Joey Dille's


Quarter Midget #67


Racing Log



These are installments 16-20 of a week by week log of our experience as a novice team in 1999 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 #16

Finally, some racing

The pinnacle of quarter midget racing occurs in late July called the Grands. There are three Grands races, East, West and Dirt. It is a week worth of racing with about 500 cars registered. Cars qualify against the clock then race in lower mains over the week to determine who gets to the coveted A main held on Saturday. A driver can start in the J main and finish well and then move to the I main, then move to the H main and so on to end up in the A main. They close all local tracks for two weeks for preparation and travel to the Grands.

Team Dille had lots of work to do during this break. The little bump during our last heat race did more damage than I thought. The right rear shock tower broke at the frame. The repair took about 2 hours of welding then required painting, reassembly and alignment. I also fabricated an axle adjuster to help reduce the chance of the axle shifting and make alignment easier. Our little bump also cracked the rear bumper, which I welded. All in all the car is as good or better than before.

In addition to crash damage I did a few improvements to the car. I replaced the worn out ball bearings in the right front wheel with tapered rollers. Because the small diameter the quarter midget tires spin faster than a regular car tire at highway speed. The roller bearings spin easier than the balls (IMHO) and should not wear out. I also changed the left rear bearings with ball bearings that are similar to the originals. I mounted the hardest tire I could find on the right front.

We practiced at Oaklane on the 23 rd. It went quite well with Joey turning 7.5-7.4 with a few 7.3's. This is very good considering the temperature was in the 90s. The new front tire gripped well at these temperature and appeared to wear in the proper manner. Unfortunately, there were no other kids so Joey did not get to race with anyone. Still we got in 150+ laps which built up Joey's stamina in the heat.

Honeybrook

I wanted to try racing at another track with Joey. The closest asphalt track is in Honeybrook Pennsylvania. I hooked up with the novice director at the Honeybrook club via the Quarter Midget mailing list. They offered to let Joey practice with their son on Sunday the 25 th. It was about 98 degrees and I had lots of Gatorade. The Honeybrook track is flatter than the Oaklane track and the straights are narrow. Not knowing any better I had the car set up the same as for Oaklane. I figured I would learn at this practice too.

Joey and I arrived at the track about 15 minutes before our host. This was a good thing since Joey and I could walk the track and see how you enter and exit the track. When our host arrived we unloaded the car and prepped it while we listened to driving tips from the novice director. In short order we were ready and I pushed Joey off onto the empty track.

Joey did quite a few tentative laps then he started to pick up the pace. The car got loose exiting the corners and Joey fought to get it back. His initial fast laps were around 8.9 seconds, but they steadily got better. I could see Joey thinking and trying different things. After about 30 laps the other kid came out and took laps with Joey. He was a Sr. Honda so he had no restrictor and had much more power. He took care passing Joey and there were no problems. Joey worked his times down to the 8.1 range. Our host was impressed with Joey's driving.

After a much needed break in the cool trailer Joey went out again. Joey got right into the groove and his lap times improved a little more. He could get down to 8.05-7.95 on a consistent basis. I was impressed with the way Joey could let the car slide coming out of the turns in a controlled manner. His slides went from an almost spin with a jerk recovery to a smooth power slide. This is quite a difference from Oaklane where the car stays hooked up the whole time. After about 170 laps total he was way tired and hot and I pulled him off. I later learned the lap record is 7.73 for Jr. Novice. Joey was doing good. Team Dille decided to race at Honeybrook on the 6 th.

We planned to practice again at Oaklane on the 30th. Just before we were about to hop in the truck we got a call from the club secretary to learn they had canceled racing on the 31st due to an excessive heat index. I was bummed, Joey has the stamina to race in the heat, but I would not be a fun day. We decided to practice anyway. It was another scorcher. Joey turned good times, consistently in the 7.4s.

There were 4 Sr. Honda cars out there and they turn laps about a second faster than Joey. He was passed often, which was distracting Joey. I suggested to Joey that we try the Jr. Honda restrictor plate so he could run closer to the speed of the others. His times went down onto the high 6's. His Honeybrook practice served him well as he was able to deal with slides with ease. With the bigger (7/16") restrictor the other kids had a hard time passing Joey even though they had more power. Joey was able to run a lower line and they could not get below him on the straights. Cool.

Honeybrook Racing

I spent some time with Joey discussing the racing line at Honeybrook. The trick is to go deeper into the corner and let the car slide a little to scrub off speed. The car can then hook up and make a smooth drive to the next corner. I made a track diagram and drew the Oaklane and Honeybrook lines. Joey and I came up with a signal to use during practice to tell him to take the corner deeper.

