An expensive month – and we’ll not even be hitting the track!

This month is proving to be one of those where the costs keep mounting. I have decided that I’ll buy new tyres from now on – I still have several sets of used slicks that we will race on although the two sets of used wets we bought in the summer have obviously degraded a fair bit and I wanted to get hold of a new set to give us something more suitable for a very wet track. I picked up an unused set of wets from one of the forums for £120. I also bought some brake fluid and replacement seals ahead of my bi-annual bleeding of the brakes and a new sprocket carrier from eBay in a bid to finally rid my chain of that tense spot (the reality is that it could still turn out to be the axle, which I’ll replace when funds improve, and I’ve probably stretched my nice Panther chain by now anyway).

Still to be funded are the engine rebuild, the MSA licenses (don’t start me on the rip-off PG license again – I will email my feelings on this to the MSA when I get a chance!), the club membership and track loyalty card.

Total spent this year: £160 (unused wets – £120, brake fluid/replacement seals – £25, sprocket carrier – £15)

Total spent so far: £5,424

 

End of first year accounts!

Ok, so when I posted my predicted costs at the start of the year, I had reckoned on this costing around £3,200 based on ten practice days and no racing. A full season of racing would have cost £4,600. Going back through my posts, I noticed a few costs had been missed so with two sets of used wets, a set of used slicks, a carb rebuild and a few miscellaneous items thrown in, the grand total for the 2013 spend (12 practice days, one aborted practice, 3 race weekends and a race Sunday) was £4,594!!!

It broke down something like this:

Retirement package (chassis, engine, new slicks, used slicks/wets, trolley, Mychron 4, remote starter, transponder, kart cover, rib protector, spares package – carbs, pods, bumper, seat, fuel tank, nassau, floor tray, track rods, stub axles, exhaust, axles, sprockets, chains, nuts/bolts/spacers etc, chain lube/brake cleaner): £1095
Trailer/Tow bar/lid: £490
Helmet/shield protector: £345
Tools (tyre tools, file, hex keys, socket wrenches, spark spanner, tyre spanner, sprocket puller): £133
Clay Pigeon Loyalty card: £40
Practice Days (12): £385
Race weekends (4): £233
Petrol for car: £273
Petrol for kart: £126
Stuff (pedal extenders, cargo net, ActionCam, lead, half share in awning, waterproofs for mechanic): £192
Consumables (pulse pipe, fuel pipe, tank filter, funnel filters, cable ties, lubes, cleaners, chain guard, sprockets, chains, break fluid/seals, engine mount/clamps, hose clips, screws, bolts): £277
Repairs (chassis weld, engine, steering wheel, spark plug, cap, ignition lead): £213
Rebuild (1 engine + 3 carbs): £250
ARKS starter/test/parent license: £152
Used slicks x5: £190
Used wets x2: £100
Used SE rims: £100

A really obsessed blogger would link the above costs to the relevant articles but I am above all of that 😉 So what do you get for such an investment? 103 laps of Dunkeswell, 96 laps of Llandow (which always comes out as Lladnow when I type it) and 1,692 laps of Clay!!! Not to mention *a lot* less sleep, the onset of greyness, some crushing lows, some amazing highs, an awful lot of fun and some experiences with your lad that you’ll never forget 🙂

Have a great Christmas!

Race 4: another forward step

This weekend was our final outing of the year – at the Clay Pigeon Kart Club Turkey Trot. A weekend of 6am starts for one final time this year! You know how I hate it when the kart gets soaked enroute? Let’s just say you wouldn’t know I had cleaned it the week before from the dirt it was covered in by the time I arrived at a sunny Clay.

