Joey Dille's

Quarter Midget #67

Racing Log

This is a week by week log of our experience as a novice team going racing for the first time. They are taken from e-mails that I have sent to my friends. The logs are arranged in order with #1 being our first experience.

Racing Log #1

Howdy, I thought I would fill folks in on how Joey was doing in his effort to be a quarter midget racer.

On Friday the 12th we purchased a used car. It was made by the Rice company and is about 18 years old. It has a stock Honda 120 cc engine. The previous owner did a lot of suspension upgrades and the engine appears to be in good shape. I got a spare front axle and 16 extra tires. We are now racers!

On Saturday the 13th I did not touch the car since I was away. Sunday the 14th was the first day of novice school. I spent 2 hours on Sunday morning putting a safety switch on the top of the car, adjusting the peddles and installing a restrictor plate on the engine. Sunday we got to the track and borrowed a helmet, gloves, neck roll and arm restraints. This fell far short of good race prep, both for the car and Joey.

The first time out I pushed Joey around with the engine disconnected for 3 laps. Joey did fine following my suggestions on track placement. A light drizzle started to fall. After an hour wait we went out under power. This did not go well. I forgot to tell Joey not to touch the gas. He had it floored :-0 I hit the ignition switch at the beginning of the track and he was off. He went 3/4 of the way around and hit the wall hard comming out of turn 4. One shook kid and a bent steering arm.

It took quite a while to calm Joey down. After he calmed down we discussed the incident. I took full responsibility for bad coaching. In the end, we learned two things: Hitting the wall is not fun, but it does not hurt. The car is fast. I pushed him around the track for the next time out, now in the pouring rain and he did well.

The next novice class was on the 20th. He got out under power by him self and did well. Joey navigated around the track fairly smoothly and clearly had control of the steering and he touched the gas a few times to see what happened. About 5 laps and in to the pits. The next session was with 3 other kids. Joey was not familure enough with driving to maintain position and stalled a lot. Protocol is that every time car stalls someone comes out and pushes it to get it going. Joey did not understand this. He got a little shook when adults would keep coming up behind him and pushing him to restart. Often he could not see the adult coming since he had a helmet and they came up from behind. He was saying that he wanted to quit, but they could not hear him because of the helmet. He was confused and just sat on the track with the brake on full until I came out. I explaned how he was THE driver and if he wanted to exit the track he had to do it. Now Finally he went into the pits, frustrated.

I spoke with some of the track officials and managed to get a semi-private practice on Thursday the 25th. Joe Green the safety director would come up after work. It was great, only 2 other kids were there both novices. Joey went through about 1/2 tank of gas and got a lot of confidence.

During one of our push starts Joey let go of the wheel to and put his shield down. The car (trained to go left) went into one of the I-beams on the outside of the track. The car was only going at a running speed, but it stopped instantly. Joey was a little shook, but Joe Green and one of the other parents did a great job of talking to him. Joey was OK to go out :-) The car was tweaked. One of the radius rods was bent bad and one of the mounts was twisted. It was good enough to practice. Now it was really trained to go left.

Today at the 3rd novice school Joey got out on the track with 7 other kids and was passing under the green! He had good track position and was starting to play with the gas. He bumped and was bumped a few times with out problem. A few times he got tangled up with other cars and they skidded to a stop. This is normal in quarter midget racing. This did not phase him. I guess compared to hitting the hitting the wall they were love taps. All in all he did great. When he came in the tires were actually warm. :-) :-)

I am new this coaching business and it is tougher than it looks. It is difficult to know wnat and how much to say. I am learning a lot from the more experienced parents. The novice class is not clear to practice on the track by ourselves or other novices outside of the novice school. I will see how much we can get in.

I plan to paint the car to Joey's liking (orange) some time this summer. Right now all I want to do is put his name and number on it.

Check out the web page I am starting.

Race Safe,

Joe Return to index.

Racing Log #2

Joey and I practiced racing today. Today was different since we brought mom and grandpa. We were at the track with all out stuff at 11:40. Unfortunatley, there is a local ordinance that prevents starting the engines until 12:00 on Sunday. (of course this does not effect the rifle range on the same property :-/)

At 12:01 we fired up and took a few warm up laps. Joey showed good control so I gave him the green. He turned some nice laps in the high nine second range. This was really flying compared to last Thursday's times of 11-15 seconds.

Then another kid came on the track that was a little slower than Joey. Joey took his time and passed the kid a few times. On one pass they hit and they spun to the outside. We pulled the cars apart and pushed them off. No sweat. A third kid came out and they were having a great time racing. Joey tagged the wall on the back strait trying to pass. He kept it straight and kept driving for the pass. We came off the track to let others play.

The second time out Joey was in good form. He turned one lap at 8:56. He passed others on the track. Comming out of turn 4 the car got loose on two occasions and Joey saved it :-) I was one proud pop. This is a completly different kid from last week. I can't wait to give it another go.

Race Safe,


Return to index.

Racing Log #3


Joey practiced with his car today. He is more comfortable with his new, properly fitting helmet. Thanks goes to Eric for accompaning us to be the second adult (by age only). Eric also served as camera man for this outing, piloting the camcorder. My goal for this session is to work on the racing line and some of the track logistics.