Finally, after 3 weeks off we get to race. I left work early and went down to Honeybrook. We signed up and had the car inspected for safety. They let us go out and get a few laps practice. I had changed the car slightly by lowering the gearing by two teeth and putting softer tires on the outside. Joey started sliding right away, but started to stick as the tires got warm. I used our signal to adjust Joey's line. Soon he was lapping in the 7.9 to 7.95 range. My changes to the car were good and Joey was ready.

When I went back to the truck to get our air tank I saw Marge and Jack Busch pull up on their bikes. Fans! I invited them over to the car to show them the set up and explain how the races worked.

There were only 7 kids in his class so there would only be one heat. Joey pulled the second starting spot for the heat race. Soon enough we were ready in the hot chute and I pushed Joey off for warm ups. I was way nervous. Joey was moving well, but I was concerned when Joey did not pass anyone during warm ups.

At Oaklane the novice class is lining up under power. I learned the Honeybrook class is not at this level yet as the flagger stopped them on the track to line up. I pushed Joey off and he held his position well in the formation. The green flag dropped and Joey got a good start. He tried to take the #1 kid on the outside, but he started to slide on the coolish tires. Joey fell back into second and followed the #1 car while the tires warmed.

Joey started experimenting with different passing techniques then made his move with an inside pass to take the lead. Joey then started to take on the back markers and was driving his race. The race was about 1/2 over when two cars spun in the turn in front of him. They were far enough away so Joey could not see it happen, but too close for the flagger to throw the yellow. The two cars were sitting just past the apex in a tee formation. Joey tried to steer around, but did not make it. BAMM. Joey hit the rear car which was firmly braced against the front car. I knew there was a problem when the corner workers did not push him off right away.

I went over and saw that Joey was fine. The car had a bent the axle and broken and bent radius rods. We carried him over the wall and we were out of the race. Bummer.

Joey had a little hickey on his shoulder from the seat belt, but was physically OK. His mood was poor. I praised Joey for good racing and he said he had no way to get around the spun cars. My experience is that Joey needs some time to recover from an accident and is best left to himself. He cooled down in the truck, then came out and asked to play with one of his Oaklane friends. Joey was OK.

Marge and Jack came over and helped me survey the damage to the car. There looked like there was a chance to bend the axle straight and install new radius rods to compete in the feature. Jack and Marge helped me disassemble the car and remove the axle. They were very helpful handing tools and making sure I did not loose any parts. We got the axle out and needed a place to straighten it. I spied a dumpster and I was able to put the axle into the holes the truck puts its arms into it to dump it. Jack and I pulled the axle almost straight when, DOINK, the bent part broke in two. That ended racing at Honeybrook…

Oaklane Racing

I spent Saturday installing an old axle the previous owner gave me. This axle was not a straight drop in, but it worked after some cutting and taping. I aligned the front end, caster, lead and toe and it appeared to line up fine. I then had to change tires and gears back to the original set up. Lastly, I set the weights on the tires so I could get the same weight distribution as before. I was a sweaty mess, but we were good to go.

We arrived at the track just in time to get in some practice. I told Joey that I made substantial repairs and he would need to feel the car out. Joey made one or two laps and he came in. I could see that he was having trouble steering. He described the problem and it sounded like the car was twitchy. I looked at the front end and I could see the king pins were almost vertical. I had messed up the caster measurement by measuring the angle in the wrong place. The caster was zero, or perhaps even negative. Oops.

Time was running out. I told Joey to stay in the car and I ran back to the truck for some wrenches. I put four turns into the lower radius rods. This gave the axle some caster, who knows how much. I pushed Joey off again and he went out. It looked like the car was still a little twitchy, but he was dealing with it. Soon his lap times came down to normal and I let out a sigh of relief. There was another Jr. novice on the track and Joey put a pass on him. I knew we were good to go and both the car and Joey had recovered from last night's accident. I let him out for 40 laps total so I did not wear him out.

A lot of cars turned out for Saturday's race. I guess vacations are over and everyone wanted to get out and race after three weeks off. The place was packed. A friend from work came up with his wife to see Joey. More fans! I had a chance to go over the car and explain the racing procedures. Joey pulled the number 1 spot in the third heat. Unfortunately, the two other fast kids in the class were in his heat too. Joey needed to place at least 2nd to guarantee a spot in the A-main. It was going to be tough with the other kids in the same race. I was concerned, Joey was not.

