Quarter Midget #67
Racing Log 2001
This is a week by week log of our experience during our second season. 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
- Racing log #2
- Racing log #3
- Racing log #4
- Racing log #5
- Racing Logs 6 to 10
- Return to Joey's Racing Page
Racing Log #1
Welcome Race Fans!
Many people enjoyed following Joey's racing adventures during the 1999 and 2000 seasons. I plan to continue publishing a weekly log of his experience as a Senior Honda racer in the 2001 season.
Team Dille's 2001 season got off to an early start with our participation in the Annual Motorama motor show and indoor races at the farm show complex in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. www.motoramaassoc.com I asked a few friends and they said it was a good time and a great way to get in a little pre season racing. I figured it would be a good way to get Joey's last Jr. Honda race in since he turns 9 just before the season opener at Oaklane. In addition to quarter midget races they had arenacross, observed trials, flat track, micro-sprints and go kart racing.
Entering this race meant I had to have all of the off season work done to the car. I had the car painted the same as Joey's Rice car by Ken Shaffroth one of the Oaklane members. Check it out at 2001 Paint Job. I took the time to align the engine to the chassis and the axles to the chassis and each other. I found that they were off by a bit and reducing power losses is one of the keys to speed. They are now only a few thousandths out Hopefully the car will track better and go faster. I also modified the engine plate to make it easier to drain the oil. The left nerf bar has been returned to its original shape and I modified the left rear wheel bearing and spacers to make it easy to switch from locked to free.
My gearbox was leaking oil and the output shaft was chewed up so I found a used one on the Internet and installed it. While I was at it, I changed the engine gear carrier to one that is easier to change and drilled an access hole in the side of the car to give easy access to the gear hub. I no longer have to pull the engine to change the gear. While I had the hole saw out I drilled a now mandatory hole by the flywheel nut that makes it easier to inspect by race officials. I decided to hold off on an engine rebuild since there would be no way to break in the engine before the race. I will rebuild it soon and use the preseason practice to break it in.
I took the time to check for driver growth during the off season. Good thing as Joey grew enough for me to have to move the pedals and take out 5 pounds of weight. The track is indoors on a relatively slick concrete surface. I discussed the setup with Nick Schlauch, the car builder as he had raced there. He recommended locking the rear axle and running medium hard dirt tires. Normally only the outside tire drives and the inside tire is free to spin. Locking the rear makes the car less likely to spin, but increases the drag. The drag is reduced by providing "stager" which is a difference in circumference between the inside and outside tires. This makes the car naturally try and turn left. (It also makes the car hard to push around in the pits.) I had never worked with a locked rear and Joey had never driven the car this way. We both had some learning to do.
I mounted the new tires and measured the stager at 3 1/4". Nick suggested 3 1/2 to 4" so I swapped rim halves around to make the right 1/2" narrower and the left 1/2" wider. The stager was now 3 3/4". Bingo. I also reduced the gearing by a tooth since this track was supposed to be quite small. Nick also informed me that with the locked axle the chassis adjustments will work backward. I will want to reduce weight on the right rear to correct for looseness instead of adding it as I am used to.
Saturday 2/17 practice and qualifying race
After a night of last minute preparation Joey and I get up at oh-dark-thirty to get on the road and get there around 9:00 on Saturday. This will give us time to sign in, set up and be ready for practice at 12:00. On the drive out I am a pile of nerves. The track is new to us. I had made some changes to the car and set up. The locked axle is new to both of us. And my biggest concern is Joey will have just a 7 minute practice after having 5 months off before racing.
When we arrive sign in and set up goes well. Over 100 cars signed in and many of them looked like they were normally dirt track racers. About 1/4 of the people there were from Oaklane. It was good to see old friends and catch up. Joey and I walk the track and discuss the racing line. The track surface is smooth and dusty. So smooth that it has a bit of a sheen to it. The track area is in a large building that is normally a loading dock. The floor is broken into sections and they slope to the center of each bay to facilitate drainage. This gives the race course a slight double dip in the turns. The track is also short and wide which should make for good racing. Practice time comes soon and I warm the engine in the engine warming area and put Joey in the seat. The butterflies that have been in my stomach all morning but on their cleats and start stomping around in earnest. Joey is perfectly calm as I try and warn him about all of the things to watch out for. When I finally push Joey off the butterflies are doing the goose step.
