It has now been a full three years since I last raced in the kart. It is amazing how time flies and I never intended to take this long away from the track! However a demanding job, new addition to the family, and purchasing/renovating a home all took their toll.
With some luck the kart will return to the black stuff in 2011, at the very least for some practice sessions at Wakefield.
Damn, time really does fly ...
2007 race calender
16-17 February, Festival Of Sporting Cars
Oran Park South
25th February, Eastern Creek
4-6 May, National Championship Round 1
30 June, Eastern Creek
7-8 July, Oran Park GP
13-15 July, National Championship Round 2
25-26 August, Pacific Superkart Challenge
Morgan Park (QLD)
20-21 October, Wakefield Park
27-28 October, Oran Park GP
24-25 November, Oran Park GP
nsw road race club, oran park gp nsw, october 2007
pacific superkart challenge, morgan park qld, august 2007
ardc meeting, eastern creek nsw, february 2007
nationals, round 2, eastern creek nsw, nov 2006
fosc spring event, wakefield nsw, october 2006
pacific superkart challenge, morgan park qld, aug 2006
prior to this weekend, i had only once raced on the full oran park circuit. unfortunately, it was mostly in the pouring rain. so in the lead up to this weekend, i was really hoping the weather would play fair.
before any racing was to take place however, the kart required a little more work to keep things in racing trim. the brakes were a major problem at the last meeting, so the front calipers were fully reconditioned. i opted to leave the rear caliper alone as in spite of it being problematic, it was still 'working' and i dont yet trust my spanner twisting abilities to hoot around the circuit on brakes touched by myself.
the day was going to be hectic, two days worth of racing had been crammed into one day and with the weather looking warm, i sensed a pretty high rate of attrition towards the end of the day. with a 20 min qualifying session to be followed by 3x10 laps races and a 12 lap final (total track time of around 70 minutes), it was going to be hard work.
qualifying went okay and the kart felt pretty good. for some reason the engine detonated like mad on several of the laps, so i took things easy - better to lose a second or two a lap then cook the engine. flat batteries on the digital dash two laps in didnt help either - no way of knowing the engine temps or revs.
the first race went pretty well. the front brakes were performing extremely well and for the first time ever - seriously - i was attacking the braking points and had confidence in the brakes. prior to now, any heavy braking resulted in a spin.
during the second race things were going pretty well until around the third lap when the engine started misfiring. with colin moore hot on my tail i was pretty sure i was going to lose quite a few places. unluckily for colin, he too was having problems so in spite of me losing 4 seconds a lap due to an increasing misfire problem, he was unable to keep pace.
by the last race, the rear brake had to be disconnected completely owing to it binding up, overheating and rupturing the brake line - exactly what happened to the front brake at the last meeting. driving with front brakes only makes for an interesting experience thats for sure!
with all of the problems i had throughout the day (all minor, but there were several), i somehow managed to place second. this was mainly owing to the misfortunes of chris harward and colin moore who had problems greater than my own.
but, while second place was a good laugh, it was nothing compared to the experience of actually steering the kart around the oran park gp circuit in the dry. without a doubt, it is my favourite circuit - no question. it is legendary, fast, bumpy, technical, flowing, dangerous, full of variation and undulating with at least two blind crests. the thrill of driving around there on the absolute limit is like nothing else. coming up onto the dunlop bridge (a blind crest), with the right foot firmly planted and the speed over 130kph, then hooking into a bumpy, neck wrenching right hander is simply bloody awesome. not to mention the heavy braking through the dipper - over the blind flip flop crest, down the dipper, speedo at 150, hammer the brakes in front of the concrete wall for the 100kph left hander and then dial in as much throttle as possible without causing oversteer and blast down the straight to start the fun from the beginning.
one word, magic.
a huge thanks to ian watson for making the effort to spend the day at the track. thanks to pelly and ron for their words of wisdom - and thanks to mum and amber for their surprise visit. a double take when blasting down the straight is a strange feeling!
till next time - i cant wait!
it was august and time to race once again after not hitting the black stuff since february.
in the six months between races much work was undertaken with the kart in an attempt to improve several areas of frustration. So early in july the machine headed to the Giova HQ. After many late nights we (myself, pelly and sonny) had everything done - though with only one day to spare. The changes and improvements included; a new radiator and plumbing, a new rear silencer bracket, change to the rear silencer location, a new seat bracket, new seals for the water pump, side crash rails to allow the side pods to be easily removed, new sidepods with zues clip fasteners, new cockpit bubble, new cockpit layout and wiring, new nosecone and crash bar, many replaced rod ends, new front rotors and pads, new adjusting rods for the uprights and last but not least, new mount points for the 14kg of lead which i lug around with me. All in all, a LOT of work. Huge thanks as always to John for his hard work in helping bring these changes to the light of day.