Since we had to wait two races Joey and I watched the first heat from the stands. He rooted for his 5 year old buddy. What a sportsman. I explained what was happening to my friends so they could enjoy the race. The race was over and we hustled to the car so we could get ready for the third heat.

This was Joey's first start in the #1 spot and he got the green and pulled away. The two other kids came up behind and managed a pass when Joey was passing lapped traffic. Luckily, there was a yellow on the same lap and Joey got back his spot. One of the fast kids lost his chain in the accident and was out. Joey had only one kid to worry about and he was starting #2. The restart went well and Joey and the other kid raced off. The other kid passed Joey with the aid of some lapped traffic and a little bump. Joey stayed on his tail and pulled off a squeaky clean pass with 2-3 laps to go. He held the lead to the finish.

Joey had a big grin when he did his victory lap. Of course I had a bit of a smile too. This was the best race Joey had run. It was obvious he was awake, thinking and making good decisions. The race director complemented me on Joey's driving. Several other drivers and handlers complimented us too. I was one proud pop.

Joey's 1st place finish put him in the A-main, where he drew the #6 spot. The winners of the other heats took the #7 and #8 spots. Of course the kid that came in second in the heat was starting ahead of Joey. This was going to be an interesting race.

Warm ups went well and Joey was not having any problems with the car. I was quite impressed with the way the kids lined up for the start. They were in close formation and all knew what to do. It looked like one of the higher classes. The novice director was happy.

Joey got a good start and tried to pass the #3 car on the outside. Unfortunately, his jump was not good enough to make it around and he had to slow. This allowed the other two kids passed him on the inside. Last place. He was having trouble passing the other kids. It was not a lack of effort on Joey's part. He was just getting bad breaks. Joey made it around one kid and he tried to pass Joey back on the next lap. He hit Joey and they both went up to the wall. Joey fought with the wheel and managed to get the two cars apart and keep going. This allowed the leader to lap Joey. It was looking rather grim.

There was a yellow and Joey was lined up behind the leader, a lap down. Joey got a good start but did not get a pass on the leader. Soon enough Joey pulled up to lapped traffic and started to pick them off. He raced well to the end and finished 5th .

Despite the 5 th place finish I was happy with Joey's racing as it was the best I had seen and I let him know.

The novice director told us this was our last race with the novice restrictor. Next week we will race with the 7/16" Jr. Honda restrictor. This will be an important practice for us. Joey will have to become comfortable with more power and I will have to see if more power upsets the chassis. I also have to figure out how to fix the broken axle. Always something.

Race Safe,

Joe

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Racing Log #17

Partly Cloudy. . .

Four beads of quality weld now grace the spot in the old axle where the break once was. It is almost perfectly straight and looks plenty strong. I am not too concerned with the strength since this part of the axle is under very little load during normal driving. A before and after picture is at http://home.jtan.com~joe/axle.htm. I swapped the repaired axle with the replacement axle and had no problem aligning it. I set the caster to 6 1/2 degrees. The chassis is good to go.

Last week the novice director told about 1/2 the class that they would run with the Jr. Honda (7/16 hole) restrictor instead of the Jr. Novice (3/8) restrictor on the engine. Joey was told he was in the half of the class that was getting more power! I gleaned the following representative numbers from the Quarter Midgets list.

Jr. Novice - ~1.7@ 4600 rpm
Jr. Honda - ~3.6 @ 5000 rpm

You can check out the actual restrictors at: http://home.jtan.com~joe/race_pics/restrictors.jpg

In addition to more power, Joey gets more weight. The combined weight of the car, driver and equipment goes from 235 to 250 pounds. This is a good thing for us since our car is quite heavy due to the repairs that have been made over the years. I had to add 12 pounds to the car to make it legal with some safety margin. I could make the gearing taller, but I decided to keep it the same to make it more forgiving and allow for better acceleration.

Joey and I practiced on Friday and he looked good. The additional power caused him some trouble, but he got the hang of it and was able to keep his foot in it all the way around. Small mistakes would cause him to slide and loose time. Every now and then he would bout together a smooth lap and he would dip down to 6.6 seconds which works out the 31 mph. Most of his laps were not perfect and were 7.7-7.9. I had him running a tight line. The lap record is 6.4, so we have a ways to go.

Two of the more experienced handlers told me to have him run a wider line since this would work better during a race. I trust the two, so I had Joey move his line out. This increased his times a bit, but they got more consistent. I am not sure this is the right move, but I think I will stay with it since I have seen the other Jr. Honda kids run this line. Joey will be able to run a tighter line if he needs to.

