Kart Racing Company
Tony Kart 125cc Shifter Kart Series
Our First Kart Race
"Karting for Dummies"
If it helps Schumacher stay in shape and go fast, we gotta have one also....
Leaving off from the "May Misery" story about our decision to race Tony Karts. When we took delivery of these six weeks ago. We figure with all the track time that we have been doing in our other cars, that this karting stuff would be real easy. WRONG. It is totally different from racing cars. And it is physically demanding. So much that we are worried about how we are going to finish a race without passing out or barfing. Rumor has it hat since Formula One rules limit how much actual practice time you get in an F1 car, Michael Schumacher built a kart track by his house, and trains on these same Tony Karts.
We take delivery of the karts. At our first practice session, it was kinda rough. Meaning that we realized that we have a lot to learn, and that we are going to be at the BACK of the pack unless we start concentrating more on this sport. Our first race will be sometime in August. There is five or six races on the schedule, and points are awarded kinda like Formula 1. Most points at the end of the season is the KRC Cup Winner. Well......we got plenty of time to practice, we got a couple of months, right? The karts have a six speed tranny, and go 0-60 faster than my supercharged NSX, and corner at more than 2 G's.
Late June, after the Hill Climb:
Jeff gets another practice session in with Rudy. Wayne and I are unable to make it that day. Jeff says that he is running 44 second lap times....which is pretty damn fast. Jeff announces that he is on vacation for a month, and is going to Italy with the family. We agree that Wayne and I will wait for him to come back so we can all do our first race together at the same time.
The KRC pit area...prepping 20 spec karts for some wheel to wheel racing
July 1st or so:
Rudy from KRC calls, and says that the final Cup Race of the existing season ends on July 18th, and if we participate in that race, we can race in the big Irvine Spectrum Kart Race that is supposed to be on TV(at least some of the races that day). We start thinking....we did say we would wait for Jeff for our first race. But then again, Jeff is in Italy for a month, and he says he is running 44's. What the heck is he doing to to in Italy for a MONTH??? Where do they make Tony Shifter Karts? I think they are Italian. Hummmmm.....knowing Jeff, he is bored in Italy, and is hanging out at the Tony Kart Factory getting some practice on the karts without telling us so he can sandbag us when he comes back. That cheating bastard, screw him, we are doing the first race without him.......
I tell Wayne we need to get our shit together, as I don't want to be dead last in our first race. I convince him to ditch work. He is convinced that his company is going bankrupt, as he is spending more time racing that working.
So for our second session with the karts, we did what we normally did before a car track event, meaning no sleep the night before, wake up real early and drive two hours to the track. We wake up at 4:30 a.m. on a weekday after getting about 2 hours sleep, took a shower(at our separate townhomes, not together you idiot), and ripped up in the F355's at a high rate of speed. Wayne of course has to have a big breakfast at Denny's, so we pull over and eat halfway up to Willow Springs. We eat a huge breakfast, and then proceed to Willow Springs. Willow Springs has a nice kart track, and it is fairly new. Mike Duncan meets us there for the practice session, along with three or four other karters. It is about 105 degrees at the track, and we are dying. We run five practice laps, and then we have to park the karts and catch our breath. We are drinking tons of water. Which mixes real well with our huge breakfast. We are ready to puke our guts out from the physical exertion and the heat. I make that the comment that maybe we should actually take up running or something, and another fellow karter says, "It won't help much, I am a runner, and I still get real tired". Oh great........we have fast cars so we don't even walk ANYWHERE, even if it is across the street to grab a Snapple, much less try to attempt anything like jogging or running. Why walk when you can go VROOM VROOM VROOM?
Anyways, we are out here dying, sweating like pigs, driving horrible lines, we are tired, no visible shifting pattern or strategy around the track. In other words, we suck big time. I am running 47 second lap times, and Wayne is running 50 second laps times. Pole for the qualifying race is usually around a 43 second lap. We SUCK big time. We are going to be thoroughly embarrassed. We drive back home with our tails between our legs, trying to figure out what we are going to do.....
Matt, Mike Duncan, and Wayne hanging out after the race
The wife has to go away on business. Lately, Wayne and I are sporadically lifting weights again, with the sole purpose being that we need to be able to finish a karting race without dying or passing out. I am starting to play a little tennis once a week to start to build up some stamina. I convince Wayne that he needs to ditch work again for karting practice. Screw work, he is the boss! So for today, Wayne and I decide that we should eat a huge pasta dinner, drive to Lancaster(20 minutes from Willow Springs), get a good nights sleep at the local hotel, wake up at 7:00 a.m., eat virtually nothing, and meet Rudy and his partner Henry at the track for some more practice. I leave a message on the answering machine saying, that I am "Gone for the day at a self-improvement class". We get there, and there is NO ONE on the kart track but us. Cool. So they work with us one on one giving us some tips. We get to practice our standing starts, as all the races start with an F1 standing start. It is real easy to stall the kart, as you have to manually let out the clutch and give it gas. If you let it out too fast, kart stalls. If you let it out too slow, the other people rip by you. If you stall the kart, there is a good chance that someone behind you will run right up your back, as everyone is in full kamikaze mode as soon as the flag drops. And, if you stall the kart at the start BEFORE the flag drops, you now become a DNS. In other words, they pull your rejected/dejected ass off the track for stalling the kart. Anyways, I drop another second off my lap time to low 46's, and Wayne is running 47's. We are progressing along quite nicely, until Wayne spins his kart off the track, breaks a bolt for his fairing. Since Rudy and Henry only expected us two there at the track, they didn't bring the big truck with all the equipment. Anyways, we feel a lot better about the karts, and now we are starting to get the hang of it. Rudy asks us if we want a second set of rims and a good set of race tires for the final race on Sunday. Uh oh.....here it goes....the karting rathole. We say of course we need that. How much??? Turns out a set of rims and tires total is about 400 bucks, or about 1/2 the price of one Technomagnesio Rim for the NSX. Needless to say, we buy the tires and rims.......gotta have good rubber....
