Finger Lakes recap

posted Jun 16, 2009, 4:49 AM by Scoob Edoo
Drive up was uneventful.  Made it well in time to get everything unloaded and checked out, eat something, then run 4 practice runs on the small dirty course.  Walked Saturday's course which was pretty similar to last year's Pro course.  But with a kart, you look at things somewhat differently.  The original course looked like the finish would have me running at the top end of 5th gear - really fast.  A few changes were made before Saturday's runs for safety reasons, mainly to keep us out of the grass.

Sat started out perfectly - sunny with a few clouds, brisk in the AM but turning warmer.  I wasn't running until 4th (last) heat and working 2nd, so I had time to tinker with stuff and watch some of the earlier run groups.  I got some scouting reports from them that led me to believe the course ran even faster than it looked on walking, so I was really getting excited.  I worked the radio with Danny Kao running the audit sheets and we had a good time working.  During 3rd heat, the clouds came barreling in and mid-way through the heat we got some sprinkles.  It did that and mixed with light showers during the rest of the heat, then stopped at the end during the changeover to 4th heat.  The karts were gridded about 2/3 down, so we waited through an agonizing 30 min when the sprinkles came and went a few times, never getting the asphalt completely wet.  So our first runs were on dry slicks, but by the time we ran, the showers came back and it was completely wet on course.  This was my first experience driving the kart in the wet, and the slicks had minimal grip - sorta like driving the Lexus with the all-season tires in the rain.  I took it mostly easy off the line, but shifted to 2nd and looped it right after the start.  I stayed on course, fortunately, and continued to drive, only to be red-flagged about a 1/3 of the way in when Greg Vincent stalled.  So I got a re-run.  Yay - now I get to drive 4 runs in the rain on slicks...

Everyone else switched to rain tires in grid, but since I did not have another set of wheels for the front, I stayed on slicks.  Immediately everyone went about 15 sec faster on the rains and I finished the day 17 sec out of 1st.  Frustrating, but still I got to experience understeer for the first time in the kart and I was able to learn a lot from the rain experience, so all was not lost.

Sat night was cloudy, but even cooler than Friday night.  We didn't get any more rain and I slept reasonably well (compared to Friday night, at least).  I got up early, torn down the tent, ate some breakfast, showered, and packed everything up.  I got over to the site in time to do two more course walks and see what changes were made to it since we walked the previous night.  This time the finish was very different from what we'd been told and then they made another change to slow the finish even more.  It was a much more interesting and fun course than Saturday's, even though it was very related, but driven in the opposite direction.

First heat had Dave Heinig running in 2nd in AS only to make a hero run on his 3rd to win AS.  He loved the course and gave me some good tips on how to take some of the slower elements.

Danny and I worked during 2nd heat again and had some fun with Sam Strano who was working "Control".  It was a good time and we got to really see how Corey Ridgick is so much cleaner and tighter on the cones than just about everyone else.  Jake Namer had a hero run where he ran right over a cone in the station prior to ours and we could all hear it.  Their radio guy actually started to call it in only to stop to say that the cone had popped back up in the box!  Jake got 2nd in STU as a result of that run.  And Dave Newman had a close call when I had to red flag him very late after a EM competitor had broken a throttle cable, then the other EM driver did not move swiftly through the course in time.  On his rerun, Dave cleaned everything up and ran his best run to steal the win.  Good stuff.

During 3rd heat I got the kart ready and up to grid then watched Sal as he continued his bid to beat the current FM national champ.  He had a good 2nd run and Brian was on the ropes.  Sal's 3rd run was VERY fast, but he got a cone in the "tight" complex after the concrete and negated his best run.  Brian saw the opportunity and made the most of it and clipped Sal on his last run by 0.14 sec.  Sal was pretty down on himself, but Brian really showed some class and came up to Sal and thanked him for pushing him to the edge.  Said it was the best competition he's had in about 8 years.  So after about 8-10 events in Steven's FM car, Sal is running on national champ pace - and he's disappointed.  That boy will be a national champ sooner than later.

So for 4th heat they moved the karts to the beginning of the grid and we got to run in beautiful conditions.  I had rewidened the rear track on mine and had balanced the pressures on warm tires.  Sun was strong and there was a good amount of rubber for us on course, so i just had to focus on staying on course and hitting the slow parts correctly.  I did a pretty good job of this, except on the turnaround I kept hitting the crown slightly too fast and when the course fell off-camber, I slid off my line and lost time there on every run.  But I improved each run and got within about 1 sec of Danny and Steve by my 3rd run.  I missed my usually couple of shifts (up instead of down, usually), but for the most part got into the flow of the course on my 2nd and 3rd runs.  The best part of the day was watching Ryan Lower demolish the rest of us.  He got FTD on his 2nd run then went a bunch faster on his 3rd to really lay the smack-down on everyone.  There was no doubt that he was the star of the show and if there had not been rain on Saturday, he might have challenged for overall PAX.

So the weekend went pretty well overall.  Great guys and gals in the karting community really helped me out a lot.  I now realize that I need a kart stand or at least a "pit buggy" to have necessary tools and extras readily available.  I'll work on that now.  My motor was making a bizarre, erratic metallic pinging sound when revved high and I'm thinking that there is something roaming loose inside the gear box.  I need to take it off and tear it down to investigate soon.  I also need new throttle and clutch cables and I need a secondary brake rod or cable to back up the primary (I missed this when reading the rules somehow, but good a few ideas from the other karts there).