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Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
It was a good year of racing in the TAG kart. The kart counts are up in the class, with several new people joining this year. With a vehicle to haul the kart in I was able to race more. The kart ran well and with some seat time I've improved a lot. And I did all this for not that much more than I was spending on rental karting! Here's a wrap up of the year.

After a busy spring, the first race I planned on attending in May was rained out. So in June I had my first race of the year. A good field of 9 showed up in TAG. I finished the heat race 2nd and the feature 4th. Despite being out of the kart for about 8 months, the kart felt good and my pace was close to the guys in front of me. I got some bad starts and the racing was mostly uneventful, except for when someone broke a wheel hub and their wheel and tire came bouncing right infront of me!



My next race after a long layoff including two weekends in California for the sport kart grand nationals was the “money race”. The normal club races at my track don't pay, but for this day, basically the track doubles the entry fee and offers 50% payback for the purse. Not really that great a deal, but at least they paid back 50% positions. The result of this was 7 TAG karts were split into 2 races, TAG and PRO TAG, with some guys opting not to run for money. Things were going fine until a few laps into the second practice. I tried out an adjustment to the carb that didn't work out, I was getting no power down the straight. As I reached down to adjust the needle back, a kart came slamming into my left rear tire. I was very surprised, I didn't suddenly slow or weave. It was practice and people go slow all the time for various reasons. I guess I should have been keeping track of where the guy behind me was. The result was both our karts were wreaked, mine had a bent rear axle and I was done for the day, while the other guy rolled his backup kart out of the trailer! It was a nice introduction to “money” racing for me!

Fortunately I would able to buy a used axle from another racer for cheap, and although I had to buy new axle keys, it was still much cheaper than the $225 Arrow axle. I was able to replace the axle and get back out a month later, for another club race. This time the field was 7 karts. In the heat I finished 2nd. In the feature, I tried to keep up with the leader but he slowly pulled away and I was pretty content with settling for 2nd, until he suddenly pulled off with a flat tire. This put me into the lead, and I had the rest of the field covered and took my first feature win.

In September, I raced in the Maryland Sprint Divisional at Nicholson Speedway. This was my first time ever in my kart at a track other than Sandy Hook. I enjoyed the track, it is even shorter than Sandy Hook but much smoother! The first half is basically a moderate speed decreasing radius hairpin, then a straightaway split up by a high speed kink. The second half of the track I felt was very technical, more so than Sandy Hook. There's heavy breaking into a left hairpin, which leads right into another quick right and left back onto the main straightway. During practice I got up to a decent pace quickly, but the kart seemed to lack some grip. In the heat and the feature, I dropped a few more tenths, but was still a few tenths off the leaders. I finished 4th/ 5 in both the heat and feature. It was a fun day and I'm looking forward to going back, maybe with some setup changes, a shorter gear and some fresher tires.



A few weeks later, I returned to sandy hook for another club race, there was another good turnout of 9 karts, and I again finished both the heat and feature in 4th place in a competitive field. My laptimes were slightly slower then what I'd run in the earlier in the year, which confirmed to me the tires were dropping off a bit.



In October I did a practice day which my friend organized. The track usually only hosts races for karts on Sundays and isn't open for practice during the week, so it was nice to have a practice day to try some adjustments to the kart and for me, let some friends who I know from the rental leagues try out a higher power racing kart. Minus a few spins, the day went really well!



In November I ran the last two races of the year on consecutive weekends. After the practice day, I had around 40 heat cycles on my tires which I'd had since last year, so it was nice to have a fresh set for the last 2 races. For the first race day I drew a high number and was supposed to start 8th of 11. However, several drivers dropped out during practice or opted to start from the rear, so I actually started 4th. On the start I got to 3rd, then a few laps later made the pass for 2nd. I figured I would finish there, but with a few laps to go the leader had an incident with a lapped kart and I took the heat win. In the feature I cruised to the win while my competitors behind me battled their way though the "action".

