Another karting Christmas

Junior had only a few wants this Christmas: a new racesuit with matching gloves and boots. His old Sparco suit is now a couple of years old (buying a suit a couple of sizes too big proved to be a good idea), has a broken zip and the main red colour has run into the white stripes making them closer to pink than white! There weren’t any suits out there he liked so I designed one that combined a couple of classic racing liveries: the Lotus colours (that he already has on his kart) and the old Gulf white with red/blue stripe design. It took a little bit of time to (and a trip to Grand Prix Racewear) to get it right but I am really pleased with the outcome (perhaps more importantly, he is too!). The are a few little niggles: The stripe down the sleeve was supposed to be thinner than the main stripe and the elasticated cuffs and legs feel like they might go before Junior grows but my biggest fear, the size of the thing, was unfounded – I would definitely recommend getting measured up by the professionals though. The whole ensemble makes it first appearance at Christmas Karting on Monday night when Junior will definitely be looking like the kid wearing his Christmas presents!

As the suit was more money than we’ve ever spent on any single Christmas present other than the kart itself, it was always going to be a struggle to give that appearance of a sack full of presents on Christmas morning. I’ve no idea where we got them but the Christmas sacks we’ve always used for the kids are easily a metre tall – they have done very well out of us over the years! Pretty much everything that I had bought for the kart in the past eight weeks was wrapped up and used as stocking fillers: a couple of axles (one a new forum purchase, the other a used once [genuinely!!!] eBay purchase), a new looking airbox and a newly kitted 820 carb – both from UK Karting. In addition, I used a little sleight of hand; selling Junior’s Mychron and USB data key to fund an Alfano ADM purchase from eBay. It’s the GPS version which Junior had seen previously and really liked the look of and, provided it works properly when we take it to the track and I get to grips with the poorly translated instructions and what many reckon to be sub-optimal software, should prove to be a good deal. It was a nice surprise for Junior too. Of course, this also meant that it was time to say goodbye to the C-K-R F1 Mycrhon 4 steering wheel which Junior was very fond of but needs must and I sold it on the sly! The Mychron/data key and wheel went for £280 and the Alfano with a new 2014 OTK steering from eBay was £305 with Junior using his Christmas money to make up the balance 😉

As for me, I treated myself to some new toys: a digital tyre pressure gauge and a Sony action camera. I hope to combine it with the Alfano to produce some nice dashboard videos but only time will tell whether that proves to be as easy as it sounds!

Here’s hoping that Santa was good to you also 😀

Costs since last post (I don’t publish the Christmas costs, that just doesn’t seem right!): £20 front torsion bar welded in.

Total spent this year: £4,395

End of year 2 accounts

I remember when I posted my first year accounts, a friend told me I’d spend £4,000 in year two. I didn’t believe him: this year would just be racing costs since we already had everything else that we would need so this year *had* to be cheaper, right?

Year two’s magic number is £4,683 😮 On the back of a year one spend £4,594, that day one prediction of £4,600 per year is looking scarily good! Before you ask me for the lottery numbers this week, I’ll admit that that figure included the cost of buying the kart so I am definitely overspending, especially when you consider that £1,131 went on non-essential items. This is the full breakdown:

Running costs – £2,853:

  • Licenses/memberships – £94
  • Practice fees (12 sessions) – £470
  • Race fees (13 race days) – £664
  • Wet tyres (one unused, three used – all from forums) – £165
  • Slicks(two sets) – £300
  • Engine/carb rebuilds – £608
  • Petrol (for the car) – £353
  • Fuel (for the kart) – £141
  • Bridge tolls – £38

Perishables – £246

  • Bolts – £31
  • Brake fluid/seals – £25
  • Sprocket carrier/protector (eBay) – £33
  • Chains (2) – £34
  • Exhaust flex/wrap – £47
  • Fuel hose – £7
  • Seat – £40
  • Carb gaskets – £25

Repairs – £453:

  • Axles (2) – £144
  • Weld – £10
  • Exhaust bracket – £20
  • Exhaust cradle – £12
  • Steering column – £42
  • Bumper bolts – £21
  • Engine (crank alignment) – £170
  • Jig check – £34

Non-essentials – £1,131

  • Engine mount – £30
  • Additional wet rims – £50
  • Mag rims – £100
  • Decals – £120
  • Bodywork – £119
  • Hotel – £130
  • Engine upgrade – £425
  • 2010 chassis – £25
  • Bearing hangers – £30
  • Additional carbs – £70
  • Carb tester – £32

The running costs for next year will be interesting since we will be buying more new tyres although that may be offset by less track time as Junior enters the run-up to his exams. As for the non-essentials, some of the luxuries were birthday presents etc and the engine upgrade was effectively trading in our old cast barrelled engine nearing rebuild time for a CNC barrelled engine with 90 minutes on but that is still a fair amount of money that could possibly have either been saved or invested in track time. Talking of which, how much time did we get? Unfortunately I seem to have lost the data from June and July but, minus one practice day and three race days, the count was 1,048 laps around Clay and 590 laps around Llandow.

