Tuesday, September 15, 2009

4 Races, 4 Podiums, 1 Championship (RTR #4)

After the solid performance at the Pepsi Center, Kirk and I went into the weekend of round #4 with some confidence. We were leading the Championship by 22 points over Jack Bradley and 40+ over Cory Milne. Losing the championship could definitely happen with just a little bad luck. To give you an idea of the scoring winning a final is worth 200 points. 2nd is worth 190, and 3rd is worth 180. The plan was to run up front, but be just conservative enough not to throw it away with a stupid mistake. We wanted to either be in front of Jack, or in the position directly behind him.

In the week leading up to the race day, we got out to The Track at Centennial to test 3 times. I really like getting to turn laps 4 days/week, even if it is just 2 or 3 sessions in the evening after work. The weather has been fantastic around here lately. Cool breeze, in the 70s, and just generally pleasant. The testing we did on the afternoon of Labor day (the Monday preceding the race), it was clear that we'd be going very fast this weekend. We were setting very competitive clockwise times on old crappy tires and rich jetting. Same thing on Friday evening that week. We were at the track on Saturday to set up and get in a few more sessions of practice. The forecast was for a bit of rain, and that is exactly how it happened. We went out 3 or 4 times that day between showers. We did not think rain practice would be valuable, as the forecast for Sunday was clear and dry. I did go out once as the track was drying to play around (dampness + slicks = fun) and you can see that in one of the videos below.

Kirk helps me prepare on Sunday morning.

Sunday, September 13 dawned cool and clear. Nice! Let's go racing! Our setup from the few previous days was working awesome in the cool temperatures, so we were stoked. I went out and did a few laps in practice just to make sure everything checked out and nothing fell off. Sweet, no problem.

This weekend, all 5 shifter classes were put on track at the same time. Going into qualifying, we decided to only use the last 4 or 5 minutes of the 10 minute session. It's a little risky, but it had worked for us before. Let the guys all go out and fight for the same bit of track, then as they start peeling off into the pits, I go out in a big hole (in traffic) and try to do my best. I did a 53.51 which was my personal best to date and also good for class pole buy about half a tenth over Bradley. The next tenth of a second behind Jack had two more karts in it. Close times, should be some good racing.

AJ Noud rmkartworks and the Schimmels.

The 1st of 2 heat races was interesting. I didn't have the best start and lost 2 spots, slipping to 3rd in class. The temperature had come up a lot and the setup was migrating toward crappy and slow. I had to defend my 3rd position and cruise there. Jack won that heat by a bit. I had taken a point off him in quali and he took two in this heat. I was now leading by 21 points.

In the second heat, we had made some adjustments and I was feeling quite a bit better about our pace. I launched into 2nd in class, behind Jack, and just held station. I was on Jack's pace and finished 1.5 seconds back and closing. Things were looking up for the final, but the lead was only 20 points, which is a lot worse than 21. If I ended up behind Jack, there could be nobody between us.

In the main event, I had a good start and Jack had a problem, resulting in a 1st corner incident for him. I lead the class for a bit till Cory came through. He had been quick and I didn't really have any reason to fight him. I dropped the left side wheels and he pulled out a little gap. I decided at that point to focus on finishing. I held the 2nd position with a little pressure from behind and a silly moment as I approached a lapped kart with a tire issue. Coming home 2nd on the podium was a nice finish to the series for us. Grabbing the pole position that morning was great too. In technical inspection, we disassemble the engine to prove we are within the regulations. Everything passes, championship in the bag!

Kirk and I are proud of the effort we put in this season. It's only my 2nd year behind the wheel and we show up on a $200 open trailer. A regional spec moto championship may not be a big deal in the national karting picture, but I'm pretty damn proud of it. :) Lots of lessons learned and so many highs and lows. One thing that is often overlooked about karting and amateur motorsport, is all the cool people you meet. There are a lot of people out there doing it for all the right reasons; fun with friends and family!

Some video clips of practice, qualifying, and the 3 races can be seen below. I tried to make the videos a bit shorted than I have been to stay inside a short attention span.

Results link

Podium shot

Kirk and I starting the celebration

Racing the Rockies Round #4 Spec Moto Practice and Qualifying from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Racing the Rockies Round #4 Spec Moto Racing Clips from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Random photo that turned out ok. I'm trying to learn how to get some decent action shots.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Race the Rockies Round #3

Round #3 on the weekend of August 8-9 saw the Colorado karting family competing on a temporary circuit assembled in the parking lot of the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver. This was a new experience for some of us, and a welcome challenge. The event was well attended relative to the thin year that most racing markets are seeing. I believe entries were approaching the 100 mark.

The pits were open on Friday for move in and set up. The team spent the very hot afternoon setting up the trailers, tents, karts, spares, and walking the track. Many of us rode our bicycles around the track upwards of twenty times to get the layout installed in our minds. My main man, Kirk Deason, was with me again for the weekend. Helping, tuning, joking. Big thanks to him. Running as well as we have been is just not possible without the tiring efforts and encouragement from him.



