Pro Kart Challenge at Moran Raceway - September 11, 2005
The Force is Strong. Competition Fierce. The Buzz is Addicting.
Number 55 is in the thick of things barreling into Turn 1
Photo byMark Lacour at MLP Imaging. More photos here.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away......
Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The Karting Senate of Alphabet Soup Organizations has escalated motor costs, cannot standardize on a single set of rules, and has stopped catering to 125cc shifter kart drivers. As a result, shifter kart drivers in Southern California are hanging up their racing shoes to take on other hobbies.
While the Karting Senate endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched Jedi Knight Tom Kutscher to fix the problem. He creates The Pro Kart Challenge, the most efficiently run Go-Fast organization in the Universe. PKC has achieved critical mass and is gaining momentum. The Force is strong. The Go-Fast Crack Buzz even stronger. Pulp Racing hops on the Tom's bandwagon and enters three new shifter karts in the Spec Honda class. 33 Spec shifters entered the final race of the season. (along with 37 Premier shifters, and 27 TAG drivers)..Here's the story....
Picking up from the last chapter.....
Tuesday morning, Sept 4th, 2005
Wayne's ribs are hurting pretty bad from yesterday's practice at Moran. He used to have a standard Tony Kart seat in his old kart, but went to the Ribtect as it supposedly helps some people who have rib problems when karting. Rhod from 2Wild said that people either love them or hate them. Looks like Wayne is in the "He Hate Them" column.
We ain't messing around anymore. We take the 48 footer to the kart track.
I get Michael to drop off the karts at 2WildKarting, so they can do a quick check to make sure everything is tight and working properly on the karts. Ota's using our spare kart, and he wanted them to look at the clutch to see why the Vortex isn't disengaging the clutch properly. There is a mix up in communication, and Ota's kart doesn't get dropped off. I talk to Ota, and he says he will take a look at it on Thursday morning, and see if he can fix it by taking it apart and checking the linkage. Ota sometime does part time work as an aircraft mechanic, so he's is uh...shall we say a little more "meticulous" than Wayne or I when it comes to putting stuff back together. We also have them swap out Wayne's Ribtect seat for a regular seat, change the angle of the radiators to get a little more cooling, etc.
Three kart stands, five karts, two tool chests, power tools, generator, tire changer, etc.
Wednesday, September 5, 2005
We decide we have too much stuff to take to the track for the race this weekend. We figure the only way to do this properly is to take the 48 foot trailer, and pack my kart, Wayne's kart, Jeff's kart, Ota's kart, and one spare kart incase someone breaks. We'll take the air compressor, grinder, welder, air tools, nitrogen tanks, fans, tire changer, tables, chairs, two laptops, printer, camcorders, digital cameras, cases of water, Snapple, 50 pieces of El Pollo Chicken, 35 gallons of race fuel, etc to the track. We are prepared for anything. Hurricane Katrina could hit us and we could still race for five days straight on the supplies we have. Now that is what I call "Disaster Preparedness".
Softball Game 2 of the new season. For the start of our 7:45 p.m. game, we have two players that haven't shown up on time. Luckily, I decided that we would play with at least 11 players at each game. You play 5 girls and 5 guys in Coed softball. You can play with 9 players, but since you do not have a "rover" in the outfield, you are at a significant disadvantage. You can even play with 4 girls and 4 guys, but now you probably have to play without a rover and a 2nd baseman, so now you have about a 10% chance of winning. If you only have 7 players, you forfeit, which is a big waste of everyone's time, as some people drive 30-40 minutes in traffic in order to play, and who wants to deal with a forfeit or play a "practice game" that doesn't mean anything.
I tell Dana to get action picks at the track. This is what he snaps.
So we have 9 players, as two players went to the wrong field. The other team, however, only has 7 players, and has to forfeit. This sucks. We showed up for nothing. After the umpire announces the forfeit, their 8th player shows up. Ump says it is a forfeit, unless the opposing team manager (me), agrees to waive the forfeit and play the game "for real". I say, "Let's play for real". After all, accepting a forfeit would be like going to race, and then not racing because the other people showed up 60 seconds late. A few minutes later, their 9th and 10th players show up.
