Wayne oversleeps, and misses the first practice session completely.  (Raceaflais 21, Pulp Racing 0) He hauls ass to get to the track in time for the 2nd practice session.  He goes out, and immediately locks up the motor.  (Raceaflais 22, Pulp Racing 0) What?  How could this be?  He is forced to put his kart on the emergency tow vehicle, and we examine the kart back in the pit area.  We notice that the exhaust pipe is all bent out of shape, and where it connects to the motor, it is all most off.  Doh!  We think that when he hit the wall yesterday with his front end, he must have spun around and bent the pipe.  We were so focused on fixing the front end and getting the alignment right, we didn't notice that the pipe wasn't on the motor correctly.  Something must have come into the motor via the pipe, and trashed the piston.  Looks like Wayne is done for the day.  Bummer.

Wayne's piston looks a little banged up

Darcy comes by and checks it out.  Darcy says we could put a new piston in, but there is a chance that there is metal debris in the motor, and it will eventually trash the rest of the motor, so he recommends not running the motor until he can go through and check the motor out at his shop.  While screwing around with the piston, they discover that the wristpin exploded.  Hummmm...they see the debris, pull it out of the opening, and Wayne is thinking they have all the debris.  Darcy said it could be, but there is still a chance that there is crap inside the motor somewhere, waiting to cause havoc. But there is a possibility that it could run okay with a new piston.  Wayne rolls the dice, and decides to put the new piston in, and try to roll with that.  Darcy is helping him, along with our trusty pit crew to get everything put back together.

I'm feeling pretty good.  I think I'm a shoe-in to qualify on the first two rows.  We have about 22 people entered in Spec 1(Stock Honda), and an incredible 30 people in Spec 2 (Stock Honda - beginners/entry level. Pick up a stock Honda shifter and get your rookie ass in this class!).  I get two laps in, running a 48.8 on my warm up lap, and figuring I'll easily be in the high 47's or very low 48's with the new tires, when suddenly I do my leg press on the throttle on one of the turns and then the motors dies!  WTF??  I press the gas, but nothing happens.  I have to pull over off the track, I get out of the kart, and apparently I leg pressed the gas pedal so hard I snapped the bolt that holds the gas pedal on to the frame.  (Raceaflais 23, Pulp Racing 0)It's held by two 13mm nuts, so it is a decent sized bolt that shouldn't break.  Whatever.  At least I ran a decent 2nd lap, so with the 48.8 I'm gridded 9th, so at least I'm not last.  Jeff qualifies 5th, with a 48.38, and I know I can beat that.  I ran that exact time on old tires in practice yesterday.  Jeff is gonna be toasted by me in the next race.  Ha ha!  Wayne misses qualifying, but gets the motor ready for the first heat race. 

In Spec 2, Ota qualifies 4th out of 28 people!  Paul qualifies farther back, but he's got a sore rib problem that is going to haunt him for quite some time....

Pos No.
  Best Tm In Lap Best Spd (Mph) Diff Gap Laps
1 17w Nick Halen   47.709 8 56.593     8
2 123 Randy McKee 47.932 10 56.330 0.223 0.223 10
3 89 Paul Russell 47.975 5 56.279 0.266 0.043 7
4 18 Lindsay Kernohan 48.320 6 55.877 0.611 0.345 7
5 95 Jeff Littrell 48.338 5 55.857 0.629 0.018 9
6 12y Steffan Maus   48.443 6 55.736 0.734 0.105 7
7 91c Ron Barcimo   48.488 3 55.684 0.779 0.045 8
8 77w Travis Whitehead   48.705 8 55.436 0.996 0.217 10
9 55 Doug Hayashi 48.781 3 55.349 1.072 0.076 4
10 16 Axel Korn   48.865 6 55.254 1.156 0.084 8
11 70x Brian Pauter 48.915 5 55.198 1.206 0.050 9
12 81 Merve Vidad 49.179 5 54.901 1.470 0.264 10
13 19 Bruce Carlquist   49.203 7 54.875 1.494 0.024 8
14 N3 Marty Henderson   49.218 2 54.858 1.509 0.015 4
15 12 Bryan Benso   49.415 4 54.639 1.706 0.197 5
16 25 Kyle Zirkle   49.481 8 54.566 1.772 0.066 9
17 77 Jeff Krueger   49.660 7 54.370 1.951 0.179 7
18 14 Justin Krueger   49.790 7 54.228 2.081 0.130 8
19 11 Nicholas Krueger   49.830 6 54.184 2.121 0.040 8
20 17 Nic Dila   50.700 2 53.254 2.991 0.870 4
Not Classified
DNS 13c Dan Sabers   --:--:--.--- 0 -     0
DNS 39c Greg Smith   --:--:--.--- 0 -     0
DNS 66 Jim Baltutis   --:--:--.--- 0 -     0
DNS 87 Scott Koumis   --:--:--.--- 0 -     0
DNS 800 Wayne Mello   --:--:--.--- 0 -    