There were a few other kids there for practice, but Joey was ready first and got out on the track alone. Joey did well. We did a few laps under caution and then I gave him the green. His lap times were fairly consistant. Running from 10.5 to 9.5. His racing line was a little low on the straights and too high in the turns. I threw him a red flag to see how he would stop. He locked it up and stopped on a dime. Locking it up is OK since only the right rear is braked. His confidence it really doing well.

I let him do a few more hot laps and then sent him into the hot chute. The hot chute is like the pits in NASCAR racing. Drivers come in and can have their cars worked on, but they can't get out of the car. Once the car is OK the handler (me) pushes them off and they head down the starting lane and back on the track. It is important to have good control of the car in the hot chute since there are stopped cars, other handlers and light poles. Joey did fine, slowing off the track and idling into the hot chute. He stopped in one of the marked stalls with out a problem. Joey did this 3 more time during the day w/o problem.

During our second outting one of the older kids dad came up to me and asked if his kid could go out on the track with Joey. He was one of the novice instructors and he knew Joey. Said OK as long as his kid was OK with a Jr. Novice. Cameron was a senior (10) and had 2 years racing in the stock class. The "stock" class allows substantial modifications to a higher HP engine. The intake track and cam must stay the same but the head, exhaust and block can be modified. Needless to say Cameron had it all over Joey.

Cameron came out on the track to warm up. Joey immediatley picked up the pace an put a pass on him :-) Cameron returned the favor about 1 lap later and slowley pulled away from Joey. Joey's lap time dropped to 8.5 seconds :-). Cameron did 5-6 more warm up laps then put it in warp drive. He was lapping Joey every 3-4 laps. He was giving Joey wide berth and Joey was not scared. I think it was good to let Joey see what FAST is. Cameron had the car in a controlled drift for most of each lap.

Joey and I discussed the racing line and possible improvements. He was initally running to far up on the turns and too far down on the straights. I coached him to run higher on the straights and lower in the turns. This was partly successful. Once he was off the track I had him watch Cameron and another Sr. Stock driver as they went 1-2" from the wall on each lap and had the inside wheel on the curbing in the turns. Joey then went out (alone) and was able to imitate their lines. My heart stopped when he went up to within 6" of the wall on each lap. This was a little too radical for a novice as they benefit from a shorter path since there speed is down.

I called Joey off and we had another discussion. This time he had it. About 1 foot off the curbing in the turns and 2-4 feet off the wall on the straights :-) I did not get any times, but he was looking smoother. He was also getting tired. Best to end on a good note, so I called him off. A perfect exit from the track, including the required hand signal.

I had Eric hang out for a while since some of the "B" modified cars had pulled up and I wanted to show him the real fast cars. The B's are quite radical and as they are only limited to bore and stroke. Alas, they were taking too long to get prepped (in their 20' trailers) and Eric had riding to do.

This evening we all watched the tape. Mom was impressed with Joey's speed and improved driving skills. Joey really benefitted from reviewing his technique on tape. He was sure to point out when he put the pass on Cameron.

All in all it was a good outing. Thank you Eric for helping. Hope you had a good afternoon riding.

Race Safe,


Return to index.

Racing Log #4


During this week I was busy making a real throttle linkage for Joey's car. The previous owner did a real jury rig on the throttle hook up. The cable was put directly on the throttle and the return spring was attached between the throttle and the frame. The spring worked at a poor angle and was prone to stretching. As it stretched the slack was taken up by ty-wraping the spring to the frame to make it shorter. The car had about 6 ty-wraps when I got it and I had to put an extra one on to get the throttle to close. This was OK, but far from a reliable set up. The set up also put a lot of presure on the throttle shaft. I was concerned about shaft wear.

During novice school I had a chance to look at a lot of other cars with Honda engines. Some had home made linkages, others had purchased them from suppliers. I made my own from galvanized mending plates and a bronze bushing. It is quite stout. I think you could lift the car with it. It has a proper return spring and no extra pressure is on the throttle shaft. The throttle action is very light and smooth with reliable return to idle. I also gave him the ability to go to full throttle :-0

I also installed small a catch tank (Motrin bottle) to collect crankcase vapors. This is required by the rules, but the previous owner did not have one :-/ The former position of the throttle cable did not allow for the tubing. Now I have the right stuff.

The only thing I need to do to be 100% compliant is to bolt in the lead weights into the car. I have duct tape covered lead sheet for weights. I have them held down with velcro. The rules want a mechanical fastener.

I wanted to practice on Tuesday, but it started to rain when we got in the truck. We scrubbed the mission. the rain stopped as soon as I got the car off the truck. :-/ I set the rain date for today. The weather was much cooler and I rained most of the day, but we caught a window in the weather. (Thank God for the weather radar services on the Internet) We were go for practice.

Joey got out on the damp-ish track and did well. Today's goals were to work on the racing line, proper caution speed and exiting the track properly.