Saturday was a full day of practice, then onto qualifying in the evening. Each class would get 7 practice sessions. 3 before lunch, and 4 after. Qualifying took place from 5 to 7pm. It was a long day and many hard lessons were learned. Many drivers had minor incidents exploring the limits on the new track.


My practice sessions went pretty well. Quickly getting comfortable and building pace. We changed the kart a ton through the day as the track was rubbering in and grip was increasing. I made contact with an apex barrier early in the 3rd practice and bent the steering column. It wasn't horrible timing because we had the entire lunch break to replace the part and reassemble the kart. That was the last time I damaged anything all weekend. We were pretty well on our game and running in the top 3 in spec moto. As qualifying came, we finalized some settings and hit the track. My lap (43.041) was good for P3, just 0.034 seconds short of P2(Cory Milne-GP). Marc Elliot(Arrow) had us both by 2 tenths. With P4 (Jack Bradley-Birel) just another tenth behind me, it was set to be a good day of racing on Sunday!


Race day consisted of two 10 lap heat races setting the grid for a 20 lap main event or final race. There was some fair dicing to sort our the order in the heats. Heat one had a close fight at the front with Elliot coming home at the point with Bradley in tow by a half second and myself just another 7 tenths behind. We were followed by fellow GP team drivers Cory Milne, Christian Bird, and Mike Mcdonough. I had a quick over/under fight with Cory about half way through the heat race. Fast lap of the heat was mine with 42.72 seconds on the fourth lap.

Marc, Cory, Jeff

Heat two saw Marc Elliot again run up front with a scrap for 2nd between me, Bradley and Milne. I ran much of the heat in 2nd after a nice overtaking move on Milne. However, I made a mistake on the final lap, allowing Bradley into 2nd, but just holding onto 3rd. Marc and I being the only runners in the high 42s. Surprisingly, Kirk and I found a problem upon returning to the pits. We could have been faster, but the heat race had not turned out as poorly as it could have.

Jeff and Jack

The S3 (Spec Moto) main event was an intense 20 laps. I had been starting in the 3rd position all day and was pretty happy there, on the inside line. All 3 of my starts were pretty good on Sunday. Jack got a great start and lead the first lap followed by Marc and me. Marc got by Jack pretty quick, but it took me about 8 laps to get through. At this point, Marc had a gap of several seconds. Jack and Cory were dicing behind me, giving me a little breathing room. Shortly after that, I saw Cory (basically tied with me for the lead in the championship) parked in the infield. It turns out he got the short end of the dicing with Jack. I did my best to relax in the 2nd half of the main, keeping a decent pace, but not risking too much and DNF myself. I slowly chipped away Elliot's lead to 1.6 seconds at the checkered flag. Bradley had closed the gap to me at the end and I had to play just a touch of defense. I had to be happy with 2nd, I had kept my cool. Marc is a really quick driver and he didn't totally walk us. I wish we could have taken the fight to him a bit more. I set the fast lap of the main (42.683 seconds) on lap 18, which was a consolation and the quickest spec moto lap of the event, just 3 tenths off the ultimate lap record set by Ben Schermerhorn in ICC qualifying. I probably have Jack to thank for the pressure he was putting on me in the closing laps.

The on board camera worked well all weekend. Check out the videos below! The footage is a little shakier than normal. The track was quite bumpy in a few places and I think the camera head mount had loosened up and it went unnoticed, sorry.

The event was a roaring success. Nearly every significant detail was well executed and even with the slightly increased entry fees, I feel like we got a hell of a deal. Racing in the city was a great experience and I could actually get some friends to come out and cheer us on! That is impossible with the permanent tracks out in relative BFE. We had a great time, and the cash on the podium was icing on the cake!

The results information.



These practice clips include some slow motion of the various incidents I was involved in on Saturday. The barrier impact at 4:55 and the loose wheel/hub/brake at 6:55 are particularly exciting.

Race the Rockies Round #3 Practice Clips from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Highlights of the two heat races

Race the Rockies Round #3 Spec Moto Heat Race Clips from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Main event

Race the Rockies Round #3 Final from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Moving on up! (Race the Rockies #2)

The 2nd round of the Race the Rockies regional championship was contested on June 28, 2009 at The Track at Centennial (www.thetrack.us). Much of the Rocky Mountain Kartworks team (rmkartworks.com) was on hand for practice on Friday and Saturday. The weather was pleasant all weekend, if a bit hot at mid-day. The attendance was pretty good and the racing was clean. I don't recall a red flag all weekend, just many smiles and hard work by all.