Dash for Cash starting grid

Dash for Cash Race
Today is the Dash for Cash race for the Spec 1 class.  They take the top 5 qualifiers, have them grid reverse order next to each other five across for a 3 lap, standing start race for 200 bucks for first, 100 for second, 50 for third.  It is called Dash for Cash, as the karts are turned off, and the drivers have a crew member push start them for the race.  Green light goes off, Jason gives Jeff a good push, but Jeff bogs it a bit on the start, and is fourth coming into the turn 3 in front of the stands, when Halen gets up on Jeff's kart from behind and takes Jeff out.  (Raceaflais 24, Pulp Racing 0) Jeff has a bent steering column and snaps the bolt that holds the brake pedal on the frame. (much like my gas pedal bolt).  Luckily, we have spare karts to pillage parts from in the trailer.

Jeff in the Dash for Cash race.

Heat Race 1. 
I get a decent start, which I attribute to the fact that I have new reeds in the motor now.  Amazing what a difference that makes, unlike last race were I was getting killed on the starts.  Wayne will say it is because I have a new ffing motor.  I find it relatively easy to chase down the guys in front of me, and I go from 9th to 3rd pretty easily.  I'm dialed in!! (Raceaflais 24, Pulp Racing 1) Halen has a mechanical problem in the race, and doesn't finish.  Wayne goes from last place to 9th.  It looks like his motor is working again!  (Raceaflais 24, Pulp Racing 2) Jeff gets bumped around on the start, and finishes behind Wayne. 

We have Jason Steaman, Brent, and Dana as our pit crew today.  I ask Dana to mix up some fuel.  We used VP 98 octane fuel with 6 ounces of two stroke oil per gallon.  We have mixed fuel like this for seven years.  But for some reason, on this day, as I'm in the trailer getting the helmet camera ready, I hear people yelling, "FIRE".  What?  I poke my head out from the back of the trailer, and I see the big tin funnel sitting in a plastic five gallon jug of fuel, and there is a foot long flame coming out of it.  (Raceaflais 25, Pulp Racing 2)  How the hell.....and next to the jug on fire is a five gallon VP can of fuel with fire coming off the top of it.   I see my pit area clearing out, as well as the pit area next to us running for the hills.  Kinda like George in Seinfeld at the kids birthday party where there is a fire on the stove in the kitchen, and George is pushing all the little kids out of the way to so he can get out of the apartment.  Except this time the people in our pit area and people next to us think it is going to blow up like a terrorist bomb.  Dana is shaking his hand, trying to put out the fire on his hand, and he runs to the back of the trailer where I had a halon fire extinguisher hanging on the inside wall.  He looks at it, pulls the pin, and calmly puts the fire out on the fuel jug and fuel can.  There are no electrical wires, no one smoking, nothing there to trigger the fire.  The tin funnel was in the sun, but it was only about 75-80 degrees, it wasn't like it was baking out there.  It was like spontaneous combustion occuring, almost wiping out the entire Pulp team.  We tell Dana that since the funnel in the gas can comes up to his crotch, as least he didn't burn off his wanger.

Ota gets bumped around on the start, falls back in the pack in the Spec 2 race.  Bummer!

Simulation of what happened

We tell Dana to go have the paramedic check his hand, which is now a bit swollen.  He no longer has any hair on his hand.  They said he should go to a hospital if it starts blistering or if the pain gets worse, and for now they want him to keep it on ice.  Word gets around the pit area about our fire, so they announce over the PA system to make sure your fuel cans are out of the sun, as there was an "incident" in the pit area.  Meanwhile, 50 feet from us, there are about thirty 5 gallon cans of VP fuel sitting in the sun, waiting for people to purchase them....