so it was with a significantly altered machine, a baby, jo and a crap load of nappies that we hit the road for morgan park!
saturday practice was both a time to bed in the new front brakes and also a time to become accustomed to the setup of the kart. the front end setup had been inherited from the previous owner and was significantly altered whilst over at Giova HQ. so in a nutshell, there was not much hope in setting the world on fire during practice.
at the start of race 1 things were feeling pretty good, then around 2 laps in i starting feeling a strange sensation in my left heel. sure enough, after 3 more laps my heel was getting quite warm as the floor was rubbing on the road and was rapidly wearing through the heel of shoe! it turned out during the many tasks of putting the kart back together, i had neglected to place washers between the bolts holding the floor in place resulting in the bolts punching through and causing the floor to drag on the tarmac at high speed. however that was not to be the worst thing to occur during race 1. no sooner had my heel starting getting warm when i noticed the kart not really having the pulling power it had in the previous lap. heading onto the main straight, the kart was really struggling to pull high revs with my initial assumption being something engine related. A few corners later when reaching the apex of a high braking corner, the thing would not go any further. it turned out the front right brake had siezed onto the caliper and was not in any hurry to let go! after some initial failed attempts to push the kart off the circuit while karts raced past me, i opted to get out of there. the following few minutes were interesting as the heat building up within the caliper caused firstly the brake pad to smoke like mad, and then the brake line to rupture and cause further smoke. i was sure a nice little fire was going to follow, although fortunately this was not to be. my apologies to all competitors (barring the tosser who shook his head at me) who had to crawl past my machine while it smoked away over the next few laps.
once the machine was returned to the pits, pelly offered a hand in getting the brakes sorted out and the thing ready to race for race 2. starting from the rear of the grid is always fun as it allows for lots of practice in the art of passing other machines. the race went well and i had an absolute blast.
i headed out to the track on sunday morning totally pumped and ready to race. i noticed the fuel pump had been left on over night so placed the battery on charge for an hour. however while being pushed off the dummy grid, the thing simply would not start. it turned out the engine was utterly flooded. initially it appeared as though a broken earth wire was the problem, however after much digging it turned out the engine was simply full of fuel! a BIG thanks to Phil Silcock for helping with the sorting out of the problems and also to Barry for pushing me around the pit area with his electric kart pusher - thanks guys, you are both champions!
the final two races were nothing special as the brakes continued to bind up by the end of the race, sapping the machine of forward momentum. however i had an absolute blast regardless and really enjoyed the opportunity to hammer around a much improved morgan park raceway. in fact, come monday i was a little disappointed with the realisation that it would be another year before i return.
all in all, what a fantastic weekend. great weather, amazing circuit, friendly pit atmosphere and great people. till next year!
the one day club meeting held at eastern creek was our introduction to 2007 and another season of racing.
being a one day event, the schedule for the day was pretty tight with short intervals between most events - this makes for a fantastic day if all goes well with reliabilty.
thankfully the weather had cooled somewhat from the week prior, though humidity remained reasonably high. clouds loomed overhead all day, managing to hold their store of water until very late in the day.
we were to start with two qualifying sessions of 15 minutes each. these offered an opportunity for some new members to become familiar with the track and also ensured everybody successfully completed three timed laps (required to race). for me the qualifying sessions were slightly frustrating as i was unable to break into the 1:44s (my lap time from the last outing at the creek) - though the kart was running exceptionally well which i was extremely grateful for.