We immediately take an 8-0 lead in the 2nd inning. Unfortunately, we don't score anymore runs the rest of the game. The score is 8-8 in the bottom of the last inning, I'm sitting on third with no outs. Heh! This is gonna be an easy win. Next girl pops up to the third baseman. Wayne comes up, and I tell him we just need a little hit to win the game. He fouls one off, and then the pitcher intentionally walks him to pitch to the next girl, hoping for a double play. The pitcher is a moron, because he walks Wayne, and instead has to pitch against the best pitcher in the league, who is Al(short for Alison? Ally?), and who is hitting about .800. Unfortunately, on this night, Al hits a sharp ground ball that is turned into a double play, so the game that shoulda been a forfeit win now ends up tied. We are now 1-0-1. Damn. Even more so, I realize that I should have just told Wayne to hit a long fly ball so I could score on the sacrifice fly. I'm a moron.
We pack a little sloppy sometimes....
Thursday, September 6, 2005
Practice day for karts is tomorrow. Race is on Sunday. I spend about 8 hours at the shop packing the trailer with Michael, as well as going to 2Wild to pick up the karts. Kayla is a trooper, she hangs out with me most of the day, as I am trying to give mom a break today. Ota is working on his kart, and he thinks he's fixed the clutch linkage problem. It is still stiff, but at least it releases. I get tires mounted using the kart tire machine, move stuff from the karting trailer to the big trailer, etc. We decide to pack the trailer up for both Friday and Saturday, and to leave the 48 foot trailer at Moran over night so we don't have to tow it back with us. We scale the karts, add weight, etc, to get us to the minimum 385 lbs. Around 6:30 p.m., Kayla is saying, "Go home, go home, see Mommy", so it is time for me to bail. I go home, feed Kayla, give her a bath, Mom comes home from her errands with Cooper, and then I head back to the shop for two hours.
Friday, September 7, 2005
Back at the shop at 6:30 a.m. I work on the kart for 90 minutes before leaving for Moran. Ota shows up at 7:00 a.m., to work on his kart for an hour before I leave. Both of us prefer to just roll the kart off the trailer and put it on the track, but it never happens like that. I have to re-adjust the radiator bracket so doesn't hit my elbow, re-calibrate the Mychron, install my speed sensor, etc. I don't have enough time, so I'll finish at the track. Both Ota and I have observed that we each lost about 6 lbs the past week, doing the karting practice, running around getting ready for the race, and trying to take care of our kids.
10:00 a.m. Arrive at Moran. Big practice day, about 25 people ditch work today to practice. Wayne shows up in the Evo, and it takes the two of us another 90 minutes of working on the karts (fixing brackets for speed sensor, rewiring sensors, fixing Wayne's radiator bracket, screwing around with his seat, etc.). Practice is good. I run 1:05's easily. I'm thinking I'm gonna be a 1:04 guy today. I get it down to 1:05.14. With his new seat in the kart, Wayne gets it down to 1:05.03, just missing the 1:04 mark. We no longer screw around with jetting on these new stock Honda motors. With the old Vortex, it took us forever to get the Dellorto carbs tuned so the kart wouldn't sputter. Now we just get on the track and have lots of time to make suspension changes, changing front/rear widths, adjusting suspension bars, tire pressures, etc. We are there until 5:00 p.m., having a great day trying to make the karts go faster in the turns. After all, this road racing, not drag racing. The stock Honda motor doesn't have the raw acceleration of the Vortex ICC motors that we used to run, but it seems to have good low end power off the turns. The new Tony Kart Krypton chassis sticks unbelievably well. Overall, the new karts with less HP are about a second a lap faster than our old karts.
Helmet camera ready to go
We leave the trailer and truck at the track to reserve a spot in the pit area, and go back home in Wayne's Evo. His Evo suspension is so harsh, it seems like my laptop is going to have the screen hinges snap off. It feels like my kart, rattling my teeth for 71 miles. I give up on trying to use the wireless Verizon connection.