Eric gave me the idea of using a bandana for flag. Today I was armed with a red, yellow and green-ish bandana. This worked well as it added realism to the practice and gave clear directions to Joey.

Joey got out on the track and went well under caution. He kept the racing line, but his speed was a tad low. This could be a problem on race night since other cars may stall behind him, or bump him. I signaled him to speed up and he had a better speed. I gave him the green flag and he did well. His speed was more consistant around the track and his racing line was much improved. His times were in the 9 second range with a 8.75 second lap. I had trouble timing him with my wrist watch. (Race stop watch on order) He did get a little loose a few times because of non-smooth steering, but saved it well. It warms my heart to hear the tires squeal.

Gave him the red flag and he stopped quickly and smoothly. :-)

A restart, two laps under the yellow and back to green-ish. A few laps and I pulled him off the track. Smooth. He pulled off the track and into the proper area. His only mistake was not signalling with his hand.

When Joey was under the yellow I noticed he was surging. Speeding up and slowing down and it did not appear under his control. I asked him about it and he said he was not trying to surge. I guess my frictionless throttle had a down side. I was prepared and added a second return spring to the throttle.

We pushed off and it was clear that Joey had better speed control under the yellow. I gave him the green and he was doing well. Joey's neck gets tired racing and it tends to fall over to the outside. On the ride up we discussed how more experienced kids lean to the inside and this may make it less tiring. All of a sudden Joey started to lean into the turns :-) It must have been his idea. He looked very good in the turns, but he was trying to straighten up on the straights. This caused him to loose his line and I could see it was distracting.

I flagged him off the track. He pulled off well, but cut it too short and managed to tag the end of the wall with his rear tire. (All those who bumped a curb with the inside rear when learning to drive raise their hand.) This bump put a hicky on the wheel and caused the chain to come off.

The dent in the rim was not a problem, but I could not get the chain on as the light was dimming. I had to end practice for the day :-(

Ending practice early was a good thing. Joey was not tired, and we had a chance to talk about the session. One thing I said was that practice was not only for Joey, but for dad too. I learned that the chain had to be tighter and we need two return springs on the throttle. We also got to walk around the track and talk about Joey's line and head position. All-in-all a good session. It started to rain as I was taking the car off the truck. :-)

Club work day tomorrow. The last novice school in on Sunday.

Race Safe,


Return to index.

Racing Log #5


Today we had practice. Ron Rohner came up and helped me with the car and video tapped Joey's driving. He was also the second adult.

Joey went out on the track alone and I let him take a few laps under yellow. I then gave him the green and he punched it. The first two turns looked good, then he tried to stay too low on cold tires coming out of #4 and spun. Short and sweet, about 2 car lengths. He did not hit anything so I pushed him off and he went back at it.

His line was OK. Much smoother than previous, but his speed was off. I am not too sure why this was. I think he was distracted with something. I don't know what. His times were fairly consistant 10.5-9.5 seconds, but about a second off what he did last time.

A couple of faster kids came out on the track with Joey. They were much faster so he did not try and keep up with them. One kid came up on Joey from below and their wheels hit. The kids car popped his rear wheel over Joey's front and it was a minor incident at that point. However, the other kit broke a drive component and was just coasting in fron of Joey. Joey taged the kid's rear tire with his front and the two cars tangled this time. No damage was done, but I want to show Joey the tape so he can see what to do next time.

Joey went out a few more times and held a fairly good line, but was still slow. I thing without other cars about his speed on the track he lacks the inspiration to go fast. I think this will take time.

I am impressed with Joey's line. It has improved, and is a bit smoother than last time. Joey is a pro getting on and off the track. He pulled into the hot chute and stopped right behind another car. This is not easy when you don't have a clutch.

We are still working on signalling when he leaves the track. I wish he would raise his hand to signal when he leaves the track. I think I can show him on the tape where a faster kid almost hit him when he was leaving the track.

Joey and I had a nice talk in the truck. He admitted that he was not trying too hard and was trying different things in the car. Perhaps this play (aka self guided learning) is a good thing and it will make him beel better about the car. Here is the hard part for me... Don't push.

Saturday is opening day. Wish us luck.

Race Safe,


Return to index.

Racing Log #6

Whata day...

The racing action started early with practice at 11:00. Joey got out on the track and looked good. He was out by himself and he held a fairly good racing line and was turning laps in the 11-9 second range. I pulled him off I weighed the car & Joey. 240 lbs. The racing minimum is 235 lbs. Five pounds is a good safety margin for gas and clothing variations. I may take a pound or two out as the season progresses. We got in line to go back out.

The next time he went out with 2-3 other jr. Novice kids. This time he was better. The other kids must have made him go faster because he had a few laps in the low 9s to high 8s. He passed a few kids and a few kids passed him. This was very good. :-) Joey also showed some good staying power when he received a few good bumps from the other kids and he kept on going.

I noticed that he was sliding the rear a little coming into the turns so the next time I lowered the tire pressure down to 13 psi from 15. This time he really cooked around the track. I clocked one lap at 7.93 seconds! This was one kick ass time as the track record for Jr. Novice is 7.3. Joey and I retired for lunch.

