“What a great weekend!! Even though we raced in the rain, splashing, hydroplaning and hitting a wall it was awesome!! Came 1st in class and 5th over all!! Greatest way to start the season!!!!!”
In my own words:
The weekend started out nicely as we arrived at NJMP Friday night and found a good paddock space to set up our team for the weekend.
Upon arrival at the track early Saturday morning I noticed the competition was going to be challenging. This being my first experience at such an event I didn’t really know what to expect from the other drivers but I had an idea. It was time to figure this out and quickly. I knew I had to focus on the challenge that was in front of me. I watched the videos, looked at the track map over and over again but now I had to mentally prepare myself. I was up for the challenge! We had a full day of practice ahead of us in preparation for qualifying and the race. The weather and temps where perfect on Saturday for testing and practice. Safety equipment on and the kart ready I headed out on track for my first 10 minute practice run. Getting comfortable in the kart and learning the line was the first thing I needed to focus on.
The Liberator track at NJMP is just over a half mile long with elevation changes, 13 turns, two fast kinks, a chicane and two long straights make up its configuration. Just prior to going out on track Jeff Herrridge arrived at the track to help with the kart setup and driver coaching. Thanks Jeff!! The first practice session went well. However, we had a lot of work to do. My laps times were not where I needed them to be. Ok, what do we have to do. We changed the fuel and a couple of other adjustments and back out on track. We found 4.5 seconds a lap. Good, but not good enough. I was having trouble with the power climbing out of the uphill section of the track and just couldn’t find the power. What to do… Gear change and a couple of other minor changes. Back out on track. My lap times came down and the kart was feeling pretty good. More power in the uphill… Good! Now to work on handling. We played with the tire pressures and found a combination that made the kart handle so nice. A perfect balance of understeer and oversteer where I needed it. Now I needed to work on and perfect my driving. Jeff and my dad where in constant communication with me while out on track. The communication system we have is awesome and this really helped. Between Jeff, Dad and Michele I managed to get the lap times down even more. After a long day and may laps during the 5 full sessions of testing we were ready for qualifying and to race on Sunday.
Waking up on Sunday morning… Rain! And plenty of it… We came here to test, get seat time and race. Rain or no rain I was ready. Racing in the rain brings its own challenges. But first we had to ready myself and the kart. Having not prepared for racing in the rain, we had plenty to do. Kaos Kart Shop with their on-site shop was able to provide wheels, rain tires, wet cover suit and air box cover which were required to run in the rain. This was going to be interesting. Michele and I took care of my weather proofing while dad took care of the kart. Thanks to Trevor Dawe of Dawe Motorsports for his advice on setting up the kart for the rain. It worked out great! Thanks Trevor! New rain tires, rain gear and out for the first practice session. Extremely wet conditions. Pouring rain, standing water on the apex’s and other various spots along the track lead to driving a very different race line, the rain line. My normal marks during Saturdays practice where all changed. Not to mention the inch of water in my seat. Nevertheless, practice went well and I was surprised at the grip the rain tires had. Kart control would be important. I knew if I stayed out of trouble I could finish up front. The whole plan was not go out and get the fastest lap but remain on the lead lap and stay out of trouble. That’s what I did… Right away I noticed the other drivers where all pushing and spinning… I just kept thinking ahead and hearing my dad in my head saying… “be smooth, don’t push. No mistakes and it’s yours” Well, it worked… two spins and one encounter with the wall was good enough to finish P1 in class! We Won! I say we, because this requires a team effort, especially to win. I takes so much too even get to the track never mind winning. I can’t even begin to thank everyone enough for all your help! Now on to a Great rest of the Season.