Saturday, Sept 10, 2005
Rest day. Usually we are thrashing on karts, but we are ready for the race tomorrow. Wayne goes to a massage parlor to get some deep tissue work on his ribs.
Sunday, Sept 11, 2005
I get at the track at 6:00 a.m. with our pit crew, Dana, Michael, and their friend Jeff. We start setting up our area with three EZ-Ups, tools boxes, spare parts, chairs, nitrogen bottles, etc. We are ready to become kart gladiators.
We are first group on the track. Tom's schedule says 8:00 a.m., and we are out there at 8:00 a.m sharp. Snooze you lose. Like I said, he runs a real efficient event. Track is slow and dusty, so I go out there with my crappy tires. After one lap, I'm scraping the left sidepod on the ground. Hummm....that's not good. Kart is pulling to one side. This is really bad.....I pull off the track, and I have a tire that has completely separated from the rim. Damn! I guess no practice now. Wayne only does one lap, as his ribs are hurting so bad he can't even drive his kart. Huh? You hurt it Monday, but it was okay on Friday's practice, but now you can't even do one lap? He confesses that he went to the local "massage parlor" to get a "massage" on his ribs yesterday. Which I'm guessing, if you have a rib injury, only inflames the problem even more. We have been practicing every Monday for about 8 weeks to get in condition for this race, we buy new karts, and now he can't even race....that's a real bummer.
About 40 minutes later, the second practice session begins. Kart feels pretty good. Lots of traffic on the track. A good mix of slow guys, medium slow guys, medium fast guys, and fast guys.
The pace of this event is very fast. There are usually four run groups, that are divided up as:
Today they are only running three run groups, as it seems that many of the Premier Shifter drivers are preparing to go to the Nation's Cup Race in four days. The rest of the Premier guys are added to the Formula V run group. With only three run groups, we barely have enough time to run on the track, weigh in at the scales, check our karts, put gas in, grab something to drink, and then time to grid up again. The PKC race day schedule is much better than other karting organizations. I think I went to a non-PKC event last year that had NINE run groups. Sounds like an SCCA event. It sucked, I all I did was wait around all day, and their event started TWO HOURS late. I was losing my mind at that event. Remember, I'm the guy that can pilot a 48 footer with passengers and get to any race track in California/Nevada within a two minute window. Pro Kart Challenge is doing a great job of catering to the adult shifter/TAG (touch-and-go) drivers. They run a tight event, lots of track time, with the goal of hurrying up so everyone can get back to their families. The schedule for today (before they condensed from 4 groups to 3 groups) is:
Track Walk 7:30am
Practice - 15 minute sessions
8:00am Formula Spec
8:40am Formula Premier
9:00am Formula V
9:20am Formula Spec
10:00am Formula Premier
10:20am Formula V
10:45am Drivers Meeting and "Streets" Trophy Presentation
Qualify - 10 minute sessions
11:15am Formula Spec
11:45am Formula Premier
12:00pm Formula V
Heat1 - 10 Laps
12:30pm Formula Spec
1:10pm Formula Premier
1:30pm Formula V
Heat2 - 10 Laps
1:50pm Formula Spec
2:30pm Formula Premier
2:50pm Formula V
Main - 20 Laps
3:10pm Formula Spec
4:10pm Formula Premier
4:40pm Formula V
The biggest Spec Honda Shifter field in the country with 33 drivers entered
For qualifying, all 33 Spec karts are turned loose on the track, and we have 10 minutes to get a good qualifying lap in with the traffic. Kinda like how Formula One used to be a few years back, where you can run one lap or run the entire sesssion in order to post a fast lap. You have to use same tires for qualifying and the heat/final races. I can't get a clean lap. I try to be a Cheating Bastard, and three times I pull over to the side of chicane as if my brake bias was screwed up, just so I could try to get some space for a clean lap, but I still hit traffic. Damn! I was hoping to run a high 1:04.x, but instead I run a 1:05.6. I'm bummed. Later on, it turns out that I am in Row 3 on the grid, next to Jeff who out qualified me by 1/10th of a second! Not bad for our first race in the new karts. I know I could be a Row 2 guy......Row 1 would be tough to break into.