Joey and I had time for one more practice before sign in. He continued to look good and his times were in the 8s. I decided 13 psi was a good number. I went over to a parts vendor and purchased a new tire, fasteners, some stainless braided fuel line and a roll cage web. (How to make a small fortune in racing. Start with a large one.)

Joey and I signed in and he drew #16, which put him 5th in the 2nd heat race. mom showed up right on que at 3:00 and we were lined up in the staging area. Mom being there made Joey feel good. There were a few cautions at the 1st heat race, but it did not take too long. Before I knew it I was pushing Joey off for his first race.

The 3 minute warm up was OK, but I did not see Joey pass anyone. He was fast, but just stayed in line. Protocol in Jr. Novice is for all of the cars to stop on the track after warm up and to get pushed off in two by two formation. We pushed off and Joey and the rest of the kids held their position well. They went into the green right away. We were racing!

Joey did not see the green for a few seconds and he was passed by two cars. He was down in 7th. 20 laps to go. He started to gain speed and worked his way up to 3rd. At this pint there was about 10 laps to go and I was hoping that he could hold on to third. (A podium finish in his first race would be nice.) Then he started to pull up the the girl in 2nd. He always passed this girl in practice, but he was having a hard time. After a few laps he pulled past her. Joey was in second. He caught up to the guy in first with about 5 laps to go. He kept trying to pass, but could not pull it off. Then on the last lap, coming out of turn 4, Joey stayed low and passed the #1 car. He won by a nose!

What a start! Joey pulled into the pits as he was instructed to do after the race but was imediatly pushed back out on the track by others so he could take his victory lap! He had trouble picking up the flag from the flag man, but after two missed attempts he got it and circled the track with the checkered flying while I did a dance in the pits.

His first place finsh gave him a spot in the A main race. Now for the 4 hour wait until his feature. We had dinner at DQ then came back to watch the big kids race.

When we lined up Joey had on his race face. I was a nervous wreck. They use a semi-inverted start for the main and Joey was 5th again. We pushed off for the 25 lap feature. Joey looked goood in warm up and passed a few kids.

The kids had trouble geting a good line up for the start of the main. The kid in front of Joey (#3) was way slow under caution which mucked the whole process up. The flag man kept motioning for the kid to speed up while Joey was trapped behind. When the green flag finally fell Joey was behind the pack. They got off a few laps and Joey passed a few kids, then the #3 car. This kid was fairly fast in traffic, but super slow in line up. Then there was a caution. Joey had to start in 5th behind the #3 because he passed on the lap that had the caution. The second start was the same. They got off a few more laps, then Joey passed #3, then they went under caution. With about 10 laps left they went under green. There was so much room between the #3 car and Joey that he was in turn 1 when the green flag fell and the other kids were entering turn 3.

Joey finally passed the #3 and two other cars to earn 3rd place in the A main race. The #1 and #2 finished were "experienced" novices since they had raced last year and were just about to move out of the novice class. Joey was very happy. He got his novice book stamped with a record of the finish and a smiley sticker.

I plan to put a picture of Joey with the checkered flag on his racing site mid week.

Race Safe,

Joe Return to index.

Racing Log #7/H4>

Team Dille had a interesting day at the track. On the drive up to the track I told Joey that there was two things that I wanted him to work on today. I wanted him to experiment with going over the speed bumps on the very inside of the track. There are little cast concrete bumps on the inside the turns that discourage cutting the corner. Joey has always avoided them like the plague, but the experienced kids can use this area as required on an inside pass. The second thing I wanted to work on was his start. Joey had poor starts on his first two races. He did not see the green until 1/4-1/2 lap had gone by. I told Joey I was not sure weather to look at the starter or the lead car at the start of the race but I would find out. I mentioned that the start was a good time to pass cars.

Joey and I also had a discussion on warming up the car and tires.

Joey and I got there at 1:30 and there were a fair number of cars already on the track the sun was out and it was in the 60s. Life was good. Our first chore was to learn how much a tank of gas weighed. I drained the tank before coming to the track. We weighed the car without gas then filled the tank and weighed it again. The usable gas in the tank weighs 2 pounds.

We suited up and got in line for practice. When it was our turn I pushed off and Joey turned 4-5 slow laps then got down to business. On one of his early laps he took the inside wheels over the bumps with no ill effects.

This week I bought a real racing stop watch. It records 50 laps and it is easy to replay the times. Like the racing tire gage this is an important and useful tool. Joey was turning laps in low 9s and his times were coming down. The important thing was his times were consistent. A hand full of laps were in the 8s We got in 40 laps and I pulled him off.

After praising him I measured the tire pressures. I started at 14 psi all around cold. The outside tires were up to 16-17. I bleed them back to 15 and we waited our turn for more. The next time he went out with two other novice kids. Joey really shines when there are other kids on the track. His times went down to the low 8s into the high 7s. His best time was 7.64 seconds! This is very good considering that the 1998 track record for Jr. Novice is 7.3 and Sr. Novice is 7.7 seconds. (The novice "record" only stands for a year.)

