Joey Dille's


Quarter Midget #67


Racing Log



These are installments 6 - 10 of a week by week log of our experience in the 2000 season in the Jr. Honda class. 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 #6

Practice 7/21/00

On Monday I ordered a new axle from the Rice company. Unfortunately the only way the Mr. Rice does business is COD. The axle was delivered on Wednesday but no one was home. I had to wait to Thursday to install the axle. I got the axle installed by working late into the night but we were good to go for practice on Friday.

It had rained on and off most of the week and Friday looked no different. We arrived at the track and it started to drizzle as soon as I got the car off the truck. I pulled the car into the covered staging area to wait. Sure enough the rain stopped and a novice went out on the track. This was OK since the novice speeds are slow and there was enough traction on the damp track. After a while the track dried off and I put Joey out.

It looked like Joey was doing well but the car's handling was off and his times were a little slow. I read that only one of the axle bearings should be tightened to the axle which allows it to float side to side as the suspension works. I received the car with both bearings tight, but I figured I would try it with one bearing loose. Mistake. Joey went out and got about 15 laps in and the chain came off. The axle had floated away from the center of the car and the chain could not take the misalignment. Oh well, back to plan A.

Joey only got about 70 hot laps in between the rain delay and the axle experiments. I was not happy with his times, but that was all we could do. He was about 0.1 second off and I did not know why.

Racing 7/22/00

A learning experience

Saturday morning I had another look at the front end and tweaked it a bit. Nothing special, but just a bit to the caster and lead. Joey and I got to the track with just enough time to take a few laps. Joey looked better and it looked like his times were close to what I expected.

Joey drew the number two starting spot in the second heat. Joey does not like starting on the outside row, but at least he was up in front. His line up was good, but he missed the green a bit and everything fell apart. Several cars got under him on the start and he lost 2-3 places in the first turn. Then he made the mistake of staying high and the he was "clothes-lined", just hung out to dry as the rest of the field filed past him. He went from 2nd to last in about a lap and a half. It was tough to watch. Once Joey was in the back of the field he was able to establish his racing line and keep up with the field. Truth be told this was a fairly fast heat. He managed to get one position back during the race to finish 7th.

Joey knew just what happened and where he finished. He knew he was destined to race in the C main. Oh well…

Joey's lackluster finish put him in the #4 spot for the C main. This time his start was better, but he still managed to let one car by. A car spun and the race went under yellow. On the car in the #4 position had trouble lining up on the restart and he left about 4 car lengths in front of him. The flagger tried to get him to tighten up, but he still lagged behind. The consequence when the green flag dropped was Joey was about 1/2 a lap behind the field. Joey made a pass on the #4 car just as another car spun. Joey was not involved, but he lost his pass on #5 since the race reverts to the position on the last complete lap.

The restart was an instant replay (slow motion?) of the last start. Joey made the pass on the #4 driver and kept on going. He had worked his way up to 2nd place when the checkered flag dropped.

All in all not a bad night. It was a drag to be in the C main and not even win, but we did finish the night with a straight axle. My friend was also there with his video camera and recorded both races. These would make good training tapes. Joey knew he blew the start on the heat race. Perhaps we could work out a better strategy for future starts.

Race Safe,

Joe

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Racing Log #7

Practice 7/28/00

Joey and I watched the videos of his racing from last week. I was able to point out his mistakes and he could see how he lost positions on the starts. He understood fully what he needed to do on the start to keep from loosing positions. I tried to point out how he could improve his racing line, but he did not want to hear about it. It is tough to review the tapes without just pointing out the bad points. I am not sure how to make reviewing the tapes a more positive experience. Perhaps listening more than talking.

Friday night we went up to practice and he looked good. His line was a bit off, but the stop watch showed he was off about 0.1 to 0.15 seconds. I think his line had something to do with the mediocre lap times, but I also suspected a problem with the car. All in all we were in fairly good shape. Better than last week. Joey put in a little over 100 laps in practice and he looked confident on the track. The car did not appear to be pushing or loose.