I came into this meeting with a couple of things to try with regards to my driving - one of which was the promise that i was not going to spin off into the grass at turn 9 (as i have done every single time i have raced at the creek). this involved using a more cautious, yet thoughtful and controlled approach to braking. it must have worked, because not once did the kart head off into the bushes and yet i was able to out-brake some other machines on a few occasions.
the highlights from the three races were Ron Ping heading off into the wall at the end of the main straight during race one - thankfully he was okay and the kart only a little bent; heading into turn one during race two roughly 6 inches from the rear of another machine; and Frank Giglio performing a perfect 180 mere centimetres from me on a slightly wet track during race three.
all in all the weekend was excellent - not one problem with the kart, all races saw the chequered flag and in spite of not bettering my previous lapt times, i managed to be very consistent with the times i was setting...
what a way to end the year, contesting in a national event with close to 40 entrants!
the weekend began on friday with a quick practice session to bed in the new piston and rear brake pads. this also proved a good time to test the newly installed detonation counter (installed to help prevent engine blowups).
as always we woke early on saturday to make our way to the track and as is customary, i was running late... the day was going to be hectic - two qualifying sessions and two races, add to this temperatures in the high 30's and you have a day which is going to be long and tiring.
qualifying went well with the kart setting lap times 1.5 seconds quicker than my last visit to the creek in spite of incorrect gearing and peak-hour-like traffic - the times were no doubt made possible owing to the fresh front tyres which felt very sticky.
races 1 and 2 felt pretty un-eventful as i was stuck in no mans land, slowly losing ground to the karts in front, yet slowly pulling away from the karts behind. the chequered flag saw a 4th and a 6th respectively from a field of 15, so things were looking promising for sunday.
sunday was pretty much the perfect race day - the weather had cooled a little, we only had two races with plenty of time between each of them and the kart ran flawlessly. race3 was similar to races 1 and 2, except this time Ron and i were very close throughout the duration of the race - crossing the line a mere 0.7 seconds apart. race4 however was the most exciting race of the weekend and perhaps the year...
... the start was pretty good and i was not far behind the lead pack of 125's. owing to the grid ordering, the slower 250national karts were slowing up the leading 125 machines which created quite a lot of traffic and for the first two laps i was on the tail of a 7 or 8 kart pack - very exciting stuff! all was going well until braking hard into turn 9 i locked the rear wheels and sure enough, the machine swung 180 degrees in an instant. this was enough to put me onto the grass where i stayed until it was safe to return to the track, in the process losing 4 or 5 places - which is where the fun began! chasing down the places i had lost was the most fun i have had all year. on two occasions i was literally side by side with another 125 as we went down the straight at 180kph - we stayed this way through turn 1, within 1-2 feet of each other. eventually i found a spot where i could overtake and managed to get the kart home in 5th from 12 starters...
after 4 championship races over the weekend i was able to tally up enough points for 5th place, something im pretty happy with given all things. most of all though, i had the most fun all year - the weekend was a real buzz with so many karts on the track and lots of close, competitive racing.
i think another key factor to the weekends excitement were the visitors i had over saturday and sunday - jo, bots, joi, paul, andrew and dad - thanks guys, you helped make the weekend fun! a big thanks to terry for helping push the kart on saturday too - thanks mate, you really made life easy!
...well, until next year!!!
much has happened since the last event in queensland, none of which had anything to do with kart preparation. so it was with an ill-prepared kart i headed to wakefield to race.
i arrived on friday in order to crank out a couple of 15 minute practice sessions, though 6 laps into the first session i managed to cause significant pain to my rib section - thanks in no small part to the large bumps found on some high lateral g corners. the pain was substantial and it was looking unlikely i would start any races over the weekend...
i woke on saturday in pain. however after a few neurofen+ tablets, some strategically placed foam on my seat and a borrowed rib-protector, i was ready to go out there to grin and bear it.
qualifying was going okay until lap 10 when the kart contacted another at around 100kph. the result was a flat front tyre and a visibly bent steering rod (or something!). some adjustments in the pits by master pit-crew-man Drew, straightened the steering and we were ready to race.
the start for race1 was far from ideal, though things went well during the race and ian and i manged to have a little battle during the early stages which was awesome. things were looking good for race2.
race2 was great fun as i managed to hang on to the tail of two faster 125's - though the kart in front was 60 year old colin (he may be old, but he is bloody fast!) - and i think the bumps were getting the better of him.
race3 was not meant to be. half a lap in, things started to go funny with the gear shifter and before i knew it, it was no longer connected to the gearbox. stuck in second gear i limped home to the pits... it turned out the external selector fork had snapped, close inspection revealed two prior weld points where it had snapped! luckily there was an onsite mechanic who was able to weld the two bits together and thanks to the awesome help of Drew and Luke, we were able to get the kart back together in time for the next race!
race4 though, was also not meant to be. 4 laps in the kart stopped going forward. the gear stick was fine, the engine was revving, but no forward motion. this time i had to push the kart down pit lane and back to the pits... as it happened the front sprocket came free and the chain disconnected - thus no power to the rear wheels! boy oh boy, it was not turning out to be my day and i was ready to pack it in.