Saturday had a hectic schedule. Joey was to be at birthday party until 3:30. Mom was to pick him up and deliver him directly to the track. I was to have the car prepped and signed in when he arrived. With any luck we could get in a few laps of practice before they closed the track..

After Joey was dropped off at the party, I had some extra time on Saturday after lunch so I decided to change the oil and valve springs on the car. The oil came out quite black which surprised me. I guess running at full throttle with no air cleaner tends to dirty the oil up. Note: Change oil every other week.

I learned from the Quarter Midget list that the valve springs on the Honda engine are a weak link. They sack over time and can cause the engine to loose power. Once I looked at them I could see why. They look like the valve springs on a antique engine, made from very thin wire loosely wound. I figured since Joey was moving up in power I would treat him to new springs.

The quartermidget.com web page describes the procedure with some detail. You put the engine on top dead center and pressurize the cylinder with compressed air. This is supposed to keep the valves up while you change the springs. You compress the springs with your fingers since they are so weak. The procedure goes something like this:

- Put the cylinder on TDS
- Pressurize the cylinder.
- Press the spring down and slide the rocker off
- Push the spring down and slip off the retainer
- Install the new spring
- Put the retainer back on
- Slide the rocker back in place

Sounded simple, eh? The valves even stay in adjustment.

Well... Things did not go as planned. When I was putting the exhaust spring on when the engine rotated. No problem as the pressure was still in the cylinder and the valves are against their seats. I then pushed a tad too hard on the valve, which released the pressure and doink... the valve to dropped into the cylinder. Oh blast!

Now the scramble. I have one hour to get the car ready and have it loaded in the truck. Only 4 bolts hold the head on and there are two holding the baffles on. I pull the head partly off and fish the valve back through the guide. I do not have an extra head gasket, so I wipe the old one off and pray for the best. I torque the head to the factory spec and put the piston on top dead center. It turns out the piston does a fine job holding the valve in place. I slip the keeper on the exhaust valve and then change the inlet spring. I set the valve clearance and put valve cover back on. The engine fired right up and seemed none the worse for the wear. I even had a few minutes to clean up.

I had Joey signed in, the tires filled and the car was warmed up when he arrived. Joey hopped in the car and we got in 20 or so laps of practice and warm ups. I did not want to over do it since Joey was kind of tired from the pool party. I made sure he got some Gatorade before he went off to play with his friends. So far so good...

Then it rained. It stopped, then it rained again. The forecast was for significant rain. Finally the race director called the race and everyone packed it up. Of course the sun came out and stayed out once we got home. Oh well.

We scheduled a practice session for Friday the 20th. It was cold and rainy most of the day. The rain stopped around 3:00 and the roads were dry. Practice was a go. We got to the track and we were the only ones there. For the last 4-5 weeks it has been in the 90s for racing. Now it was about 60 degrees. Pushed Joey off and I realized the tires that work at 90-95 do not work at all at 60. Not at all.

This was a catch 22 situation. Joey would not go fast since the tires would slip. They tires would slip because he would not go fast and warm them up. This was compounded by the additional power from the relatively new restrictor plate. Practice was a total wash. His best time was about 8 seconds.

Friday night I went through my tire inventory and picked out and mounted the stickiest tires. I told Joey that we would get to the track extra early to test tires (and build confidence.) He seemed OK with this.

Saturday dawned cold and damp, but no rain. I watched sky and the radar loop on the Intellicast.com . There was some rain to the east an south, but no rain to the west. Looks good. My sister and her husband were driving down from New York to see their nephew race. I was looking forward to giving them a good show. I had the car all loaded up and decided to call the track hot-line before we left. "Due to the weather racing for August 21st has been canceled." Bummer. My only explanation is the people who made the call lived to the east and south of the track. Nothing I could do.

We decided we could still go to the track, practice and get the tires sorted out. My sister could at least see Joey drive. After my sister and her husband showed up we broke the news to them and headed up to the track. The temperature was 65 degrees and the sun was peaking out from the clouds now and again. Turns out we were not the only ones who decided to practice as there were about 10 other cars there. Most were Sr. Hondas, which run unrestricted.

Joey got out on the track and he was very loose. After watching him struggle for 10 laps I pulled him in and moved the right front preload collar 1/2" to put a little more weight on the rear. This worked, but now the front was pushing badly. I swapped the right front tire for a softer one and put the collar back about mid way. This seemed to work. Joey's lap times fell into the high 6's and he was working the car well.

