Tuesday, April 26, 2011

EKN Stock Moto Driver Rankings

EKN Driver Rankings (4/15/2011 updated)

The first eKartingNews.com Driver Rankings of 2011 came out last week. 2011 will be the first year I am included in the rankings because I am running the Southwest Regional Cup. My points in this series will count for the EKN national ranking. The EKN ranking counts your best 6 National/Regional events (see below for more details), but I only have two events counting for me so far. Currently, I'm in 100th place in the Stock Moto class but hopefully I can climb the ranks this year as I get more events under my belt and continue to improve.

About the eKartingNews.com Driver Rankings:

EKN Driver Rankings Calculation Process

The EKN Driver Rankings are calculated using a driver’s best finishes in major North American races. Assembled using events from the previous 12 months from the current date, we use a driver’s best seven finishes in TaG and six in Stock Moto to determine their overall current point total. With each new release, results posted from more than one year ago are discarded. To deliver our ranking list, we tabulate the results of all the national programs and selected regional programs. We have included the results for the major one-off events such as the SKUSA SuperNationals, the US Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals, the Rock Island Grand Prix and the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix.

Each race is initially weighted based on the prestige and history of the event or series with a score of ten (10) being the highest attainable base ranking. For 2011, the SKUSA SuperNationals and US Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals receive a score of 10 in their initial weighting in the TaG category while the SuperNats is the lone event in the Stock Moto division. The SKUSA Pro Tour and Rotax Pan American Challenge national series events draw a base ranking of nine (9), while the WKA Manufacturer’s Cup, Florida Winter Tour, Challenge of the Americas, IKF 2-Cycle Sprint Grand Nationals and other regional program races were given a base ranking of either eight (8) or nine (9).

The EKN staff reserves the right to adjust the rankings of each event throughout the year. Continuing for 2011 is a minimum entry total for any events considered for the Driver Rankings program. If an event does not have at least five (5) drivers starting the race, those results will not be tabulated toward the Driver Rankings.

Added to these initial rankings are two variables that help confirm the true importance of an event to the ranking process – field size and field strength. A percentage of one weighting point is added for the size of the field, while the number of existing top 50 drivers entered offers another full point or fraction of a point. The sum of these numbers becomes the overall ranking for any race. Following a race, drivers receive points based on their finishing positions with 100 points earned for a win. Each subsequent position drops by one point with 99 points given to the second place driver and so on throughout the field. These points are then multiplied by the overall ranking to produce a driver’s final point total from each event. Using a driver’s best seven races in TaG, six for Stock Moto, we calculate each driver’s overall score and subsequent ranking.

(from eKartingNews.com)

Photo: Miata + Raging West Texas Wildfire

My friend Vu Banh snapped this cool photo of my Mazdaspeed Miata with the Wildcat Wildfire in the background. The photo was snapped on the outskirts of San Angelo, TX. The Wildcat fire is 80% contained as of this morning and has burned more than 150,000 acres.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

NTK Spring Race # 3 Recap

Using the Kerbs in the NTK Chicane

I raced with the North Texas Karters this past Saturday in Denton, TX. It was great karting weather and Ali and her family joined me for the day which was a huge help. To keep the budget down, I am trying to save all of my used SWRC tires to use for NTK club races. Oklahoma Motorsports Complex has high tire wear, so my tires were close to the wear bars at the start of my event. This worked OK, but I could have used some new tires as I had to keep mounting and swapping tires to keep four decent ones on the kart. Despite this, I was able to lower my personal best time around NTK by 0.2s.

I ran about 45 laps during the day which will be good preparation for the SWRC race at NTK in May. Qualifying started at 1PM on Saturday and I was able to secure pole position for the heat race with a qualifying time of 37.74. This was a few tenths off of my fastest practice lap, but still got the job done. In the heat race, I was passed by Andrew Perkins in the CRG kart on Lap 2 of the 8 lap race and he checked out. With two karts directly behind me for the whole race, it was an exciting race and I was able to cross the line in 2nd place.

I lined up 2nd on the grid for the 12-lap feature race, but things went downhill from here. As I entered Turn 2 on the warm-up lap, I felt the rear-end start to walk out, and then I did a 360 off-track into the tire barrier. As I sat in the grass, it was immediately apparent what the
culprit was as I saw my right rear tire folded up in the center of the wheel. At mid-corner of a 2G 50mph corner, my right rear tire de-beaded causing me to lose all rear grip and lose control. Luckily, I was fine and the kart was not damaged, but my race was over. It was a disappointing end to a fun day these things happen in racing.