Racing 7/29/00

Saturday morning I asked Joey to look at the tapes again. Surprisingly he wanted to watch them. I let him be alone while I went out to the garage to look got the 0.1 second. I found the slack side of the chain was rubbing on the frame a bit. I also remembered there were a few tight links in the chain. I replaced the chain with a new piece and adjusted it carefully. I tightened chain and paid special attention to the alignment of the sprockets. The chain was just loose enough to run free, but tight enough to miss the tweaked the car. Hopefully this was where the slow times were coming from.

We got to the track with enough time to take some practice laps. Joey went out and got in the groove quickly. He got in some fast laps and he appeared to find that 0.1 seconds. I felt like we were going to do some good things tonight.

Joey pulled the #6 spot in the 1st heat. Since there was only 17 cars in his class there was only 2 heats which meant Joey would have to get 4th or better in his heat to make the A main. Joey got a good start for the heat and he raced well. There were a few accidents in his race and he did an outstanding job missing the stopped cars. I watched as Joey moved up in the pack to finish 4th. It was a good heat race.

The 4th place finish put him in the A main. There was a very good chance that he would have the pole. I felt good, Joey felt good, but alas it was not to be. Rain started falling about 3 races after Joey's. After about an hour they called the race and we all went home. Oh well.

Before the board of directors officially called the night of racing the rain stopped a few times and they sent a few kids out on the track to dry it off. The kids were mostly in the senior Honda class and had a fair amount of experience. I had a great time watching the drivers slide around on the semi wet track. When the drizzle picked up there were only 3-4 cars on the track including one of the fastest kids in the class. It was amazing to see his control of the car. He slid the car around wherever he wanted on the track using the dry bits of the track to his advantage. He passed the other cars at will and made it look easy. I hope Joey develops some of the same skill and control.

New car!

Over the year I have seen Joey get better at driving, but his times have not improved to be really competitive. After some discussion with Patti and Joey I decided to get a new car. (Our present car is at least 20 years old. It is cool that Joey can make the A main in an antique.) I wanted one with a modern chassis. A full roll cage, which would be safer and stronger and lots of offset. I looked for a few weeks at used cars, but the ones I was interested in were snatched up before I had a chance to look at them. In the end I decided to go with a new car.

The car is a Schlauch car (pronounced Schlau) made by a local racer that makes his own cars in a small manufacturing operation that he runs after hours from the back of his daytime auto repair shop. I decided to go with him since he comes to all the races with a trailer full of parts. No more paying UPS red and having to arrange COD payment. Nick also offers trackside racing assistance to help sort out problems on race night. He belongs to the club and his two kids race. His downside is he has only made 16 cars to date.

Schlauch has shop hours on Tuesday and Thursday evening. I visited his shop near the Neshaminy mall. It was neat and tidy. I got an idea of his inventory and watched his welder assemble a chassis. It all looked good.

I put a deposit on a car. I plan to pick it up in the beginning of September. We will see how it goes.

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Racing Log #8

About 1/2 of the cars at the track use a little industrial tachometer on the car. I ordered a tachometer with the new car and I asked if I could have it early to put on our present car. The tachometer is a cute little device. Hookup is dirt simple, a small wire loops 5 times around the spark plug wire and that completes the electrical hookup. The body is about 2" x 1"x 0.25" and can be mounted anywhere.

The tachometer runs off a watch battery and is designed to keep a tab on rental and industrial equipment. It gives you current RPM, total hours, job hours and max RPM. The tachometer is used on the race car to give the max rpm for a lap session to help determine if the gearing and tire combination is correct. It is not a fool proof method since it gets only one data point per session and the driver can cause this to be higher than actual. Still one data point beats none.

Practice 8/4/00

The practice went OK. Joey started out with a fairly good line but his times were only so-so. I checked my RPM after the first session and I saw the max RPM at 5000. I have heard the goal was 5200. I swapped the right rear tire for one with softer compound, but 1" smaller circumference hoping to change the effective gearing. Our second session gave us 5100 RPM and Joey's times dropped a bit. The one data point was helping.

