Catching up

A rather poor effort on my part has meant a lack of blog articles of late. I blame the Karting Dad Facebook page for the most part – it’s very easy to type in one liners and move on (although I do recommend it for the little things that don’t get written up here!).

So what has been going on in my world? I’ve really just been trying to get everything sorted for the new season. I’ve mentioned before my deliberations over what to do with our chassis, in the end I decided not to get it blasted and powder coated – it just didn’t seem worthwhile. I also came to learn that it (what I thought was a 2010 EVR) was really a 2009 EVR! If you’ve been here a long time, you’ll remember that my original 2009 EVR was suspected to be a 2008 EVXX! There is a lesson to be learned here – remember, you can always ask Strawberry when they imported a chassis. So with two 2009 EVR chassis (I was given one in 2013 that was bent and that I had straightened but never used), I have decided that I’d quite like to test them against one another. We won’t be replacing either anytime soon so I might as well see if Junior finds any difference between them. I sanded, primed and sprayed both (after breaking the nozzle on my first can of OTK paint and covering the lawn) – and they look pretty good unless you get up close so good enough for me at least.

No - this is not the Strawberry Racing paint shop...

No – this is not the Strawberry Racing paint shop…

The ‘spare’ has also gone to the welders to get the front torsion bar welded in. In the meantime, I’ve built up the chassis that we used at the back end of last season and it’s pretty much ready to go. I was hoping to get to the track at the weekend but Llandow’s owner/driver availability can be patchy, especially at weekends and they were mostly full with arrive/drive bookings.

No bodywork - the extremists would approve ;)

No bodywork – the extremists would approve 😉

We’re also sweating on our MSA licenses after my tardiness in getting them sent off – the MSA quote a 15-day turnaround and we needed them 14 days from the day of postage! Fingers crossed…

Costs since last post: £28 – 2x OTK spray paint plus something else that escapes me! £20 – wedge for OTK steering boss; £15 – Strawberry Mychron/Alfano support for OTK wheel.

Total spent this year: £235

Another karting Christmas

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

My Dad went to Kart Mania and all he bought was a fuel can and a roll of duct tape!

It wasn’t quite like that but I liked the headline at least 😉 Kart Mania on Saturday was an interesting experience, something I wasn’t really planning on attending but I had  wanted to get Junior properly measured up for his new suit and Grand Prix Racewear being on site gave me the reason I needed. Even though the suit was already paid for, I still managed to spend £140 before we even got to the show as we bought Junior some boots and gloves. I say ‘spend’  but the boots and gloves will be passed on to the grandparents so not hitting the KartingDad books for FY14.

Driving through Silverstone, past the various famous corners, Junior and I were getting excited like a couple of kids; “Dad, can we come next year?”. He was obviously referring to the Grand Prix and not Kart Mania; “Not unless you give up karting” I replied. In fact, I had looked at the ticket prices earlier in the week but there wasn’t any realistic chance of us attending. Unless of course he really does decide to pack it in!

Kart Mania consisted of two exhibition areas and two ‘Kart Boot’ areas.We checked out the kart boot area first; it was much smaller than I had expected – there were some tempting OTK axles (didn’t really need them), some FP7 bumpers (at new prices) and an interesting Junior Ginetta display (£28,000 per year for your, Sir… at which point I told Junior to get out of the car 😉 ).

Onto the exhibition halls: First things first, we went to the Llandow Kart Club stand to reserve Junior’s number for next year. For some reason I was surprised to see clubs represented at the show, in particularly Llandow, as I’d have thought that most attendees were from the central/southern part of the country, but the stand was really impressive and here’s hoping a good few more followed our example in signing up. I was little taken aback that I had to pay membership as a parent!!! You all know my stance on the PG license and charging the parent for club membership was a novel one – it’s not something that Clay Pigeon Kart Club do. Then again, a friend has told me numerous times that Clay is one of the cheapest places in the country to kart. On this occasion, I wasn’t going to make any waves – the club needs to survive given the grid sizes this season and I was [relatively 😉 ] happy to help fund that. The first hall contained mostly kart clubs along with some of the governing bodies and Karting Magazine. I took the opportunity to tell the MSA my thoughts on their efforts to reduce the costs of karting, much to Junior’s amusement. I did my unimpressed face as the freeze on prices for 2015 was explained to me before I launched into my biggest gripe (no – you’ll never convince me that there is a need for a PG license, tough – if some knuckle dragger can’t control their temper their kid should be punished and, if you really had to have it, why isn’t it included in the cost of the driver license?). I progressed onto the adult medical requirement before my adversary saw his chance “Well, thanks for giving us your feedback”. Fair play to the lad if it was said with sincerity. I’m not certain it was though!