Joey had a bunch of laps in when one of the handlers asked if I wanted Joey to practice line ups with the flags. You betcha!

Joey was out there with 5 Sr. Honda cars while the flagger would line them up and use the flags to reposition them and change the order. He would then put them in double file and give them the green. A few laps of racing then he would put them under the yellow to do it again. Great practice.

The other kids were 9+ years old and had raced for at least a year. Joey was clearly the rookie in the crowd, but he was doing well. The flagger spent a little extra time with Joey and he followed all of the instructions well. This was much safer than practicing with the Jr. Novices in Joey's class since everyone knew what to do.

Joey looked for the green and got a good start every time. However, the unrestricted engines walked right past him on the start. Once the cars were rolling Joey only lost a little ground to the bigger kids/cars. Near the end another of Joey's class mates came out to practice with the group. Joey pulled away from him on the start. When they went under the yellow the other kid had been lapped by the Sr's, but Joey had not. This was very valuable practice and Joey did well. I timed may of the laps and his times were in the high 6.7's and very consistent.

These have been two frustrating weeks. I think we are tuned up for the next race. We will see what the weather brings.

Race Safe,

Joe

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Racing Log #18

Racing...Finally

We had two weeks canceled due to rain (actually partially cloudy). Last weekend was Keystone Invitational at Honeybrook. We decided to pass on this because it would be too much since it was Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Needless to say, team Dille was in need of some racing.

Last Saturday we had a good long practice at the track. The temperature was in the low 80's and I this practice to experiment with tire compounds. I started with the medium tires on the right front and back. Joey's initial times were slow and inconsistent, but he started to get fast and consistent after 25 laps or so. His times were in the mid 6.8's. I switched the right front to the harder tire we used earlier in the summer. This tire did not appear to hook up any better, but Joey's times came down to around 6.8. I then switched to the harder right rear, which we had almost no experience. Joey's line seemed to improve a bit and his times came down to the mid 6.7's.

The harder tires did not appear to give more grip, but they looked like they slid more predictably. This gave Joey some confidence and he could go a little faster. When the temperature is above 80 I will go with the hard tires.

This Friday's practice went well. Ron Rohner showed up on his R60/2 to provide the second adult assistance. I kept the setup the same and worked on Joey's line. There were a few other cars at track and the temperature was in the low 80's. Joey basically picked up where he left off last Saturday. We put in two 50 lap sessions.

His times started around 6.80 and got down to 6.70. His line continued to improve and smooth out. Joey went out with one other kid in his class who is a close competitor. The two of them lapped for about 20 laps and Joey gained about 1/4 of a track on him. These guys were close. Since there were no other cars on the track they did not have the distraction of passing or being passed by other cars. Joey would have caught him, but I doubt Joey could pass him without other cars on the track.

Race day

Joey and I got to the track a tad early and went out on the track for practice. The temperatures were a little warmer and the hard tires hooked up well. His times were good and he was lifting the left front in the corners. It looked like he was having a good time. I instructed myself to touch nothing! Joey surprised me by not getting out of the car after we pushed back to the truck. I asked him what's up and he said he wanted to go back out for more practice. I said "save it for the race".

This was the annual "back to school night" race. All drivers got a goodie bag of school supplies on sign up. They also were treated to apple pie at intermission. Nice touch.

About half of Joey's class were selected to run with the Jr. Honda restrictor and they split the class in two. Jr. Novice and Unrestricted Jr. Novice. This is somewhat of a misnomer since they still have a restrictor. This was the first race where they would run an unrestricted Jr. Novice class. I was not too sure what to expect.

Joey had good luck in the heat. He drew the second heat, and the two fast kids were in the first heat. There were 5 cars signed up for the second heat, but only 4 showed. Joey started in the second spot and caught the #1 guy sleeping when the green flag dropped. He led the race when they crossed the starting line. After a few laps one kid's car stopped and drifted to the infield. It turns out he ran out of gas. A few more laps into the race a second car drifted to a stop. His chain fell off. Now there was just two on the track.

Joey caught the green well and motored off. In about 7 laps Joey managed to pass the other kid to lap him. It was a smooth pass with room to spare. The race was somewhat of a cake walk, but I was glad that Joey had a chance to do well with the new restrictor.

