Who am I trying to kid? Although Junior didn’t have any karting-related items from us in his Christmas stocking, I’d arranged something pretty special for his Nan to give him: a practice day at PFI running with TWMotorsport in one of their Tony Kart Vipers 🙂 He’s very much looking forward to this, as it’s a track he has always wanted to drive but has always been that bit too far away for a day trip. I am too although for slightly different reasons: I don’t have to tow the trailer 140 miles each-way and I’ve informed my wife that I’m taking the Sportage instead of the Clio 😉 It will also be very interesting to see how Junior finds the handling of the Viper compared with his EVR.
There’s a bit of uncertainty regarding the TVKC membership requirements: the track told me you had to be a member (the prospect of a £60 outlay on top of the practice fee has always put me off visiting previously but I’d thought we’d bite the bullet if we had to) but other drivers have said they paid a £10 day membership fee. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see! The timing isn’t great also: we’ve our annual Christmas Karting the night before and Teamsport don’t have a great record for finishing promptly. Hopefully we are finished promptly and Junior won’t be too sore for my putting him in his indoor karting place 😉 Wish me luck!
Well… not exactly! The kart remains untouched since Clay IKR; I remove the fuel, engine, chain after the finals so that they are properly stored, allowing me to clean the chassis at my leisure (instead of when I get home). This means that my leisure time is mostly kart-free right now. Our annual trip to Teamsport Bristol needed a little attention for the group draws (how does 45 drivers and A, B, C and D finals sound?) and I just spent a couple of hours Photoshop’ing the TKM Owners Group‘s Facebook cover photo (not a bad job, if I say so myself):
It’s a TKM Christmas!
Junior’s last three years of Christmas presents (and birthday presents for that matter) have all been kart-related: the kart in 2012, the race engine in 2013 and his (now fairly snug-fitting) racesuit in 2014. We only really need two things now: a new chassis and an awning, neither or which we currently have the funds for (that and the fact that a recent Viper is as rare as rocking horse sh*t these days – I think might have shot myself in the foot a little there in promoting TKM!). On the plus side, it’s allowed me to get back to buying Junior surprise presents, which I’ve missed recently and at which I’m pretty damn good at (better than I am at being a race mechanic, certainly!) :/ I’m sure there will be a little karting treat in there somewhere too 😉
So that might be it for 2015. Have a great Christmas and I’ll let you know how I get on with kicking Junior’s ass at Christmas Karting!
Spent since last post: Nowt 😀
Total spent this year: £5,117 😮
Christmas Karting has become something of an annual fixture; when mums and dads attempt (and fail miserably) to put their kids in their place, the dads get all competitive with one another and the kids just jaunt around like they own the place. From 12 drivers in 2013 and 36 in 2014, we’ve now expanded to 48 drivers for this year (14 parents, 9 senior drivers, 12 junior drivers and 13 family/friends). That’s A, B, C and D finals!!! It’s a lot of ball-ache to set up, mostly down to having to collect money from everyone but the end result is worth it. Last year we smashed the TeamSport Bristol leaderboard and the locals still haven’t beaten any of the top seven times we set last year 😉
Think you’re quick around TeamSport Bristol?
Only 82 days to go… 😀
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
Happy New Year!
We had an interesting Christmas this year (ok, last year) in so far as the kids normally still manage to come up with a long list of things they would like despite reaching or being near teenagers. This year was different – for the first time Junior had a list with next to nothing on it: an engine and Gran Turismo 6!
I had been considering getting another engine for some time – I wanted the reassurance of the backup engine should things go pear-shaped on race day and, if I was going to get another engine, I wanted one with a CNC barrel; the majority of racers have them, several engine builders had recommended them so I had decided that would be what we would aim to get. If I am honest, it wasn’t essential and you could make a strong argument that we may have been better off investing the money in more track time. I should point out that I am not assuming the engine will suddenly close the gap between us and the pack (honest!!!) and I know that most of the time remains in his lines and consistency (although there’s likely a big chunk in my setting up of the kart for wet conditions) but you pay’s your money as they say…
Junior was just expecting some money towards his engine – I had pretty much drummed into him that, if we were to get an engine, he’d be getting cash and very little else. He had some money left over from the Great Star Wars sale of 2010, when we had sold off the Star Wars toys he had been collecting since he was 6 on eBay just before Christmas and made £1,000. Advice: always take the boxes of collectable toys from your kids and put them straight in the loft! He still had half of this remaining and my wife had agreed to let him put this towards an engine with Santa donating the remainder 🙂 Between Santa, ourselves and the extended family, Junior got the engine and also a kart trolley (we picked up one of more sturdy folding variants with tray and tyre hangers in very good condition for £50), some long front and rear hubs and a new nassau and front spoiler (ahead of his birthday in March when he’d like new decals).
So, in the absence of any new toys (isn’t it a shame when they stop wanting toys for Christmas?), Junior spent most of Christmas playing GT6 (it is pretty good, by the way, although he mostly kicks my arse royally when we compete in the time trials!) and I am hoping the new engine does prove to be quicker than our current one. I have to admit, I’ll be more than a little disappointed if it is not!
Total spent so far: £5,264