Thursday, October 7, 2010

Karting = Life Lessons (part 2)

Sunday, or race day as it's more properly known started early. I don't even get up that early on weekdays, nevermind Sundays. Schedule was:

Registration by 8:30am, "pit" setup soon thereafter.
Practise session at 8:40am
Driver's meeting at 9:30am
Race start 12:50
Race end 2:20

First hiccup was the cancellation of practise session. This negates any possible setup and the chance for Jim to get familiarised with the kart. The race start time also got changed to around 3:30. Now begins the long wait. There was a lot of this going on:

That is, fiddling. A lot of fiddling, taking the time to change the oil, doing maintenance, sprocket setup, fixing the million things that always break on the kart. I think the list of things we did went something like this:
  • Pull engine
  • Remove clutch
  • Clean and deglaze (score) clutch
  • Replace clutch
  • Change drive sprocket
  • Change axle sprocket
  • Modify chain length
  • Fuel pump rebuild
  • Replace fuel hoses
  • Change oil
  • Replace engine
  • Remove carburettor three times to repair throttle linkage
  • Re-adjust throttle cable and pedal stop
  • Clean kart
  • Nut and bolt tightness check
Of course, come race time we completely forgot the basics, like check tyre pressure and check our combined weight average! We got to watch some of the other classes race, including Juniors, who are completely nuts and are as aggressive as you would be playing Mario Kart.

Our driver order was Eric then Jim then Myself, with each of us doing 30 minute stints. This seemed like a lot to me, especially since I found 12 minutes to be long during practise. This did however optimise our driver change time, so I didn't argue too much as decided that I should suck it up!

3:40 race starts! Everything seems to be working, although Eric was visibly not happy about his setup.

Eric (#22) dicing it up!

Just as we are about to signal him for the driver change, he misses a turn and end up in the field adjacent to turn 1. Turns out that the left front kingpin bolt decided to shear, leaving him with no steering. (Conspiracy theorists suggest that the bolt may have actually broken during his excursion, but no proof of this is known to exist...). We are out of the running, Jim not even having had his chance!

The race was red flagged moments after our kart failed due to a pretty severe crash near the start line. One of the flagsmen got hit in a rather nasty set of circumstances and the race was cancelled. I am told he will be fine, but the experience was not pleasant for those involved and I'm sure the clubs and organisations involved will have many a debate on how to address the situation.

As far as I'm concerned, the day's events are part of the game, accident included! This certainly puts a lot things into perspective for our Lemons endeavour. It's good to know that our team can handle our fair share of mechanical failure, which is going to be likely! It's also good to know that we can work together, not only in the "shop" but also at the track. Our crisis management is decent and every member can keep a positive attitude when things go awry, which they inevitably always will!

I'll end this post with a few gratuitous shots of Greg's team doing awesome:
Lee(#41) passing on the outside!

Lee (#41) in a nice sandwich


  1. Just some info on the race ending crash. Along the front straight is a line of 1 foot tall hay bails that are wrapped together in plastic like a tube. These hay bails separate the karters from the race marshal and the main timing/weigh scale building. One of the "out of town" drivers who was unfamiliar with the track accidentally touched the bails with a rear tire. This caused his kart to spin around (hitting more bails) and started it flipping through the air. While in the air the kart collided with the track marshal and hit a wooden pole about 5 feet up. The kart landed upside down and was completely destroyed.

    The race marshal was knocked unconscious and suffered a cut to his forehead. An ambulance and 2 police cars rushed to the scene and the marshal was taken to hospital where he received 13 stitches. He was released the next day and is doing well. The driver of the kart was unharmed, but was surely sore for the next few days.

    Because the police cars were parked on the track and there were mountains of paperwork to fill out due to the incident, the race was called at the 25 min mark.

    The club is now in discussion with the track owners about preventing this type of accident from occurring in the future.

  2. And for some info on the race positions of our two teams:

    Team Lee/Greg started in 5th on the grid. Team Eric/Jim/Burger started 6th.

    Eric was running in 14th out of 25 when his spindle bolt broke. According to Eric, the steering felt as if it was wobbling and was nearly impossible to turn. The bolt was most likely failing during the entire race.

    Lee was holding his own in 5th place for the first 15 or so min. In turn 5 he suddenly lost control and spun into the grass, dropping him into 8th. From that point on, he struggled with front end grip but managed to get himself back into 6th place when the race was called. Upon inspection of his front tires, the cords were starting to poke through on the outside front tire. This explains both the spin in turn 5 and the lack of grip. Lee still had 20 min to go before our driver change however the tire would have lasted only another 5-10 before it would have burst. Pitting to change tires would have dropped us near to the back of the field.