2014 ProSolo Finale and Solo Nats

posted Sep 7, 2014, 1:40 PM by Scoob Edoo
Preparations all complete, I packed the trailer with my stuff and the spare chassis I was selling to Chuck Clark.  My plan was to work on Wednesday, then drive about 6 hours and stay at Paducah for the night, then drive the rest of the way on my birthday.  The weather cooperated perfectly and it all went off as planned.  I got into Lincoln by 4:00 pm and went to get fuel and provisions for the week.  I was staying with Cathy and I went to her house before heading to Grandma Wanda's for drinks and dinner.  And birthday cake!

Friday morning I went over to the air park to drop my trailer and scout the place for awhile.  I had made plans to head over to the University to see Jim Takacs, so I went and we conversed for a few hours.  Good to see him and talk about the Chemistry department.  I headed to the student union to eat some Chinese food like old times, then went back over to the air park to get the kart ready for tech and to set up the rest of my paddock spot.  Tech was uneventful, though later folks were made to bring their suits and neck braces and shoes.  Odd.  Walked the courses before heading back to Cathy's.  Courses looked worthy of the Finale - fast and fun, with enough technical stuff to keep it interesting (in stark contrast to the Toledo Pro courses).

Saturday came and the weather was great.  We ran last, so it was about 2 pm by the time we ran our "morning" runs.  The sun was out in full force and there was lots of rubber laid down everywhere, but especially the start.  I bogged my launches on three of the four runs, but still managed to slot into fourth spot.  The afternoon runs were very late as usual, but the sun was low and shadows long and only Julian improved on his morning times.  I held 4th overnight.

Sunday rolled around and the weather was fine initially, but deteriorated into a storm about 90 min before we ran.  Lots of folks pulled out of running, except Paul Russell and Nut and Keith.  No idea why, but they had to run rain tires in wet conditions, so there was no hope of going faster.  But they did get wet.  I, on the other had, did not even unpack the kart.  After runs were over, I went with the Garfields to register for Nats.  It was quick and painless.

While I wanted to watch the challenges to see Paul and others, I had committed to help with the Evo Junior school, so I went and did that for 2 hours.  About half of the kids showed up and we went through several spin drills, how to tech the karts, getting more involved with their kart maintenance, then running the course with Junior and Trey helping evaluate lines, braking points, looking ahead, etc.  It was a good exercise and the kids and parents learned a lot, I think.

Meanwhile, Paul absolutely rocked the Super Challenge, winning for the first time ever and winning the season championship!  The first time for a kart.  Sorry I missed it, but I wouldn't trade the experience with the kids, so I'm stuck.  I went and showered to get ready for the banquet and a storm hit VERY hard, with serious wind and rain.  Itg did not bode well for my canopy that I'd left partially up.  The banquet was nice, with good food and good times with friends.  I had claimed the 4th place trophy spot, missing third by 1 point to Nut.  Paul gave a little speech upon accepting his trophies for the Pro win and the season championship - and he closed by saying he was buying the first round for anyone who wanted to continue the party!  Everyone eventually settled on Brothers downtown so a bunch of us went and had a few drinks.

Monday is an off day, so I stayed home with Cathy, fixing her computer and setting up an antenna for her to watch local channels - she, too, wants to cut the cable cord.  So we got some work done, then went to Wanda's for lunch and more cake! Afterward I went to the air park to see the damage from the storm the night before.  Indeed the canopy had a few bent and broken supports, but the top was fine and the rest of the supports were fine.  I should be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again after calling E-Z Up about it next week.

After that it was time to walk the East course that we'd be driving on Tuesday.  I walked 5 times that night.  The course was long and pretty fast, with some tricky technical parts that you had to get right to be fast.  After that was the welcome party, named Talent and Tacos, and they were cooking flank steak and chicken for the tacos.  It was an excellent meal, topped by Dos Equis and Tecate to drink.  I even volunteered to go on stage once the "talent" portion started and promptly got stuck and lost in an early round of a quick-thinking car model name game.  Good fun, but it quickly got dark and I knew I had to get some sleep for Tuesday, so I took off.