To my delight Joey and the car do great. He is sliding the car around the corners in perfect control. He is passing a lot of the other cars. The butterflies go away. After practice I ask Joey what he thought and he was happy too. He thought the car was good and he was comfortable out on the track. Our rpm is a bit low and Joey's line looked a bit tight, but all in all I felt good. I figured the rpm may come up if Joey ran a wider line.
Practice for the other classes were moving along quickly and I asked the race director if we would have a second round of practice. He said no, so Joey and I went off to explore Motorama. Needless to say I was disappointed to learn they had a second round of practice prior to the heats.
There were two heats of 11 cars and Joey drew the #6 starting spot for the first heat race. The most cars Joey had ever raced with before was 9. Joey got a so-so start and lost 2 spots right away then started to get to work. By the 10th lap he had passed his way up to 3rd place, but then got spun from behind. The judges ruled this a racing incident and put both kids to the back. Joey worked his way up a bit when a caution came out with 2 laps to go. During the caution I saw a little part come rolling across the track. It looked like an axle nut, our car has axle nuts so I asked to have a look at it to see if it was ours. Indeed it was as I saw the little arrow that I had etched on it. It was nut that holds the left wheel on. This is the wheel that is naturally being pulled off the axle in the turns! I waved Joey into the pits and we went to work putting it back on. I had neglected to bring my axle wrench into the hot chute with the car so I borrowed a competitors. We tilted the car on its side and went to work. I feared the threads would be buggered, but they were OK. The problem was that the borrowed wrench did not fit. I ended up sending Joey off with the nut only hand tight.
The nut held for the rest of the race only to fall off again while Joey was exiting the track. In the two remaining laps Joey worked his way up to 8th place for the finish. Joey was disappointed with his finish and with my performance. He came out of the car in tears and kept his distance from me for a while. I let him have his space and focused on the car. I looked at my axle wrench and compared it to the one that I borrowed. It was the same size by the same vendor. On careful examination I noticed the locating pin was about 1/2" longer. The locating hole in my axle must be shallower than his. This must have prevented the wrench from engaging the nut. Note: Never ever go to the line without the wrench.
The wheel did not come off during the race because the splines jammed together leaving burrs. I used my pocket knife to deburr the axle and things fit together as they should. I tightened the nut real good this time. I added a turn to the right rear to correct for a slight push. Joey's rpm was still a bit down so I reduced the gearing by a tooth. The modifications to the engine plate and gear hub paid off as I could change the gear with ease.
Joey does not take mechanical problems well during a race. After an hour or so Joey decided to come over and talk to me. Turns out he thought his chain had problems and it was my fault. I explained it was not the chain, but still was my fault. He was cool with this and he was happy. Joey and I spent the rest of the day licking our wounds and touring the rest of Motorama.
After a restful night at the hotel (the History channel had a 2 hour history of Nascar) Joey and I arrived at the track at 7:30. We had the car ready for the 8:00 practice which did not get off until 8:30. Joey looked great. The car's set up was good and Joey opened up his line a bit. His lap times came down by 0.3s which was a ton on a 7 second lap.
The race organizers saw the error of their ways and split the Jr. Honda class into 3 features with 8 cars in each. The winner of the C main will transfer to the back of the B main and the 1st and 2nd place cars will transfer to the A main. Joey was placed in the #3 spot for the start. I had high hopes when he went out for warm ups. Joey and the car looked great and he was passing the other cars with aplomb.
Joey got a fair start and fell back to 4th, but got in gear for the next lap. He was driving well and was catching up on the leaders with every lap. I watched as he passed his way to 3rd and 2nd. I guess he was feeling cocky and went for 1st before he was close enough. Joey hit the other car which caused him to spin. Joey was placed in the back for the restart as it was his fault. Joey got a good start and worked his way up to 4th when the 2nd place car hit the tires on the infield and got sideways. Joey was sure there was going to be a yellow flag and slowed down. The other car did not get hit and kept moving. The race stayed green and several cars went past Joey while he figured out that he should still be racing. He gained his spots back to finish 4th.