Right Rear Tire Failure during Feature Race

More photos from the race:

photo credit: Charles Rutherford

Friday, April 15, 2011

SWRC Shifter Kart Videos Added to YouTube

Spring Race #3 at North Texas Kartway on Saturday

North Texas Kartway Aerial Photo (credit: ntkarters.com)

I got the kart prepped over the past few nights and am loaded up for NTK Spring Race #3 at North Texas Kartway in Denton, TX. I will be racing my #106 Spirit SP32 Stock Moto Shifter kart. Practice starts at 9AM with qualifying and races starting at 1PM on Saturday.

Weather is looking good so should be a fun weekend of karting:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SWRC Points Update After Rounds 1&2

My two 6th place finishes in Norman put me in a tie for 5th place overall in the S2 class.


(ranking is out of order, but points totals are right)

My old 1976 Honda XL125 Lives!

One of my two best friends from high school, Aaron , gave me this old 1976 Honda XL125 dirt bike back when I was a senior in high school. One of his Dad's friends gave it to him because he couldn't get it to run, then Aaron had no luck, and then I fiddled with it every once in a while without success getting life to the engine. After dragging this Honda to Ohio, then Texas, Ali and I decided to make an art project for her out of it. She was going to clean it up, paint it crazy colors, make a stand, and put it in our house as a decoration...but this never panned out.

Finally, I decided to give it to one of my buddies at work who is great at getting old POS's back to life, and he got my old Honda to rumble. He got it running with a hot wheels battery and some other junkyard parts and it now runs like a champ for him. We went out riding at the Twin Buttes Resevoir this weekend and it ran well until he put it down which caused an oil leak around the gear shifter. Once he gets this fixed along with a few other minor issues, this bike should be a great dirt bike for Shawn. I'm just really happy to finally see the thing run.

Busy Day of Dirt Racing this past Saturday

Dirt Bikes Loaded up for Texana Off-Road Ranch

Ali and I made the trek with a few friends to Blackwell, TX for the Blackwell 250 which is the first round of the Baja Racing Texas series at Texana Off-Road Ranch. I've been into Baja and off-road racing since my Baja SAE adventures in college so the chance to check out this race less than an hour from my house was too hard to pass up. We loaded up the dirt bikes in the truck, but this was futile as we weren't allowed to roam the 38 mile course without being a "crew-member" so we were confined to the large paddock area...so only the pitbike was really needed. Anyway, there were about 50 cars running the race and the start was fun to watch as all 50 cars rocketed off the line at 30s to 60s intervals. We watched for several hours and roamed the pits talking to racers and peering into crashed racecars. Before the 9 hours Blackwell 250, there was a two-hour UTV race the paddock had approximately 80 to 100 cars in it....so there were many different types of racecars to snap photos of.

Buggy on the starting line

Bugs and Buggies and Trucks on the Starting Line

Huge "Truggie" lined up before the start

Victim from the Texana UTV Race

The most exciting part of the race was talking to several drivers who run 1989 Honda Pilot FL400s in the Formula Desert Lights class which is meant for small buggies with less than 1200cc engines that compete against the brand-new UTVs like the Polaris Razor. I need to keep investigating the rules, but there is a chance I could prep "Gnarly Garbage" my 2008 UVa Baja car to race in this class. I would need to swap in a 500cc or less 2-stroke motors and get my chassis approved...but there is a chance I could be racing my homebuilt Baja car in the Texas desert next year. Here are the class rules: Formula Desert Lights Class Rules

Here are is a video from the Blackwell 250:

We left the ranch around noon, and after a quick lunch and workout, I went to the shop and hopped into Gary's truck headed for Odessa. Gary and I left around 4PM for his Saturday night Sprint Car race in Odessa, TX. During the two-hour drive to Odessa, we saw a huge wildfire that filled the sky with white and black smoke. I later read that it has consumed over 4,000 acres and destroyed 34 homes...scary stuff.

4,000 Acre Wildfire WAY too close to Midland

The track conditions in Odessa were pretty terrible as the temperature reached 100 degress before sunset, with 30mph winds, and a very dry dusty track. We tried some different setup options during the hot laps but we were struggling with rear grip center off. After the pill pick for the heat race, we started 6th out of 6 for the heat, but Gary made several nice passes and moved into 3rd place. After another pill pick to jumble up the top 6 for the Final, Gary drew P4 so we lined up on the 2nd row for the 20 lap final. Being his only crew-member, I bump-started him with the ATV and quickly moved to the infield to watch the 20 lap battle. The track was terribly dry and the windy conditions made the track a dust bowl. Visibility was non-existent but Gary was able to stay clean and move up to 3rd place by the checkered flag. Garry took home $250 in prize money and we got home at 3AM.