The retro karts in the adjacent hall were fascinating. The Superkarts were as impressive as they were plain scarey. I don’t think you’d find anyone with the kahunas to drive one in our family! That was really it for us; we had some lunch and did another lap of the show. It was then that we realised that we’d missed one of the kart boot areas earlier! This time, I dusted off the wallet – a new 5l fuel can for £1 and a roll of pro duct tape for £2 was too tempting an offer to pass over 😀 The rest of the kit being sold was pretty pricey, easily above eBay prices. I guess you needn’t be in any rush to sell half way through the first day so can afford to mark your prices up. There was still time to chat with some of the clubs where Junior would like to race – Kimbolton (would love to race the Festival) and PFI (such an impressive track but £60 membership required for a single visit – talk about a barrier to entry!).

We’d done the rounds and were ready to leave by 1.45pm. I was glad to have gone but there was much more that I’d like to have seen: Tal-Ko (I know they sent out an email about how they’d sooner reach out to their customers directly but I do wonder if I’ll be seeing them at a track near me any time soon), Strawberry Racing (I’ve a million questions about Tony Kart setup!), twice the number of sellers in the kart boot area (I had imagined this really would be a giant car boot sale for kart bits) and a track where you could see the retro racers/ superkarts running and test the latest chassis or engines (this would have been a great chance for Iame to show drivers what they are missing if X30 is as good as people say it is). I think that, had I had £1500 in my back pocket for a nice rolling chassis, I could easily have spent it. It is what it is though – I was happy to have attended but I’m not sure I’d go again.

When is a race day too short?

It’s going to be a busy day at Clay this weekend as there are four guest classes at the track – Junior Blue, Formula Blue, World Formula and RAFMSA will all be sharing the Dorset countryside with us. And that sets of my track time alarm!!! As my Facebook friends, or at least those that are still following my whining ways, will confirm I do go on a bit (which would be ok were the Club Competition Secretary not on there as well!). So, although I’ve said this elsewhere, I want to reiterate my appreciation of the job performed by the CompSec and I am sorry for any social media ear-bashing that you get from me on behalf of the club (even though it isn’t aimed at you)!

I do seem to be alone in being hung up on track time. For Junior, a race is too short if he is doing well and too long if things aren’t going quite so well. We’ve had a few too many long races at Clay recently :/ Other drivers don’t seem to mind and the Dads are happy that a shorter race day will mean lower costs, with less tyre wear, less fuel, less potential for damage but at what point do the races become too short to warrant the £150-odd cost of a race day? We moved from A&D karting initially because the value for money of owner driving was greater – £72 for 24 mins track time in the Castle Combe Club Championship whereas we were spending around £120 for 90 mins or more when we started doing practice days and in a much quicker kart. Obviously those costs spiral when you start racing. I’ve always been keener on longer races as we need the race experience and Junior typically wants to drive as much as he can. With the race days at Clay having gone from 8 min +1 lap heats and a 12 min + lap final earlier in the year to a 6 min +1 heats and 9? min + 1 final last month, I feared the worst but the club has managed to preserve 6 min +1 lap heats and a 10 min +1 lap final. I’m not sure how the officials and track staff will view the 15 minute lunch break!