The engine is important, but the driver is still the most important element in the equation. I worked with Joey to refine his line. This was only partly successful. He would run the good line for 1-2 laps then revert to his old line. Mind you I am only moving his line 6-12" on the entrance and exit of the corner. Still the better line yielded better times. I tried to reinforcing him with hand signals, but he was not running the better line on each lap. Still, there was improvement in his times. All in all a good session.

Alas there would be no racing for team Dille this weekend in order to celebrate Pop Foyder's 80th. (The party was a success and turned out to be a family reunion where everyone had a great time.)

Practice 8/11/00

I had changed the axle gear to one with 1 more tooth and put the larger/harder tire back on the car hoping to get a few more RPM out of the engine. Joey was in a good mood when we got to the track and hopped right in the car and got to work. He looked good on the track and his line was better, which was reflected in his times. I pulled him off after 20 laps to check RPM. 5160, not bad.

Team Dille had a great practice. Joey's line continued to improve and his times dropped. More importantly, he drove consistently and was turning laps well within +/- 0.05 second of each other. This is pushing my ability to time accurately. The last two track sessions had RPM readings of 5200, cool. We are ready to race.

Racing 8/12/00

Tonight was "Back to School Night", which is normally draws lots of cars. The theme for the night is school and school supplies and toys are given instead of trophies. The weather was iffy at best. At home we had intermittent thunder showers all morning. I called the hotline and racing was still on so I covered the car and drove to the track. The streets were wet until we were 1/2 mile from the track then the sun came out and the streets were completely dry. They had no rain!

Since we had a good practice the day before I decided to forgo race day practice and just check the car's weight. Turns out Joey is growing and I was able to take out 2.5 pounds of lead. Every little bit helps.

There were 19 cars in Joey's class so they had to break it up into 3 heats. This meant he would have to finish 3rd or better to transfer to the A main. The line ups were posted and my worst fears were realized. Joey drew the #5 spot in a six car heat that included some of the fastest kids. The only good news was that Joey had the inside lane on the start.

The sky was clouding up as I pushed Joey to the staging area. Things got worse as it got closer to race time. Everyone was waiting for the skies to open up as the races before Joey ran. It started to spit as I checked Joey's belts and safety gear. I warned Joey the track was cold and he would take a while to get his tires warm and pushed him off.

Joey slid around a bit for the first few laps. It looked like he was provoking the rear to slide to get the tire hot. Sure enough the tires warmed up and Joey hooked up. Joey was running a great line and he was concentrating 100% on the task at hand.

Joey lined up real tight for the start and got a great start gaining a position and not allowing anyone to pass. He looked like he was going for another position, but backed off when things looked tight. He held a tight line for the first lap to keep from getting as he came up to racing speed. Joey did all the things we had discussed, sometimes things just click. There was a minor crash in front of Joey and he managed to brake and steer around it. Great!

Joey's restart was good, but it could have been better. He did not get the jump on the field, but kept his position. Throughout the rest of the race the car in 5th was knocking on Joey's back door, but Joey held his line and maintained his position to the finish. Usually a 4th place finish would put him in the A main. Tonight it would only be good for the back of the B main due to the 3 heats in his class. Oh well.

When they have a large number of cars in a class they divide the heats as evenly as possible. In our case there was one race with 7 cars and two with 6. For the features they fill the higher mains with the maximum cars and have the remainder in the last main. In our case the A and B main would have 8 cars and the C main had 3. Joey was a little lucky and got the 5th starting spot out of 8 cars. In the back, but on the inside.

Joey mentioned that he thought he could place in the trophies in the B main. I told him that was a good attitude as we pushed the car up to the staging area. There were a few quick kids in the B main and I knew it was not going to be easy. The temperature was about the same as for the heat race so I felt the car was right.

Joey got right to work in warm ups and started to feel out the competition. He looked good and his line was right. When the green flag dropped he got a good start and moved up to 4th. Again he held his line low for the first lap as the car came up to speed. It is great when a plan works. He was racing well. Joey was running some of his best laps when a kid spun in front of him :-0 Joey hit the brakes and swerved to the inside, missing the spun car. Again, the plan worked.