Saturday was a really good day – we had a mixture of damp and dry tracks so a bit more much needed wet practice but, as the track got grippier in the afternoon, we looked pretty decent (especially after moving up to the gold restrictor – Junior could really feel the difference in bottom-end power). When the track was at it’s quickest, we were just over 0.5s off the pace but it was the first time Junior had been overtaken by one of the quicker drivers and then stuck with them rather than watching him sail away – he even looked like he was going to have a go back!!! 🙂 We’ve had a few false dawns so I didn’t get too excited – race day often reveals the starker truth. The kart got soaked again on the way home which meant I spent the evening drying it 🙁

I really didn’t want to hear the alarm ring but I kicked myself out of bed at the usual time. We had our clearest ever run to Clay – a grand total of 2 cars were in front of us during the entire journey. And it didn’t rain 🙂

The warm-up was good – the track was easily too wet for slicks even though there had been no rain for some time. If it’s going to be slippy, I would much rather there wasn’t a dry line so that the tyre choice is easy. For us, with used wets, we don’t have the risk of writing off a £160 set tyres so the borderline calls can sometimes play in our favour. It was only a warm-up though. Heat 1 was ok too; disappointingly there were only three of us racing – two of this season’s front runners and Junior! We were continually losing ground but only finished 15s and 10s behind over the 12 laps. Heat 2 was probably the one that was a little disappointing although it was probably my fault –  we were losing over a second a lap pretty much the whole way through although Junior’s race wasn’t helped by his fuel tank bolt falling off and then him completing the final laps holding the tank between his knees!!! I normally wrap velcro around the tank to stop if moving but, for some reason, the velcro had spent the weekend in the boot. I think the biggest problem though was me running a much higher pressure than was called for – the tyres had gained 3.5-4PSI during the race and you could see that we weren’t using as much of the tyre as we should have been. Tyre pressures are the hardest thing for me to gauge – especially in the cold/damp conditions. One to put down to experience…

The track was now dry so we switched to a full dry setup and I thought I would move down a couple of teeth just to experiment – we were going to finish last anyway so I wanted to see if Junior felt a difference. Then it rained! Although the track did dry by the time of the final, I didn’t have time to replace the sprocket so we had a lower gearing on a damp track, slicks on a wet setup. My reasoning was it wasn’t dry enough for a full dry setup but slicks were essential so I did what I thought was right. It didn’t turn out too badly though – we lost under a second a lap, so although we were 19s and two thirds of a lap adrift at the end of the 20-lap race, it represented a decent step forward over the weekend, especially compared with our last race. We’d learned a bit more about setups (with a lot of thanks to my rival TKM Dads, who took pity on me on probably shared a lot more information than they would normally!), Junior had been able to improve his lines a little, the Alpha Timing system’s lap stats were very useful and we’d had an enjoyable weekend.

So our season is over. The engine is in for a rebuild. The kart will be completely stripped as soon as I get a chance and we’ll take 6 weeks off. Unless I get the chance of a drive with a few of the other TKM Dads early in the New Year… 🙂

Cost of weekend: £24 petrol, £13 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee, £49 race fee

Total spent so far: £4,376

One year on…

This weekend just gone was one year since I naively took my first steps into 2-stroke karting. I had been talking to the Clay Pigeon Kart Club folk about getting Junior down to try out a 2-stroke kart. In my mind, it was nothing more than a chance for Junior to drive a fast kart after his Arrive/Drive exploits. It was a fun day, even if Junior was *ultra* slow – that’s him in the site banner photo – I always thought it made it look like he was ducking inside some seniors but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth! I had absolutely no intention of buying anything.

Twelve months and £4,255 later…

Practice 11: best laps and breakages

The second of back-to-back Saturdays. Once again I found myself awake in the early hours, brain totally engaged thinking about the day. Having found the benefits of an early arrival (i.e. plenty of time to get ready for the first session without rushing) to my liking last week, we arrived an hour before the track opened. Unlike last week however, I hadn’t really been able to do as much of the preparation at home the night before owing to the poor weather (the garage has insufficient space to actually work in it and the lighting is awful) so the tyres (a fairly decent ‘new’ used set bought from the forums some time ago) hadn’t been inflated, I hadn’t gotten the new carb gaskets fitted, nor check everything over properly after I had stripped the back end down to dry it last week. The preparation hour was a bit of a rush; I put the new 3l fuel tank on, corrected the kind of mistakes you make when working in the dark (i.e. a front wheel with three wheel nuts but only two bolts used!) and got everything set. We were on the grid when the cadets came off at 10:10.