The even bigger bee in my bonnet for this round was the potential for the club to decide to once again start the (slower) Junior Blues ahead of the (faster) JTKMs in a combined grid. They did this in March which had disastrous results for us as we were involved in an incident which saw us off at the fastest corner and then our kart was hit whilst I  attempted to remove it from danger (as the little darlings seemed to be unaware as to what exactly a yellow flag meant). I still begrudge the £72 it cost me to replace the two-race old axle (no, I haven’t done enough karting yet to shrug this kind of outlay off!) but it could have been a lot worse (for me physically, had I not dropped the kart and jumped out of the way) and I’ll always be suspicious that my subsequent comments online (you can do the detective work yourselves) were the cause of our black flag the following month. So my Facebook wall wasn’t quite the happy place I would normally expect it to be of late and I held off from entering until the grid issue was confirmed – we’ll have our own grid and won’t have to contend with slower karts in another class starting in front of us just because they have a ‘big race’, taking defensive lines against faster karts that they aren’t even competing with, or running them wide, or trying to run me down!

Onwards and upwards anyway 😉 I am quite looking forward to this Sunday and it’s a shame that a shortened practice (more Formula Blue inconvenience 😛 ) mean that it is not really worth our while in running on the Saturday. We won’t get to run the final check to ensure the axle is good after our issues as our last practice day but Saturday will be a relaxed day spent getting the kart setup. After our dire weekend last month, we’ll be on new (as in 2014 new) rubber for the first time on the new (as in 2010 new-to-us) chassis and I am really keen to see how we go. Of course, four 7th place finishes wouldn’t be conducive to a happy trip home.

Have fun if you are racing this weekend 😀 If you see what appears to be a ginger rocket in the southern skies at around 7:30am, you’ll know I’ve arrived to find someone in my pit space 😡

Spent since last post: New carb popoff tester, £32; lots of TKM carb gaskets, £25; a 35ft roll of exhaust wrap (still haven’t found one with any longevity and if you want to try some of this titanium stuff, come and see me in the pits!), £35.

Total spent this year: £3,749

Running in @Clay: featuring Mr Erratic Rotax

Having had the race engine back for a couple of months and still finished running it in, we headed off to Clay on Friday for a host of reasons; primarily to get the engine run in but also to compare the engines, work on lines and test some theories regarding grip (or the lack of it at the last race day). It was nice not to be rushing around madly as we do on a race weekend and the journey down wasn’t too bad for a week day. Unfortunately, the forecast had worsened through the week and it seemed we wouldn’t get the perfect weather for getting through the list of things to do. On top of that, there were a couple of four stroke events on over the weekend so the track was much busier than I had been hoping.

The first few sessions went well enough as we worked through the mid-range of the engine revs but then we hit a snag – anything over 13.5k revs seemed to start some kind of noise that I couldn’t explain even if I thought I knew what Junior was talking about! He was sure that it was an engine problem, which is the one problem area that fills me with dread 😮 I spoke with a few people – my engine builder and the guy I bought the engine from both of whom suggested it was four-stroking. It didn’t seem like it was four stroking but I tweaked the jet settings a touch and we tried again – the problem got worse the more revs Junior gave it. I changed the carb in case it had gone bad (and in the process discovered that my carb popoff tester was faulty and I had very likely been getting my carbs rebuilt unnecessarily!) but still we had the same problem. I was about to give up and fit the other engine so that we could at least get something out of the day but it was then that my own ‘karting dad’ (figuratively speaking) asked if my axle was bent – now this struck a chord!!! We had crashed at Llandow last time out but had competed in a race after the crash without any such problem (even if we only managed 2 laps before our exhaust manifold snapped) but it wasn’t the axle I suspected, rather a bearing hanger I had bought used and fitted the night before. When attempting to refit the axle after fitting the hanger, the axle was a good few inches away from aligning with the bearing hanger on the brake side. It turned out that the bearings seemed to have suffered some damage and were out of alignment. I had removed them at home, knocked them straight and refitted the axle – seemingly without issue. I was desperate to give the engine another chance so replaced both the bearing hanger and the axle just to ensure we could prove that the engine was/was not to blame. Luckily, the problem disappeared 😀 I am still not 100% sure that it was the bearings in the hanger but the axle looks good and I’ve refitted for our next outing.