Since this was an "entertainment" event the race winner got the traditional victory lap with the flag and then got announced as the winner by the announcer along with a brief summary of their racing bio as they got their picture taken on the track for inclusion for next year's program.
I was hoping for a better finish, but I was not disappointed with the racing. Joey made a few racing mistakes, but drove the car very well. He impressed me with his control of the car on a strange track, a different set up and after 5 months off. I was happy to see he was able to avoid accidents on the track. Something we had trouble with at the end of last season. I was also happy that I had the set up correct. I think we are ready to start our 2001 season at Oaklane.
The texture and topography of this track was as close as we could come to racing on dirt without actually being dirt. I think Joey is ready to race dirt. Perhaps we will try a few races on the dirt at Phoenixville this season.
During the weekend we had plenty of time to walk around and observe other motorized competition. The big draw was arenacross (Motocross in an arena) in the main arena. The farm show complex arena is about the size of the Philadelphia Spectrum. I had not seen motocross for 20 years and I have never seen arenacross live, only on TV. Well it is twice as exciting live. These guys are nuts! The fast guys spent a lot of time in the air. I was amazed at the control the riders had in the air using the momentum in the wheels to "steer" the bike in the air and adjust their landing point and attitude. Triple jumping, turning the bike in the air to set up for a 180 degree turn that is at the base of the landing hill and only 20 feet from the wall. I was very impressed. Some of the riders even did little McGrath like tricks during the race.
I was surprised to see they did not stop the race for a caution. They just waved yellow flags near the accident to warn other racers. They did restart for an injury or bad accident.
The starts were exciting too. 20 bikes squeeze into an area that looks about the size of a pickup in the first turn. Oh baby.
They had lots of classes of racing on the arena track from experts open class bikes to 6 year olds on 50cc bikes. The kids were very good riders and quite entertaining. The jumps for the big bikes turned into 20' mountains for the kids climbing up one side and screaming down the other.
They also raced quads on the arena track. Quad racing had a different flavor than the bikes. They did not do the jumps well, but they made great four wheel drifts in the corners. Some of the drivers were able to do the double jumps which was quite impressive.
Joey and I saw both bicycle and motorcycle observed trials. I can ride slow, but these guys can go backwards and turn in no space. The course looked like a cross between an abandoned city lot and a construction site. There were beat up cars, van and trucks, concrete tubes, large logs and a few clever man made challenges including a swing and a large hamster wheel. The course is broken in sections where the rider is observed as they navigate the obstacles on the course.
One section the rider had to jump into the bed of a pickup from the side and then turn and go up to the roof of the cab and then down the driver's door onto a log. The rider then went around the front of the pickup and drove up the grill, over the hood and onto the roof, then turned on the roof and went down the other door onto the floor. On another section the rider had to go up some logs and concrete pipe to the roof of a van, then down the drivers side onto a log. Once on the ground again they rode around to the other side of the van and went up the other side of the van with the help of a small ramp, then stopped on the roof and turned to go down the grill. These guys can ride!
The go kart racing was on a bigger and smoother (no bumps) track than the quarter midgets. The kart racing was similar to quarter midgets, but there were substantial differences in the details. They have clutches which allows them to stop and start at will. The also have no seat belts. After watching hundreds of hours o quarter midget racing it was funny to see the drivers get out of their cars after an accident, restart the engines and continue. In general the karts seemed more powerful as they had bigger engines and really accelerated out of the turns.
The RC racing was on a small motocross style track in a small arena. The races were divided into classes of stock, modified, 2WD, 4WD, gas and electric. Each car was fitted with a transceiver that would record when it went over the start/finish line. The racing was against the clock, but with all the other cars on the track. The announcer kept the crowd informed of who was wining as the race was underway. The pits had a different flavor than the other racers. They worked on tables with fluorescent lights and magnifying glasses. Instead of young guys with lanky builds, racing goggles and chest protectors, they were a bit dumpy, tape on their glasses and had pocket protectors.
On the other hand, these guys could drive. Whenever I play around with an RC car I can only get it to go in the general direction. These guys could slide the cars around a corner in a perfect drift kicking up 1/8th scale rooster tails then take the double jumps with a perfect landing. If you land on a competitor, no problem, just keep on driving, no one gets hurt.