Our first problem of the day: the kart wouldn’t fire. I gave it a couple of aborted push start attempts but there wasn’t even the hint of it starting. I took it back to the pits and checked the ignition box wire connectors were ok and then checked the spark plug and found that we were not getting a spark. I whipped out the new plug that I had bought in the week for just this purpose and things looked more promising. Hastily, I tossed the old plug in the bin and we went for another attempt at getting on track. Once again the kart is showing no signs of starting so back to the pits again – it seemed the sparking was intermittent. I had used my only spare HT lead at a recent practice at Dunks. Good job that Clay has a shop… only the shop didn’t have one! Fortunately, I was able to borrow one (from my good friend also known as KartingDad’s Karting Dad!), swap the lead over and get the kart starting reliably on the stand and running fine (shame about the plug I threw in the bin full of wasps but never mind).

Junior was on the grid for the start of the second session but only managed three laps before coming in to complain about his brakes. I could see that one pad was rubbing the disc engine-side and there was quite a gap brake-side but assumed, as he had been running ok, that it I could just adjust it at the end of the session. He did another 15 laps but with a slow best time of 39.3s and still complaining about the brake. Back in the pits, I was surprised to see the brake-side pad was rubbing the disc and the gap was now engine-side. If you are thinking “grub screws”, you would be correct: the grub screws had abandoned ship! Pleasingly, I figured that one out straight away too. Disappointingly, this was a mechanic error – I wasn’t overly tightening the grub screws knowing grub screw damage can severely weaken an axle. I have to admit that I hadn’t checked the grub screws at the start of the day so it could well have been that I hadn’t tightened them enough (even for my liking) after refitting the axle. Everything else was still aligned and looking good so it was just the grub screws required – you’d think these would be in stock wouldn’t you? As far as shop stock went, today wasn’t my lucky day so they gave me the only one they had. Having lost a couple at home recently, I only had one spare and my Karting Dad had one also. Cue wandering around the pits trying to buy spares! I managed to get some but it wrote off the remainder of the morning with only 18 laps under our belt and a best (and faulty brake affected) time of 39.1s.

The third session was more like it: 23 laps with a best of 36.6 and lots of time still evident in Junior’s lines. The fourth was better again: running with the camera on-board for first time of the day, Junior managed a 36.5s before the camera mount snapped :S See if you can spot the moment in my YouTube video. I am not convinced this punt on the camera is working – the camera itself is fine but the case and mounts haven’t looked up to the massive vibration that karting poses. For this session we were also running with the MyTach GPS watch. I’ve still not really read up on this but the watch gives you top speed readings and we were looking to test sprocket sizes. Running a 78 sprocket (what we had always run at Clay although I know the quicker guys run a fair bit smaller), we did a fastest lap of 36.57 with a top speed of 64.6mph (ironically analysis at home showed this was not on the fastest lap, which included a top speed of 60.8mph). With our problems seemingly behind us, we switched to a 76 sprocket and ran the GPS again. This time Junior put in a 36.42, the top speed on that lap was 63.8mph and his maximum speed during the session was 64.7mph. Not much in it, I am sure you will agree – I put this down to inconsistency, particularly out of the Top Bend but there was some interesting data in there: he was 3mph quicker down the straight into The Hairpin on the smaller sprocket.