Photo from the Infield of Gary's Heat Race in Odessa

After 6 hours in the car, and watching dirt track racing from 8AM Saturday to 3AM Sunday, I was exhausted and fell asleep on the couch watching F1 live....fun Saturday.

SWRC Races 1 and 2 in Norman, Oklahoma

Under the Tent with 3G Kart Racing

Sorry for the delay in getting this post out, but I finished up a successful first round of Southwest Regional Cup on April 2nd and 3rd. It was a long, but fun weekend and I logged over 140 laps around the Oklahoma Motorsports Complex 0.7 miles sprint kart track. Compared to my test day at OMC in February, I improved by 1.4s during Friday's 6 practice sessions. I worked mainly with 3G's track expert and tuner Dallas Patterson to get my shifter to handle the tricky OMC track. We started with an axle change which made a huge difference on corner exit as the previous unit was WAY too stiff and causing excess rear hopping as I got to the throttle. After a few more changes to the front end, rear width, tire pressure, and some failed gearing experimentation, I was 0.7s faster than my February test day, and a new set of MG sneakers dropped than another 0.8s. I ran about 55 laps in the 6 sessions including a mock qualifying session where we verified my pace and setup with new tires to prepare for Race 1 qualifying on Saturday.

Fresh Tires and Softer Axle During my Mock Qualifying Session

My Cubicle in the 3G Tent

With 6+ SKUSA Pro Tour shifter kart pilots in the S2 class, I knew that I was going to be qualifying near the back of the field. My pace in the shifter kart is not there yet, so I was mainly focused on improving my kart and my driving to slowly chip away at my pace delta. After two practice sessions on Saturday morning, we bolted on a new set of tires for qualifying. I ran a 46.7 which put me in 11th out of 12 karts in the class and well back of the Jake French who got the pole, but still a huge improvement over the 48.2s laps I was turning back in February. In the Saturday heat race, I had a decent start and was able to hang with the field for a few laps and move up to 8th place after several drivers dropped out due to accidents and mechanical issues. This put me in P8 to start the 16 lap Race 1 Final. I had a slow start and dropped back two spots but was able to get back inside of these karts in Turn 1. Running an inside lines proved to be in my favor as a mid-pack kart got turned sideways at the Turn 1 apex causing a 5-6 kart pileup on the outside of Turn 1. I escaped without having to slow down much which put in 5th place. I stayed in 5th place for about 10 laps before Chris Jennings in the Jimmy John's kart caught me. I finished in P6 which I was pleased with considering my qualifying position.

Ali with kart Covered up to keep out the Oklahoma dust storm Saturday night

All the times were reset for Sunday's races, and after some debate, we stuck with the SWRC mandate that all Shifter Karts must run 1 set of tires for both Race 1 and Race 2. The big change for Sunday other than starting with worn tires was that we were joined by the S4 (Stock Moto Master's) and S5 (Stock Moto Junior) classes which put the field at 19 karts in our group. I again qualified 11th in S2 class and moved up to 8th in the heat race. Similar to Saturday, I was able to claw my way up to 6th place in Sunday's final after a good race start and a lot more traffic to deal with due to the multiple classes on track.

19 Shifter Karts Taking the Green Flag on Sunday (photo credit: Galen Kurth)

Overall, I was pleased with the weekend. I had no mechanical issues, no accidents, improved the kart's handling, improved my pace, and had a blast racing for three days. This was my first non-local and multi-day kart race in the shifter and it was great to get so much track time. I need to continue to learn the Texas and Oklahoma kart tracks, work on my fitness, and practice practice practice driving the shifter kart to improve my pace. OMC was a very physical track and I was absolutely wiped when we got back to San Angelo at 2AM on Sunday. Thanks to Ali and the 3G team for helping me throughout the weekend.

My next race is a club race at NTK on April 16th and the next SWRC round is at NTK on May 13th and 14th. It will be fun to race in the ultra-competitive SWRC series at a track I am familiar with.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

SWRC Race 1 Recap

Race 1 of the Southwest Regional Cup is in the books. We had a solid field of S2 Stock Moto Senior shifter pilots out today with many national caliber karters in the class. I qualified back in the field in 11th place, but worked my way up to 8th place in the Pre-Final and 6th in the Final. This is a solid points start to my season as I learn and get quicker throughout the season.

My kart has held up well with no major issues. This has allowed me to tune the kart and focus on my racing. Race 2 will be tomorrow afternoon and then the best part of the weekend...my 6 hours tow back to San Angelo.

I'll post Sunday's recap next week once I get back home. Not looking forward to the long drive home tomorrow after racing....Monday's going to be rough at the office.