After that our day was a bit hit and miss. The rain came and went and, although Junior seemed to be enjoying the conditions following a confidence boosting wet heat at Llandow, it meant we didn’t get the consistent weather that we needed to be able to back-to-back the engines. Nor work on lines. Nor test grip theories. We also broke both our bumpers – one when a prokart ran into the back of us into The Hairpin and another time courtesy of a bloke in a Rotax who was clearly very quick but was driving  erratically and making moves as though his life depended on every corner – bear in mind that this was just a practice day! If you had asked ten bystanders to point out which of the 30 karts on track looked most like the driver was under the influence of something, I guarantee everyone would have picked the same bloke!!! I am normally a fan of having large, mixed grids but seeing this bloke push us wide and then punt a prokart into the very next corner made me go and request the sessions were divided. It didn’t rid us of Mr Erratic Rotax but it did give us enough space we could steer well clear of him. Although you will inevitably see contact in karting, I don’t normally expect it at practice days!!!

In the end, we had achieved the main goal of running in the engine. Both of my bumpers have been snapped but at least my emergency bumper retention system (some rubber hose and hose clips) proved their worth.

I’m not sure where we’ll be headed next – Junior wants to do the next round at Clay but it’s looking like a very busy weekend with three additional classes taking part and that sets off my ‘track time alert’!!! It’s likely we’ll race unless there is a chance of a repeat of the ‘slower karts starting in front of the faster karts‘ fiasco we saw earlier in the year (the last time that there was a big Formula Blue event at the track). That lead to us/me getting into all sorts of bother – I won’t be doing that again…

Cost of practice:£35 practice fee, £12 petrol, £6 fuel
Spent since last post: used bearing hangers, £30, two used carbs £70

Total spent this year: £3,657


Race 11: And it was going so well…

This wasn’t really ever intended to be a race weekend – I had planned to bring Junior to Llandow during the holidays for a change of scenery and a bit of fun but, when I had mentioned this to one of the Welsh dads at Clay the previous weekend, he had suggested coming along to the club practice day instead. This was very tempting as it provided a great opportunity to gauge our pace (a nice quiet practice day can be useful but you never really how good your times were if you’ve no peers to compare them with) but we had so much to do to get the kart ready. We managed it so off we set to Wales…

Another nice early start but it at least ensured that we were ready for the first session (unlike the last time we came on a club practice day). The day went better than expected – with his newly built kart, Junior didn’t stop on track and only came in early the one time when he found himself sitting on one of the seat stay bolts! Our pace was fairly good also, knocking a couple of tenths off of the time we set on our last visit although we still found ourselves 0.6s off of the pace at times. It was also a good opportunity also to test the new chassis with the more rigid floor tray and new seat position; you would have thought Junior might have noticed some difference, right? :S How about when the torsion bar was removed? [Tumbleweed…]. We did have to bring the back end in when running without the bar but his times were only 0.06s apart and, if we were to race the following day (it was a possibility I stupidly mentioned to Junior earlier in the week), we’d be running without the bar anyway!

In the end, an offer from one of the Clay dads (for whom this was their ‘home’ track) to store our kart overnight and then to let us share their awning on the race day (rain was forecast) clinched it. We’d start at the back but it would be good to see how we fared on a track that Junior was starting to like a lot.

Having had our rain dances ignored last at Clay last weekend, we were really hoping for a dry day on an unfamiliar track. We had driven in the wet at Llandow but not for over 12 months, long before Junior was racing – or even experienced! You know how things go though… we looked a fair bit off the pace in the warm-up as Junior found himself having to learn the wet line PDQ! Although the track was drying, it didn’t do so anywhere near as quickly as Clay 🙁

Now I’m the type of bloke who likes to take up a pushing post on track but that is mostly to get a good viewing point. Llandow have an unusual system whereby the pushers draw a ball from a tin to select their posts. I was the only person who stayed on after the drivers briefing to sign in and yet the scrutineer in charge of post allocation almost seemed to be considering making me draw a ball :S In the end, he decided I could take my pick – I asked which post was in the middle and he told me it was Post 2. I was little peeved when I got to Post 2 to be told that it was actually Post 1 and that Post 2 was in the far corner of the track! Not only was I going to have a pretty poor view but I was going to doing a bit of running today – at least I was going to see Junior in corners that I had not previously observed from.