After about 120 laps total we went back to the truck for a snack and a break. I told Joey he did great. I bought a set of front wheel bearings and installed them. While we were walking around I asked two of the more experienced dads where the kid should be looking during the start. They both turned to me and said "flagger" without hesitation. We had our answer.

We got back in line for more practice. Joey did well keeping in the low 8s and high 7s. We pushed the car back to the truck and got in line to sign up. We pulled starting position 6 in the first heat. I saw the track photographer and looked through his photos from last week. He got 3 of Joey last week. One racing. One taking the lead on the last lap. And one with the checkered flag. Needless to say these are on the web page. Check them out.

Joey got out for the warm ups for the first heat and he went around the track. He was off his pace just following the other kids around. His laps were 12-10 seconds. The flagger stopped the cars and we lined up for the start. Joey was on the inside, 3rd row. I reminded Joey to look at the flagger. We pushed off and the kids stayed in fairly good formation, but two got tangled up. Red flag, restart. This time they made two laps in formation and the flagger threw the green. Joey had his head turned to the flagger on the back straight. The flag went down, his head snapped straight and he passed a kid! A couple laps into the race Joey went down low in a corner and passed a kid while going over the bumps. The kid gets an A for listening.

In the short 15 lap heat race Joey was able to move up to 2nd. He did manage to pass one of the cars that beat him in last weeks A main race. This was an accomplishment. The 2nd place finish put Joey in the A main again.

We congratulated Joey on his good work and had a picnic dinner. The family watched the other heats in the other classes. I had a good chance to explain to Patti how the whole race process works. We were able to follow several races from the warm ups through the victory lap. I was able to fill in several important details that she was missing. This was a good thing as it made watching the race more enjoyable. Intermission was over at 7:15 and we were back in line for the A main. The sun was going down and the temperature was in the low 50s. I set the outside tires to 13.5-14 psi. Joey was very excited. He put his helmet on back at the truck and had me push him to the staging area with his helmet and gloves on.

Our second place finish put us in the #3 spot for the start of the 20 lap A-main. The #3 spot gave me the duty of being the corner marshal for turn #3. Things were looking good. I pushed off for warm ups and Joey took 1-2 real slow laps then picked up the pace some. He was following the kid in front of him but not passing.

After push off the kids held a good grouping and Joey was looking at the flagger on the back straight. Joey got a good start. He did not pass, but was not passed. On the second lap Joey got loose coming out of turn 3 and caught it. On the lap 4 or 5 he spun coming out of 4. He did not hit any other cars. The yellow came out, then the red. On line up Joey went to the back of the pack (#8) since he went Dead on Track (DOT).

The restart was a thing of beauty. Joey saw the green and put a pass on the kid in front of him. They got off two laps and two kids tangled. Line up again. Joey was in 7th. Joey gets another good start and things started to look good. Two laps later Joey spins coming out of turn 4. This one you could see his frustration as it was a full 360. Back of the pack... Again.

I did the best I could to salvage Joeys mood. He was very embarrassed I explained about cold tires again an they had not warmed up yet. We push off again and Joey got in 3-4 good laps then got down to business with warm tires. He worked his way up through the pack to take 4th. If the race was longer I think he could have done better.

I was happy with his performance, he was disappointed. I tried to bring out the good things on the day. He passed going over the bumps and his starts were much better. He had also turned his best time ever in practice.

We also discussed cold tires and how we both made mistakes. Joey did not warm up the tires during the warm up period. He also tried to turn too sharp coming out of turn 4. His line early in the race should be closer to the wall. I should have realized temperatures had dropped and I had to drop the air pressure more to try and get some heat into the tire.

This week I will look into my inventory of tiny tires to see if I have a softer tire to run in the cool weather. We will see what we can do no practice on Monday.

Race Safe,

Joe Return to index.

Racing Log #8

It has been a week of ups and downs for team Dille. On Monday afternoon we practiced at the track with Ron Rohner as the video operator. There were no other cars at the track. Joey did real well. After a number of warm up laps Joey started to turn some decent times. Low 9's to high 7's, most everything was in the 8's. The car was a little loose in the back but looked OK once the tires had some heat in them.

On one of Joey's visits to the pits we discussed his times and he said that he could go all the way around with his foot on the floor, but the car started to vibrate funny. I said it was OK to run the car that way. I asked him to try running a few laps like that. He said "OK Daddy". Magic words.

He got back on the track and after a few laps got down to business. Almost instantly he was turning times in the 7's and he was consistant. I could see the heat finally got to the rear tire and it had come "in". The looseness was gone. Joey was flying. His best time was 7.43. This is only 0.1 seconds off the track record. The most important thing was Joey turned 20+ laps in a row under 7 seconds! Now that he can turn consistant times I can explore tweaks to the car.

I pulled him in and I showed him his times. He was happy. I suggested that he take a brake while I try and change the gearing. I figured that the previous owner was in a higher class and ran a larger restrictor. The engine would loose top end and taller gearing might help. I set to task changing the gear. I had counted the axle sprocket at home as a 24 tooth and I brought a 23. When I got the sprocket off I learned it was a 25 (it is hard to count on the car), so I was making a bigger change than I thought. I got the new sprocket on and discovered that the smaller sprocket made the chain much looser. I had run out of adjustment on the chain. I thought it was still OK for a few laps.

