Monday, September 17, 2007

Back to the (race) Track

I traded in my cycling helmet for my old motorsports helmet this past weekend for a kart race. It has been years since I have put on my old helmet and fire suit and even longer since I raced a kart. The last time I raced a dragster was back in 03 and the last time I raced a kart was back in 99.

Ready for qualifying

Rusty was one way to describe my first practice heats. The track was wet from on and off rain showers which didn't help conditions, but when I wasn't driving the kart into the corner too hard and pushing the front end, I was letting off too early and unloading the chassis before the corner...either way the end result was spinning the kart. ROOKIE!
On the grid ready to rip!


Qualifying wasn't too much better and track conditions were worse. I decided to run the rain tires in the hope to gain more grip. Instead the track wasn't wet enough and it made the kart squishy and sluggish around the corner. I qualified last! Not too big of a surprise, since most of the other racers were surprised I could even get the kart around the track within a few seconds of the top qualifying speeds (pole was 32 seconds and I was at 37 seconds).
Coming out of corner 7


The skies opened up for heat 1 and everyone opted for rain tires. The embarrassment started early for me as I spun the kart even before the race started. The field waited for me to catch up, as all the karts needed to be up to speed and in a bunch for the rolling start. Heat 1 went well and the difference between the winner's fast lap and my fast lap was only 4 seconds. OK, now we are getting some where.


At this time I was really starting to feel the kart, how it chassis was rolling in and out of the corners, and really getting a handle on braking and acceleration points. Heat 2 was my best race. My fast lap was within 3 seconds of the leaders and I actually passed a few competitors.


I'm not sure I am ready to jump back into karting, but it was sure fun to feel the acceleration and braking power of these little machines that reved to over 13,000 rpm on the back straight away. To put these karts into comparison here is a power to weight ratio of some of the fastest race cars that run on road courses (I've been blasted by some of my engineering friends for some past errors in my mathematics, so in this case Power-to-Weight ratio is a measurement of actual performance of any engine). The equation will simply be Power (P)/Weight (W)



125 Tag Kart (kart I was driving) - 40 hp (horsepower)/200 lbs = .2 (hp/lb)

IRL Indy Car - 600 hp/1600 lbs = .375 (hp/lb)

Porsche Daytona Prototype - 500hp/2125 lbs = .23

Formula One Car - 730hp/1340 lbs = .54 (wicked)


Mr. Potato Head and me back at it again!



My nephew Jake ready to tear up the Kid Carts!





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