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Archive for Editorials

Kart Tool - Makita

This tool will save you so much time and energy at the track it’s not even funny. Hey, Christmas is right around the corner…

Hands down this is one of the best kart tools I own!  Why?  Because this tool makes my karting life so much easier its not even funny.  It is light weight, recharges quickly, has a long battery life between recharges and perhaps most importantly, it has the perfect built-in torque rate for karting.  You literally hold the trigger down to tighten a nut or bolt until you hear a couple of “ratchets” on the wrench and you are good to go!  No need to re-check the torque rate by hand (although I highly encourage you to do so when you first use it to inspire your own confidence in the tool.)  It literally feels like Makita specifically built this wrench for karting – its that good!

I use this tool for almost everything.  While I purchased the Makita primarily for taking the tires on and off the kart, I also use it on the engine mount, the spindle bolts and for removing and installing the rear gear on my shifter kart.

So, to be specific (since they’re are many Makita cordless impact wrenches out there) you are looking for the BTD142.  Among other things, most of the other Makitas have higher torque rates which are too high for your karting needs.  I bought my Makita at Home Depot but just went online and found one for $179 which includes a nice carrying case and an extra battery.  I know $179 may sound like a lot of money to spend on a kart tool, but I am confident you will actually be thankful you spent the money once you have this tool.  In fact, you may even wonder how you survived so long without it!

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SwedeTech-nobackgroundSwedeTech is preparing for the 2015 SKUSA SuperNationals which is only weeks away. For most of us, this is our largest and favorite event of the year. What other event can you race side by side with the local club “moving Chicane” or karters that have progressed to the highest pinnacles of motorsports? Some classes will have 80 entries, of which half will never see the green flag of the main event. Others are happy to be wandering around the pits looking at the massive rigs and huge tents. The SuperNationals truly is an event.

When Nick asked me to prepare another SwedeTech Corner, my initial thought was to write one on data acquisition and how to determine if your chassis is slowing down the engine. Then it dawned on me, most of the tech support questions I receive, the customer can barely turn on a MyChron, much less download the data and create readable graphs. As a FIRESTONEKARTINFO subscriber, I have to believe your level and need for knowledge is greater than the average karter…

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As a subscriber to FIRESTONEKARTINFO, you thirst for more knowledge, you are very hands on, and you want to have an edge over your competition.  Karting should be about drivers or families working on their own equipment, as it is the grassroots bastard child of racing that receives little respect from those that leave us hardcore karters behind.  It is the simplest form of motorsports and a very cost effective way to feel the sensation of high speed cornering and head tilting acceleration (if your kart has a SwedeTech engine).

On that note, I am not going to highlight one particular engine package this month, but the complete karting package as a whole.  In my opinion, one of the most overlooked resources easily available to karters is the rule book and/or technical regulations available from every major karting series…

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The Start – by far and away the best part of karting! Once you take your first start, you’re hooked!

So you are sitting there with your new kart, hopefully you have gone to the track to check out a local race, and want in.  Then you think, wait, these guys are pretty fast and are running really close to each other at speed, am I ready for this?  That’s a great question and one that I have thought about a lot because I have not only had friends get into the sport but recently coached someone who was just starting to race.  This made me examine how I would do it over given a clean slate.  There is a definite plan of attack you can follow. I will outline it below…

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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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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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FORGET ABOUT THE POINTS!  Don’t forget about the goal. If you are paid to race a kart, and your livelihood depends on winning the championship, and your future revolves around collecting a piece of hardware or tangible recognition of this past year’s accomplishments, you will think I’m an idiot.  For the rest, read on.