See you in year three? 😀

My Dad went to Kart Mania and all he bought was a fuel can and a roll of duct tape!

It wasn’t quite like that but I liked the headline at least 😉 Kart Mania on Saturday was an interesting experience, something I wasn’t really planning on attending but I had  wanted to get Junior properly measured up for his new suit and Grand Prix Racewear being on site gave me the reason I needed. Even though the suit was already paid for, I still managed to spend £140 before we even got to the show as we bought Junior some boots and gloves. I say ‘spend’  but the boots and gloves will be passed on to the grandparents so not hitting the KartingDad books for FY14.

Driving through Silverstone, past the various famous corners, Junior and I were getting excited like a couple of kids; “Dad, can we come next year?”. He was obviously referring to the Grand Prix and not Kart Mania; “Not unless you give up karting” I replied. In fact, I had looked at the ticket prices earlier in the week but there wasn’t any realistic chance of us attending. Unless of course he really does decide to pack it in!

Kart Mania consisted of two exhibition areas and two ‘Kart Boot’ areas.We checked out the kart boot area first; it was much smaller than I had expected – there were some tempting OTK axles (didn’t really need them), some FP7 bumpers (at new prices) and an interesting Junior Ginetta display (£28,000 per year for your, Sir… at which point I told Junior to get out of the car 😉 ).

Onto the exhibition halls: First things first, we went to the Llandow Kart Club stand to reserve Junior’s number for next year. For some reason I was surprised to see clubs represented at the show, in particularly Llandow, as I’d have thought that most attendees were from the central/southern part of the country, but the stand was really impressive and here’s hoping a good few more followed our example in signing up. I was little taken aback that I had to pay membership as a parent!!! You all know my stance on the PG license and charging the parent for club membership was a novel one – it’s not something that Clay Pigeon Kart Club do. Then again, a friend has told me numerous times that Clay is one of the cheapest places in the country to kart. On this occasion, I wasn’t going to make any waves – the club needs to survive given the grid sizes this season and I was [relatively 😉 ] happy to help fund that. The first hall contained mostly kart clubs along with some of the governing bodies and Karting Magazine. I took the opportunity to tell the MSA my thoughts on their efforts to reduce the costs of karting, much to Junior’s amusement. I did my unimpressed face as the freeze on prices for 2015 was explained to me before I launched into my biggest gripe (no – you’ll never convince me that there is a need for a PG license, tough – if some knuckle dragger can’t control their temper their kid should be punished and, if you really had to have it, why isn’t it included in the cost of the driver license?). I progressed onto the adult medical requirement before my adversary saw his chance “Well, thanks for giving us your feedback”. Fair play to the lad if it was said with sincerity. I’m not certain it was though!

The retro karts in the adjacent hall were fascinating. The Superkarts were as impressive as they were plain scarey. I don’t think you’d find anyone with the kahunas to drive one in our family! That was really it for us; we had some lunch and did another lap of the show. It was then that we realised that we’d missed one of the kart boot areas earlier! This time, I dusted off the wallet – a new 5l fuel can for £1 and a roll of pro duct tape for £2 was too tempting an offer to pass over 😀 The rest of the kit being sold was pretty pricey, easily above eBay prices. I guess you needn’t be in any rush to sell half way through the first day so can afford to mark your prices up. There was still time to chat with some of the clubs where Junior would like to race – Kimbolton (would love to race the Festival) and PFI (such an impressive track but £60 membership required for a single visit – talk about a barrier to entry!).

We’d done the rounds and were ready to leave by 1.45pm. I was glad to have gone but there was much more that I’d like to have seen: Tal-Ko (I know they sent out an email about how they’d sooner reach out to their customers directly but I do wonder if I’ll be seeing them at a track near me any time soon), Strawberry Racing (I’ve a million questions about Tony Kart setup!), twice the number of sellers in the kart boot area (I had imagined this really would be a giant car boot sale for kart bits) and a track where you could see the retro racers/ superkarts running and test the latest chassis or engines (this would have been a great chance for Iame to show drivers what they are missing if X30 is as good as people say it is). I think that, had I had £1500 in my back pocket for a nice rolling chassis, I could easily have spent it. It is what it is though – I was happy to have attended but I’m not sure I’d go again.