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.