Joey was just about past the spun car when another driver came up and hit Joey on the inside pushing his rear into the spun car. A Joey sandwich. It was a hard hit, but Joey kept on going. Cool. The spun car went to the back of the pack and Joey was in third on the restart. Very cool. As they lined up I started my prayers to the quarter midget chain god that his chain would stay on.

Joey missed the green by a bit on the restart and the first two cars pulled away about 7 car lengths, but Joey got right into the racing line and kept his position in the race. I watched as Joey ran the perfect line and closed the gap on the #2 car buy 1-2' per lap. For once I was hoping the race would be longer. With 5 laps to go Joey started to try and pass, but every time he pulled low he lost a bit of speed and he could not get the pass off. I watched as Joey worked and worked. Alas it was not to be and the checkered flag flew with Joey in third.

I was proud of Joey for a good race and I let him know it. The third place finish put us in the trophies, which were school supplies since it was Back to School Night. Joey got a 3 drawer organizer filled with notebooks, colored pencils, glue sticks, a hot wheels folder and a hot wheels car. Joey was pumped. A great night for team Dille!

I do have a little repair work to do on the car. As I suspected the Joey sandwich was a hard hit. Both nerf bars were bent in and one was cracked. Nothing serious, but it must have been quite a whack since that chrome-molly tubing is very tough. We will be back at it next week.

Race Safe,

Joe

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Racing Log #9

Practice 8/18/00

It rained most of Friday and it was looking bleak for getting in any practice. I watched the radar from work and toward the end of the day it was looking like things may dry out around 5:00. When I drove home the roads were damp, but the wipers stayed off. Practice was on.

It was only 65 degrees and the track surface was probably even colder when we got to the track. I carried a softer tire along, just in case Joey could not get this one to heat up and provide traction. Normally there are 5-6 cars practicing on Friday night. Tonight we had the track to ourselves.

I warned Joey about the cold/wet conditions and pushed him off. He slowly worked up his speed and then started to explore the limits. At first the sliding seemed to intimidate him and I thought we would have a classic catch 22. Can't go fast 'cause the tires are cold and can't get the tires hot 'cause you can't go fast. Then after a while Joey started to really push his limits. The car was dancing and sliding around but Joey was dealing with it. He was close to spinning several times but caught the car every time. Finally the tires came in and Joey got onto the racing line. His times and RPM looked good.

Since we had the track to ourselves we practiced starts. I got Joey to look back and forth between where he was going and the starter on the back strait. I stopped him on the track several times to talk and he was quite open for suggestions. After a few consults he was doing great. On his own, he even started to hold a low line on the first lap to help maintain his position in the imaginary pack. Very good.

At the end I pulled the restrictor plate out of the engine and let him fly full bore. He did great. The car was sliding and dancing around the whole time, but he was holding a good line. His times were a little off, but this was due to the fact I had the wrong gearing for the extra (1) horsepower.

Joey showed good focus and effort. Especially since there were no other cars to "spar" with. The car was hanging in there and the set up looked good. All in all a great practice.

Racing 8/19/00

Saturday dawned cool, clear and crisp. We got to the track and Joey wanted to practice. I was willing to rest on our laurels from yesterday, but Joey really wanted to get out there. Practice was a zoo with everyone and his brother on the track. I tried to wait until some of the cars cleared, but practice time was ending. Finally I pushed Joey out into a mixed bag of 8-10 cars ranging from novices to the fire breathing B-modifieds.

Joey did 4-5 laps in the 8 second range and it was clear that he was having problems. The car was working too hard. He pulled himself off and a light seemed to come on as he was stopping in the pit. He told me he had his foot tangled up and he figured out what was wrong when he went to stop in the pits. (This car is getting a little cramped for him.)

Joey did much better this time and was really showing good judgment in traffic as he passed and was passed. The other drivers were also showing good judgment. Joey got in a few laps with clear track in front of him and I timed him at 6.71 seconds. This is as good as it gets.

Heat #3

At sign up we pulled #112 out of a possible 120 so we were destined to start in the back of the last heat. Since there were 24 cars in his class Joey would have to get 1st or 2nd in his heat to make the A-main for sure. A third place finish would give him a 2 in 3 chance at the last two spots in the A-main. Joey and I read the list of drivers in his heat and it looked promising.

