Five more minutes of fame!?!

Samoa After the visitor surge courtesy of The Kart Bandit, I was contacted by Karting Magazine who were interested in me writing something for the magazine. This was both exciting and fear-inducing in equal measures; it isn’t every day that you get an offer to write for national magazine but would I be able to write stuff that people who are paying for a magazine actually want to read??? It’s one thing to write a bunch of ramblings in a blog but this felt like there was much more at stake. We agreed that I would write for a three month trial period to see if it worked for both parties. I wrote a piece on the costs of karting, sent it off and heard no more until BOOM – it’s been published! 😮 So what is it like? Well, the magazine increased their font size after I submitted the article and had to cut out around 150 words, the result being that it doesn’t really flow like I intended (it took me a long time to get it down to 650 words and still keep some semblance of the story!). Does it still work? I’ll let you be the ultimate judge.

buy Gabapentin online overnight Now I have to start planning next month’s article…

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An early start to 2015

Although our kart was stripped in preparation for having the chassis powder coated, I took up the offer of a rolling chassis loan and we headed to Llandow for our first practice of the year. We had a few things on the agenda: make sure the Alfano ADM data logger (an eBay Christmas purchase) worked, test the case of carbs (another eBay purchase) that I had bought and sent straight off for cleaning and rebuilding and also to try out my own Christmas presents: a Sony AS30 Actioncam and a digital tyre pressure gauge.

We got a bit of a surprise when we turned up and the circuit was locked but we were still on track for the day’s first session a little after 10:30. It was a beautifully sunny winter’s day but there was a bitter wind and I opted to don the waterproofs to keep warm. We had a few early hiccups: Junior complained the seat was too small and that he was unable to turn the wheel! This was the seat that was two sizes bigger than his seat and that I had used for the IKR Parent’s Race but, once we had moved the steering column forward, he was happy. Thankfully the Alfano system worked perfectly so we could actually see what we were doing on track! We were with another JTKM and, despite the presence of a couple of Honda cadets, it was nice that the circuit maintained an open pit lane as it meant that we could pretty much come and go as we pleased, only having to make way for a handful of arrive/drive sessions. The cadets weren’t a problem either and Junior gave them plenty of space when he caught them.

The day went reasonably well; although I’m not sure that Junior is really consistent enough to get reliable data on the carbs (having said that, he did manage to post consecutive identical laps and follow them up with another 3/100ths slower!), he found one that he thinks that he had a preference for – it was the first time we’ve used an 820 although I wasn’t telling him the series as we tested them (I’ve not yet had a chance to look at the data from a carb perspective). He was getting much needed track experience and was trying some different lines in various parts of the track. On the downside, I didn’t really give the digital tyre gauge a proper test (I need to read the manual again! :S) and the Sony camera didn’t really do itself justice owing to a lack of mounting options – the flat mount that we had to use was too flat for the FP7 nassau and I think just moved to one side (the curved mount curved the wrong way to be of any use), it really needed screwing to the nassau. The footage was underwhelming too but this might be down to my laptop’s ability to playback 1080p @60fps. The Alfano data was, once I managed to install the software on Windows 8 and to get it talking to my laptop bluetooth, really impressive – after getting home, I was entertaining myself watching Junior’s laps racing themselves into the early hours.

Alfano's VisualData analysis software

Alfano’s VisualData analysis software

You can click the above pic to open a larger version. Clockwise from top-left is the RPM range histogram; lap deltas (entering the final hairpin both yellow and blue laps are ahead of his red lap, which was our fastest on the day – Junior’s blue lap loses 3.35m here!); the RPM (top) and speed (bottom) line graph; sectors table; track map showing acceleration/decceleration. As you can see, there is a gold mine of data in there! 😀

On the flip side, check out the Llandow track map according the Sony camera GPS:

This isn't actually the shape of the Llandow track :S

This isn’t actually the shape of the Llandow track :S

Cost of day: £35 practice fee, £6 bridge toll, £16 petrol, £6 fuel, £9 chain lube

Costs since last post: £70 carb cleaning and rebuilds, £30 cost of new OTK steering wheel after selling the F1 wheel

Total spent this year: £172

Christmas Karting 2014

After the success of last year’s Christmas Karting, we had planned to make the parents versus juniors contest an annual thing. Teamsport Bristol hadn’t really done their bit by not running a family and friends event for members this year but they offered us something much more tempting: Our own race event! Things snowballed from there really: Ten drivers in 2013 became thirty seven in 2014!!! We had drivers from TKM and Rotax, Clay and Llandow, even a Super One driver 🙂 Ok, having to collect all of the deposits and balances was a royal pain in the arse but it was building up to be something special.

So eleven juniors, five seniors, fourteen parents, four siblings and three mates descended onto Teamsport for a night which promised much. We had drawn three groups and each would have 10 mins practice, 2×10 minute heats and a 15 minute semi-final before the groups came together for 15 minute A, B and C Finals. Not bad for £35, huh? 🙂

The track was a lot quicker than it was when Junior and I were regulars, so much so that I bettered my PB in the practice (without getting too big headed I wasn’t a slouch before!). I was quietly confident that the track record (set only the night before by one of the staff) was in danger 😀

The races themselves were pretty rough, three abreast coming down the ramp never ends nicely! The two heats were run youngest > oldest and then oldest > youngest. Heat 1 for me wasn’t good; spun on the first lap and again a few laps later, I struck it lucky when half the field piled up underneath the bridge leaving a little under a kart’s width that pushed my way through, at walking pace under the yellow flags of course 😉 and came away with a decent 4th place. Heat 2 definitely wasn’t one for the purist, I got to the front and defended for ten laps with a queue of juniors behind me. It was enough to put me alongside Junior on the front row for our semi-final 😀 I had a decent kart in the semi and Junior was definitely struggling with this – I tailed him around as we pulled clear although I turned down the couple of half chances that came my way as I knew that Junior would just as soon bin us both than see me past him and my eyes were set on the A Final! After Junior almost got taken out lapping a back marker who definitely wasn’t going to get out of the way, I bided my time and brought it home in second.

I qualified in fifth for the A Final, courtesy of being slower in the semi than the other two semi final runner ups but was the lead adult and right in the junior mix. I got a decent start but juniors these days don’t really have much respect!!! I was being nudged all over the place so reverted to defensive mode to at least let Junior clear off to fight for the win. Once one barged me out of the way, a few more followed suit and I was in seventh before getting spun around. Things got worse as I then made a move on someone who just seemed to understeer into the tyres and took me with him. Still, I think I put up a reasonable fight even if I finished a lap down. Junior finished runner-up to the lightest of the drivers who won all his races on the night. Collectively we destroyed the fastest lap leaderboard too, with seven drivers bettering the former record. It was a lot of fun and only another eleven months until our next visit 😉