Pos No.
  Laps Total Tm Diff Best Tm In Lap Best Spd (Mph)
1 123 Randy McKee 10 8:06.727   47.911 7 56.354
2 89 Paul Russell 10 8:09.299 2.572 48.237 3 55.974
3 55 Doug Hayashi 10 8:13.914 7.187 47.885 4 56.385
4 77w Travis Whitehead   10 8:14.839 8.112 48.478 5 55.695
5 91c Ron Barcimo   10 8:14.964 8.237 48.483 3 55.690
6 70x Brian Pauter 10 8:16.792 10.065 48.641 5 55.509
7 81 Merve Vidad 10 8:19.879 13.152 48.805 5 55.322
8 800 Wayne Mello   10 8:21.893 15.166 48.075 7 56.162
9 N3 Marty Henderson   10 8:22.094 15.367 49.102 6 54.988
10 95 Jeff Littrell   10 8:22.568 15.841 48.494 5 55.677
11 19 Bruce Carlquist   10 8:23.345 16.618 49.138 6 54.947
12 14 Justin Krueger   10 8:23.648 16.921 48.957 7 55.150
13 25 Kyle Zirkle   10 8:23.983 17.256 49.141 7 54.944
14 16 Axel Korn   10 8:24.198 17.471 49.067 7 55.027
15 11 Nicholas Krueger   10 8:25.705 18.978 48.956 5 55.152
16 17 Nic Dila   10 8:28.389 21.662 49.242 7 54.831
17 77 Jeff Krueger   10 8:34.989 28.262 49.905 4 54.103
DNF 18 Lindsay Kernohan   7 5:41.265 3 Laps 47.825 7 56.456
DNF 12y Steffan Maus   5 4:15.753 5 Laps 49.456 5 54.594
DNF 17w Nick Halen   3 2:26.796 7 Laps 48.072 3 56.166
Not Classified
DNS 13c Dan Sabers   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 39c Greg Smith   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 66 Jim Baltutis   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 87 Scott Koumis   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -

Heat 1 Analysis:
I run the 2nd fastest lap time in heat race 1 in the Spec 1 class, or if you also count the Spec 2 Honda guys, I'm the fastest guy out of 52 people with a Stock Honda motor in heat race 1. (since a chick, Lindsay Kernohan ran the fastest lap period in the Heat 1 races, kicking ALL of our asses).  Wayne runs the 5th fastest lap out of 52 people with his hastily rebuilt motor.  We're kicking Littrell's ass by a full half second. Ha!

Which hand is medium rare?

Heat Race 2.
I get another good start, and I think about potentially trying to pass McKee into turn 1, but I decide to just hang back, with the goal of finishing in the first two rows so I have a good chance in the final race do make it to the podium.  With less than one lap to go, I'm in second place.  Ha ha!  I'm laughing away, Jeff can't catch me, Wayne can't catch me.  I'll be starting on the front row for the main race.  I'm totally dialed into my kart.  I have achieved Oneness with the kart.  I can place it anywhere on the track, it sticks like crazy, I can trail brake with ease at the last possible moment into the turns.  It it is one of those Ultimate Moments of Clarity, where everything is in slow motion, and my mind sees everything happening seconds before it actually happens.  It is Karting Nirvana.  (Raceaflais 25, Pulp Racing 3) Coming into one of the hairpins right in front of the stands, I'm knocked out of my dream-like state and I suddenly spin.  (Raceaflais 26, Pulp Racing 3) WTF????  Halen apparently came out of nowhere from the back of the pack and bumped me in this turn.  I spin, but grab the clutch, and Jeff and another guy get by me.  Damn!  I end up 5th.  Someone comes by and says that I was dripping water out of the radiator while on the track. (Raceaflais 27, Pulp Racing 3) I check the kart, and everything seems okay.  Well, 5th ain't too bad for the final grid in the main race, but second would been better.   Bad news for Wayne: His motor blew up.  Looks like some debris did go into the motor.  He's done for the day. (Raceaflais 29, Pulp Racing 3)