Joey started 6th and got a great jump at the green flag. He dove in low and came out 4th from turn 2. Great start! Joey was on his line and worked the car for all he was worth. Slowly and surely he passed the #3 car and set his sites in the #2 spot. Sure enough he executed a great pass and made it stick on the second to last lap to finish 2nd and guarantee a spot in the A-main!

A-main

Joey's 2nd place finish put him starting #3 behind the 2nd place finishers in heats 1 and 2. We were the 5th feature race of the evening. The first race was the Sr. Honda sponsor cup. This class draws 30-40 cars a week and it is hotly contested. The sponsor cup is where a local business donates a 6' trophy and they start the race with lots of pomp and circumstance. They line the cars up on the track and announce their names and biography as the drivers hop into the cars. Very professional. Joey and I decided to watch the Sr. Race before we staged. This was a good thing as Joey gave a running commentary as he watched the action. It was a great race and the kid who won had won this race every year for the last 5 years. He earned it tonight.

After the race I checked everything on the car I could then Joey and I pushed it to the starting area. We sat nervously as the races before us ran unusually long. The Jr. Novice race went 25 minutes and they called it do to taking too much time. This whole time it was cooling off. I knew it was still warmer than Friday's practice.

Finally it was our turn and I pushed Joey out to the track. He warmed up well and stayed clear of the few accidents that happened during practice. The line up was going poorly and the flagger was getting mad at the #1 kid since he would not obey the yellow flag. Finally, the flagger threw the red flag and stopped all the cars on the track. The #1 kid was scolded and sent to the back.

This put Joey in the #2 spot. This was good, but Joey does not like starting on the outside. Finally the race got started and Joey managed to pass the #1 kid and get passed by the #3 kid.. He entered turn 3 in 2nd. Wow!

Joey held onto 2nd for 20 laps. Successfully fending off repeated attempts by the 3rd place car for a pass. The kid would beat Joey into the turn and come out ahead and Joey would make it up going down the straight to beat him into the next corner. 3-4 laps later the kid would try it again. Late in the race one of the fastest kids in the class passed Joey to put him in 3rd. The now 4th place car was still knocking on Joey's back door. And they were fighting it out.

With two laps to go there was a pile up in turn 4 involving the last 4 cars in the race. No one was hurt, but it required a restart. I was shocked to see Joey get the #4 spot on the restart. Turn out the #4 car had passed the start/finish line ahead of Joey on the last complete lap. Bummer. To make things worse there were a couple of lapped cars ahead of Joey on the restart. Double bummer.

Joey got a good restart, but still finished 4th. He was upset when he came off the track. I explained what had happened then heaped on the well deserved praise. We felt like we were robbed. This was the best night of racing that we have ever had. As we drove home Joey replayed the race and told me some of his strategy. I was one proud pop.

Keystone Invitational

Next week team Dille will be attending the Keystone Invitational. This is a two day, 4 race event at the Honeybrook track. Joey and I will be staying at a hotel, the whole 9 yards. Joey is ready.

Progress on Schlauch Race Car

I spoke with the Nick Schlauch and the new car is coming along fine. Everything is fabricated except the frame, which should get done next week. It should be ready on time. After this weekend Joey is really looking forward to the new and bigger car.

Race Safe,

Joe

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Racing Log #10

Keystone Invitational or a Heartbreak in Honeybrook

This weekend was the Keystone Invitational at the track in Honeybrook PA. It is a whole weekend affair with practice and sign ins on Friday, 3 races on Saturday and 1 race on Sunday. Racing, Racing and more Racing!

The Honeybrook track is about the same size as the Oaklane but its flat and the straights are narrow. It sits in a lush valley where it gets cool and damp as soon as the sun goes down. I spent the week tweaking the car to the track. I reduced the gearing by about 10% and mounted softer tires. I also adjusted the outside rear wheel inboard to put more weight on it. Even with the car adjusted Joey has not raced this track since last year as a Jr. Novice. We both needed to get dialed in.

