Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mid-Ohio 2013

It has taken a while for me to finally write up my experience at Mid-Ohio.  Even though I was off for June and July, every day seemed to full of something.

Sandwiched between Grattan and Mid-Ohio was a vacation to our favorite place: The Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I just have to share...

Our rental cottage in Rodanthe

Night view to the east from our back balcony

Day view to the north
Pam gave her Dad and me an airplane tour. Here is me, Pam's brother Scott, and Don, her dad.  What a great time!

Don is a pilot, but has not flown in 20 years, but the pilot let him take the controls.  He had a ball!!

The tip of Cape Hatteras

The tip of Cape Hatteras...up close
The famous Hatteras Lighthouse

Pam and I at the Bodie Lighthouse which we had not visited since our honeymoon in 1995

OK... back to karting....

For Grattan I had lots of nerves and had no idea what to expect.  Mid-Ohio was to be my second race event and I was very pumped to get there.  However, I had some work to do before hand.

Due to WKA and Dart Kart Club rules I had to alter my brake system.  Two brake systems are required   for safety reasons.  I did not know that at Grattan and the tech was not as stringent.  Thankfully, again Dad had saved all the parts for the kart and I was able to add the second master cylinder after cleaning it up and trading out the O-ring (I had already purchased about 100 O-rings).

I also have the two other calipers for the front wheels... if I ever add a second engine.

This is the part I was dreading that I had not brought from Dad's:  the connector between the master cylinders.  This image was taken before the second MC was installed.

Another good thing was the rear axle already has two caliper units.  So all I had to do was take out the "T" in the line and add a second complete line.

I also had discussions with Rick Chapman concerning other safety rules.  He strongly suggested using a  driving suit instead of the leather jacket I used at Grattan.  He graciously let me borrow a suit for the week-end.  He also noted I must wear gloves. He took my deer skin leather work gloves as my hands.  I got a chuckle out of that one.

So we packed up and headed out on Thursday afternoon to be able to pick-out a pit area in the paddock, unload, and be ready for practice on Friday morning.  We picked a spot in the main paddock conveniently next to a port-a-potty, however as the weekend progressed it got a bit rank.

I found Rick at his garage and he gave me the driving suit and then headed for the hotel.  The hotel was about 20 minutes away so we had to get up around 5 to get cleaned up, eat breakfast, and make it to the  morning driver's meeting.  We timed it just right to arrive just at the final call.  Pam would catch a few more winks in the truck.

Here I am trying on the driving suit.  The weather warmed up and I quickly found out wearing shorts is a good thing.
 The other addition for Mid-Ohio was a push stick.  I used aluminum conduit from Lowes and screwed them together.  Not very elegant, but it works.  Moving the kart was sooooo much easier!!!

In one of the emails with Rick, he mentioned he has a in-line fuel filter.  I had never seen that before, but had noticed crud in the carb, so I added one.  It was a simple one from Lowes for riding lawn mowers.  Bad choice!!  I could not get the engine to fire at all.  I changed the plug and checked the arm in the carb.  Still nothing.  By this time I had missed a practice or two, so I headed down to ask Rick for help.  He came up and looked at the carb, which looked good.  I suggested tossing the filter.  He agreed and brought up some new fuel line since I may have caused an air leak by using metal hose clamps.  So he showed me how to used zip-ties to secure the fuel lines.  Double up the ties and pull very tight.  Guess what...It started right up!!

I got one practice in when Rick came up and asked if I would take out one of his vintage foreign karts. The driver would not arrive until later and the engine needed some time on it.  I reminded him I had not driven anything besides a McCulloch.  He just laughed and said I would be fine.  I accused him of giving me a taste of a faster kart.   A bit later I traded my numbers to the kart and headed for the hot grid.  I was a bit nervous and was asking Rick questions on how to drive it, when he gave a rather humorous instruction... I better not repeat it here... but it made me laugh and broke the tension.  Basically, he said I would be fine and to run it hard.  He started the engine and off I went.  First thing I noticed was how smooth the ride was.  I got to the end of the pits and punched it a bit and it was very responsive and fast.  Got off it for the chicane and the Keyhole, then full throttle for the back straight....very fast... then silence.  The engine just quit.  It was sooo smooth as I coasted then pulled off into the grass.  Here is the kart as I waited to be picked up.  I had not turned on the GoPro so I don't have any other images.  