The track then seemed to cool a little and I think my not increasing the tyre pressures a fraction may have cost us a few tenths as we drifted in the 36.6/36.7s laps before we encountered our biggest problem of the day: Junior had been holding up a couple of RotaxMax’s for a few laps and ran wide at The Horseshoe, matey decided to stick his nose up on the outside and, as Junior moved wider to get a line for the bend, they hit – flicking our back end up and causing Junior to run onto the grass. He rejoined the track and ran for another 8 laps. I was very surprised when he came in and I took the chainguard off – the chain looked blackened and dry (it had been freshly lubed) and was missing a few chunks, then I noticed the teeth on the rear sprocket (a brand, spanking new one that day) were wrecked which lead me to a front sprocket with some nice sharp spurs! At this point I needed KartingDad’s Karting Dad (again) as I had no idea how to remove a front sprocket and have learnt I need to buy some new tools :S With hindsight, either of two changes I made during the day may have contributed to this: I removed the sprocket protectors after deciding to use 6 sprocket bolts instead of three (it looked like the front sprocket alignment was a little uneven as the rear sprocket was rotated so I add the extra bolts in case this was the cause and the protectors have three warped holes that no longer easily facilitate the extra bolts) and the chain was running a little looser than I normally have it (on advice!). We went back to the 78 sprocket (now my smallest), a 110  chain (also now my smallest) and fitted a spare front sprocket (thanks again, spares :)).

The track was quieter now and Junior spent the last couple of sessions racing his friends. His lines through the afternoon had really come on – a screech and a lift entering Billies always looks good, taking The Esses with a decent amount of kerb was becoming more of the norm and, although his exit from The Hairpin was still a little tight and he had acquired a new, slower line through The Horseshoe, he was carrying [a little] more speed into and out of the Top Bend. New PB!!! 36.11 🙂 Racing was obviously paying off. For the final session of the day, he spent a few laps following the South West Junior TKM champion 😉 until said champion decided he had enough and wanted to put Junior in his place. Junior didn’t mind though, he was chuffed to bits with another new PB – 36.06s.

So we got off to the worst possible start, endured a pretty expensive day, breakage wise but ended up clocking 166 laps and Junior making further progress.He is definitely quick enough to race. I have no lofty goals/dreams about exactly how competitive he will be, it would be nice to be close enough to the pack to race someone but I doubt that will be the case initially. Whether I am ready to race is another question. I am still making mistakes but I think that is just human nature – I’ll make more than most mechanics, I just need to make sure I learn from them! The troubleshooting is a worry as, if things go wrong, there is no second engine to pull out the trailer, nor is there likely to be for some time. We’re just going to have to see how we get on 🙂

Cost of day: £12 petrol, £7 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee, £5 grub screws

Cost of replacement stuff: £10 ‘new’ chainguard from eBay, £100 new spark plug cap/spark plug/HT lead/6 grub screws/10-tooth front sprocket/Talon size 76 rear sprocket/Panther (I know I could have spent less but I am keen to see if it is stronger and longer lasting) 108 link chain (from Kart Parts UK/Spellfame)

Total spent so far: £3,396

I plan to limit outgoings to race weekends and associated running costs/repairs only for the remainder of the year so kick me if you see me post about new bits and pieces!

MSA karting license arrives

Junior’s race license arrived last week. The application form had been ready since he passed his ARKS test in May but there seemed to be no rush. We didn’t have a lot of choice given all of the tracks in the area are MSA affiliated but that was fine with me; I think I’d prefer to run under the UK motorsport governing body. Then you start to look at the costs…

  • MSA ‘Go Karting’ Stater Pack: the all-important DVD containing everything you need to know to pass your ARKS test, an application form unobtainable elsewhere, the rule books (which you get another copy of when you receive your license) and a Demon Tweeks catalogue! £50
  • ARKS test: £93
  • Junior license application: free
  • Parent license: £17

I don’t begrudge paying for the service but, on reflection, there is a lot of bloated cost in there. To attract new people into karting the entry costs need to be lower, I think you could charge £20 for this and still make a healthy profit. The ARKS test is what it is and at least at Clay this cost includes a day’s practice. It is nice that the junior license application is free but the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, as they say… I am fundamentally against the parent license concept; I understand it was introduced so that juniors did not get penalised for their parent’s misdemeanors but what better deterrent than to exclude juniors if their parents cannot control themselves? For Dad/lad combos, excluding the Dad is the same thing anyway – Junior’s Mum isn’t bringing him karting! It would be fair to say that I definitely begrudged paying for a license to take Junior karting.

Consider this more of a grumble than a rant 🙂 Here’s hoping we are making the most of the license very soon!