On row three for the first heat race, with friend and arch rival Jeff next to me
Heat Race 1
So I'm gridded 6th, and when the green light comes on the Christmas tree, I have a bad start and about 6 guys get in front of me. Damn. I battle through traffic, get some spots back, there are some people spinning off and crashing, and I end up 6th. Not bad, I'm happy with that. Jeff spins and crashes on lap 2, and decides not to restart the kart, and parks it. He figures he'll save his tires and kamikaze everyone from the back of the pack in the next heat race. My helmet camera doesn't work, seems like it shut off during the first lap of the race.
Going into Turn 1 with 32 other competitors
Heat Race 2
This time I have a REALLY bad start. The lights went out on the Xmas tree, and you have 1-5 seconds for the green light to come on. It comes on real quick, and for some reason I was thinking F1 racing, where you wait until the lights go OFF. So moron me is waiting for the green light to go on and then go back off. Meanwhile, 10 guys rip by me on the start. Damn! I get stuck behind a big train of people, and no one can make a move on the people in front of the train. Damn! I end up about 10th. Jeff does a great job coming from the back of the pack. He takes 12th, only two spots behind me. My damn helmet camera didn't work again. I have it tucked into one of those water backpacks that cyclists use, and I put the camera inside it and strap it to my chest. I think the g-forces is causing the "off" button to be pushed on the RaceCam remote control unit. Hummm.....I'll tape a couple of washers to the on-off button, thus making it very hard to turn the camera off (or on, for that matter). Maybe that'll work.
Coming onto the front straight
The Main Race
Green flag drops, and I finally get a decent start. Only one person passes me going into turn 1, and that is Jeff. Two people to the left of me bump each other off the course. Ha ha!
Going into Turn 1 in the main heat race
I slot in behind Jeff, and we go barreling ass in to the corkscrew. The guy two karts in front of Jeff hits the left curb, bounces, get his right wheel tangled up with another guy, and they crash.
Driver hits curb and touches wheels, becomes flying saucer
I see radiator fluid flying out from one of the karts, and a tire shooting across the track. Ha! Ha! Losers!
Looks like radiator hose breaks off, his wheel goes flying off on right hand side
I veer to the left, but then, Jeff hits one of the guys that crashes, and veers to the left. Ha ha! Jeff, Crashed. His new nickname should be the "Assassin From Manhattan Beach". Ha ha!
Jeff becomes third guy in the wreck, hitting person in front of him. Ha ha!
I'm thinking, yeah baby, now I think I am in about 5th place, and now I can try to chase down the fast guys at the front of the pack. Heh Heh Heh! I see myself making the podium in about 21 more minutes of hard driving. Yeah baby!
Oh Shit, Jeff shoots off to the left, I hit Jeff. BAM!%*@$&$#!
BAM! OH SHIT !%&$#@*! Jeff hits the guy and keeps going WAY left. I think I hit Jeff, and I get spun 90 degrees, but I grab the clutch and gun the gas so I don't stall the kart. About 11 karts zip by my ass, and I then force my way back into the field. Damn. Meanwhile, Jeff's steering column is bent, his rear axle is bent, and he's pissed about the guys in front of the him who crashed and the guys who hit him from behind. He's a DNF after only five turns in the main race, along with I think two other guys. He won't know until he reads this page that I was one of the guys that hit him from behind. Ha ha! That's ffing funny....I crack myself up sometimes.
Jeff and 91 kart are severely damaged, pointed the wrong way. I'm off in the dirt.
If I could have gotten around Jeff, I think I woulda had a shot at chasing down the front runners, or at least hanging with them. Instead, I am stuck in the middle of the pack, and have to fight my way through. My kart has a small vibration, but it seems to be otherwise running okay. My right rib feels like Mike Tyson threw a left hook into it, probably because someone's tire slammed into my arm and then my elbow hit my rib. Those no-driving bastards! Time to get to work.....