Friday 8/25/00

I took the day off to get to the track early and get some much-needed practice. We got to the track around 2:00 and started practicing. Our first session was a disaster. Joey went out and warmed the tires then put down a few good laps and the tires went away. I watched as he went up toward the wall with the wheels turned to the lock. We had a big time push going. In addition to the push, the right front wheel was bouncing up and down like it was being dribbled. I made a small tweak on the shocks and sent Joey back out. His times went way up, something was way wrong. I pulled him off the track.

Something was dragging, bad. Joey could not even pull into the pits as he lost power. I checked it out and saw the right rear wheel was rubbing on the swingarm. Turns out I did not tighten the drive hub enough when I moved it in and it had worked its way into the swingarm. It chewed up the inside of the wheel and put a divot in the swingarm making a bit of a mess. The damage was not significant enough to prevent us from going on. I tightened the hub real tight and, put Joey back out to practice, but things went from bad to worse. I tried two other tires, but we could not hook up. I moved the right front wheel in a bit, but still no success.

In desperation I went and purchased a harder tire for the right front then went through the exercise of mounting the tire while Joey had a play and Gatorade break. The new tire did the trick. I also took 3 psi out of the right front, which reduced the bouncing. Finally we hooked up! Joey was screaming out on the track. . He made 3 laps in a row under the track record! Once we were dialed in I left Joey out to run and get comfortable with the line. All totaled we had about 130 laps of practice.

I relaxed a bit and we had dinner. I met an old friend who was racing with his grandson. It was good to see him and he was gracious enough to allow us to put our car in his trailer for the night. His grandson was racing Jr. Stock, so we would not be racing each other. Good thing since this kid could fly.

After dinner we signed in and had the car safety inspected. There would be two 5 minute controlled practice sessions in the evening. The first one went OK, but Joey had lost his line and his times were up 0.2 seconds. He was tired of racing, but I wanted to see him do it right. His line was even worse for the second practice. He started his turn too early, which gives him a lot of speed at the apex, and he ends up sliding up to the wall. The trick is to go deep into the turns and get a late apex, which gives more room coming out of the turn. Joey kept turning earlier and earlier which pushed him up to the wall on the exit. Finally he tagged the wall good. The car looked OK, but he was not driving as if it was OK. After the practice I saw that the front end was tweaked and the car had significant toe out.

I spent the next half hour replacing the spindle in the dark and setting the toe while Joey held the flashlight. A tired 8 year old is not my first choice as a flashlight holder. It was frustrating looking for the parts in the dark and in the grass, but we got it done. I hope I have it right for tomorrow.

Saturday 8/26/00

The Jr. Honda class is the first to go off and Joey is in heat starting on the pole. It was a clear night and the track temperature dropped quite a bit overnight. The air temperature was rising, but the track seemed cool to the touch. I made an executive decision to run the soft tires due to the temperature. Around 10:00 am I pushed Joey onto the track and I hoped that I made the right decision.

I like to warm up the engine in the pits for a minute or two while Joey gets his racing gear on. This was a routine event until I went to stop the engine. I hit the kill switch and the engine kept going : -0 I stopped it by putting my foot on the tire. I told Joey that the kill switch was not working and he was OK with it. In fact he pointed out where the wire had broken off behind the switch. This is not as bad as it may seem since he always stops the engine with the brake. It was more of a safety concern for me since the car would want to start when I pushed it.

Leg 1

I carefully moved Joey to the starting area by lifting the rear tire as I pushed. Once it was clear I let the tire down and he was off. Warm-ups went well and it looked like I had made the right decision on the tires. Joey was getting around the track well and I looked forward to the start. Well… every flagger is different and this one started the race in an unusual way. He held the yellow flag out until the pack was just about on top of him and just let the green fly. This caught Joey off guard big time and he fell back to 4th.

From that point on Joey raced well and stayed up. The car was pushing a bit, but I was not sure if it was the car or Joey that was causing the push. In addition to the push I noticed the car was rolling side to side a bit coming out of the corner. Near the end of the race Joey put on a couple passes when the cars in front of him got out of shape. He finished 3rd, good for 17 points.

