Another one bites the dust

Edit: Thought I posted this weeks ago but found it sitting in the ‘drafts’ folder so, rather than letting it go to waste, here’s the round-up of our final MSA race and the end of the road for Buckmore Park Kart Club… πŸ™

The news that Buckmore Park Kart Club was to close to enable the circuit to focus on the more profitable corporate karting meant that our retirement from MSA racing was short-lived. Four months to be exact. What the legend himself, John Surtees (RIP), would make of the decision is something that I guess those behind it might choose not to dwell on. A circuit of that magnitude being condemned to a lifetime of corporate karting is a sad thought indeed. Although we had only visited the track once, back in April, it proved an instant hit with Junior and, with sufficient interest shown from others in the class, our entry was quickly submitted.

Being likely our last chance to drive the circuit, we made a long weekend of it and were one of only four karts taking part in Friday practice. The conditions were unique to us: although dry all day, the low temperatures meant the track never dried. We were on our ‘very-inter’ intermediate tyres – that I had bought from a certain JTKM champion some 18 months earlier πŸ˜‰ – and, with the track alternating between cadets and us every 15 mins, there was an awful lot of track time. Our tyres were done long before we packed it in for the day and, as we started to pack up, the track turned on the lights so, of course, we *had* to go out again!

Last session of the day, track to ourselves πŸ™‚

Friday night was spent at the Premier Inn with the best of our besties. This would probably be the last time we would spend a weekend with them. I’ve said before how much more I personally get from a race weekend spent in the company of my very good friends. The kids and the dads get on so well. I think it is the single thing I’ll miss most about MSA racing. The cooked breakfast was very welcome on a frosty Saturday morning too… πŸ˜‰

Breakfast was about as good as Saturday got. We got to the track and, as I went to put on the engine, I saw that our weekend was a good as over…

Well this is a game changer!

Nobody at the track had welding gear. The maintenance staff for the corporate karts weren’t in until later in the afternoon and I was looking at a 6-hour round trip if I wanted to pick up our old chassis from home. One of the TKM dads came over to offer his advice: it was going to need a MIG weld and my best bet would be to get it to a garage. I spent over an hour on the phone trying to find a garage services company who a) offered a MIG welding service and b) had their technician working on a Saturday morning. Eventually I found my saviour: Lewis and his team at Lordswood Motorist Centre. Although they were closing at noon, they could do it as soon as I could get the frame there (it turns out Lewis is an ex-kart and car racer so sympathetic to my cause!). My homeboys had already stripped the engine area and Lewis was only 10 mins from Buckmore Park. I was saved πŸ˜€

You couldn’t make this s**t up!

The crack was away from the engine mount area so I had the mechanic sleeve the frame just to make sure it made it through the weekend. It really was a huge crack – I’d never seen anything like it before. I was back at the track by 12:15 and on-track by 1:00pm! πŸ˜€ The rest of the day was really about enjoying driving the track on Friday’s tyres as I didn’t want to commit our fresher wets. Junior wasn’t totally enamoured with being off the pace but I wasn’t overly bothered.

Not exactly a looker, huh? But it was all about getting over the line on Sunday afternoon…

A meal at a local pub, a couple of hours spent playing Exploding Kittens and a decent night’s kip later (*so* glad I wasn’t sleeping in the car), it was race day. Buckmore Park runs qualifying and, given the quality of our tyres on the Saturday, we weren’t really sure where we would slot in. With the track slippery but not wet, we kept the powder dry on our best wets and ran our best inters. Top six would be great but it was better than that! The experience of the Friday conditions really played to our advantage and Junior bagged P4 in amongst the Super One boys πŸ™‚

Race #1 went ok; we were passed by someone who would be challenging for the top spot and a little remote of fourth but it a good enough result. The pre-final was disastrous: although the plan had been to switch to our best wets, the track continued to dry (albeit slowly). There wasn’t really any evidence to support putting on better wets, particularly with a very wet final forecast. Of course, once we were committed to our setup, in came the rain. It was a steady drizzle that, by the time the race begun, had accumulated enough moisture on track to mean that our setup was utterly inappropriate for the conditions. Junior dropped like a stone and had to fight to hold onto to ninth place. He was not at all happy. To be honest, it wouldn’t have been a Karting Dad weekend without something like this p*ssing on our fireworks (even after the chassis snap!).