End of lap 1, I pass a guy going down the straight. One down!
Lap 2, I get a run on someone going into the corkscrew, and make a pass. Heh. I like it when I outbrake people! Two down!
Beginning of lap 3, a guy in front of me spins off in the corkscrew....see ya! Three down!
Beginning of lap 4. I go wheel-to-wheel with a guy at 85 mph down the front straight, and I dive to the inside. Nice pass by me....except he gets me back on the outside after the apex. Damn, I think I needed to drop down an extra gear since I late braked him. A few turns later, I then pass him going into hairpin on the back straight. Ha ha! Four down!
Lap 5. going down the front straight, there are three guys about 10 kart lengths ahead of me. I haul ass down the straight, and coming out of the Turn 1 the three of them are trying to avoid hitting each other going wheel-to-wheel and I blow by all three on the inside. bahahahhaahah! Seven Down! The guys in front of me are now leading me by the entire length of the front straight. Time to get to work on that time trial line.
Faster, faster, until I crash on my own accord!
Lap 12. I catch up to the 4 bogies in front of me. The closest guy is tiring, his neck is starting to flop from side to side in the high g turns like a wet noodle. I've been in that situation before, where I am hanging on for dear life, and feel like I am going to pass out from the heat and exhaustion. HA HA! The grin on my face is bigger than my helmet. Here I come! I take him at 80+ mph wheel to wheel into turn 1. Three more to go to clear out this part of the pack. Eight down!
Lap 15. I catch up to the next guy. I try to take him on the inside of the hairpin on the back straight, but he's guarding the inside line very well. Nice driving by him, the bastard! I take him in Turn 1 doing another 84 mph wheel-to-wheel manuever and late braking, but he gets me right back on the exit. Another damn nice move on his part. The bastard!
Lap 17. I get finally get a good run on him down the front straight, and take him more cleanly this time. The bastard! 9 Down!
Now I got about 3 guys 15 karts lengths in front of me. I'm hoping they are getting tired.
Lap 19. I make it to within four karts lengths under braking. We start getting into lapped traffic
Lap 20. Race is over! I find out at the weigh in that my kart needs to be teched, as I finished 4th in my class! Almost made it to the podium in my first race race with the new kart. My helmet camera works! Heh heh.
Ota runs in the Premier class with our old kart. Unfortunately, in heat race 1, the clutch dies again. Definitely something wrong. Crap. Heat race 2, it still isn't working again. For the final race, the Ota and the pit crew decide to swap out numbers, weights, tires, etc, and throw them on the spare kart, so Ota can run that kart. He finishes his first kart race without crashing, spinning, or injuring a rib!!!
Helmet Camera is 5 years old. Got it at Head Hunter Helmets
Jeff is pissed off due to his wreck in the final race, and his spin in the first heat, and he feels he's the better driver among the three of us. Actually, since Jeff is leading the S2 Cup, he probably feels he is the superior driver among everyone at the track today. Wayne's pissed off as he feels he's the better driver since he's posted the fastest lap in the new karts among us in practice, and he was injured and couldn't race. A week, later, I still have a good racing buzz going on in my brain from the PKC since I almost made it to the podium. I got proof that I'm the superior driver among the three of us this weekend.
All three of us can run right behind the fastest guys, and with a little practice and hard work, we could probably challenge them for the podium. The new PKC season will start in January or so, and we plan on running the entire series. PKC is planning on doing a fun race on December 3rd at Moran, running backwards, so that could be fun. But we are also feeling a little cocky, and are thinking about running at the Supernationals against the big boys in Vegas on November 10-13th. Matt Kimball (mechanic's son at 2Wild, and the 2Wild Factory Driver) took home the 1st place trophy at last year's Supernationals, and he's was only 7/10ths faster than us at the Moran Race.