Practice 8: a step backwards :(

Just when it looked like our issues were behind us too! I blame Junior – he was the one who commented on how we had run trouble-free last time as we were enroute to Dunkeswell. We left at 7:20am; 20 minutes later than I was hoping and got to the track just before practice started at 9:00am. It took a while to get our ‘new’ awning up, on which I had gone ‘halves‘ with another Dad and which we were using for the first time. Once the awning was up, tyre pressures set (annoyingly, I had forgotten to do over-inflate the tyres the night before), fuel added, carb primed and the kart started on the trolley I had missed not only the first session but there wasn’t enough of the second session left to make it worthwhile going out.

As it happened, I wish we had: we lasted only one lap of the third session as Junior came in reporting that the engine wouldn’t rev over 8,000rpm. What do I do about that? I’ve learnt a lot in five months of ownership but troubleshooting is an area where I really need to improve. I started the kart again on the trolley and it seemed ok but I wasn’t keen on trying to rev it excessively to see whether it would get into the upper range. Changing the carb seemed like a reasonable option and that appeared to do the trick as we ran for the whole of the next session – our only real track time (a whopping 10 minutes) in the first three hours! Things then took another turn for the worse as Junior crashed in the next session, running wide as he accelerated out of a corner, hitting the plastic barriers and putting a nice bend into a track rod. My spares package saved me once again 🙂 I had what I needed to fix the kart although during the repair a helping Dad noticed we had a fuel leak. I had semi-noted this earlier but put it down to fuel being spilt when it was being poured into the tank without checking it out properly. Note to self: investigate everything unusual – you’ve done this before!!! The fuel was leaking from a hairline crack in the tank which appeared to have been caused by my previously refitting the tank without a spacer between chassis and tank and then over tightening the tank fixing bolt. Without a replacement, I ran the fuel below the fixing bolt to minimise any spillage – I did have a spare fuel tank at home but hadn’t envisaged any scenarios where I would need it trackside!

It was 2:00pm by the time we were back on track. With only 23 laps in the bag we then managed to string back-to-back sessions together although our day ended at around 3:30 when Junior lost power and pulled off the track (at the far end of the track too!). The carb wasn’t holding fuel – you could see it was just running back into the tank. My good buddy/advisor and fellow Karting Dad tested the carb with a pop-off tester – it didn’t look great. My other carb (replaced in the morning) had a loose spring although that might have been a result of my botched attempt at checking it out earlier in the day. With some tweaking, we got one decent carb together but the engine still would not start on the trolley and we concluded that we were losing pressure because of the crack in the tank. And with that, our day was done 🙁

There were a few positives: I took the camera and got some decent pictures of Junior and some of the other lads who ran with us (I was one of four Dad/lad JTKM combos who had headed down for the day), we ran the Action Pro for a few sessions (although suffered from some pretty bad vibration on the nassau) and I also started to make session notes so that I could gauge the effect of any setup changes (I was experimenting with different exhaust flex lengths). They were mostly outweighed by the negatives though: only 55 laps done, 0.8s slower than our only other visit to the track, a fuel issue to take home to troubleshoot and the realisation that we definitely aren’t ready to race at Clay next month. I was also bothered by my reliance on others to help me get to the bottom of the problems which, I felt on at least one session, meant their lads were sitting out as they tried to help (if you read this – sorry, mate!).

I need to work on my understanding of the carb and engine workings. I know you only really learn when you encounter a problem but I really want reduce my dependency on others generosity in helping. Mechanically inept? That is pretty much still the case – I’ve a still long way to go!

Cost of day: £18 petrol, £7 fuel for the kart (still plenty left from last time), £40 practice fee

Bits and pieces bought since last update: hose clips for exhaust end can: £2.50, 4mm self tapping screws for end can: £5, file for getting rid of deposits on axle (especially around my sprocket carrier!): £6, half-share of 6m x 3m awning: £30

Total spent so far (ouch – we’ve just passed £3k): £3,086

Engine rebuild

I’d been considering getting the engine rebuilt for some time; I bought the engine with ~3 hours on it prior to our test/purchase day (onto which I added a couple of hours just in case) and we had put 6 hours on it following the ARKS test. Given the recommended rebuild time of 8-10 hours I thought it best to err on the side of caution and book a rebuild.