The best part was the free style jumping competition. It started with a couple of guys driving around with the hottest gas powered RC cars on the arenacross track. These things could get to 50 actual mph and they got there right now. The flat area of the track was like the Bonneville salt flats to these cars. After a few tries they could repeatably make the double jumps, then the one guy tried for the triple. The car looked positively puny way up in the air. He missed his first 3-4 attempts and had bad landings on the up slope of the last hill. Finally he made it and the crowd went wild.
Next up were the motocross motorcycles. These guys were nuts. They were getting some real sick air doing heal clickers, nak-naks and touching their helmet to the front fender. One guy did a no-hands landing, which was very impressive. Another guy could get the bike perfectly horizontal in the air and snap it back for the landing. These guys were real showmen as they would drop their bike in the middle of the track and jump up and down to spur the crowd on. They would also do smaller tricks over the double jumps to get the crowd going. Great fun to watch.
Last of the free style jumpers were he 4 wheelers. As I said before, these things did not jump as well as the bikes as they had very little control once they left the ground. Still they would do the double jump and get a few tricks in. They could also pull impressive wheelies and power slide. One guy managed to do the triple jump a couple times. Unfortunately, he planted it into the wall on the last one which bent the front end. The crowd still gave him the win since he was the best.
In addition to all of the racing there was a huge static display that included just about every style of 4-wheeled enthusiast vehicle. Monster trucks that you could walk under and low riders you could not roll a golf ball under. All sorts of street machines including street rods, customs, pro-street and restored classics. Race cars were well represented too with dragsters, sprint cars, modifieds, midgets, antique race cars and legends. There were also people selling graphics, safety equipment, hop up parts, memorabilia and all sorts of fun car related stuff.
There was also someone crafting a huge sculpture of a race scene, entirely out of butter! This was at the farm show complex.
Joey an I give the Motorama two thumbs up. A great way to get a racing fix in the middle of the winter.
PS opening day at Oaklane is April 21, 2001
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Racing Log #2
I rebuilt the engine (rings) and ran the engine about 5 hours over the winter. Tried to do compression test with standard gage, but it was difficult, as I had to push the car to turn the engine it over. Pushing the car was easy, but I could only go the length of the garage. The cylinder leak down improved about 1/2 psi on my very oversized gage.
At the track I added 30 lbs to car to make the Sr. Honda weight. Joey was real rusty and had hardly any time with unrestricted engine. All the other times he drove unrestricted it was after a long warm up driving with the restrictor. I had soft tires, but the track was real cold and no rubber on it making it slick. Joey was real loose and spun twice. After 25 slow laps I adjust the car to get more grip in the rear. Takes 50 laps to warm up and get smooth. Take the adjustments out and he keeps the rear behind him. Best times in the low 6.4s. Wrong gear a couple hundred RPM down. Last 25 laps are good and consistent.
Added better bearings to the rear axle. Nice day in the mid 50's. Joey warmed up quicker this time. After 25 laps he was quick. He still had some inconsistency in his driving, but he was working to get the tires warm. Tires did get up to 130F. I kept loosening up the car and Joey kept going faster. Joey was getting tired after 90 laps. He said his wrists got sore. There was another Sr. Honda driver there and Joey was slowly catching up on him. Total was 120 laps. I want to push him to build stamina. Most good laps in the 6.4s had one 6.3. Rpm came up with shorter gearing. I may go a smidge more.
Added 4 more pounds to the car. Still I came up two pounds short of my target weight. Perhaps it had to do with Joey's early lunch and we practiced before dinner.
Track was warmer, 60°F air and concrete temperature and 70°F on the asphalt. Joey continued his improvement and worked the car hard to warm the tires. He was going fast in less than 20 laps. I finally got the weight right on the car. Joey was out with a Sr. Honda and managed to catch up to him after a bunch of laps. Joey did not get a chance to pass since the other car pulled off the track. Joey put a little over 100 laps in and looked good. His consistency is improving.
During practice the front of the car seemed to stick a little better than the rear. I dropped the tire pressure a bit which seemed to help. Later when I took the car off the truck I noticed I has inadvertently put a soft tire on the front and a medium tire on the front. This explained the somewhat unusual handling. It also tells me that I could run the medium tires at this track temperature.