As I pushed Joey off I saw the chain flapping around, but it looked like it would stay on. The engine was flopping around a bit. Joey warmed up a bit then turned a few good laps. His best was 7.46. The chain was a flopping around and I pulled Joey in. I can't say if the gearing was an improvement or not since we did not really get in the grove with the new set up.

My plan was to install a 24 tooth gear and get shorter chain and give it another go. When I got home I looked at the motor mount and saw it was broken. I guess the loose chain had caused the weld to break. No wonder, this weld was one of the worst looking I have ever seen. It looked more like paper mache. Penetration nil. I repaired the area by making an angle iron brace and brazing it to the existing parts.

I made up a new chain that was a full link shorter and it was a tad too short to adjust with the new chain so I added a half link. Everything looked fine. I fired the car up in the garage and lubed the chain. I noticed the chain had loostened up a bit from the brief test run. I figured I would have a look when Joey came in from his practice on Friday.

On Friday things worked out a little different. Joey got out there and turned a few good laps and the chain came off after only 20-25 laps. It was flopping around loose as the engine raced and the car coasted. After a bit the chain caught against the spinning sprocket and frame with a crunch and the chain broke falling on the track. I pushed Joey off the track and collected the chain.

Lesson: These chains are cheap and stretch big time when new. New procedure test run, adjust. Five laps and re-adjust. Check after 20 laps.

I installed the old chain and sent Joey back on thre track. The tension looked OK. He got about two laps when this one fell off. Closer inspection showed the motor mount had cracked in a new location. I guess the broken mount allowed the engine to move out of alignment with the axle. Fridays practice was over.

It was crunch time now. I pulled the engine and looked things over. The engine hangs on a U-chanel. The crack was right where the chanel was ground down to clear the chain. I beat the mount back into alignment with a big sledge. I then made doubler from a piece of angle iron for the outside. I also put a second reinforcement on the inside. This took a bit of work with the sawsall. I then brazed the whole lot together. It took about 1/2 hour of tourch time and 2 rods, but it looked and felt sturdy. It was 11:00 when I came in.

On Saturday I decided to stick with the original chain and sprocket. The engine went in just fine and team Dille was good to go.

Joey had a birthday party to attend in the early afternoon. The plan was for me to get to the track and have the car ready. Patti would drop him off in time for the first heat race. I was a little nervous since practice was not in the plan.

Joey pulled third spot in the second heat. Joey was happy to learn that the fast kid "Spencer" was in the first heat. The girl in front of him was good, but he passed here consistantly in practice. The line up went poorly. There were a few tangle ups and we had to stop them and line them up 3-4 times. Finally they got their act together. The green flag dropped and Joey pulled off an inside pass for the lead. Joey motored around as the girl he passed stayed close behind. He was a tad off his speed, but going fast. About 3/4 of the way through he caught some lapped traffic and started to pick up speed. Now the girl was nowhere to be found. Joey took first.

This time the victory lap with the checkered flag went well. He got the flag on the first try. The photographer got a good shot of him with the flag. :-)

Joey transfered to the A main where he was gridded 8th. In the #7 position was Spencer who took first in the first heat. Joey was ready to race. Line ups went better and we only had 1 restart. Joey got a good start and managed to pass a few kids including Spencer. About 4-5 laps into the race a car spun in front of Joey. Joey hit the front wheel of the car, which pushed the other car straight, but stalled Joey. The other car continued, but Joey was DOT (Dead On Track). The judges charged Joey with the DOT, which put him in the back at the start. (IMHO, the other kid was at fault.)

The restart went well and they were off. Joey picked up a few positions. Then about half way through the race he tangled with this other kid during a pass and they slid up to the wall. Full speed and almost head on BAM. The race stopped and we ran out to check on the kids. Of course this had to happen about 15 feet in front of Mom in the stands. I could tell Joey was OK, but way shook. Both kids were crying. The nurse came over and examined them before she let them get out of the cars. This took a while for Joey since he was so embaressed. He was in no mood to play 20 questions with a strange lady.

The crowd cheered as Joey climbed from the car. Racing was over for the night as we lifted the car into the pits.

Mom was more shook than Joey. They went home with Matt. I stayed at the track and assessed the damage. One wheel half and a radius rod with ends. A big hammer should fix the rest. I was hoping not to work on the car this week :-( I bought the replacement parts and headed home.

When I got home Joey and Patti had done a lot of talking and were doing much better. Patti gave Joey a bath and a good full body inspection. The only damage was a small bruise where the sholder belt came across the base of his neck. The bruise had pattern of the weave of his shirt collar. Most importantly, his attitude was good. He wanted to go back racing :-) It looks like I will be back in the front end alignment business. Patti may want to stay home.

I did learn a few things this week. There is an Internet list for quarter midgets. It is fairly high bandwidth with a number of political issues. OTOH you can get some technical info. I learned that they run the Honda engines and geat boxes with about 1/2 the reccomended oil and a lower weight. I am running Mobil 1 0W-30 in both locations. I put 3cc of Dow M gear gard additive in the reduction gear box.