Pos No.
  Laps Total Tm Diff Best Tm In Lap Best Spd (Mph)
1 123 Randy McKee 10 8:29.311   47.718 5 56.582
2 17w Nick Halen   10 8:29.838 0.527 47.081 8 57.348
3 77w Travis Whitehead   10 8:34.662 5.351 48.342 4 55.852
4 95 Jeff Littrell   10 8:35.274 5.963 47.911 6 56.354
5 55 Doug Hayashi 10 8:38.793 9.482 47.936 5 56.325
6 N3 Marty Henderson   10 8:45.035 15.724 49.000 3 55.102
7 16 Axel Korn   10 8:45.214 15.903 48.743 7 55.393
8 14 Justin Krueger   10 8:45.468 16.157 48.848 4 55.274
9 25 Kyle Zirkle   10 8:48.223 18.912 49.260 10 54.811
10 11 Nicholas Krueger   10 8:48.712 19.401 49.138 4 54.947
11 77 Jeff Krueger   10 9:00.028 30.717 49.593 4 54.443
DNF 89 Paul Russell   8 7:12.271 2 Laps 47.705 3 56.598
DNF 18 Lindsay Kernohan   7 6:13.412 3 Laps 48.231 4 55.981
DNF 17 Nic Dila   5 4:43.422 5 Laps 49.789 4 54.229
DNF 12y Steffan Maus   5 4:47.470 4.048 49.477 4 54.571
DNF 800 Wayne Mello   4 3:46.035 6 Laps 48.176 4 56.045
DNF 91c Ron Barcimo   4 3:47.891 1.856 48.622 3 55.530
DNF 19 Bruce Carlquist   3 2:57.117 7 Laps 48.586 2 55.572
DNF 81 Merve Vidad   0 25.461 10 Laps --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNF 70x Brian Pauter   0 25.491 0.030 --:--:--.--- 0 -
Not Classified
DNS 13c Dan Sabers   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 39c Greg Smith   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 66 Jim Baltutis   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 87 Scott Koumis   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0

Main Race.
I'm gridded 5th.  I calculate that Halen's gonna win the race unless he has a mechanical failure.  McKee always runs pretty strong and doesn't make mistakes, so he's probably gonna get second.  Which means that third place on the podium is up for grabs.   I'm running faster laps than both Travis and Jeff who are in front of me, so I don't anticipate much of a problem getting around them unless I have a brain fart and spin or crash.  Heh.  My kart is a little low on water, so I dump about 3/4ths of a bottle of Water Wetter in the radiator.    I get in the hot pit, and suddenly my Mychron isn't working, it says, "Measures full", so I can't get any laptimes or data from this next session, and it won't show me what my water temp is either. (Raceaflais 28, Pulp Racing 3) Damn.  I try to clear it manually, and that doesn't work either.  (Raceaflais 29, Pulp Racing 3) Oh well, I guess no data to transpose over the video tape.

Matt Kimball takes 2nd in the TaG Master class, Eddie Tafoya 1st, John Crow 3rd

I'm on the grid, sitting in P5, relishing how I'm look cool slipping into 3rd place after the first couple of laps in the race.  Behind me, Axle is watching my radiator as it starts to bubble over, like a dishwasher that some moron put liquid soap in instead of powdered soap designed for the dishwasher.  Green flag drops, and Axle swerves around my puddle of radiator discharge.  As he is following me, the track becomes a bit slick for him, as now since my motor is heating up, it is really starting to bubble over.  I go from 5th to 4th place, and now I have Jeff in front of me.  Ha ha.  I'm gonna pass him for the podium position.  It will be humiliating for him to have me pass him in the main race. As I fly down the straight for lap 3, I see a black flag pointed at me.  What?  Not me.  My kart is running good.  Although I can't tell what my water temp is since my Mychron has barfed.  The next turn, the black flag is pointed in my direction again.  Uh oh.  At the next turn, Tom Kutcher is manning the flag station, and he's pointing and waving the black flag directly at me.  Damn! I pull in, and he says that I'm dropping water and bubbles all over the track, so he has to pull me in for safety reasons.  Arrrgh!  (Raceaflais 30, Pulp Racing 3)  All that practice the past 30 days gone down the drain.  Wayne said it was like we spent a month constructing the Empire State building, and then have it come crashing down in two minutes.  Jeff hangs on to take 3rd on the podium.  Wayne and I are DNS and DNF for the main race. 