The main

There would be no easy pickings in the A main. Joey was lined up in the 3rd spot. One of the other fast kids was 2nd and one 5th. A lot was riding on the start. And what a start it was! Joey pulled down low and got below the underneath the #1 guy, the #2 guy was on the outside and the #5 guy came in real tight and got down below Joey. They came into turn 1 four wide :-0 Lets just say a fair amount of paint was traded, but everyone kept rolling. Joey came down the back straight in 4th. Joey got back to third and was racing well.

Some kid came up inside of Joey coming out of turn 4 and they tangled and headed to the wall. I could Joey trying to release himself as the wall came up closer. He succeeded and kept on going after just grazing the wall. Way to go Joey!

One of tricks I learned from another handler was to put a slippery substance on the outside sidewalls of the tires. This prevents the tires from hopping up on each other. This is analogous to a prize fighter putting Vaseline on their cheeks before a fight so their opponents punches will glance off. It appeared to help in this race.

Joey caught up to the #2 car and stalked him for a few laps. The other kid got wide coming out of a corner and Joey ducked down and made the pass. Joey continued to race hard, but did not have time to catch up the #1 car. He finished second!

Joey was very happy with his finish. I was pumped too. There were some close calls, but he drove a heads up race and earned his finish. Since it was back to school night they gave out back packs instead of trophies. Joey picked the biggest one and it was full of cool school stuff including a highlighter, mechanical pencils and ruler and a set of 48 crayons. Joey was very excited and proceeded to read me the colors as we drove home. Sunday will be spent coloring.

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Racing Log #19

Speeding up...

When Joey moved up to the larger restrictor I decided to keep the same gearing. This would make the car accelerate a little harder and make it more forgiving when he slid. This week I raised the gearing 3%. This would give the car a slightly higher top speed and should cut his lap times.

Most (not all) run their cars with out air filters. This goes against my nature. There is no reason to ingest dirt into the engine. I installed an approved adapter along with a K&N type filter. I had to modify the tail cone to clear the filter and it sticks out the side. I think it looks cool with the chrome tip hanging out the side. A little like the air cleaner sticking out of a hood scoop. At the very least it will keep debris out of the engine and make me feel better.

When we ran the novice restrictor I never brought gas to the track on race night. Even when we practiced for 150 laps I always had a 1/2 tank or more left. One of my concerns is that our fuel consumption would be higher with the Honda restrictor and I could run out in the feature :-0 After last weeks racing I measured the remaining gas in the tank, 29 oz. I then filled the tank, 50 oz. I had used only 21 oz. I estimate we put on 130 laps at race speed last week between practice, warm ups, and racing. Assuming a lap distance of 300' this makes the fuel consumption about 45 mpg. Anywho, I will not worry about running out of gas.

Eric was the second adult for our Friday practice and helped with preparing the car and Joey. My goal for this practice was to let Joey get more time in with the new restrictor, see if the gearing helped and see if I needed the softer tires at 78 degrees. Well the practice went only so-so.

Joey's times were in the 6.8-6.7 range but his line was inconsistent. There were other cars on the track, but none in his class. At times there was an AA-modified on the track breaking in a new engine. The AA class is the height of quarter midget racing. The chassis rules are the same, but they can have almost unlimited modifications on the Deco type engine. The bore and stroke must remain the same and supercharging or fuel injection. These run high compression and alcohol. (They also require refueling after 70 laps.) Needless to say these things rip. I clocked him with lap times of 5.8 seconds. This works out to an avverage speed of 36.5 mph. But I digress...

I tried the softer tire and even tried adding more weight to the right rear by adjusting the preload on the right rear. Nothing improved his time or line. All in all I put 100 laps on Joey and he wanted out. The practice was not as useful as I hoped. I could not determine if the changes I had made were effective due to the inconsistent driving. I decided to put the chassis back to the original configuration. I have come to the conclusion that Joey does not like to practice without other cars that he can compete against. I am not sure how I can effectively adjust the chassis for changing conditions.

I did a little experimentation in the garage using my four bathroom scales. I found that adjusting the right rear preload added about 1% to the diagonal weight bias (a.k.a. Wedge) per 2 turns on the collar. I am not sure what this information buys me, but I have it now.

Race Day

This week was a special show at the track. There was the tri-track points series and the Univest sponsor cup (6' trophys) for the B-modified class. Over 140 cars showed up for the races. The start time was scheduled for 2:30 to fit the additional racing in. the We got to the track a little late and we had to hustle get a little practice in. Usually I tru and put Joey out with cars that are about the same as Joey during race day practice. The track was crowed with a potpourri of cars on the track and the hot chute. I could not afford to be picky at this point and pushed Joey off and crossed my fingers.