Leg 2

The sun was out and things were heating up. I put the harder tires on and put all 4 shocks up to the 2nd out of 7 settings. The harder tires were for the temperature and the damping was for the roll.

Patti and Matt made the trek to the track and joined us for lunch and to watch leg 2. Joey wanted to do good for mom.

Joey's good finish in the first place put him in the faster of the two heats for the second leg of the series. Joey started in the third position for the second race, but he missed the flag and lost two places on start. The race went from green to checkered and a faster kid near the end of the race passed Joey. Joey was disappointed with his 6th place finish. (14 points) He thought he could have done better. I was happy that he held his own and raced well. Joey stayed with the lead pack and had nothing to be embarrassed of. He just has to look for the green flag better. We still have leg 3 to go.

Leg 3

Our race was around 6:00 and I had the harder tires on the car. I was hoping the heat from the day would still be in the track and this would be the right set up. One guy went out onto the track while we were in the staging area and measured the track temperature with a pyrometer and reported 95 degrees. This made me feel good until he said that it was 120 degrees when we raced leg 2. The harder tires still sound like the right choice.

Our combination of finishes put Joey in the 8th starting spot for this leg. This bummed Joey out and he could not figure out why he was starting in the back. Even worse, starting in the back and outside. I figured he was tired and this was all he needed to cop an attitude. I have to remember he is only 8. In warm-ups his line was good, but he looked off. Near the end of practice Joey spun the car to the inside coming out of turn 4. This may have gotten his attention. The corner worker pointed the car in the right direction and pushed Joey off. The setup on the car looked OK, but he was off.

One kid came out of the pits late on line up and was put to the back of the pack for the start. This put Joey in the inside #7 spot for the start, which appeared to lift his spirits. Joey got a fair start and worked it from there. I watched as he ran his line and raced. I was impressed at the way Joey was handling the car. His line was not as consistent as I hoped, but it was very good. I could see him work the wheel as the tires danced on the track going back. It was a thing of beauty.

Joey raced hard and managed to pass two cars by shear hard work. He finished 5th good for 15 points . He was still bummed with his performance. I was quite happy and told him so then sent him off to play with his buddies.

I was volunteered to judge the heavy 160 class. This class runs the Honda GX160 engine, which is the "big block" 160cc version of the GX120 engine Joey drives. It is a heavy class, which means the kid must weigh over 100 lbs in addition to meeting the minimum weight for the car/driver combination. Big kids & big cars. It was a great race to watch as there were only 6 cars on the track and the positions of the whole field changed several times during the race. Finally, this one kid, all 6' of him got command of the race and managed to pull to the front and stay there after being last twice during the race. Alas it was all for naught as his right front spindle snapped and he went into the wall right under the judges’ stand. The driver was just fine. In fact he even reached out and picked up the right front wheel and handed it to his dad before extracting himself from the car.

After I finished my judging duties we packed it up and headed back to the hotel. The hotel pool to be specific. Joey had a great time with his buddies in the pool while I watched from the hot tub. Life is good.

Joey crawled into bed and was zonked out in under 30 seconds. It was a long day for both of us.

Sunday 8/27/00

Leg 4

In the morning we found out that Joey was in a 5-way tie for 5th place. As luck would have it our combination of finishes and points put us on the pole of the #1 race. That was all well and good, but we had a little snag. The guy that had our car locked in his trailer had not shown up yet and our race was the first one of the day. I paced as the clock ticked away. If we could not make the start we would get a DNS for the final leg.

Racing was scheduled to go off at 12:00 and it was 11:30. I was having a tough time waiting. Luckily they had some entertainment before the racing show that would provide a little delay. Around 11:45 a biplane came over the track and dropped candy on the track. The kids let up a great cheer as the candy came out of the plane. The pilot made about 5 passes and each time dropped a shopping bag full of small candy and treats. I had to hand it to the pilot as he got the majority of the candy on the track. The kids had a ball. I was still waiting for my friend with the keys to the trailer.