Pos No.
  Laps Total Tm Diff Best Tm In Lap Best Spd (Mph)
1 17w Nick Halen   20 16:24.909   47.368 9 57.001
2 123 Randy McKee 20 16:44.485 19.576 48.094 3 56.140
3 95 Jeff Littrell   20 16:48.656 23.747 48.109 5 56.123
4 77w Travis Whitehead   20 16:51.752 26.843 48.619 5 55.534
5 91c Ron Barcimo   20 16:54.122 29.213 48.066 20 56.173
6 14 Justin Krueger   20 17:05.375 40.466 49.250 14 54.822
7 25 Kyle Zirkle   20 17:09.859 44.950 49.160 19 54.923
8 18 Lindsay Kernohan 20 17:12.719 47.810 48.007 5 56.242
9 81 Merve Vidad 19 16:32.538 1 Lap 49.326 11 54.738
10 77 Jeff Krueger   19 16:51.668 19.130 50.140 3 53.849
11 70x Brian Pauter 18 15:44.912 2 Laps 48.941 5 55.168
DNF 11 Nicholas Krueger   9 8:07.962 11 Laps 49.551 4 54.489
DNF 12y Steffan Maus   3 3:18.307 17 Laps 49.690 2 54.337
DNF 55 Doug Hayashi 2 2:11.995 18 Laps 49.480 2 54.568
DNF 16 Axel Korn   2 2:13.297 1.302 49.859 2 54.153
DNF 89 Paul Russell 1 1:25.313 19 Laps 53.609 1 50.365
Not Classified
DNS N3 Marty Henderson   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 17 Nic Dila   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 800 Wayne Mello   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 19 Bruce Carlquist   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 13c Dan Sabers   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 39c Greg Smith   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 66 Jim Baltutis   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0 -
DNS 87 Scott Koumis   0 --:--:--.---   --:--:--.--- 0

After the race, I find out that you are supposed to put two capfuls of Water Wetter in a kart radiator, not 3/4ths of the bottle.  Which is why it was spewing out water and bubbles from the overflow container.  Doh!  (Raceaflais 31, Pulp Racing 3) 

Halen, McKee, and Jeff take the Spec 1 podium

Wednesday, February 8, 2006
You would think that would be the end of the story.  Raceaflais continues to march on.  The truck and trailer still aren't stopping good.  I call Big Tex West, and schedule to bring the trailer over at 7:00 a.m. so they can check the trailer brakes.  I go to the shop the night before to hook up the truck to trailer, and discover one of the rear truck tires is completely flat.  (Raceaflais 32, Pulp Racing 3) 

We find a fantastic fabricator who helps re-fab the generator door and get it re-latch securely, better than ever before.  He also beefs up the inside latches on the big trailer, re-welds Wayne's kart frame seat strut, and re-welds Wayne's motor mount.   His claim to fame is that he makes custom grills for hotrods, so fixing our Mickey Mouse problems is child's play to him, as compared to building Foose-like metal grills.  We are going to need him in our constant battle with Raceaflais. (Raceaflais 32, Pulp Racing 4)

Wednesday Evening, February 8th, 2006
Softball night.  We lose by one run in the last damn inning.  We are now 0-2-1.  This sucks.  One more run or one less error and we would have a "W".

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
We win a game!  Now we are 1-2-1.

Thursday February 16, 2006
I get to the shop at 6:00 a.m. to change the flat tire, then take the trailer in.  I swap tires out and then head off to Big Tex West.  I drop the trailer off, and check inside the trailer to make sure everything is okay.  Unfortunately, I had a 64 oz plastic bottle of ketchup on the counter, and it fell down and exploded.  (Raceaflais 33, Pulp Racing 4) It looks like a cow was gutted on the trailer floor.  Nice. 

Later that day, I pick up the trailer.  The trailer guys had problems with the electronic lift, saying it would not go down, it would only go up.  I told them that when you want it to go down, it first goes up for about two inches and then it releases hydraulic pressure to go down.  They just didn't hit the button long enough.  I hit the button......battery dead.  Arrrgh! (Raceaflais 34, Pulp Racing 4) I have to dig out the boxes of karting parts from the goose neck, connect the battery jump starter to the trailer, start the generator, and then raise/lower the trailer unto the truck.  Big Tex said that the trailer brakes looked good so they didn't need replacing, so they just re-packed bearings and inspected all the brakes.  They checked my brake controller, and said, "hey, we didn't put that in, did we?"  I said no, someone else put that in.  Dennis goes, "Ah.....that is designed for a smaller two axle trailer, not a big 3 axle trailer, so it probably doesn't put out enough voltage to sufficiently get the trailer brakes to lock up.   Which is why you burnt out the rotors/pads/caliper on the truck."   (Raceaflais 35, Pulp Racing 4) 

The wife says that maybe Wayne and I should burn some incense and make an offering to Raceaflais, or do something charitable to get some good karma coming back our way.  Humm....maybe I should use my minister credentials and perform an exorcism on the karts/truck/trailer, much like I had to do many years ago when the NSX was having problems with Raceaflais. 