Paul Babington’s photos are awesome!

Starting P9 for the final meant the podium was as good as out of reach. We setup to make early passes and we’d see where we got! As it turned out, the setup was very, very good. Junior made early passes; his kart clearly handling better than those aroundΒ  him and, were it not for losing some time fighting for some mid-pack places, he might have challenged for the podium places. As it was, he managed to catch and pass his good friend for fourth near the end and so the race, our season, our MSA career and our last race at Buckmore finished on a high. It was the first time we’d finished every race since our seasonal opener in March!!!

It was pretty miserable by the time we got out for the final…

Packing up in the rain and the cold was no fun but at least it was dry enough when we got home to dry the kart, engines and carbs and to start airing the awning sides. And that was that. I should add a big thank-you to Sheila, Martin and the staff at Buckmore Park Kart Club, as well as the excellent work of Paul Babington Photography, whose amazing photos meant we always spent that little bit more on our visits – we’ll always have fond memories of BPKC πŸ™‚

 

 

I must not buy anything else for the kart!

I had an offer of a bent 2010 EVR chassis this week and, since I was in the midlands, made a detour to pick it up. Of course, whilst I was there I *just had to* get the final few things that I had wanted to get for the new season: a set of new wet rims for my inters, some side pod bars ahead of getting new pods and decals for Junior’s birthday, a Viper exhaust bracket to strengthen our flimsy exhaust and another engine mount so that I didn’t have to switch my mount between the engines. I’m quite please with my purchases; the rims and bracket are new and I saved a fair bit on the side pod bars πŸ™‚ I really do need to stop spending now though – at least the good news is that, other than the few things that Junior wants for his birthday, I cannot think of a single thing I need now. Running costs only from here on…honest!

Whilst the bend wasn’t too bad, the chassis does need a weld as it has a small crack on the brake-side bearing hanger and, although not flattened, it is a bit tatty underneath. I’ll definitely keep it in case something happens to our EVXX chassis but I don’t think I’ll be spending any money on getting it jigged just yet. This also now means that I am very close to owning two complete karts – that does start making you wonder πŸ˜‰

I’ve decided to change my accounting style a little – not much benefit in a running total of costs since the year dot so I’ll detail this year’s spend and the previous year’s total.

Total spent this year: Β£374 – OTK engine mount Β£30,Β  wet rims Β£50, OTK exhaust bracket Β£20, side pod bars Β£30

Year 1 spend: Β£4,594

Just when you think you’re ready to rock n’roll…

I’ve spent every dry weekend day this month (admittedly, that isn’t that many) getting the kart sorted for our first outing of the year. Cleaning, checking seat fitting, replacing worn nuts and bolts, new axle, new sprocket carrier, replacing tyres on rims, changing the brake fluid – it looked like we were set for a potential return to the track this week. That was until a friend confirmed that the crack in the paintwork around the engine side bearing hanger was actually a crack in the chassis and would need welding πŸ™ It is in a common spot for TKM karts, maybe I paid the price for running the engine stop bolt too close to the engine mount – because of my early problems with engine mounts, I had always backed the bolt off by 1mm or so but, as one of the other Dads pointed out, the vibration alone will likely negate that. The fact that my stop bolt was just a bare hex bolt, with no plastic head to dampen any vibration may not have helped. Or maybe it was just one of those things with a 5-year old chassis.

Anyway, that necessitated taking a half day to get the weld done at Brightweld – it doesn’t look *too* bad and I need to rub down the paintwork and paint the repaired area. Whilst I was there, I stopped off at Hobzie Motorsport to pick up a better engine stop bolt and he also delivered the good news that my 2009 EVR looks more like a 2008 EVXX!!! Great news, huh? :S

The icing on the cake was, of course, the inevitable rain that soaked the kart less than a mile from my house. Still hoping to make it out this weekend. The engine stop bolt might be a tad looser too…

The rear view

Leaving home with this in the rear view mirror normally gives me a buzz. It’s a shame we were going to the welding shop. In the rain.

Total spent this year: Β£244 – new axle Β£72 (funded by my finding a wodge of cash in Junior’s money tin courtesy of Junior’s Nan!), weld Β£10, engine stop bolt Β£2

Total spent so far: Β£5,668