Pro Kart Challenge Class Champs for 2005
(Based on points for eight races)
PREMIER1: Nick Halen
PREMIER2: John Bates
TAG SENIOR: Jerry Henderson
TAG MASTER: Phillip Grey
SPEC1: Greg Marlow
SPEC2: Jim Baltutis
V1: PP Mastro
V2: Dave Degraw
NEWS FLASH SEPT 17: Matt qualifies 1st at Nation's Cup race in Colorado, Greg Smith qualifies 2nd behind him, and 3rd place guy was 6/10ths off the pace. At Moran, Jeff and I are only 7/10ths off Matt's pace! Makes me go hummm......we shoulda went to Colorado. In the Built Motor Class, Tom (PKC organizer) takes 1st in qualifying, and PP Mastro is 2nd behind Tom. All four are PKC regulars. Hey, we don't race with slouches!
NEWS FLASH SEPT 18: PKC regulars clean up in the S2 and G1 class at the Nationals. We just might strut into your town and do some ass whupping. <grin>
Battery for helmet cam, cables, plugs for helmet & Sony camcorder, Racecam remote
What's it take to get into shifter kart racing?
New or used kart
$10,000-$3,000 depending on how crazy you get with it. Successful PKC Go-Fast Crack dealers include www.2wildkarting.com (where we bought ours) and www.extreme-karting.com (Tom, organizer of PKC).
Race Day cost:
Set of new tires on race day - $180
Entry fee - $100
Gas+oil - $50
Plus any crash/damage/breakage that you do. Typical hard crash might cost about $100-$300 to fix. As a comparison, it probably cost me a minimum of $1500 to pull out the NSX for a race weekend if I don't break anything. You could argue that there is more glory in cars, but the buzz is better in karting.
Practice day cost:
Track entry - $40
Gas+oil - $20-30
(use your old race day tires for 2-3 practice days)
You will quickly get into some of the best shape in your life if you start practicing once or twice a month. It will force your ass to go to the gym and start working out.
0-60 mph in about 4 seconds
2.5 g's cornering
Go-Fast Buzz Factor:
Some people have said that the shifter kart buzz can't be beat unless you step up to at least a Formula Atlantic car.
Unconvinced about that statement? Check out this video from the Spec Honda final race from Moran, with yours truly driving. There are three options, depending on how long you want to wait for the video to download. All three are the same video, just different playback quality. You must have Windows Media Player to play the video, and a fast broadband internet connection to download the file.
Right click here
"save as" for 27 meg 320x240 video, poor quality. (Takes about 60
seconds to download)
Right click here "save as" for 91 meg, 640x480 video, medium quality. (Take about 2.5 minutes to download)
Right click here "save as" for 181 meg, 640x480 video, better quality . (Takes 5 minutes to download)
Notice water backpack on my chest with the camcorder, batteries, cables in it
So you got about 3 months to sell a vehicle/steal some cash, buy a stock Honda shifter kart, and join us for some serious racing in January with the Pro Kart Challenge. Can you take down the Pulp Racing guys in their quest for the podium?
"Yeah, but this one's got eleven"
Pickup this month's Sport Compact Car magazine. Brett is in it with the PMUM S2000. He had a shot at winning the Ultimate Street Car Challenge with it according to our calculations before the event.
This year there are 11 cars in Sport Compact Car's Ultimate Street Car Challenge. You're saying "so what?" Well there are 11 cars due to the PMUM S2000. Brett got the call 5 days prior to the competition and was told that someone blew their motor, and they were down to 9 cars.
The editor says, "Can you make it?"
Brett: "I'll have to program TiVo before I leave, but I think I can do it."
After a lot of last minute prep, and a trip to the road course to let Erik (our resident pro) Messley drive the car and help dial in the suspension...uhhh...we blew the motor. 48 hours remaining before the competition and no motor.
Brett made the call to Sport Compact Car, "Yeah, uhhhhhh, the PMUM car just blew up, but it'll still make the competition. I just need to track all the parts down starting tomorrow morning and we'll build it overnight. No problem." Apparently there was some doubt about Brett's dedication and the abilities and determination of the guys at Autowave, so they called a last minute replacement, well there are 11 cars this year so be sure to check it out!" More on this next chapter.
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