Thrashing on Jeff's kart to get it ready for the first heat

Saturday, February 20, 2006
Matt Kimball goes to the Gatorz race with his dad, Rhod, and Shane Shipley flies in to help out.  They sorta out a new Arrow Rotax kart.  Matt spanks everyone in his class, taking pole, winning heat 1, heat 2, and the main.  He obviously has no problems with Raceaflais!

Sunday, February 19, 2006
We pack up to go to Willow.  But the forecast is for 100% rain, so we have to bail out. (Raceaflais 36, Pulp Racing 4)  I start looking for animals to sacrifice to get me out of this funk.

Science article of the month.
Why do women like to shop?  Why do they waste time trying on multiple outfits just to see how it looks on them?  How can they window shop for hours?  Why do they buy clothes and then end up not wearing them?  Science has discovered that a woman's brain releases dopamine when they are shopping.  Yes, the same dopamine drug effect that makes us want to race cars/karts takes place when women shop.  Gentleman, we are screwed, as for them to get the same go-fast crack pipe buzz that we get when we are racing, they gotta shop to get the same high.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The tenant at the building we are renting out calls and says that the toilets are backed up.  Wayne calls a plumber out to fix, but the guy can't get the snake to go to the sewer line, it is stuck.  He says that he thinks the pipe is broken underneath the parking lot.  (Raceaflais 37?, Pulp Racing 4)?  Wayne calls another plumber to get a second opinion, and he concurs with the first guy.  Now they have to get a snake with a camera and a beacon on it, and then use a receiver to located where the snake gets stuck and then dig up the parking lot to fix the break in the pipe.  $5300 later, the toilets are working again. 

Wednesday February 22, 2006
We have another tie game in softball.  Now we are 1-2-2.  Crap.  We are hitting decently at least.  If we could have scored four more runs this season (or allowed four less runs on defense), we would be 4-1, and have a shot at taking down the first place team.  Instead, we are struggling in 4th place.  I'm on a hitting tear this season, but I don't look like Ozzie at shortstop so far this season.  One theory I have is if the shortstop makes no errors, that team will win the game.   Let's say it looks like I'm playing soccer at shortstop this season.  On base percentage stats here.  Oh well, it could be worse, we could be 0-5 against these teams in the higher league.

Monday, February 27, 2006
We are still packed up, ready to go to Willow to practice.  Except the forecast is for rain again.  That's two practice sessions that we have cancelled due to rain.  This sucks, how we gonna get any Cheating Bastard practice prior to the race in 11 days!  (Raceaflais 38, Pulp Racing 4)

Jason gets awarded a can of gas for good sportsmanship and color coordination!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006|
I try to put the finishing touches on the helmet cam video from the last race, when my video editing PC starts barfing and can't encode the video.   (Raceaflais 39, Pulp Racing 4) I gotta get this Raceflais monkey off my back.  I plan an action packed morning.  9:45 a.m., drop S2000 off at carwash for a wash and wax, walk over the freeway to the dentist office for a teeth cleaning at 10:00 a.m., pick S2000 up at 10:45, Get to 2Wild at 11:05 to pick up some parts, get hair cut at 12:00, get back to house to let maids in at 1:00 p.m.  At 9:40 a.m., going down Slater Blvd, I gun the S2000 over the very slight hill where the railroad tracks are.  I mean, you don't get airborne, but the car rises up a bit.  Speed limit is I think 45, and I'm going the standard 9 miles over the speed limit.  Car gets a little bit light, and when it comes back down, I hear a metal chattering noise.  Humm......did I break the 3 lb exhaust pipe that Messley fabbed for me?  Chattering noise gets louder.  One mile from the car wash, now it sounds like a bucket of bolts coming from the back of the car, and car dies at the light.  Uh oh.  I struggle to get the car to move to the side of the road, and then it finally refused to move.  Damn.   I call tow truck to come get me and bring the car to Autowave, which is about 2 miles away.  Autowave looks at it, and said that the rear differential blew up.  This is ridiculous.  I've probably only tracked the S2000 once or twice in the past year, and the diff blows up on me? (Raceaflais 40, Pulp Racing 4)

I get ride from the tow truck driver from Autowave to my shop. (half a mile away).  I unhook the truck, as I need a vehicle to drive to get my hair cut.  I think about going home and swapping the truck for the F-car, since it is a sunny day, but with the luck I'm having recently, I decide to stick with the truck.  I get my hair cut, hopefully that will cut out all the bad luck off of me.

