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When I was given the opportunity to switch to the Zanardi chassis for two seasons and then the DR chassis, 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 and DR 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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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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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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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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Categories : Editorials
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Unfortunately for many of us in the US, the option to race your ICC powered kart is vastly disappearing.  While you would think switching between two shifter motors would be a simple matter of bolting the new motor on and you’re off, there’s a lot more to it than that, especially if you are buying a used Honda.  The big difference is that while the ICC is self contained except for the water pump, everything but the water pump is an external component on a Honda.  Consequently, you need to find a place to securely mount many of the fuel and ignition system components somewhere on the engine or your kart.  I think I fell into every pitfall you can imagine while making the transition to Stock Honda.  Luckily for you, I will recount it all so you don’t have to…

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These guys are going to want to know what’s going on with your car during a race, so will your tuner, so should you.

To refresh your memory, I started the “How To Drive Your Own Race” series at the request of one of my subscribers who wanted help in this area.  One of the things he stressed was his inability to recall what his go kart was doing during the heat of battle in a race.  Consequently, he was unable to make any meaningful tuning changes to his go kart before the next heat because he felt he would just be guessing.  So how do you focus on what your go kart is doing and still focus on the race – establish a proper test procedure.  I’ll explain the correlation below.

By establishing a proper test procedure you are ingraining a natural instinct to think about what the go kart is doing while you are driving so you can analyze the feedback and make the go kart better for the next session or race.  Your goal is to make this a habit so that you are automatically thinking about what the go kart is doing regardless of whether it is a test session or the main.  How do you get there?  Change the way you practice/test…

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Given the plethora of kart classes out there and the hundreds (well, maybe not hundreds but it sure seems like it sometimes) of different racing kart engines, you may be wondering how is FKI going to tackle the art of engine tuning.  Well, at the end of the day, regardless of the type of motor you run, engine tuning usually boils down to one component – how does your sparkplug look.  Your sparkplug reveals many things about your jetting so the more knowledgeable you are about reading a plug, the better you will be at optimizing your jetting.  So what are you looking for?  Well, with the help of SwedeTech’s owner and founder Reine Pierson, we will show you…

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Categories : Engine Tuning, How To's
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This is the article the guys I kart with didn’t want me to write.  Why?  Because this tuning area caught out one of my teammates at a previous SuperNats so they didn’t want me to give the competition any advantage by bringing this area to their attention.  Since the area may seem obvious once I mention it, let me tell you what was going on with my friend’s go kart and see if you would have guessed the solution to the problem beforehand.

For the SuperNats, one of my teammates bought two identical chassis to run in two classes.  Neither chassis was bent or had any defects.  With what he thought were identical set-ups, one go kart was on rails and the other had a big turn-in to mid-corner oversteer.  He called me (I missed that year) to get my opinion and we tried everything we could think of to change on the rear to give the rear more grip – longer hubs, softer axle [30mm TonyKart – see axle article – FKI September 2010], increase tire psi, rear to full width, raise rear ride height, different seat position.  Nothing seemed to work, he still had oversteer.  I had him double check the front caster and toe out setting, they were exactly the same.  So, what was the issue?

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Categories : Chassis Tuning
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It seemed appropriate to start the Data Analysis series with choosing a gear since the first thing I do when I go to a new track is look at the data to assess my gear choice.  While sometimes it is obvious that you are geared too long or short, using both the graphs and the Time Compare feature of your data acquisition system can be crucial to picking the optimum gear that will move you up the grid in qualifying or a race.  So what are you looking for?  I’ll explain…

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This is harder than it looks and a great exercise for karting!

I think we would all agree that finishing an Ironman, a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride capped off with a full marathon distance (26.2 miles), is a heck of a physical and mental achievement.  How about finishing 10, not as a professional, but for fun.  That’s exactly what fellow karter Steve Ferrario has done.   Steve was also a very capable driver with 3 ProKart Challenge victories and numerous podiums to his credit.  So, if Steve gives you advice on how to train for karting, you listen.  The complete workout outlined in March’s FKI Newsletter is Steve’s and prepares you very well for karting…

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Categories : How To's
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