Joey Dille's

Quarter Midget #67

Racing Log

This is 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 #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the web page I am starting.

Race Safe,

Joe Return to index.

Racing Log #2

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

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

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

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

Race Safe,


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Racing Log #3


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Safe,


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Racing Log #4


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Safe,


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Racing Log #5


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday is opening day. Wish us luck.

Race Safe,


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