Three days before the big race. Uh oh...better start my cardio workout program today. Kinda tired though....maybe tomorrow...
Race Day. Ooops. Didn't get a cardio workout in. The entire year we haven't got a cardio workout in. But night before we ate a big pasta dinner, prepping for the event. There are 20 people entered in the race. I set my goal to finish halfway up the pack. Wayne laughs and says we are going to get our asses kicked. The agenda for today is:
1. One hour of warm-up
2. Five qualifying laps where we post fastest lap to grid for qual race
3. 15 lap qualifying race
4. 25 lap final race for points
The only problem is that we are having problems the previous practice
sessions running 8 laps without wussing out and coming in for a rest and a bottle of
water. How we are going to finish a 15 lap race and a 25 lap race is beyond our
We also find out that Brad Smith(the NSX guy and creator of the EZ-Up) is there, and his son Matt is racing in the same series. It is good to see him, as we haven't seen him at the track in ages. We immediately start to pressure Brad into buying a Kart so he can race with us also.....
Practice and Qualifying Laps:
In the practice sessions, I turn a 45.20 on the timer. Cool. I am finally getting down to a respectable laptime for a beginner. Before qualifying, we are asked how much we weigh, as all the karts + drivers must weigh at least 385 lbs. We state how much we weigh, and they add the appropriate weight to the kart using lead weights. For the qualifying laps, five cars at a time are let out on the track, and everyone tries to get five clean laps in. Unfortunately, I catch and pass three people in this session, so it kinda screwed up my lap times, but I still run a 45.70. Not bad, I can live with that. Wayne is running 46's for qualifying. But, after each session, they re-weigh the kart and driver. Wayne, unfortunately, overestimated his weight(cheating bastard), and he is 5 lbs below 385 lbs. So his lap times are disqualified, and he is gridded last.........bummer for him, as we are betting 50 bucks as to who beats the other person in the final race.....
Staging the karts on the kart racks. Final checkout and inspection
I am gridded 12th on the outside, and Wayne is gridded 20th. Matt qualified at 45.20, and is gridded somewhere around 7th or so. Duncan is gridded 14th or so, right behind me. We get two warm-up laps, and then we have to grid F1-style without stalling the car. Everyone is going VREEM VREEM VREEM with their motors, and getting ready to launch. The green flag drops, and everyone is diving to the inside, and a lot of people get a better start than me. Coming out of the first turn, there is some contact between a couple of karts, and about 4 people zip in front of me. The adrenaline is pumping pretty high. A couple of people spin out and thus are DNFs, and after 9 laps or so I am hoping I see the white flag, signaling one lap remaining, as I am getting pretty tired. I see that Wayne is pulled off to the side, bummer for him, cool for me, as he will be gridded at the back for the money race. I end up finishing 12th out of 20. Wayne said that his chain guard came off and got stuck in his chain, so his kart stopped moving. I questioned him as to whether this happened after he spun out, and he is screaming, "No, it is a mechanical failure, not a driver error, which caused me to go off the track and DNF". Anyways, he is at the back of the pack for the final race......
I am gridded 12th again, Mike Duncan is right behind me. Wayne is a bunch of cars behind him, more specifically at the back of the pack. (note: If you review the last couple of races, it seems that Wayne never qualifies well, and ends up starting from the rear). Green flag drops, and this time I get a good start. Ha! There is a bunch of congestion in the first turn, and I even get by Matt, who was gridded quite a few spots ahead of me. That will teach that 18 year old whipper-snapper who's the boss. Hey, this is pretty awesome, I feel like I am in control. I start stalking the guy in front of me, and on the back straight I brake late trying to get right behind him to launch into the next turn, but I almost run up the guy's back, and had to brake really hard and lost momentum. Meanwhile, Matt sees the bottleneck that I am in, and rips around the inside entire bunch of us that are backed up. DAMN! I manage to finally pass a couple more people. Halfway through the race, a couple of drivers go off and stall their karts, so they are out of the race. Bryant from Ferrari of Beverly Hills, who I bought the F355 from, was gridded 2nd in the qual race and fifth in the final race, but suffered a flat tire after the first couple of laps of the final race. Bummer for him. Anyways, with about 10 laps left, guess who I see about five seconds behind me? Yup, it is Mr. Mello. He blew by about 10 people, and now he is trying to chase me down. Since all the drivers in front of me are out of reach, all I have to do is worry about Wayne. I take my time trial line, and concentrate on not making any mistakes, like spinning out or missing a shift. Through the next 8 laps, I only screw up about three shifts, and I am keeping Wayne a steady 3-5 seconds behind me. I know what he is thinking, "I am going to either pass Doug, or I am going to cause both of us to wipe out and DNF". He keeps the pressure on, but I don't fold. I end up placing 9th out of 20, and Wayne ends up 10th. Hey......not to bad for our first race!! And I did collect 50 bucks from Wayne since I beat him in the final race....heh heh heh......
The winners of the race? (or it might have been the series?) More later..
So we did okay for our first kart race. We finished mid pack. We ran consistent 46's and I had a few 45's in the race. Matt came in 5th place, and ran consistent 45's, so we are only a second a lap away from a potential top five finish. And if we ever make it to the podium, we can do what the winners below got to do!
Yes, the drivers on the podium get champagne to spray on each other and the crowd!