Great weather for practice, the air was 70°F and the track was 115°F on the asphalt where the sun was shining. Patti's sister's family was visiting and Uncle Jean and John-Paul came up to watch us practice. It was good to have some fans at the track.
I put on a matched set of medium tires and kept everything else the same from the last practice. Joey went out on the track and looked good. His warm up was good and he drove a good line. The car was a bit tight and I put the tire out 1/2" on the axle. This helped some. I raised the Panhard bar one hole, which helped some more. Joey was driving well.
After a while Joey seemed to be having trouble with the car. Joey got a bit wide coming out of turn 4 and brushed the wall lightly. This caused the axle gear to come off the car and the chain came off. Joey did a great job and killed the engine the moment he felt something was wrong. (A post practice interview indicated that Joey was tired and lost concentration.)
The axle gears are made in 2 halves so it can be removed off the axle without having to remove the axle. It is a common feature on all quarter midgets. Our axle has a quick release holder, which mounts the gear halves on pins that has a spring holder to keep the gear on the pins. Something caused the gear to come off the pins.
Back at the pits I saw the problem. One of the socket head cap screws that are used as pins in the quick release hub had backed out about 1/8". This left a 1/8" gap for the other 3. Hitting the wall must have caused enough stress to pop the gear past the gap. I tightened the offending screw and checked the other three.
Since it was quite warm out I put harder tires on the car. Initially Joey looked good, but things started to deteriorate. I pulled him back into the pits. I felt the right rear tire and noticed it was low, in fact it had almost no pressure. Turns out the valve stem had a slow-ish leak. I am glad this happened during practice.
I put the medium tires back on the car and Joey looked good. His times were down in the low 6.4's, but he lacked a little focus. After we got off the track I learned that Joey had tested positive for strep throat. Time for the amoxicillin.
I tightened the pins on the gear carrier and put a dab of vibratight on the threads to prevent them from coming out again. Joey mentioned that the car was rubbing a bit on the track so I raised the outside of the car one turn. A good night's sleep and a couple doses of the medicine did wonders for Joey's focus. Joey's aunt and other cousin accompanied us to the track to see him practice. We were good to go.
Joey got out on the track and drove like a champ. He was very focused and seemed to warm up in 5 laps. There were a few novice cars that came out on the track and Joey worked with them well passing them smoothly and looking well. Joey's times were very good with consistent low 6.4's and a 6.3 every now and then. We had a chance to practice lining up and starting with the flags. Joey showed good starting skills.
Joey put in over 100 laps and was ready for more. All in all a great practice. Joey's aunt did a great job as a cheerleader.
When I was working on the car I noticed the axle bearings were a bit tight. Further investigation showed the aluminum spacer had collapsed allowing the full tension of the axle nut (100+ ft-lbs) to preload the bearings. Not good. I got a stronger spacer and all is well.
Being opening day eve the track was packed with trailers and racers. I left the car set up the same except moving the right rear in to compensate for low track temperature. Joey went out and drove well. The car was a bit loose until the tires got warm and he had to work hard to get his times down. Once he did he ripped off consistent laps 6.41, 6.42, 6.40… I was happy and pulled him off after 50 laps.
Joey told me he wanted to back out with the other cars and I put him back out. Another Sr. Honda car came out on the track and Joey seemed to kick it up a notch. After some work he managed a pass, nice clean pass. His times came down a bit more and he got several 6.3 laps in a row. Competition helps Joey focus.
After 25 more laps I pull him off and Joey is smiling. Seems one of his pre season goals was to pass another Sr. Honda. I am glad he passed this milestone.
I feel ready for opening day and Joey looks confident. “Gentlemen start your engines”.
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Racing Log #3
4/21/01 Opening Day
Joey arrived at the track at 12:00 and sign in started at 12:30. The track was packed. It was obvious that we had a lot of visitors from other tracks. Turns out that we had 175 cars signed up for the night. Normal would be 120 or so. I found a parking spot way in the back of the firing range field. It had rained all week and the field was already muddy from the other trucks. I parked in the least muddy spot I could find and we went to sign in.