I was able practice a few more times in the afternoon and found out what "dieseling" is.  Apparently at Grattan I never got the carb rich enough to start.  The first time it did it was on the back stretch, gaining speed and RPMs and BANG!  It felt like someone had bumped me from behind and I lost momentum.  Fortunately, I remembered the forums talking about it and leaned the HI needle a touch.  Every lap it would do the same thing.  Finally, on the last practice on Saturday, I made it all the way down the back stretch before it dieseled, which is what should happen.

Rick's wife, Monique, fixed up a wonderful lunch for all the vintage guys and gals.  Then I was able to finish up with lots of practice.  The track is very demanding on many levels.  Again, I was the slowest guy on the track, but it was exhilarating to be on the same track where Indycar runs... and where Dad ran.

Saturday morning was rainy so practice was delayed, but racing got going pretty quickly.

Grid for Vintage USA on Saturday
 I love talking with the guys around the track, especially at the grid.  We get to talk about our kart details and history. It is all very friendly.
Me wearing Rick's driving suit. Feels good.

The orange dual kart is David Youn's, which was his father's in the 1970s, and only ran a few times.  It's running original Goodyear Blue Streaks!!!

The race started good, but it seems like such a long time to get up to speed from the grid.  Just the nature of the clutch and engine.  It is just so cool to be on track with other guys and their karts.  The views are all that I ever imagined, but soooo much more.  

I was running behind Herb Dickle through the chicane and keyhole when he slowed down on the backstretch.  I did not realize it, but he had lost the bolts holding his right rear on and lost the whole tire and hub at the end of the straight without any ill effect.

A lap later the steering was a bit sloppy in the Carousel, the last sweeping turn before the main straight. Same in turn 1 and the chicane, but really wobbly on the Keyhole.  I had a puncture on my left rear, but took it easy and make it back to the pits.  Bob Kurkowski came to check on me and Rick gave me a an "Good Job" pat on the back.  It was good to be out there for a few laps, but felt some accomplishment that I handled it well.  Pam took this shot as I watched the rest of my race. Then off to fix the flat.
 I took the tire off and found a little hole in the tube and asked John Copeland for help looking for tire damage, but found none.  I brought extra tubes, so all I had to do was replace it, and put the wheel back together.  It took about 30 minutes.  The thing would not seat, so I took it back to John and he used Windex as a lube and high pressure to seat it just fine!

Sunday morning was warm and I took full advantage of the practices.  Here are three photos that I love.    
"All right, helmet, kart, starter."

"Yep, I am ready to go."

"Guys?  Guys? Hey, guys!"

Mark Hicks was showing me how to use his wheel balancer during the first race when a helicopter flew over.  Pam instantly asked, "why is there a helicopter?"  I looked and saw it was green and white, so suspected it was a corporate helo for Savory/Green, the track owners.  However, I was very wrong.  A karter had a bad accident, causing a red flag.  The helo was on the ground for about an hours while he was stabilized, then transported him to Columbus.  That set a somber tone for the rest of the day.  He suffered head trauma, but after extended hospitalization, was able to go home and seems to be heading for a full recovery (last I heard).
This is actually before the race.  It was hot so I dowsed myself with water.  Sexy!
 The race went much better, not problems.  The dieseling would happen everylap at the back flagstand, but I decided to just lean it out a little, and pump the accelerator to clean it out, instead of going too lean.  I wanted to finish!!  The last few laps I was feeling so good I barely used my brakes and would go deeper and deeper into the turns before lifting. That is fun!! BTW: there is a heck of a hole on the inside of the apex of the Carousal.

Amazingly, all four of the Vintage USA guys in Sunday's race finished.  Mark D'Elia said it was the first race he had finished since he got back to racing.  We had a great time celebrating!

I always love this part.  I try to pose just like Dad.
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