The last race of the season was pretty action packed. I drew a high number again and started 9th of 12, with several other fast guys starting at the back. In the first turn there was an incident right in front of me with one kart driving onto the rear of another, then another kart getting caught up and catching air. I was able to avoid them but was second to last after t1. Passing is really tough and I ended up managing to pass a few slower karts but then spinning on a pass attempt. Someone got a bad run out of turn one and stacked up a few karts going into turn 2. I tried to take advantage and go to the inside. The kart in front of both me and the kart I was trying to pass slowed sooner than I expected. I braked harder because I thought I might nail him when he turned in and ended up spinning 90 degrees to a stop at the apex of the turn. The guy behind me slid into my side, pretty much doing the same thing trying to avoid me. This was actually my first spin ever in the TAG kart. Fortunately there was no damage to either kart and I got going immediately, actually passing the guy I was initially trying to who ended up having to go through the grass. After all that I finished the heat in 5th.



For the feature there were more incidents, but fortunately I wasn't involved in any. On the start I saw the guy on my outside somehow spinning to the outside of the track on the entry to turn 1 (you can barely see this in the video). I spent most of the race stalking and trying to pass a kart in front of me, who was not making it easy! He eventually spun off with some sort of mechanical issue. At least one guy in front of me got caught up in an incident, so in the end I managed to finish 2nd, on a day where I think everyone had some issue or got involved in some sort of incident.



In the year I finished with 2 wins, 1 2nd in 5 club races, not bad for my second year.

11/02/2013: Tools for karting

Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
Wondering what tools you need to work on a kart? The good news is you might not need much more than basic tools you already have. Almost all CIK style karts have metric hardware, and socket head cap screws are common, so you'll need some good tools to work with those. Here's what I usually bring to the track with some notes:

Basic socket set - A 1/4” sockets were recommended to me to prevent over-torquing, but I already had a 3/8” drive set so that's what I use. My set has metric (4-19mm) and standard (which I never use on the kart).

Additional sockets – I bring a 21mm deep socket for the spark plug, and a 22mm socket to remove the front hubs (necessary if you want to change the front track width.

Socket Extensions – 3 inch and 6 inch, necessary to get to lug nuts on the wheels.

Hex Keys/Allen wrenches – I have 3 sets, which come in handy for different uses, although I don't always bring them all to the track. One is a long handle round ball end t handle set, which is good for speed and hard to reach places. I also have a shorter t-handle set with flat ends which is good for getting higher torque to tighten or loosen bolts, and a L shaped key set with one flat end and one ball end, which is pretty good for both.

Combination wrenches – A basic set of wrenches with one open end and one box end, sizes 8-17mm

Air pressure gauge – one which can measure to approximately a quarter psi is nice. One that only measures to 30 psi or less is also more precise/easier to read.

Tape Measure – Necessary to measure the position of the hubs on the rear axle to change rear track width.

Rubber mallet – comes in very handy for example to remove the rear wheel hubs from the axle, or remove the wheels from the hubs.

Screwdrivers – I just use the screwdriver with changeable heads that came with my basic tool set. The only time I typically need a screwdriver is to take the airbox off to clean it or choke the engine to start it in the morning.

Tape – duct tape and electrical tape

Pliers – one needle nose and one channel lock style

Safety wire and pliers – I've had to redo the safety wire when I've taken certain things apart, for example the steering wheel and brake caliper, although I've never actually needed it at the track. There are special safety wire pliers that help with spinning safety wire.

Flashlight – self explanatory

Multimeter – I bring a cheap multimeter since I have one, I have used it to check the battery voltage at home but have never needed it at the track.

Adjustable wrench – a small one, don't think I've ever used it.

Files – round and flat file. Never used them but might come in handy for something.

The more important/more frequently used tools are at the top of the list. I fit everything in one small toolbag. I also bring a box of spare hardware, and a box of spares parts/lubes/cleaners/rags. If there's something I don't have, I can probably borrow it from someone else, but I can't remember the last time I've needed something I didn't have in this list. If you don't have any tools at all, I think you could buy everything you need here, in a mix of cheap(aka Harbor Freight) and mid priced (aka Craftsman) for a few hundred dollars. You could probably add or remove a few things (especially near the end of the list) as you see appropriate. I also have a few specialty tools like a bead breaker and tire mounting tool which I haven't included here.