Friday, May 28, 2010

Traveled to VA Today for the NeDiv Solo Championship

I traveled to Richmond, VA today and will be driving to Washington, DC tomorrow to run the STX Mini JCW with my Dad in the SCCA Northest Division autocross championship. This is a single event for the championship so hopefully I can represent Texas and take down the NeDiv STX title. We will be running a test n' tune tomorrow and contesting the NeDiv championship on Saturday and Sunday. It's been a short, busy week getting ready so I'm going to go get sleep.

I'll post an update about this event and my kart race last weekend after the autocross. Take care and get excited about Formula 1 in Texas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

1st Race in the Shifter This Weekend

After 7-months without wheel-to-wheel racing and moving 2,000 miles away, I will finally be running my first kart race of 2010 this weekend. YMR will be competing in the Stock Moto 125cc Shifter class in the Kali's Cure Race for Research at North Texas Kartway in Denton, TX. NTK and it's club members have done a great job of promoting the charity event and have attacted an Indy 500 winner for Grand Marshall, several great sponsors including Red Bull and The National Guard, and some of the best kart racers in Texas. The race is a 2-Day format with the Saturday races awarding prizes and the Sunday races awarding $500. Saturday night will also feature a 75-Lap Chonda-class Endurance Race and an auction to raise money.

The weather looks great so it should be a fun weekend. I have a lot of learning to do, but it will really help to be on track with the fast Texas shifter races. These races will basically be practice for the NTK Summer Series which I am planning on competing in for points.

Official Race Website:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Article on Loris Bicocchi Academy in Evo Magazine

I really hope to attend the Loris Bicocchi Academy someday to learn the art of high-performance testing/tuning from the master, Loris Bicocchi. Mr. Bicocchi basically has my absolute dream job - supercar test driver. He is responsible for the great vehicle dynamics on many exquisite cars including the Pagani Zonda C12, Koenigsegg CCX, KTM X-Bow, and the Bugatti Veyron. He also recently started the world's first dedicated test-driving school teaching young engineers and seasoned vets alike the art of testing and tuning vehicles - The Loris Bicocchi Academy.

A writer for EVO magazine in the UK took the course and wrote an article on his experience. Here it is:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Great Video from the NTK Shifter Kart Super Prix

This video was from the Shifter Kart Super Prix at North Texas Kartway back on April 10th. Unfortunately, I missed this event, but it sure looks like it was fun. Michael Ryan Johnson of the MJDrive Super Kart Challenge orchestrated the large turnout of the Stock Moto shifter kart racers. 15 shifters took the grid including some of the top ranked shifter kart drivers in the nation.

NTK Shifter Super Prix from John Shofner on Vimeo.

Video produced by John Shofner.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 8th Kart Practice at NTK

I made the trek to Dallas, TX this past weekend to practice in the shifter kart at North Texas Kartway. It's been over a month since I practiced in Midland so I was very anxious to have a productive weekend in the new kart. If you remember back to my April practice at Midland, I was having fuel delivery issues. I've been troubleshooting and ordering parts since then and it has been a frustrating process, but I believe the problem is now cured.

The root cause of the problem was excess epoxy from the pump-around carburetor modification clogged my fuel system. On shifter karts, it is common for the fuel system to be modified with a pump-around fuel pump that basically takes excess fuel from the carburetor bowl and pumps it back to the fuel tank. This is done to stabilize fuel level above the jets in the carb during high-G turns. To install the system, you must add an outlet from the float bowl that is epoxied to the carb to hold it in place. I found the problem by examining all of the fuel lines and inspecting the internals of the fuel pump and the carb. Here are two pictures:

Carb clogged with epoxy shavings

Clogged Fuel Line

To fix the problem, I replaced all of the fuel lines with new CRG line, installed a fuel filter between the tank and pump, rebuilt both sides of the fuel pump, and send the carburetor to The Kart Shop (where I purchased the kart) in Dallas to completely clean out my carb. I took my kart by TKS on Saturday morning to pick up my carb and the kart ran perfectly at their shop so I headed to NTK for practice. The engine started on the first try and everything seemed to be going well. While the engine was idling, I got my gear on and started to push the kart toward the hot pits when the engine died. After 3 hours and taking everything in the fuel system apart again, the engine finally started again around 7pm. I still do not know what the issue was, but I think part of it was my method of starting the engine. To start a shifter kart, you spin the rear axle by hand or with a pull-rope with the transmission in gear. I need a longer pull-rope - live and learn when switching to new equipment I guess.

I had an hour of light and made the best of it by finally getting on track in the new kart with a properly functioning engine. It was a blast! The Birel chassis handles very well - it is very balanced and easy to rotate in the corners. Being my first time in the kart and at this track, I struggled a bit at first finding the proper RPM range the motor can use and finding the right gear for each corner. After two sessions, I honed in on my shift points and was able to work on learning the track and learning how to be fast in this kart. I only did about 20 laps over 3 sessions before it got dark. I'm off the pace at this point, but learned enough in the 3-short sessions to help me get faster my next time at the track.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

2010 SCCA Solo Nationals

Exciting news for Yaw Moment Racing - I will be running in STX class at the 2010 SCCA Solo Nationals with my Dad in a 2009 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works hardtop. For those of you not familiar with the SCCA Solo Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska, this event is the National Championship for SCCA autocross and is generally considered the largest motorsports event in the world with between 1,200 and 1,300 entrants expected. STX class is part of the "Street Tuner" classes designed to fit the import tuner car market and is mainly comprised of 4-cylinder N/A and turbo cars with basic bolt-on mods and street tires.

SCCA Solo Nationals Official Website

Solo Nationals Site in Lincoln, Nebraska

We are currently researching and purchasing parts for the build which will begin in the next two weeks. We are primarly sourcing parts from AutoXCooper who is a leading source aftermarket parts for the full range of Mini products. They have been extremely helpful and we are pleased to be working with AXC. Since I am in Texas and the car is in VA, Courtney Cormier of Richmond, who is a national-level autocrosser, full-time Mini mechanic, and former national-level STX Mini Cooper S racer will be setting up the car and helping to install aftermarket parts. He has also been instrumental in helping us put this plan together so big thanks to Courtney. My Dad and I will be running a few events and test and tunes together before the Solo Nationals, so I will be tuning the Mini at these events. We will have limited testing time, but it will be crucial for our competitiveness at Solo Nats. Here is what our schedule looks like now:

-May 28-30: Friday Test and Tune and 2-Day SCCA NeDiv Solo Championship
- July: 2-Day Virginia Commonwealth Games Autocross and/or the Virginia Autocross Championship
- September 8-10: National Test and Tune and 2-Day SCCA Solo Nationals Autocross

In addition to our plans together, my Dad is running a full season with the Virginia Motor Sport Club based in Central, VA. This will give him plenty of seat-time in the new car before we head to Lincoln for the big race.

Here are some pictures of the Mini before the STX build:

I will post updates and pictures of the build over the next couple of months. Our 1st event is less than a month away and we have lots of work left to do. This will be very important in the development of this car, so we will be ready.