Race 6: This is MSA racing???

As you may have gathered from my last post, our first race day off of novice plates didn’t really go to plan. The weekend began with one very lucky escape: Junior was carrying out the trailer light tests before we left home and then asked why there were no ratchet straps on the kart!!! I normally put the straps on loosely the night before and then tighten them up in the morning (I do this because so as not to stress the chassis for longer than I have to, whether this has merit or not I don’t know!) – I realised as I put the kart away that I hadn’t strapped it but decided to do it morning. I am so, so, so, so lucky that Junior spotted this – what might have happened doesn’t even bear thinking about.

Saturday was a decent enough day at the track. We were a little off the pace, maybe 3/10ths or so but I was content that the race engine would bring us a little closer. It was notable only for my getting sun burnt (again) and deciding to stay overnight at the George Albert Hotel next to the track in a bid to help me overcome jet lag having arrived from the US on the Thursday. It was nice to stay over for a few beers with the regulars although I would recommend the Karters Menu rather than the restaurant menu (or ideally, the Karters Menu then the white chocolate cheesecake from the restaurant menu 😉 ). I didn’t get any extra sleep though, as I didn’t nod off until 1:30am. The full English breakfast hit the spot however!

The first heat was a little disappointing; we started 2nd, quickly dropped back and then spent the remainder of the race fending off the lead novice. We got clipped once into Billies, as the novice flashed his nose down inside as Junior committed to the entry but he just ran up over our wheel and we continued unhindered. We made a couple of changes for heat two and we were doing ok until Junior allowed himself to be forced off on the entry to The Horseshoe on the penultimate or final lap. The driver that made the move had just performed the exact same move on someone else too. It was unfortunate but Junior should have held his ground and either let the karts come together – no point in letting yourself get pushed off! Both Junior and the other driver who had been persuaded off wanted to see the Clerk about it but nothing had been reported and it was then that we learnt any further action would cost us £110! 😮

Heat three saw the club make the ridiculous decision to put the slower, small Formula Blue grid ahead of the Junior TKMs. I still don’t understand why, it just seems like a stupid thing to do – why on earth would you start slower karts ahead of faster ones??? I asked the Clerk about it afterwards but he said that, having watched the race, he was happy that the JTKMs only caught one FB (conveniently ignoring the fact that the JTKM Dads had held back their drivers so that the Formula Blues had three-quarters of a lap head start!). It was an average heat – we comfortably held off the novices without ever really challenging those in front.

We started sixth for the final; last of the full license holders. It was a really good race. At least the first nine laps were. All bar one of the JTKMs were pretty much in a line. We weren’t falling off the main group but then we caught the Formula Blues(!), the pack got bunched up and we got clipped coming out of the Top Bend – the fastest part of the track. The kart behind stuck his nose up the inside (again) as Junior exited the corner and he got spun, hard into the tyres. He was as angry as I have ever seen him and I cannot really blame him – I bet the adrenalin is flowing when driving at 60mph a couple of inches from the ground and you are on the ragged edge, focusing on pushing the kart that tiny bit harder to make up ground. And he was driving a really good race. The fun didn’t end there though: there was no yellow flag initially as I tried to remove the kart from the corner exit. And when the flag was finally shown, someone ignored it and hit our kart hard. The bumper was bent into the tyre but I thought I had gotten away without any further damage until this evening when I discovered that the new axle is badly bent. I am still hoping the chassis is straight – I have taken some measurements and it looks ok. We visited the Clerk for one final time – nobody had seen us being spun and, although the MSA steward had witnessed the Formula Blue hit our kart under yellows, it wasn’t deemed worthy of any further action. Unless I wanted to part with £110…

So there we have it – I am still amazed at the contact permitted without even a word for the offenders. Is this MSA racing or maybe it’s just what is permitted at Clay? It wouldn’t be permitted in arrive and drive karting and I absolutely thought this would be officiated in a much stricter manner. Any initial perception I had that non-MSA racing would somehow be less ‘safe’ has gone straight out of the window. Where we go from here I am not so sure – Junior wants to complete the season at Clay and the TKM community there are amazing but I am feeling more than a little disenchanted with several aspects of racing at Clay right now. Maybe I just need to get over it – that’s karting, right? But is it??? Being ginger and headstrong doesn’t help either! Putting the camera on the rear of the kart is one option. Racing elsewhere is another…

Cost of day: £15 petrol, £9 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee, £49 race entry fee, £130 hotel bill

Items purchased since last post: Exhaust flex, wrap – £27

Total spent this year: £1,492

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