In the unrestricted Honda engines the valves float at high speed. Racers change the valve springs every week. They set the valve clerances to 0.001" hot to get the most out of the cam's duration.

My questions about gearing did not get sutiable answers.

Everyone must work on race night. I have decided to try flagging. I stood with the flagger for a few races this week. Next week I may try a heat race.

Race Safe,


PS: Thanks to Earl for sending me the first few racing logs.

Return to index.

Racing Log #9

After last week's meeting with the wall we had a lot of things to do to get ready for this week. I spent Monday and Tusesday straightening the car. I had to replace a radius rod and the heim joins on one side. I had to straighten the steering arms, steering shaft and one wheel. I also had to straighten the rear bumper from an accident in warm ups. Since the whole front end had to come apart I learned a lot about how it worked. I also learned how to set up the front end from scratch. This was a fair amount of work. I think I have it right.

When I talked with him Joey appeared to have a good attitude after the crash. I was worried about how he would do strapped into the car. Our practice was on Wednesday after school. Ron was our second adult. For an added bonus, the entire Dulaney family showed up to watch.

When we got to the track there were several other cars there. A few seniors, but mostly novices. Joey did great! He got out by himself and fairly quickley got his laps down into the high 7's. He also got out with others and passed and passed and passed. He had a few poor passes where he bumped the other guy after passing, but mostly they good clean passes. He never went dead on the track. I felt like we had made a 100% recovery from the accident, both mentally and mechanically.

Saturday we got to the track a little extra early to get in some practice. Joey did great. His times were in the mid 7's and the car was handling well. We went back to the truck for a snack after about 60 laps. We were about to go out again when the skys opened up. Fortunatley, it was just a summer shower and the track was ready to be dried in about 1/2 hour. (Let's hear it for banked tracks.) I asked Joey if he wanted to help dry the track and he said no. After the announced they wanted more cars out there and he saw the others having no problems he said he wanted to go out.

We suited up and I pushed him off. He rode around with the others as the track went from damp to dry. All the kids were taking it easy and I did not time Joey. Joey did tangle with another kid and he tweaked one of the radius rods. It did not look bad to me. Joey stayed out for track drying for 20-30 minutes before they called us in. They had an quick novice sign up and we lined up. We drew the second spot on the second heat. Joey appeared ready for the race.

Joey got a so-so start and fell back to third. He seemed slow and taking a wider line than normal. He fell back to forth for a few laps then got third back. His line improved and he managed to take 2nd for a lap until some lapped traffic got in his way and he fell back to 3rd. His line never got really good after that and he finished third. This was good since he would make the A-main.

I stood next to the flagger for the Sr. Honda race where I learned a number of tricks. One was to put the yellow flag on the lead car. This helps the kids stay in line and speeds restarts. I also stood for judging of the Sr. stock race. It was interesting to see the track from the other side during a race. I did see one infraction where a kid "nudged" another into a spin coming out of #2. The good guy kept his spot and the bad one was sent to the back. Justice was served.

Joey's finish in the heat put him in position 4 for the A-main. Joey apeared worried about the other fast kids in the race. His warm ups were a bit lack luster. When we pushed off for the race there were a few accidents by other kids in the line up and we had to restart several times. Finally the green came out and Joey held his position. On the second lap a few kids hit and Joey ended up going into the wall with another kid. This time it was a light hit. Joey was fine. The front end was tweaked, but his steering was OK and he was ready to go. He was not happy to go to the back of the pack. The restart went OK, but then 2 laps in two other kids went dead on the track. Restart again... Joey was passing a kid on the back straight and he failed to allow enough room for the other car. They scraped along the wall to a stop. Restart from the back. This was getting old. There were 1-2 more accidents that caused a restart. Joey was not involved, but all of the restarts did not help his his momentum.

Finally the race got underway in earnest. With 4-5 laps to go Joey started to hit his grove and was looking good. He finished 6th. Joey was not happy with his performance. I was happy the race was over and he managed to pass a few cars.

I had a chance to look at the car today. The front end is out by a fair amount. One wheel points north and the other north east. The axle lead is off too. I also think Joey was quite tired for the main race. I think the race started about 8:15 due to the rain delay. Joey's normal bed time is 8:30-9:00. All of those laps drying the track probably added to the fatigue. I think I could have done better as a coach. Drying the track was not a useful thing for race prep.

Next week is time trials. It will be a long day since all of the kids get 10 warm up laps and 3 timed laps with an electronic timer. Feature races will be held after the time trials. Keeping Joey's stamina for this affair will be a challange.

Race Safe,


Return to index.

Racing Log #10

Let's hear it for JB weld

This was an interesting week. I spent the first part of the week straightening out Joey's car from last week's racing. Nothing major, but I had to replace the radius rod mounting bolts and align the front end. I also geared the car up one tooth for the spring qualifiers. By Wednesday I had the car in good shape.