The title may sound very strange, especially since this newsletter targets those who are honing their karting craft.  You might read the title and say to yourself, “What’s this crap, I’m a racer, I want to win!”  Karting makes up a very unique group of people and we all have at least one thing in common, Karting.  I’ve been around the sport for over 17 years.  I’ve raced from the club level to the national level and I have also lived the different ‘types’ of characters you will find at that the track…

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Kart Master's seat struts are slotted to accomodate quicker ride height changes and greater flexibility in mounting. At $19.99 and stainless steel to boot, one of the more clever ideas in karting. (www.kart-master.com)

A seat strut is just a seat strut, right?  You measure how long a strut you need, bend the ends a bit to fit the chassis and seat, drill the seat holes, bolt it in and go.  Pretty simple…

Well, no, not necessarily.  How many times have you tried to fit a seat strut to a hole in your old seat only to realize that it is close but you have to try to slot one of the holes with your drill to make it work.  Or, you go to make a rear ride height change and your struts no longer fit in their original seat holes so you have to move them and drill yet another hole in the side of your seat.  Either situation is far from ideal, time consuming, and generally a pain in the ass, especially if you are rushing to get back on the track by the next practice session to try your ride height change.

Enter Kart Master and their full line of slotted seat struts.  This is one of the more clever ideas I’ve seen in karting making what appears to be a simple part even better.  Kart Master’s slotted seat struts allow you to have some adjustment in your seat struts.  Now when you go to make rear ride height changes, you simply loosen your seat struts, make the ride height change, and then re-tighten the struts.  This saves a ton of time and aggravation and actually makes it possible to honestly back-to-back a rear ride height change.  If you are mounting a Kart Master strut to you existing seat, the slotted ends give you a greater chance of using a preexisting hole.  Either way, they are really cool.

To take advantage of the strut’s adjustability…

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Nov
07

SuperNats By The Numbers

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For American Karters, November only means one thing – The SuperNats.  It’s our Month of May, our Indy 500.  I wrote this article two years ago after the 2010 SuperNats but am re-publishing it for two reasons: first, the numbers still astound me every time I read them.  But perhaps more importantly, nothing speaks more to learning how to squeeze every tenth out of you and your kart than this race.  Just look at how many karts qualify within 1 second of pole in every class and you will see what I mean – there is nowhere to hide.  So read on, and then think what gaining a tenth or two more would mean to you…

Number of Karters (Entries):  491

Number of countries represented: 23 (listed below)

Number of countries if felt like I walked across to get from my hotel room to my pit area:  1.2

Number of sick, full-sized IndyCar type transporters like the one pictured above: 10+

Continued….

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Rubens Barrichello on his way to the Formula Opel Lotus Championship as a 17 year old!

In January of 1990, the Opel Lotus Euroseries was about to have the deepest, most competitive season in its 11 year history.  As a one-make “wings and slicks” series (everyone had the same car, engine, and tires) with sponsorship from GM and eight race dates held in conjunction with Formula 1, the Euroseries had quickly and firmly established itself as a stepping stone to Formula 1.

The sheer depth and talent of the 1990 field was attracting a lot of pre-season media attention.  The 35+ car field consisted of 15 Formula Ford champions, 13 Karting Champions, and two World Karting Champions from 15 different countries including: Rubens Barrichello, David Coultard, Gil de Ferran, Kenny Brack, Andre Ribiero (former Tasman and Penske IndyCar driver), Pedro Lamy (Lotus F1), and Vincenzo Sospiri (World Karting Champion ’87, F3000 Champion ’95, F1, IRL).  Average age – 21.5.  All of the above drivers were being circulated in the media as the potential series champions due to their blistering pre-season open test times, except for 17 year old Rubens Barrichello.  Then the season started.

In what seemed like out of nowhere, Rubens took the 1990 season by storm with 6 wins, 7 poles, 7 fastest laps, and 8 podiums on his way to the Championship.  Keep in mind this is a series that was oversubscribed and sent people home on many occasions.  I know, I was one of them.  The rumor in the paddock was that Rubens and his Draco team had found something, found that magic bullet in a highly policed one-make series with limited adjustments.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  More importantly, what Rubens actually did to achieve his success can be replicated by you in your karting program…

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