Heat #1 was still wet but Junior coped really well – the pack split into two groups and he was dicing with a couple of others for the lead of the second group. The order chopped and changed with Junior not quite managing to make it stick until, when it looked like he’d pulled it off, he left the door open for a late move into Chandlers and ended up on the grass. The following lap another kart spun into the same corner and Junior spun whilst taking evasive action. We had a bit of a race – me pushing against the fast approaching novice!!! – but there was only ever going to be one winner there! It was a good start to our day though and it was pleasing to see us ‘racing’, which was something we’d not really done at Clay for a while.

Heat #2 wasn’t exactly memorable – we were 5th quickest and finished a little adrift of the front group, who were all pretty much on the pace. Still, it was nice to see Junior overtaking and he even seemed to be able to outbrake people on occassion :-O

Heat #3 was the highlight, Junior managed to jump from 7th to 3rd after the first corner and had put a bit of a gap on those behind, as a couple of the front runners were held up a little. Unfortunately, they weren’t for long and we soon found ourselves back in 5th which became 4th following a mechanical flag and 3rd after an exclusion. We dipped under 46s for the first time 😀 although we were a little lucky not to see a mechanical ourselves as our exhaust bracket extension bar had snapped but the exhaust had only sunk a few inches and was propped up on the bracket bar itself.

We started a satisfying 5th for the final. The leaders soon put a gap on us but we were comfortably holding position until Junior got his exit from The Dell badly wrong and ploughed into the tyres. It was a big accident as they are looking to get up to top speed as quickly as possible – I could only see the top half of him from my post but it seems he hit his head on his steering wheel before it whiplashed backwards and hit some tyres. Cue red flag and ambulance trip back to the pits. Junior was stiff and shaken but his hand seemed to be the most painful part – I think he hit it with his helmet. His kart didn’t fare too well though: he had pushed the nassau bracket bolt up through the nassau, bent the steering column and track rod, snapped the brake pedal bolt and had also managed to punch the steering wheel bolt right through the steering boss. He was ok though – that was the main thing.

Llandow have a novel and pretty cool twist that they offer at the end of a race day – an extra race, run in the reverse final positions that costs £5 and each class races for a voucher at the shop. We (I say we but I had borrowed the money!) had already paid our entry and Junior would now start on poll courtesy of not finishing the final. I had already discounted our chances of taking part but our awning hosts suggested it could be done as their kart was already sorted and I did have most of the spare bits. Junior was open to the idea so we got started. I’ve never had four people working on my kart before but it came to typify the kind of relationship between Dads/mechanics at club meetings – the kart was ready to roll inside 15 minutes (thanks, Gents!) 🙂 I was glad I had packed the old wheel and boss – I hadn’t expected to be using it again quite so soon! The race itself was poor – we lost the lead quickly and retired on lap #2 with a snapped exhaust manifold (it had clearly been damaged in Heat #3, so it seems unlikely we’d have finished the final anyway). Interestingly, Junior’s only real feedback on our changes came after this race when he said he preferred the F1 wheel to the OTK!

Junior was very sore and his hand wasn’t to good but it had been a really positive weekend – we’d tested the new chassis, got more experience of a track that was really growing fond of and we’d spent the day racing in the pack. *Huge* thanks to our awning hosts (you know who you are!) – for kindly sharing your awning space, giving us track advice, your company and for the bacon sandwiches! 😉 We had a great time and it’s given us a lot to consider before we choose where to race next month.

Cost of weekend:£40 practice fee, £55 race entry, £24 petrol, £13 bridge tolls, £9 fuel
Cost of new parts: steering column, £42; bumper bolts, £21

Spent since last post: new seat, £40

Total spent this year: £3,504


Race 10: our worst performance since our Novice days :(

The August round of the Clay Pigeon Kart Club Championship was a weekend to forget. It started ok – we put 15 minutes on the race engine but spent the remainder of the day chasing 0.8s. Ok, we were on some fairly old tyres but there wasn’t much fun to be had. Sunday promised to be better – the forecast was for heavy rain, which was just as well as we were looking to stretch a set of Maxxis slicks three race days!

