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JULY 2015 NEWSLETTER PREVIEWS

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The Start! Are you ready for the race? (Photo courtesy of On Track Promotions)

Let me ask you a question.  What are you doing on the Warmup Lap to prepare for the race?  If your answer is simply warming up the tires, you are leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.  I remember the first time I saw Fernando Alonso bring his Renault up to the line with that signature violent wiggle (as opposed to everyone else’s weave.)  At first I thought, that’s a little over the top.  Yes, it is an impressive display of car control (900hp, cold tires, and full-tank weight being rapidly transferred from side to side).  Now I realize that Alonso has revolutionized the art of the warming up an open wheel race car.  Everyone has copied him and there is more to his method than first meets the eye…

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The ICC Engine – Pure, Raw Power

The ICC engine.  The fastest, most powerful engine in sprint karting.  Perhaps it’s fitting that the pinnacle engine in karting is also the most complex and difficult to jet.  I personally relished this challenge when I raced my ICC as you can gain or lose a significant amount of time with your jetting.  Once you get it right though, nothing compares to the crisp violent acceleration and responsiveness of the ICC engine.  So let’s make sure that you are dialed in…

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Categories : Engine Tuning
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For those of you that missed it, I ran some data analysis on the SuperNats.  Here’s some highlights:

  • Average Size of each Class:  49 Karts
  • Average number of karts to qualify within 1 second of pole:  29
  • Class with most karts qualified within 1 second of pole (Tag Senior):  40
  • Average number of karts to qualify within 1 second of pole by percentage: 70%
  • Highest percentage of karts to qualify within 1 second of pole (S1):  100%
  • ENTIRE 22 KART FIELD IN S1 WAS COVERED BY 0.827 SECONDS!!!

It’s fair to say that qualifying has always been important.  Given the stats above, I would argue that over the last couple of years qualifying has been more important than ever.  Three or four years ago, two tenths may have only cost you a spot or two, now it can cost you ten.  Furthermore, if you race on a narrower track where passing is more difficult, qualifying could be the race.  Add the fact that a lot of series give you extra bonus points for pole and you start to get the point.

So how do you optimize your go kart for qualifying?  Well, we’ve touched on a number of issues before but I will tie them all together here so you have a concrete plan to put your go kart toward the sharp end of the grid…

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Having just returned from the Indy 500, it felt as good a time as any to discuss how to approach and maximize fast corners.  In addition, I have just recently finished coaching some drivers including some lead-following in the go karts and realized fast corners are a common area that is challenging many drivers.  Fast corners are tricky not only because of their sheer speed and intimidation factor, they also requires precise timing.  Consequently, after following drivers on practice nights for many years and from my recent coaching experiences there seems to be three basic errors that many drivers make when it comes to negotiating fast corners.  These errors actually conspire to reduce your confidence making the process of conquering fast corners a vicious psychological circle.  Once these errors are addressed and rectified, fast corners actually seem easier and more comfortable to negotiate even as you start going faster and faster.

To wet your appetite, I have included a link to an interesting video sent to me by one of my subscribers regarding Schumacher and fast corners (Click here to see the video).  Pay particular attention to the data segment of the video.  I’ll explain how to translate what you learn in the video to your own driving on the track…

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When I was given the opportunity to switch to the Zanardi chassis for two seasons, I was excited for many reasons.  First, after being on a Tony chassis for nine years it would be a great challenge from a tuning standpoint.  Second, it would put me directly in my readers’ shoes as I would be learning a new chassis while applying all the techniques and tips from the newsletter without knowing the outcome.  Third and most importantly, seeing how the Zanardi would react to changes will give me a broader scope and insight into what many other drivers are experiencing with their own kart therefore improving the articles.  When it comes to tuning with ride heights, this is precisely what happened…

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Categories : Chassis Tuning
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Prospeed Components’ Perimeter Throttle Kit should be standard equipment on all karts. It’s that good.  (Click on picture to enlarge)