Since we were parked about as far as we could get away from the starting area I decided to pack up all of our stuff into the car and move the whole operation to the pit area. It was a bit of a work out to push a car with 3/4" ground clearance over a bumpy, muddy field but Joey and I managed to drag and push the car through and set up in the pit area. Senior Honda here we come.
Joey pulled the first out of 4 heats, starting in 3rd position. I lined the car up in the staging area and started the engine to warm it up. Joey got into his equipment and got ready. I was a ball of nerves; Joey was focused. I pushed Joey off and took my position as a corner worker in turn 3. I watched as Joey warmed up. He was doing a great job. He looked good, warming up the tires with a series of controlled slides. He passed a bunch of kids and when he was passed it was smooth.
When warm ups ended Joey lined up quickly. I watched as he held his position 12-18” behind the #1 car. He looked good. As the pack came into turn 3 the green flag flew and Joey was off. Staying low on the front straight as we practiced Joey moved into second and dove into turn 1 with a bunch of other cars. Joey and another kid spun and brought out the yellow. Joey moved himself to the back and waited for the line up order.
The judges made a call on the other kid and Joey got his starting spot back. At the flagger's direction he charged back up to 3rd in a flash. He got a good restart, but the other kids did a little better and he was in 4th coming out of turn 2. Joey worked his way back to second just as another kid spun and brought out the yellow. The race goes back to the last complete lap so Joey restarted in 3rd.
Joey got another good restart and claimed 2nd place in a few laps. Joey then started to catch up on the leader. My heart was in my throat as Joey gained a foot or so each lap. I could see all out practice paying off as Joey's line was consistent and fast. With about 15 of 30 laps completed a kid spun coming out of #2 just as Joey was passing the flagger. Joey did not see the flagger, but did see the stopped car. He tried to cut inside but a kid came up and pushed him back up from below. POW.
And that was that. I could see from my spot in turn 3 that his tie rod was broken in two. When I got to his car I could see the axle was bent and part of the bumper was missing. Joey was not hurt, but shook up and upset. It was a good bump, probably his hardest, but he was physically OK. Emotionally he was upset for not finishing his first Sr. Honda race and all of his adrenalin was going full speed. A few people came up to Joey and said there was nothing he could do. This helped, but Joey was still upset. After about 5 minutes Joey was composed enough to get out of the car and we headed over to the snack bar for a root beer.
After I got Joey calmed down and did my judging I could focus on the car. I got another tie rod for the car and replaced the broken one. I then managed to align the bent axle to the frame and set the toe. The work went well and the toe and the lead were set to spec. The caster and camber would probably be off, but close. I still had to replace the bumper and the axle, but the bent ones would have to do for the main race.
And then the rains came… It had been lightly drizzling on and off all afternoon. The rain cooled the track, but did not make it slick. Now the skies opened up and real rain came down for about 20 minutes and a heavy drizzle fell for about another 10. They called for cars to dry out the track. I took this opportunity to get Joey out on the track to see if the car had any wonky handling problems. To my relief he looked good and the car seemed to drive well at 9/10 of racing speed. I felt we were ready to race the main.
Unfortunately the cool track was reluctant to dry and over a half hour was killed drying the track. This, combined with the huge car count caused the board of directors to cancel the main races and just complete the heats. Oh well.
I went over to the Schlauch trailer and purchased a new bumper and axle. Expensive, but it sure beats having to call California for the Rice car and hope they had the part in stock and they could get it to me in time for Saturday's racing. Joey and I slogged the car and all our stuff back through the ever-deepening mud and loaded up for home. Dirty and battered we drove out. So much for a great opening day. We will try again next week.
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Racing Log #4
Racing Log #4
Good practice car wise but Joey's head not really in it. His lap times were good, and he improved upon his personal best in Sr. Honda. Still he was not 100% focused. Not too sure what to do. I watched as one of Joey's competitors went out and put down laps that were 0.15 faster. I only timed 3 laps, but they were within 0.01s of each other. We have work to do.
I changed the outside springs to ones that are 10 lb/in stiffer to get the car a little looser. This seemed to have little if any effect on the car and how Joey was driving. Perhaps they made the car 0.02s faster. I decided to keep them on.