Sunday morning was very wet. Wet that was until just before we joined the dummy grid for our 3-lap warm up. We ran in the wets but the track was already starting to dry. Worst still, we were on second race – there would be no time to change from the *very* wet setup I have concocted. Given that we were probably four teeth higher than most others on the grid, we fared as expected and were almost a second off of the pace. The day progressed but the same could not be said for our performance; we put in the same lap times on three different sized sprockets (ranging from 77 to 82!) and had our first ever ‘DNS‘ in Heat #3 – I had cleaned the carb and then put the gasket on upside down. Unfortunately, the carb managed to prime on the stand but it doesn’t tend to start very well when not drawing fuel and I gave up as I pushed him around The Kink. Driver wasn’t please at all. I told him a carb gasket had torn… 😉

To give Junior his dues, his approach to the final was fairly lighthearted and positive – he drove around at the back whilst attempting to control the oversteer and looked like he was having fun. I thought his driving in to the pits on his final lap prior to taking the chequered flag was him proving a point but it seems that either he got it wrong or they showed him the Last Lap sign prematurely as he was so far behind! With hindsight, I guess the tyres just don’t last three races at Clay. I really wish Tal-Ko would reverse their decision to produce softer tyres – the fact that the Clay IKR series uses the SLC and mandates that they be used for three races is a big attraction for 2015. I bought a new set of slicks from the shop just to cheer Junior up 🙂

Cost of weekend:£35 practice fee, £50 race entry, £24 petrol, £7 fuel
Cost of accessories: sprocket protectors: £18, fuel hose: £1, new slicks: £150

Total spent this year: £3,260

Happy Birthday to me (year 2)

Just like last year, my birthday was mostly an excuse to spend some money on the kart. No presents for me – just money towards the rebuild of the race engine. With a bit of extra cash from my family, I funded six sets of used tyres (although I was only keeping three of them – some decent used slicks, a good set of used wets and some very intermediate wets – a couple of other karting dads were sharing them with me), a 2010 EVR bare chassis (a bit tatty and with one weld but dead straight) and some magnesium rims. Bargain!


Cost of engine rebuild: £330 race; 3 sets of tyres: £65; set of used magnesium rims £100, 2010 EVR chassis: £25

Total spent this year: £2,972

Out with the old, in with the new [engine]….

With our practice engine on it’s final bore and approaching eight hours, I’d been contemplating putting it up for sell and putting the funds and the saved rebuild money towards another engine. I had come across an engine for sale that was a Super 1 practice engine, had a CNC barrel with a small crank case (paddock-talk would suggest that this is the preference as the newer crank cases are slightly bigger and, therefore, heavier) and had only 90 minutes on it. I pondered this for a few weeks and decided to go for it, adding some extra funds from kart bits that I had bought with the retirement package but never used to relieve some of the ‘peer pressure’ from my nearest and dearest!

So goodbye Engine #3553 – we have still never bettered the 36.01s lap that we set on you last September and hello to Engine #43xx (I cannot remember the number). We look forward to racing on you soon, since the race engine in also in for it’s rebuild :S

Cost of engine and carb: £600
Funds from spares sales: £175 (engine), £20 (old side pods), £10 (old bars)

Total spent this year: £2,321

Birthday boy (year 2)

Junior knows not to ask for anything for his birthday – he had about 5 year’s worth of presents around this time last year! He also knows that he’ll get some stuff from various members of the family and it will be kart-related. Birthdays are the time when Junior can get some of the non-essentials that he would really like: last year it was a mirrored visor, this year it was… NEW DECALS!!!

There was a theme to Junior's birthday presents!

There was a theme to Junior’s birthday presents!

Junior had already gotten the nassau and bumper for Christmas so he got side pods and bars to complete the set, all fitted with his favourite British Racing Green decals. I had spent a long time designing decals; first a scarlet red variant of the Tonykart livery, then numerous versions on the British Racing Green theme when he said he wanted the kart to look like it had done when it originally made it’s debut for it’s previous owner. Then Junior saw the Caterham kart decals and instantly knew that was it. It was a bit of blow having spent so much time in Photoshop but it was what he wanted! It took a while to get the printers to nail the shade of racing green that we were after but eventually we were able to supply a pantone for it and we added a few customisations of our own, including the blue and white numbers now that we are no longer novices 🙂

I see that I didn’t add the cost of last year’s presents to the total bill although, inconsistently, I did for his Christmas presents!

Non-essentials purchased (not all by me!): kart decals (fitted) £120, side pods/bars £119

Total spent this year: £1227