The big question was who to use? The previous owner had had both his race and this practice engine (I bought the latter) rebuilt by Dave Litchfield – one of the best know engine builders in the country but I didn’t think I was really in a position to justify the additional cost of posting the engine for it to be rebuilt by the man lots of race teams use (not to mention I think I might have been a little out of my depth in any service discussion!). Looking at the numerous local options, I had heard good things about all three of the builders I was considering. I assumed that the quality of rebuild would be pretty much the same given the limited amount that can be done with a TKM engine so in the end it came down to convenience: I’d just finished a day at Clay and it was easy for me to leave it with Lee Rennison, the ARKS examiner at Clay (no conflict of interest here I hasten to add – I didn’t mention the rebuild until *after* the test!). He offers a rebuild service and I figured it would a) save me cleaning the engine when I got home, b) save me having to take or send it anywhere and c) potentially offer some local support if I ran into any engine issues at the track. And he’s a really nice bloke too!

The rebuild took a week and I picked it up today. The engine was in really good shape so I could probably have gotten another couple of hours in. Had I not lost the receipt at the track I could have told you exactly what I had done but it included new top and bottom-end kits, gaskets, bearings, a piston and three carb rebuilds for a [relatively] palatable £230. I am sure Junior will enjoy running it in later this month!

Whilst we were there I attempted to make Junior watch the drivers practising ahead of tomorrow’s race fixture and make some mental notes of the race lines. He never seems to listen to me, nor anybody else for that matter but I really hope watching a constant stream of drivers taking a decent chunk of kerb through The Esses might sink in. We’ll see…

Cost of engine rebuild: £230

Total spent so far: £2,910 (starting to regret keeping a running total now…)

Replacement steering wheel: C-K-R MC4

Fortunately Junior’s hand is now fine after carelessly leaving it in between his steering wheel and an adult in a Rotax at the weekend! The steering wheel was pretty badly twisted and, with a new Tonykart steering wheel costing in the region of £150, we were always going to be looking at a used replacement.

I have always (I say always, I’ve only been in the sport for four months) been a fan of the steering wheels that allow the Mychron to fix flush to the wheel’s surface. Although Junior wears a Ribtec – it seems desirable from a safety point of view to have the Mychron sunken into the wheel if possible. There are several options in this respect – mostly manufactured by AiM and all demanding a premium on top of the standard OTK wheel so it was quite timely that I had seen one of the C-K-R F1-style wheels come up on the one of the forums the day before Junior’s accident. Aside from looking fairly cool (especially to a teenager), one of the nice things about this type of wheel is that is flat on top and potentially would allow Junior to see a little bit easier (his view over the wheel and nassau isn’t great at the best of times).

I got some pics from the seller: alarm bells ring when the pic is small and blurred – the only thing clear was that the wheel was not in A1 condition. Some of the carbon fibre paint effect was scratched off and it wasn’t being supplied with any of the accessories or even the steering wheel bolts. He wasn’t really answering my fairly explicit questions either but I took a punt figuring that I would be able to get my money back if I wasn’t pleased with the purchase. We struck a deal and the wheel arrived today (Mychron not included!):

You can see where the paint is coming off beneath the switches and it turns out that the one of the pins has snapped off the back of the starter button – good job we’re running in TKM! Now I just need to get a 3-hole steering boss and we can actually see how Junior thinks it compares with the original OTK wheel…

Cost of wheel: £50

Total spent so far: £2,422

Practice 4: Holy S#!t (our first accident)