Oaklane is a busy place this year with the Grands this year. We had over 150 cars signed up for Saturday's racing. The race director decided to alternate between an "A" and "B" race schedules. This will put different classes at the end of the evening and make the schedule fairer to everyone. With the A schedule the Honda powered cars run early in the evening and the Deco powered cars run at the end. With the B schedule the Honda powered cars run last. Loosely translated this means Joey's heat and mains will run at different times depending on weather it is an A or a B night. On A nights the heats will be at 3:30 and the mains around 8:00. On B nights the heats will be at 5:30 and the mains around 10:00. Tonight was a B night.
The weather was absolutely perfect without a cloud in the sky. The air temperature was about 70°F and the track temperature115°F which were the same conditions that we practiced under. Team Dille even had a fan! One of the people I used to work with stopped by to watch the evenings racing. So far so good.
Joey drew a fairly tough heat with some of the faster kids in the class. During warm ups I noticed Joey was a bit loose and I called him in and took 1 psi out of the right rear. Joey started in the 5th position and got a good start. He was running well, but perhaps a tad loose. He managed to gain a position. On one lap he got a bit wide on the front straight and tapped the wall. Nothing bad, but it got my attention. He was doing well when one of the other drivers touched him from the rear, which caused him to spin. No call was made and Joey was put to the rear for the restart. Joey's start was good, but not good enough. He finished 6th of 7 cars.
After the race Joey complained that the car was loose. We resigned ourselves to running the last main.
It was a clear night and when the sun went down and so did the temperatures. There was a bit of a breeze, which caused things to cool even faster. I put two jackets on Joey and put him in the truck to warm up. I was shivering in my light jacket when I was judging one of the other races. The air temperature was 50°F and the pavement temperature dropped from 115°F to 50°F! I knew it was time to make some substantial changes in the car set up. I put on the soft tires and pulled the right rear wheel in on the axle.
They consolidated the 4 heat races into 3 main races. Joey started 5th in the 10-car C main. B racing schedule made for a late start. I let Joey have a snack of root beer and Shock Tarts. Hopefully this would help keep Joey's energy up. This would be important since the race was starting at 10:10, which is about 2 hours after his bedtime.
I told Joey to jump around in the pits to keep warm before the race. Joey's mental condition looked good as I placed him into the car for his first senior Honda main race. Joey warmed up well and I was happy to see that my guess at setting up the car was good. It looked like Joey was the fastest car on the track during warm ups.
Joey got a good start and worked his way up to 3rd place and was in position to take 2nd. There were a few spins due to cold tires and Joey managed to drive around the stopped cars with aplomb. He did well on the restarts, but could not get into second. On the last restart he fumbled and lost two spaces. He caught right up to the 4th place car, but did not pass. Joey finished 5th out of 10 cars.
I was hoping for better, but it was his first feature race with the older kids and Joey did finish and did stay out of trouble. Not bad. As we loaded the car into the truck Joey spoke about the race. He told me he was backing off behind the 2nd place car looking for a bigger space to pass. With 10 cars it was crowded out there and he needs to recalibrate his actions for the closer action. The older kids are tough racers.
Joey fell asleep less than a mile from the track.
Thanks to Dave for coming out, cheering us on, and helping.
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Racing Log #5
Racing Log #5
Joey's best times are still about 0.2s off the lap record. This is a lot and we need to find where this little bit of speed is. The ride height of the car is one of the adjustable parameters on the car. I have noticed that the car is about 1/2" lower than the original readings. Some of this is due to the 30 extra pounds added to the car to achieve Sr. Honda weight, some is due to the springs sacking over time. I decided to try and put the car back up to the original height and see what happens. I discussed these changes with Joey.
Next week is spring the qualifier where all cars are timed. This is a simple procedure. Each car goes out on the track, alone, and gets 13 laps. The first 10 are for warm up; the last 3 are for record. The best of 3 is your official time. The current set up was about right for the track conditions so I discussed doing a practice timing session with Joey. He agreed it was a good idea.
I put Joey out with the current settings and he went right to work. He was warming the tires up by sliding the car. In 3 laps he had the tires working and he started to build momentum. The last 3 laps were very good. The best was 0.04s off his best Sr. Honda time. I pulled him off the track and showed him his times. He did a good job driving and I told him so.