time was running really low as i was trying to hook things back together. thankfully Ron and John stepped in to help out and we managed to get the kart ready in time for the last race (john came to my aid once he had finished doing some major repairs to another machine!).
ready...set...go! race 5 was a corker! i had a blinding start from the back of the field and nearly rammed into two max karts which were blocking the circuit and doing 50kph less than i was! as the race progressed i had a ball picking my way through the lower powered machines and working my way up to the other karts in my class. i passed colin on the last couple of corners and managed to hold him at bay as we crossed the line.
what a weekend. many highs and many lows, though when it was all said and done, it was absolutely awesome. i could get used to this kart racing stuff!
till next time...
it was thanks to the gentle persuasion of ron and pelly that i decided to make the 2,000 kilometer round trip to warwick for a weekends racing.
prior to heading onto the circuit there was talk of several corners being somewhat 'bumpy'. the word bumpy does not really explain the severity of the bumps littered around the last few turns heading onto the main straight. in fact, as you make the final turn onto the straight the kart is bouncing around so much that all the steering input in the world will not help the machine go in the direction you desire. to tell the truth, i was quietly expecting my kart to fall to pieces at some point over the weekend...
practice went really well and in my angst to learn the track in 15 minutes, i managed to paddock bash on two occasions. in spite of this things went really well and my times were looking okay and i had qualified in 6th position (from a class field of 9).
race1 got under way without any real misadventures. across the line i managed to keep my place in class and came 6th.
race2 was a disaster from the second turn. in the madness that results from trying to squeeze 10 machines around the same corner at the same time, i managed to find myself paddock bashing once more and regained the field in last place. after some chasing i managed to reach the finish in 7th, though i was way down the overall classification. so far, things werent really going my way at morgan park and i was beginning to wonder if the trip was worth the effort...
we woke early on sunday to head out to the track for a 10 lap race. thankfully this was a 'championship' race and thus the grid was determined from qualifying times. it also happened that due to his own misfortunes on the previous day, pelly had offered his hand to show me some tricks in the tuning department and offer some advice on racing in general - until this point i had not touched the engine since purchase and was running the same setup from race to race. my level of attack on the track was also somewhat 'soft'.
race3 went well from start to finish and i managed to knock 1.5seconds from my previous day's lap time. when the flag was waved i was in 3rd (11th overall) and was feeling pretty damn excited as for the first time, i was really pushing myself and the machine.
pelly and ron guided me on some tweaks to the engine, based on data being accumulated with te logger, which really payed dividends. race4 was a corker of a race! there was some really close racing between myself and john (number 8) and i managed to keep ron in sight for the first time. 3rd in class was a great result. the kart was driving really well and i knocked a further 0.4 seconds from my previous fastest lap. what a race!
the day ended with a 'scratch race' only contested by a handful of people - yet the thrill was just as high as earlier in the day and the small field enjoyed some really close racing.
during trophy presentation i was very surprised to have managed 3rd in class for the weekends racing and was truly stoked!
the trip to morgan park may have been long, but it was really worth it - what a bloody great weekend!
early in 2006 i became aware of and subsequently purchased a 'superkart'.
a superkart is a perfect blend of two already great machines: the motorbike and the go-kart, utilising the chassis from the go-kart and the engine/gearbox from a grand-prix spec 2-stroke motorbike.
the result of this mechanical bastardisation is a machine which thanks to the low overall weight, low center of gravity and relatively high powered engine, can be seen setting lap times faster than most other types of motor vehicle. in fact a premiere class kart (250cc twin cylinder), achieves a power to weight ratio of around 440hp per tonne and incredibly laps eastern creek faster than a v8 supercar!
and the best part? it does not cost a great deal to race one of these little beasts!
if you would like to know a little more, visit superkart.org.au or better yet, come along to a race meeting and see these machines up close - make sure you drop by the pits, everyone is very friendly!
no racing effort is complete without some form of sponsorship and support.
it is therefore with great gratitude that i thank Phil and Rosemary Tucker, who both kindly offer their car for all race events and trips to the workshop.
i also owe a great deal to John Pellicano and Ron Ping, both of whom have been completely selfless in their level of support and willingness to share knowledge and offer advice.
also a huge thanks to Giova Racing, who assist with major repair work to the kart such as welding and fabricating.
and of course where would i be without Jo (she told me to say that).