Joey did great. He warmed up quickly and started to run a consistent line. The few times he had a clear track in front of him I clocked him in the low 6.7's to high 6.6's. That's my boy. With the mix of cars on the track there were a few bumps. Joey traded paint with a few kids, but nothing major. I did not want to push my luck and pulled Joey off after 30 timed laps.

Joey asked why I pulled him off the track and I said it was a little crowded out there and he was already doing well. He wanted to go out for more. I told him it was a tough crowd and he still wanted to go. I told him 20 more laps and off. He got back into the fray and was roughed up a little by two good bumps. He raised his hand and came off after 6 laps. "Dad you were right".

Since they split up the novice class there would only be one heat. Joey drew the 4th starting spot for heat. To help speed up the show they reduced the heat race to only 10 laps. Joey raced a good race, a couple cars passed him and he passed a couple cars. In 10 laps there is not much time to develop a race. He started 4th and finished 4th. He raced a good race.

Our 4th place finish gave us the 3rd spot for the main race. The two fast kids were behind Joey on the start for the 20 lap race. I thought this would be our night. Joey got a good start and was leading after 1-2 laps. Good clean passes. Joey was hitting his stride and running a consistent, but slightly wide line. He was opening up his lead and catching up on the back markers. The one kid that wins all of the Novice races was a few cars back and passing his way up the pack. I sat in corner 3 watching the laps count down.

Joey started to lap some cars which allowed the 2nd place car to catch up. With about 8 laps to go Joey's slightly wider line bit him. The other kid cut down low and came inside of Joey hitting him and knocking him off line at the apex of the corner. Joey held on, but the other kid got the pass. Joey tried to pass back, but could not pull off a clean pass in the remaining laps. Second place again.

Since this was a points race they were impounding the top three finishers for technical inspection. After the weight check at the scales we pushed over to the impound area and I got my tools. The inspection could range anywhere from a quick safety check to a full engine tear down. Luckily they only made us pull out restrictor plates and made sure they were as the QMA issued them.

During impound the Novice director came over and informed us that we raced well. He was moving us up to the Jr. Honda class next week. Oh boy. Now the real fun starts.

Race Safe,

Joe

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Racing Log #20

Good news, Bad news

Last week the novice director said Joey would be moved up to the Jr. Honda class. This is the same car configuration he had been using for the last month or so, but the other kids would be faster since they had one or more years of experience than Joey. I figured we had one last chance to go for a win in the novice class. This would be at the Friday night races at the Honeybrook track.

I spoke with their novice director and asked if they would have an unrestricted novice class. He said no, but he still had several novices with restrictors. I asked if Joey could race with the restrictor. He said it would be OK, I would feel more comfortable with the restrictor anyway since the Honeybrook track is flat and slippery and Joey has very little experience there.

I spent Friday afternoon reconfiguring the car for Honeybrook. This involved changing tires, weight, the gearing and the restrictor. I managed to get this done in a little over an hour. Not too bad.

Joey got off the school bus, kissed mom bye, hopped in the truck and we were off. Dinner was sandwiches in the truck while rolling down the turnpike. We got to the track a little after practice closed so we walked the track and I tried to refresh Joey's memory on the correct racing line for the track. Joey took this seriously and asked a lot of questions. This made me feel good since Joey's practice would be limited to the warm ups before the heat race. I would have no time to tweak the car.

I pushed Joey off for the heat race and crossed my fingers. The race would have only 3 other drivers. Two Jr. Novices and one Sr. Novice. The senior was fumbling around on the track, but the two Juniors looked good. The one 5 year old was sliding the car on cold tires with ease and had a good grip on the situation. This could be interesting.

Joey was very tentative during the warm ups. He was on and off the throttle, but his line was good. Slowly he started to put the gas to it and pick up the speed. He was sliding coming out of the turns so I gave him the "go deeper" signal. It worked and he hooked up well. We are good to go.

Joey started #3 and got a good start, completing the first lap in the lead of the 15 lap heat race. Things were looking good with the field staying as a pack and Joey catching up on the Sr. Novice in the rear. Joey was working on lapping the car when someone spun and the yellow flag came out. Joey had the pole for the restart, but the kid behind him got the holeshot. Joey had the faster car, but he could not figure out how to pass on this slippery track in the last 8 or so laps of the race. We finished second.

