Summit Point Kart Race 6
October 12, 1996
This was it, the last race of the season. There would not be another one for six months. Things were looking good. The weather was sunny and on the mild side. Rob's friend, Ryan Carag, came along this time.
Everything was ready to go. We had raised the nose cone and balanced the front tires to address the vibration problem, and Rob went out for practice. The kart looked great. When he came in, he said that it felt good. With things all set to go we decided to watch a race. Of course just about any time we watch one, a red flag pops up. For everyone's safety, maybe we should just not watch anymore.
On the grid I went through my mental notes. Since the last race I had been doing some visualization exercises each night. In my mind, I could see the track and my hands on the wheel. Each turn would scroll by in slow motion. I practiced moving my feet to modulate the pedals, and rolling my neck to follow the turn. Doing several imaginary laps each night made me recall landmarks around the track. This was going to be an interesting race.
As soon as the flagman's arm started to drop my foot was on the gas. I could see the kart next to me was a few inches behind. Down the front straight I was in a decent position, about as good as ever. The braking area was very slippery, and I briefly locked up the rear wheels. What a strange sensation. All these karts were around me and I was just over the limit.
After the first lap things settled down. Basically I wanted to finish reasonably well and conserve the kart. It would be much better if we had separate karts. I always feel like I am driving with one arm tied behind my back, financially speaking.
If we have a major problem it might prevent us from racing at all. So with that kind of situation, I am not keen on pushing to the absolute limit. However I am learning as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Next season will no doubt be better than this one.
As the race progressed, I felt better and more in control than ever. The visualization exercises were paying off. Things were slowing down, not flying by like before. I had a terrific dice with another kart. We swapped positions a few times, and the engine temperature rose appreciably. It was too bad I had to dial the needle back some and let him go. That was one of the best racing moments of my season.
Midway through I noticed a slight front end oscillation, the nose cone had broken. The bumps in the road were the cause because I had not gone off or hit anything. The nose rested nicely on the bumper and whatever was left of the mounts.
So I kept going, really concentrating on the line and keeping the kart together. My left side and the back of my right knee were taking a beating. The seat seemed larger than usual, causing me to slide around and hit my leg on the fuel tank. But I was determined to maintain my pace, and see if my mental practice was paying off.
When I looked at my times they confirmed what I felt. My best lap was not any faster, but overall I was more consistent. So the total elapsed time improved. Starting 14th (of approximately 20) and finishing 13th was all right, but I was hoping for better. Taking into account our circumstances, I was essentially content with what I had done this season.
Later that afternoon Rob's turn came up. The broken nose cone was a total loss. The mounts had fatigued and broke causing the bottom of the nose to wear away from contact with the road.
Rob had to run without bodywork, which is a bit like using a parachute. But he ran as well as ever. It was perplexing. We figured the broken nose was causing enough problems to negate any benefit. As soon as Rob was finished it was Ryan's turn to drive in the Fun Finale, a hodgepodge of karts driven by non-racers. He turned decent times and had a lot of fun. It was a great way to wind down the season.
And what a year it was. There is no doubt that we have improved as drivers. My confidence has come through intact. Furthermore, we made it as a team. At the beginning things were quite difficult. We were new and had no idea of what to expect. But now we have things together and are more experienced. It is time to move on to the next level, which is to win.