I had a feeling last night – one of those feelings; that I woke up with again this morning. There was never any chance of me calling the practice day off – if you are going to have those feelings then you need to find another hobby! I just shrugged it off as a stupid thought and got ready. Whereas my first couple of practice day mornings were stressful, outside-of-the-comfort-zone affairs (both from the point of view of towing and running the kart on my own), I am quite excited to be going karting nowadays even if I’m not the one doing all the fun stuff. Giving myself an hour was pushing it though and we arrived later than I had hoped, at around 9:45.  Clay was Clay – cloudy and windy with rain never looking too far away. Things were going ok – bolts checked, tyres pressures set, chain lubed [I realise now that I omitted to check the jet settings!] until, when I thought I’d take up some of the slack on the throttle cable, I noticed that the throttle valve wasn’t closing fully and wasn’t closing very quickly at all. It didn’t look like anything I had done in loosening the cable clamps and I couldn’t figure it out. I had to resort to the going to see Mike at the shop; I don’t really like looking like a noob but I have found the service to be excellent – you might pay a little extra for the convenience of having it there trackside but I’ve nothing but praise for Mike and his team. It turned out my cable had rusted inside the sheath (lesson #1 for the day – after a wet session, the cable needs to be cleaned/dried). I parted with £1.50 and had the part fitted 🙂 It turns out I had spare cables (I tend to learn what spares I got with the package as I find out I need them) and changing the cable wasn’t any great issue  but I didn’t know that at the time!

We missed the first 20-minute session but were set for the next one. I was unable to start the engine on the trolley as it looks like I have killed my remote starter battery but again the engine started perfectly in the pit lane and off went Junior. He seems to have developed a routine where the first lap is very slow – I think experience has taught him to take it easy and see if anything falls off! A couple of the corners were a tiny bit damp but his lap times were tumbling when it happened… one of the adult rotax drivers had been on Junior’s tail for a lap or so when, going into The Hairpin, it looked like Junior left the door open, the other driver seemed to go, then stop, then realised he was being let through. Unfortunately Junior decided he had waited long enough and turned in, they banged sides but instead of bouncing off the track together, the rotax flipped up over Junior’s rear wheel and both kart and driver continued up over Junior’s back/shoulder and helmet and down over the front of the kart. It looked bad and Junior was sat pretty still in his kart and the other driver and I legged it over. Neck ok? Check. Back ok? Check. Head ok? Check. At this point the only injury seemed to be his hand, which he couldn’t feel but he could wiggle his fingers somewhat. We walked him off to the reception to get some ‘treatment’ whilst a couple of drivers retrieved his kart (thanks, Gents!). I knew he was ok as he first asked whether the 37.6s lap he’d just done was his best lap at Clay (sorry, mate – that was 37.5s) and then told me the how the kart was broke. The ‘treatment’ as it turned out was some cold spray!!!

Our kart seemed to come off worse – bent bumper, damaged spark plug cable, broken spark plug cap and badly bent steering wheel. Junior’s suit had marks up the back, his neck support was split and his helmet had some fortuitously light marking – presumably from either the tyre or floor tray of the rotax. At this point it wasn’t clear whether we’d be heading back out so I gave Junior something to ease the pain (his iPhone) whilst I bought a replacement spark plug cap and started repairs. The steering wheel was a challenge – it resembles something like it’s original shape after some bending and a few smacks with a hammer but I think it’s probably beyond full repair. The rear bumper bolt was bent at 30 degrees and stuck fast. An hour or so later and Junior still wasn’t able to clench his hand so it was game over after only 12 laps! The staff at Clay were sympathetic enough to offer us a full credit note which was good of them. So, as the sun looked set for the afternoon, we left for home.

The bumper bolt took me another hour to remove at home! On the plus side, I got to clean more of the back end that had been less accessible with the bumper on. The bumper itself looks in need of a vice (which I don’t have) so I put on the spare. Yet again, I came to appreciate the completeness of my spares set as I had little hope of finding a bumper bolt – there were 3 or 4 in there 🙂

A steering wheel replacement looks costly – I’ll have to look into the options here. Most of the marks came off Junior’s helmet with a damp cloth and there is no sign of damage, which was a relief. We don’t seem to be having much luck at the moment!

Cost of day: £12 petrol, £7.50 petrol for 5l super unleaded for the kart, £5 parts (throttle cable, spark plug cap)

Total spent so far: £2,372