Summit Point Kart Race 5
September 7, 1996

The penultimate race weekend of the year got off to a good start. We had repaired and cleaned the kart, all was ready. All the crossweights were also correct now. Of course nature, this time known as Hurricane Fran, would do its best to thwart our efforts. Fortunately, the road sign warping storm abated just in time for Saturday and all was almost well. The track had some standing water and mud still, but it was not too much of a worry.

Rob went out for morning practice first and said that it was very slippery. In the second session I took the wheel and found it to be all right, a touch slick. The two of us can rarely come to the same conclusion because of our different weights and styles, and the fact that the track conditions are always changing. However, one perturbing thing I found was a front end vibration that was causing the kart to almost bounce on the straight. We checked things over but could not find a cause. It was thought to be an unbalanced tire, but it was not traceable at the track.

During the first two races of the day, about seventeen karts went off. Most were due to driver error on the still slick track. By the time I was up it felt quite normal. From the beginning I had a problem with the cylinder head temperature display. It was flashing up and down with all sorts of ridiculous numbers.

At one point I saw over 700° (F)! All I knew was I did not want to ‘stick’ the engine, so I richened the air/fuel mixture, sacrificing a good deal of speed. The front end vibration was still there as well. On a few occasions I had a hard time keeping my left foot on the brake going into the first turn because of the bouncing motion. To top off this eventful run, a kart in front of me ran over a snake in the middle of a turn. Its shredded carcass proved a good reference point for the remainder of the race.

It felt good to finish, but that was all. If it had not been for the temperature gauge and the vibration I would have gone much faster. It may well have been a top ten finish because the tenth place driver was one driver I normally lap faster than. But I did what I could, and that will have to do until the next race.

For Rob it was more or less the same story, though at the start someone nearly went off tapping him in the back. The temperature gauge we thought we had fixed began acting up in the race, prompting Rob to richen the mixture as well. I began timing several other karts as well to get a feel for the competition, and we gleaned some important data. It is surprising that some of the slowest drivers have some of the best equipment. But even more surprising is that the front runners can lose a lot of time swapping positions. On one lap Rob gave me the thumbs down indicating a poorly performing kart. It was just what I had signaled to him earlier, so we both knew all that was left to do was finish. And that is what he did. We are looking forward now to the final race of the season, one last chance to put together a good finish until next year.