Paul Taylor, ready to run in Spec 2

Softball, Wednesday Night, March 1, 2006
We play the team that coulda killed us the first time we met five weeks ago.  They hit some more 320 foot bombs, and we lose 20-9.  At least they didn't mercy us.  I go 4 for 4, bringing my onbase percentage up to .962 (26 for 27) for the season. 

I decide to post the story without the helmet cam video clip, waving the white flag to Raceflais.  Perhaps Raceflais will have mercy after looking seeing in print the final score of  Raceaflais 41, Pulp Racing 4.  I'll try to get the video editing PC working again after the next race and post the clips from Cal Speedway at that time.

The All-Time Best Motivational Speech

From "Any Given Sunday"

We need some motivation, so I'll rip off an oldie but goodie from Chapter 71 to inspire us again to defeat Raceaflais.  Here's a link to the big audio file (700k) so you can have Al give you or your team inspiration when the going gets tough.  (Note: I substituted the word "racing" for "football".)

The text is as follows for those of you who don't care to download the large file:

I don't know what to say really.
Three minutes
to the biggest battle of our professional lives
all comes down to today.
we heal
as a team
or we are going to crumble.
Inch by inch
play by play
till we're finished.
We are in hell right now, gentlemen
believe me
we can stay here
and get the shit kicked out of us
we can fight our way
back into the light.
We can climb out of hell.
One inch, at a time.

Now I can't do it for you.
I'm too old.
I look around and I see these young faces
and I think
I mean
I made every wrong choice a middle age man could make.
I uh....
I pissed away all my money
believe it or not.
I chased off
anyone who has ever loved me.
And lately,
I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know when you get old in life
things get taken from you.
That's, that's part of life.
you only learn that when you start losing stuff.
You find out that life is just a game of inches.
So is racing.
Because in either game
life or racing
the margin for error is so small.
I mean
one half step too late or to early
you don't quite make it.
One half second too slow or too fast
and you don't quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They are in ever break of the game
every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for that inch
On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us
to pieces for that inch.
We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch.
Cause we know
when we add up all those inches
that's going to make the fucking difference
between WINNING and LOSING
between LIVING and DYING.

I'll tell you this
in any fight
it is the guy who is willing to die
who is going to win that inch.
And I know
if I am going to have any life anymore
it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch
because that is what LIVING is.
The six inches in front of your face.

Now I can't make you do it.
You gotta look at the guy next to you.
Look into his eyes.
Now I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you.
You are going to see a guy
who will sacrifice himself for this team
because he knows when it comes down to it,
you are gonna do the same thing for him.
That's a team, gentlemen
and either we heal now, as a team,
or we will die as individuals.
That's racing guys.
That's all it is.
Now, whattaya gonna do?

- Al Pacino, "Peace with Inches", from the movie Any Given Sunday

So I think we are the stage where we can more or less get the kart suspension working pretty good.  There is still room for improvement, but at least we sorta know how we want the kart to handle.  We can throw down some decently fast laps.  But we have to overcome our own mechanical stupidity and get Raceaflais off our back before we can make it to the podium.  But at least we are focused on getting faster.  Ten times a day we think about what we are going to do to the kart suspension and our driving techniques to go tenths of a second faster than the last time we were at the track.  We got a whole new bag of tricks and tips to try at the next practice session.  The next race is in March 11 at Willow Springs kart track, so now our plan is to practice Sunday, Monday, and Friday in preparation for the race.  That means in 7 days, we will have three practice days and one race day.   We will march on and defeat Raceflais.  Some people devote their life to curing cancer, cracking the genome code, ending poverty, or bringing peace to the world.  We devote our life to beating Raceaflais.  It is what we must do in order to get to the podium......

2Wildkarting has the new 2006 Tony Karts in stock!

Helmet Camera Video
Of the Spec 1 Stock Honda Race (Windows Media File, "right click" "save as")
1. 320x240 version, 18 meg Windows Media File
2.  640x480 version, 118 meg, better resolution

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