The next piece of entertainment was a guitar solo of the star spangled banner. The guy was no Jimi Hendrix, but he did a nice job. Still I waited.

Next three parachutists made a jump over the track. Two landed in the field behind the track and third landed on the track. This was no mean feat since the he had to thread the needle between the light standards to hit the infield :-8 It was a perfect stand up landing to a cheering crowd. To top it off the guy wiped out a bouquet of flowers and handed it to his wife. What an entrance!

Just then the guy with the keys showed up :-) Now it was time for me to hustle. I grabbed the car and my tools out of the truck and went to work. Our revs were down a bit in leg 3 so I wanted to put new valve springs in the motor. I quickly got the valve cover off and changed the springs. I aired up the tires and we were set. We just made it to the staging area as the other drivers were getting ready. I got Joey suited up just in the nick of time and I pushed Joey off for warm ups.

Joey looked good on the track and was driving the perfect line. It made me proud to watch him let the car dance over the track while keeping it under control. He pulled it a little too tight exiting 4 and he spun. The corner worker went out and pushed him off and he continued to warm up without incident.

The time of reckoning was upon us as the starter lined the kids up. It was all up to Joey to keep it together for 20 laps. Joey got a great start and got the hole shot, then went right into a tight line that he loosened up as the race progressed and the car picked up speed. The yellow flag came out and Joey kept the lead on the restart! Joey led the race for the first 12 laps when the point leader worked his way up from the back passed him. I did not feel bad since this guy was a national champion. Joey continued to drive well and had 2nd locked up driving smooth and the car was hooked up. With 2 laps to go the yellow flag came out and we had to restart.

Joey held his spot on the first lap, but got passed in turn 2. This did not sit well with Joey and he dove in get 2nd back going into turn 3. Joey managed to come out of the turn ahead, but spun coming out of 4 and came to a stop about 30' from the line. A heart breaker. That was that.

To add insult to injury two kids came up and hit Joey as he was stopped on the track. Joey and our car were OK, but the other cars were a bit bent.

Joey was inconsolable when he came off the track. He just cried and cried as I tried to tell him how good he did. He did not want to hear it. Finally after about 10 minutes I got Joey out of the car and he ran off to sulk. One of the kids that hit Joey was worse. He sat in his car for 40 minutes before he would come out.

About an hour and a half later I saw Joey and the other kid playing together. Time heals all.

The last race of the day was the AA-modifieds. This is the top fuel of the quarter midget world. They run alcohol and they can modify the basic engine as much as they want. This class does not normally run at the Oaklane track so it was a treat for me to see them run. The class had 6 cars at the start of the race. After warm ups they all go into the pits to get refueled since they only have enough fuel for the race. The drivers must get out and the handlers top them off. Then they go out on the track for a few more laps and line up.

The race was a blast to watch. The cars rocket from corner to corner in a sheer display of power. About 1/3 of the way into it one car blew the engine spilling white smoke out the back. They stopped the race and inspected the track, then resumed racing. In the last 5 laps the lead car’s engine started to go away. Each lap the #2 car gained a bit, but the last lap pass did not happen. What a race. Way to go Robbie!

After racing club held a "pit crew" competition to pass the time while the top cars were getting inspected in the impound area. This was a cute idea. Three kids on a team. One “drove”, one pushed and one was the mechanic. The pusher pushed the car 1/4 of the way around the track to the pit box. The mechanic then changed the two outside tires and the pusher pushed the car the next 1/4 of the track to the finish line. Score was for low times with penalty for missing lug nuts and loose nuts.

Since this was an important race for the club they performed a technical inspection on the top 5 finishers in each class. This took hours. Finally around 8:00 they gave out the awards. Joey got 9th for his points, which was just a participant award. Without the spin in the last leg it would have been 3rd or 4th and a “real” trophy.

I look back at the weekend and we came a long way. On Friday we came to the track with a bad set up and no experience with the track. I was afraid we would be real back markers on the track. After a day of hard work we were running well as a team and turning good times. After 4 races we learned a lot about racing an away track. On Sunday we left as contenders. It was a good experience for team Dille. Return to index.


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