Tuesday promised to be another perfect day in paradise - not a cloud in the sky and a truly gorgeous day to play with fast cars.  Kids, as usual, were first up and the 25 kids - 17 in JB and 8 in JA - required some extra help.  Kathy Barnes and I volunteered to help Nut manage traffic, etc, so I worked that whole heat keeping the kids safe and helping where I could.  Everything went very well and there were some interesting battles shaping up in both classes.  Then I had to work Safety during 2nd heat, mainly managing people around the start area.  No paperwork for me, so another successful job in my book. 

We had a 45 min break during which we could walk the course once more, then get the karts ready to roll, first off.  We ended up with 32 drivers, so we were about 1/2 of the entire run group.  My first run had my ignition wire get pulled off the coil post by a bump only about 1/4 into the run.  I pushed the kart back quickly, causing only one rerun and Brian immediately diagnosed and fixed the problem.  I only had to zip-tie the wire to another area so it didn't happen again.  Odd that it hadn't ever happened before that, but it must have been either loose or a big bump.  After that I tried to settle down, but knew I had to push to get a good run in since I missed my "recon" run.  I then proceeded to push too hard and completely messed up the one section where I needed to get it right to go faster.  Entirely my fault for going into panic mode after the mechanical issue.  I was also geared too short by a gear and didn't bother to fix that.  Same with the third run, and I ended up day 1 in 19th place.  Pretty poor, but that's life.  After getting out of impound, I took the kart back to the trailer and went to walk the West course.  It was a shorter course, but looked very fun.  I made some notes on my course map and went to eat with Cathy.

Day 2 was cooler and windy but another pretty good day, with only a slight chance of rain.  The kids again ran first and the West course was indeed fun and shorter.  Both classes had some great battles to watch and both came down to the last runs.  In JB, Alexander Nelson (Robbie's son) pulled off a miraculous run to jump ahead of Johan by 0.002 sec for the championship!  In JA, the battle was tight between Riley Heaton, Kevin Jung, and Zak Kiesel.  Riley had an excellent third run, taking the lead.  Kevin fell just short on his third run, and Zak pushed just a bit too hard in the finish corner, hitting the three cones at the lights.  His time would have been enough to win, but the cones threw it away.  Most importantly, there were no major issues delaying the event and the racing was tight, so some folks actually found it to be a part of the event instead of a delay.  Nut had the action well-organized and the kids did great.

By the time of our runs in third heat, the weather was still overcast and breezy.  In fact, warming up our motors took quite a bit longer than we'd anticipated as the breeze was from the south, the direction we were pointing in grid.  We all had to cover a good portion of our radiators and rev the motors a bit more than usual to get up to operating temps.  That was true for all of our runs as the sun didn't really make an appearance until we'd finished.

My first run was OK, moving me up a few spots, but there was clearly more time out there to be claimed.  Second run was better by 1.2 sec and much better in every way from the first.  With the humidity moving out, I decided to try something different with my jetting for the last run and went leaner by one jet.  Turned out to be perfect for the conditions and the motor has rarely sounded better.  I did improve another 0.6 sec on that run, but had one major issue on the "straight" before the finish 180 that cost me at least 0.5 sec, and another minor issue in the middle of the course that cost me another few tenths.  But importantly I improved enough to move to 13th, finishing right behind Kline and just in front of Old Man Sheidler.  Again.

So overall I accomplished what I wanted to - show that I was competitive nationally, especially for ProSolo.  I have already decided to focus more on LeMons and ChumpCar next season, but Kieran and I will run a few ProSolos and probably Spring Nationals again.  Probably will focus more on hitting the kart track than these events though since seat-time is more important for this "off year" when neither of us will attend Nationals.  Then we'll have to see how 2016 shapes up for us.  Hopefully Kieran takes his school work more seriously in the future.

Next up for me is the LeMons race at Carolina Motorsports Park in two weeks.  Again driving the Contour with the Leftovers, but this time they've worked to get camber in the front and hopefully some ability to heel-toe.