Joey felt good about his race but admitted frustration about passing the lead car. We discussed it for a while as we watched the upper class heat races. Joey had set the pass up correctly, but did not carry through with it. I pointed out that he had more time than he thought because the other car had to run the deeper line too.

As we waited for the upper classes to finish I noticed it was getting chilly and dew was settling on everything. The car was wet, his face shield was wet and I assume the track was getting wet! The cooler temperatures would make the track slick. The dew would make it real slick. I had been told about the dew at Honeybrook. I guess we would experience it first hand.

There was a Senior Honda sponsor cup race before Joey's race. This was a big race with lots of cars. I hope they would heat and dry the track some. It was an interesting race. Instead of the typical 40 lap race it was run as twin 20 lap races. The cars line up according to their heat race finishes. They race 20 laps and pull off to the hot chute. The tower scores the race and they line up in the inverted finish order. Lots of hustle involved, but fun to watch.

I wiped the car and face shield off as well as I could and we prepared for the race. I warned Joey of the cold tires and told him to have fun as I pushed him off. Joey was doing well in warm ups and the car was hooking up well when a car spun in front of him. Whack… Joey hit the spun car amidships. When I saw the corner worker talking to Joey more than the customary "are you OK" I ran over. Joey was crying in the car complaining that he hurt his tummy. The seat belt did its job and had winded him. I think it is the first time Joey had been winded. The corner worker and I spoke with him for a minute (that seemed like and hour) and he calmed down. Once calm I could see he was OK so I asked Joey if he wanted to race. He nodded yes with a weak smile. I pushed him off and the crowd cheered. Joey got back in the groove and it was obvious that he was OK. Whew.

Joey started from the #2 position and got a good start. In 3-4 laps he passed for the lead and started pulling away from the pack. He was lapping some of the other cars when one of the other cars spun in front of Joey and pow. Joey hit the other car and went dead on the track. The bumper was tweaked but Joey was fine. The judges saw the accident as the fault of the other driver and put the other kid to the back and let Joey keep his position. Joey got a good start on the green and went on to WIN THE RACE!

Joey and I were quite excited to say the least. As we loaded the car back into the truck they called the winners of the race to the tower to receive their trophies. The scorers gave Joey the trophy and made a fuss over Joey. The trophy is different than and slightly larger than the others that Joey has on his dresser. Cool.

Saturday's race at Oaklane would be Joey's first in the Jr. Honda class. This is the big league. The Honda classes are the biggest at Oaklane with Jr. Honda having the biggest field. The other racers are generally older and have been racing for a year or more and the handlers have more experience too. The Jr. Honda track record is 6.47, Joey's best time is around 6.66. The good news is the older racers are more experienced and drive in a more consistent manner. This should make it safer. In any case Jr. Honda will be a whole new game.

I spent Saturday morning straightening the radius rods and bumper from Joey's accidents at Honeybrook. After I had the car straight I put the weight back in, changed the tire, swapped the gears and replaced the restrictor. Whew. We got to the track just in time to get in a little practice. Joey did well and ran consistent 6.7's.

Joey's heat race was one of the most boring races I have seen at the track. He started #5 and had one of the two passes in the race. The second pass was when the #4 guy passed him back. The only thing that changed during the race was the spacing between the cars. The cars started and finished 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Joey's 5th place finish put him in the B-main.

The feature race was a different story. Due to the sponsor cup race and the many yellow flags in the novice races Joey's race did not get underway until 9:15 or so. This is past his normal bed time and the racer's edge was long gone. Just as important the temperature had dropped by about 20 degrees due to the clear skies and calm wind. Dew was on everything and I was shivering. All I was thinking about was cold tires.

Joey warmed up very well and had no problem with the tires. He slid them until they were good and hot. Some of the other kids had trouble and spun during warm ups. Joey started 4th and got a good jump on the green. He was racing well. On one of the early laps he got it sideways in the corner and made a great save. Tires are warm now!

Unfortunately, the rest of the field did not handle the reduced traction well. One kid spun coming out of turn 4 and Joey hit him. This was not too bad, but a second car came up behind and hit him hard making a Joey sandwich. Joey was OK, but the car was out of action. We carried Joey and the car over the wall and into the pits. This was not how I wanted to end our first Jr. Honda experience.

Joey was bummed. The crash was especially embarrassing for Joey since one of his second grade buddies had come to the race.

The car was quite tweaked. The front radius rods were broken and the axle bent. The nerf bar was bent. The rear bumper was bent. The right rear shock and mount were both bent and broken. I have a lot of work to do for next week.

Race Safe,

Joe Return to index.


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