I let him out to run some laps and get comfortable. After about 25 laps I pulled him in and put the car on the set up pad. The set up pad is a 4' x 6' level concrete pad used to make chassis adjustments at the track. I carefully measured the heights at all 4 corners and recorded them. I then adjusted the springs to bring the car up to the original ride height.
I put Joey back in the car with instructions to pull off and tell me if anything is really wonky with the handling. I put him out and he puts in about 4 laps and comes in. He says the car won't go straight. We had this problem before with the old Rice car and the solution was not enough caster. I made a 1/2-turn adjustment to the radius rod and sent him out. Much better. His line was smooth and he was happy. We recorded our best time of the day (about the same as other days) with the higher ride height. I decided to keep it. It also makes pushing the car around the pits much easier as the bottom does not drag on every little bump.
At home I took a reading of the caster. It was exactly at 5°, which is where it was before I adjusted the ride height. I checked the caster with the original adjustment and it was 4°. I can't believe Joey could tell the difference in 1° of caster, but he did.
Saturday was supposed to be hot in the morning, then showers in the afternoon followed by a cooling from a passing front. It was hot so I asked Joey if he wanted to arrive at the track early and try the hard tires. He agreed and we left a little early to get some track time. I put the harder tires on and he did well. Smooth and fast. I discussed the setup with Joey and he agreed to go with the hard tires. Joey signed up and pulled #95 out of 120 possible numbers. He would be starting in the last heat for sure.
The forecast called for a front to come through during the afternoon. All afternoon it had been clouding up. When the Jr. Novice class came out it started to spit a little. Finally the rain got heavy enough to stop the racing. The rain only lasted 10 minutes or so, but the air behind the front was cool. The track dried quickly, but the air and track temperature had dropped. I switched back to the medium tires.
30 cars signed up in Sr. Honda so there were 3 heats of 10 cars. Joey's heat was packed with some of the faster kids in the class. Joey's car was fast and handling well in practice, but the other cars were fast too. Things looked grim right from the start. Joey got pushed to the outside on the start and lost a few positions right off the bat. After a few laps he fell to the back of the pack and mounted and assault on the second to last car. Joey was positioning to pass when the other car shut down causing Joey to slow. As this happened the front-runners came up blocking Joey's pass and lapping Joey as he was stuck behind the car that was going slower and slower. Finally the car pulled off the track without causing a yellow flag. If there was a yellow flag the cars would have gone back to the last completed lap. Now Joey was stuck a lap down in the back. That's how things ended. Bummer.
There was one exciting point in the race when the car in front of Joey spun then flipped. Joey pulled it to the inside and missed the stopped car. Good driving.
Joey's finish in the heat put him in the 8th spot for the start of the C main. I am not sure why he was so far back since the starts were supposed to be inverted. Oh well. It had gotten a bit cooler for the main race so I moved the right rear tire in to give more grip. This turned out to be a problem.
When Joey went out to warm up for the main race he had a bit of a push. The car would not turn coming into the corners. I noticed the push, but it was too late in the practice session to make any changes. Oh well. When the green flag fell the two cars in the back dropped low and passed Joey. Joey caught up to the last car, but the push kept him from diving inside for the pass. Joey had never driven the car like this so he was struggling. The push kept getting worse and he had a hard time keeping up.
Joey would get to the start of the corner and he would turn the wheel. The car would scrub off speed until it slowed enough to turn and he would come into the corner high and slow. If things went well he would come out of the corner well. If things did not go well, another car would sneak inside of Joey as he struggled getting into the corner. Not good. Joey finished 10 out of 10 cars in the C main. Our worst finish ever.
After the race Joey was upset with me for sending him out with a push. I did feel for him as the push put him at a disadvantage during the race. I had over reacted to the changing track conditions. When Joey and I reviewed the video I saw another problem. Joey got a bad start every time in both the heat and main race. He failed to pick up speed on the backstretch when the back was coming into turn 3. The Sr. Honda drivers start to go as soon as they smell a green flag coming. Joey was caught 2 cars back on every restart.
This week I will go over the car carefully and see if I can find any mechanical problems. We can only go up from here.
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