Ever look at your kart and wonder why the throttle cable adjustment is so far away from the throttle pedal?  Ever think to yourself that as beautifully engineered as your kart is why does the throttle cable look like an after-thought that has never been addressed since the first kart was invented in 1959.  Well, luckily for us Roger Hargens of Prospeed Components did and has come up with the best throttle cable routing system I have ever seen.  Not only is it beautifully engineered, it is 100% functional in its purpose, completely eliminating the trailing throttle understeer caused by most kart’s current throttle cable set-up.  The system is so cool, almost everyone that has seen it on my kart has vowed to get one.  Once installed, it looks like a factory part worthy of its place with the rest of your kart’s components…

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As I mentioned in last month’s article on Spark Plug Reading, Plug Reading will get you close but to really optimize your jetting, you need to incorporate the piston read and data analysis into the equation.  Without data analysis, you will have no real way of determining what your optimum spark plug and piston color should be.  In addition, the piston will give you a better indication of whether or not you are too lean and/or detonating, the first sign that you are on the edge of optimization and on the verge of a blow-up…

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As part of FKI’s marketing partnership with SwedeTech, welcome to SwedeTech’s Corner.  SwedeTech’s corner will be an ongoing segment of FKI dedicated to helping you optimize the numerous engines SwedeTech services.  Make no mistake about it, this is the good stuff normally strictly limited to SwedeTech customers.  But, to provide a value add to FKI subscribers, SwedeTech has kindly offered to extend this information for subscribers only so please don’t disseminate this material.  Also, if you happen to pick up a tip or two, maybe its worth letting SwedeTech handle your next rebuild and give your engine a thorough once over.  You could be leaving time on the table!

While we touched on one of the more popular classes in the U.S. last month, Stock Honda (and there’s more to come in later issues), this month we decided to look at one of the more popular engine classes worldwide – TAG Leopard.  So, without further adieu, I am happy to present you with SwedeTech’s Tech Tips for optimizing your Tag Leopard…

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Categories : Engine Tuning
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Over the past few issues, we have been discussing changing track grip levels and how to anticipate and prepare for them via tire tuning, gear ratios, and axles etc.  Before we begin to delve into more advanced chassis tuning, I think it would help to break down a track’s potential grip levels into 3 categories, low, medium, and high and then examine how your set-up will differ for each of these track conditions. Once you have established a distinct baseline set-up for each of these grip levels, you will have a much better chance of adapting that set-up to the track conditions on any given day.

So, to give some real world examples on how to rate a tracks grip level, here in Phoenix, with the heat and the blowing dust, both the PKRA circuit in Phoenix and the Musselman Honda Circuit (or P1 as some of you may refer to it) 2 hours away in Tucson are low grip circuits on practice days.  The kart will be sliding around in general and will lose adhesion and give you a huge mid-corner oversteer or understeer (in other words – whatever handling condition you normally battle) if you try to carry any kind of significant speed into the corners.  Even on club race days, the most you will see is a 1 second gain (from mid to high 50 seconds to high 49 seconds for example at Musselman), barely qualifying the track as a mid-grip track.  You can carry more speed into the turns on race day, but you are still looking for more grip all weekend and the kart is in no danger of being over-gripped…

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Categories : Chassis Tuning
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Proof that I actually drove at Indy (same helmet scheme)…Oh, and that I can hit my apexes!

Ahhh, the month of May.  If you consider yourself a serious race fan, the month of May can only mean one thing – The Indy 500.  To this day I get asked what it is like to drive at Indy.  I will do my best to convey that unique experience in a second but will say this, driving at Indy is unlike any other track and is beyond fast – it brings fast to the ridiculous.  You as a karter, have a deeper insight into that experience than you might imagine.  I’ll explain.

I think the best way to begin is to start with something they said to us in our rookie orientation meeting.  Brian Barnhart, chief steward at the time, sat us all down and proceeded to tell us that although we are all fast, experienced drivers, keep in mind that the fastest we have gone is most likely 190mph for a split second on the fastest straightaway at the biggest track we have been on (true).  Brian continued to stress that, “Keep in mind that here, once you get going, your MINIMUM speed on EVERY lap will be around 217 mph (also true).  If you go into Turn 1 and feel a wobble, don’t take it into 2, put your hand up, get off the fast line, pull it into the pits and sort it out with your engineer.”  In a nutshell Brian just laid out the other big rule at Indy – when you crash, it’s everyone’s problem.  You can’t just jump off the throttle and hit the brakes at 200+, the car becomes extremely sensitive and responsive at those speeds…

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