Eric helped me out by being the second adult for a Friday night practice. It turned out to be a rather short practice. After 10 laps or so he threw the chain :-( Eric and I put the chain back on and had Joey back out again in a few minutes. After 2-3 laps the chain came back off. When we lifted the car up to put the chain back on gearbox oil started to pour out. :-0 That ended practice for Friday. The chain had punched a small hole in the gear box cover.

We headed off the Auto zone to get some JB weld. After that we stopped in at the Dairy Queen to have some blizzards and take in the cars that came to the cruise night.

When we got home I gave Joey to Patti to but to bed and I went to work on the car. The chain had punched a dime sized hole in the gear box cover. I had read about JB weld performing great repairs on the road on valve covers and gas tanks. It is time to put it to the test for myself.

I cleaned up the cover real well and roughed up the inside with a die grinder. I used a little duct tape to cover the hole on the outside then I mixed up the JB weld and poured it into the hole. It slowly smoothed out and made a nice surface. I put it under a heat lamp for a bit to take the chill off the assembly. After it set up a little I brought it inside so it could cure at room temperature. At 6:00 am I put it in the oven at 200 F for an hour to finalize the cure.

When I took the tape off the repair looked great. The surfaces looked very smooth and the material had cured like a rock. The aluminum color of the JB weld makes it blend in with the cover. The repair is hard to detect. I spent the next hour putting the cover back on and putting the engine back in. We were ready to head to the track at 8:15.

Today was the spring qualifiers. This is a national level race which is run with all of the technical bases covered. Instead of heat races every kid to got a qualifying time to determine their position in the main race. This qualifying time is part of the drivers official record and is used when competing at state and national races. The cars must run the gas provided by the track to prevent the use of additives and sealed. The oil is also sniffed for additives and sealed. Cars are then weighed and the engines sealed with paint after the qualifying run. The fastest cars are then impounded after the main race and selected ones are torn down to the crank to look for cheaters. This is serious stuff!

Because of the long time required for qualifying all cars were allowed only 7 minutes for practice as a group of 7 cars before the qualifying runs started. Joey was in the first group. He got out there and started his usual cautious warm up. After about 10 laps he put the hammer down and started to pull his lap times into the 8s. Then the chain came off :-O Practice was over for the Dille team.

This was a big disappointment for me. I thought I had everything right with the car. Now this is three times the chain has come off. (Perhaps I should make the first shaft drive quarter midget.) I pushed Joey back to the truck and started to work on the chain. Joey also stopped the engine and car as I had instructed him to prevent the chain from doing damage. Luckily the chain fell clear of the sprocket and did no damage. I set the chain to the proper tension and tightened the engine down real good.

While walking around the pits I ran into the former owner and discussed my chain woes. He talked with me and showed me how the alignment is more important then the tension. I went back to our car and indeed I saw the two sprockets were not aligned quite right. I loosened the engine and set the two sprockets as well as I could. Said a little prayer and tightened the engine back up.

After all the other classes practiced we had a break in the action while they got ready for timing. The race director, who is also the head novice instructor took the time tell Joey how timing would work. He would have 10 warm up laps, then the green flag would come out and the next three would be timed. Then he would get off the track and head to the scale. The pit steward also took some time with Joey and walked him out on the track to show him the electric eye for the timing device and the spot where the flagger would stand. This was very good since Joey could see that the flagger was actually on the track along with the reflector for the electric eye. They were both located off the racing line, but it was good that Joey saw it before he went out. Knowledge is power.

With our fresh load of fuel and sealed tank we pushed up to our position. After getting Joey strapped in I knelt and said a little prayer to the chain god that our chain would stay on. I watched as the first three kids went out. They did well with the timing routine, but the best time was only 8.5 seconds. Our time came quickly and I pushed Joey off. Just as planned, Joey did 5 fast warm up laps and put his foot down. I timed a few and they were in the mid 7s. At the 10th lap the flagger threw the green indicating the start of the three timing laps. After the third lap the flagger threw the checkered and Joey pulled off the track. I waited by the scale to listen for the times. They were all in the 7.3 range with the best one of 7.3523! Last years novice record was 7.3192. Joey had done well. Just as important the chain had not come off.

As timing went on there was only one kid that beat Joeys time with a 7.2. There was one kid with a 7.45 time and there were only 2-3 other kids in the 7s. Joey would be in the #7 spot for the A main. My plan was the change the gearing for the race, but I did not want to anger the chain gods so I left well enough alone.

It took forever for all the kids to qualify, but it was finally time for the mains. Joey started in the back of the pack which was not his best position. Warm ups went well and we lined up. The race went green and the #8 kid passed Joey and kept going towards the front. After several laps Joey passed the #6 car and looked like he was in the groove. Then the yellow came out. Joey got a poor restart and the two kids behind him passed him. He started to position for a pass but the race had ended. He finished 8th out of 8.

This was very disappointing for Joey. I tried to apologize for keeping the same gearing, but he was hard to console. I look at it as a good week. We set the second fastest time for qualifying. More importantly, he did not so much as bump another car and he kept well clear of the wall. I had no alignment work to do this week. We will be back for next week.

Race Safe,


Return to index.

The Dille's Home PageDille's Home Page Joey's  PageJoey's Page