Stock Moto (S3)
GP drivers Cory Milne and Jeff Field looked strong going into race day. Cory snagged pole with a 53.20 second lap and Jeff over-drove for a 4th position, just 0.45 seconds off. In the first 10 lap prefinal, Milne and Field stretched out a gap on the pack with Milne taking the win and Field less than 4 tenths behind. The second prefinal was much the same with Field in 2nd by 2.9 seconds to Milne. The final race was set to be a close fight between the two GP teammates. Field took the point in the early laps of the 20 lap final with a good start. Jeff and Cory swapped positions several times on lap 4 to see Milne stretch out a lead that would not be given back. Field was mired in traffic while attempting to close the gap, but came home 2nd. That was enough to move Field into the lead of the championship.




S5 Novice Shifter
This weekend, the restricted junior shifter class was filled with 2 young guns behind the wheels of GP karts. Cole MacEwen and Austin Schimmel are always in a close fight. On this day, Cole snagged the pole by a mere 0.139 seconds. Austin took the win in the first prefinal, with Cole returning to the point in the second prefinal. Austin again found his pace in the final getting by Cole and driving to a 7 second victory. A great effort by both young talents.

The S5 battle


After some motor trouble and setup experiments in practice, Myles Marolt piloted his GP chassis to qualify 4th in class, and hauled himself onto the podium for a well earned 3rd place. Also, Dave Conyers earned the top step of the podium with a strong drive in his GP kart in KZ2 masters.


TAG Masters
GP team driver, Mike Jansen, had a tough weekend chasing electrical woes. With no spark on the engine, he qualified 9th with no timed lap. Mike hauled himself to 6th in the first prefinal only to have problems again, preventing him from starting the 2nd prefinal. After some hard work in the pits, he had much to do on track in the final. With some great driving and a bit of luck, Mike found himself in 3rd on lap 9 of 20 and moving to 2nd position in lap 13. Holding that position from some strong competition was good reward after a hard weekend. Mike now leads the championship.


Overall, it was a good weekend for the Rocky Mountain Kartworks team. The next round of Race the Rockies will be a temporary course set up in down town Denver. Very exciting. Here is the mylaps Results data

Here are some videos of all 3 shifter races from on-board #102 spec shifter driver, Jeff Field.

Race the Rockies Round #2, Spec Honda Heat #1 from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Race the Rockies Round #2, Spec Honda Heat #2 from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Race the Rockies Round #2, Spec Honda Final Race from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Monday, May 18, 2009

$%&#!!! (Race the Rockies #1)

Other possible titles are "Can't win them all", "S*** happens", and "SRSLY, WTF?"

Grand Junction Motor Speedway. FANTASTIC track. If you like driving karts, you should put this place on the to do list.


Kirk (My buddy and super tuner, or is it tooner?) and I shoved off from Denver just after 7 am on Friday with my super fancy big rig ($200 open trailer behind my WRX). We grabbed some lunch as we pulled into Junction and were at the track before noon. We set up camp next to our buddy, Mike.

We did a bunch of laps on Friday, working on the chassis and carb. This track is a lot of fun. The grip was super crappy for most of the day, but I was having a good time. Saturday was more practice all day. There were more karts showing up and it looked like spec Honda would have an ok field (10). We used some better tires and tried another axle and found ourselves doing about the same time as other class favorites. Many of the hot shoes appear to be within a few tenths (53.7-53.9sec/lap). I was looking forward to a good race. With kirk's tune up and my dialing of the driving line, we felt pretty confident. There would be 50 laps (15,15,20) of racing plus qualifying. I wasn't too worried about qualifying way up front, just do 2 or 3 good laps and save the tires.

Kirk, super tuner

Crack dealer, err, I mean, AJ Noud. Get you karts and parts from him. Rocky Mountain Kartworks

Sunday was Business Time and I was ready to go at it. Warm up is bizarrely restricted to cruising around as if everyone rebuilt their engine overnight. I did a few laps to evaluate balance and carburetor settings. We mounted new tires for qualifying and since all the shifter classes qualify in one 10 minute session, we elected to watch the first 5 minutes and then find a hole in traffic as drivers that went out in the mayhem peel off the track. It worked beautifully. I found a nice section of clear track and laid down a 52.79 in the 2nd of 3 hot laps. Less than 0.02 off the spec class pole, good for 2nd. Sweet, I could have gone just a little better. I'll start 6th overall because we are on track with the ICC karts (they are supposed to be a little faster).

I suited up for heat #1
and proceeded to have a HORRIBLE first half lap. Royally bogged the start and then spun as I got too greedy following someone deep into the braking zone on the dirty line. AWESOME job, now get to work. I got my rhythm going and hunted down the rest of the class. As I was approaching the lead group of 4 or 5 spec motos (fighting with 2 ICCs), there was a small tangle that made my life much easier. There was one more spec driver in front of me that I managed to pick off with several laps to spare in the heat. The kart felt good, the driver felt like an idiot. All this made for fantastic video footage, as you'll see. There is some weird audio problem with the left hand turns. Damn, oh well.


In Heat #2, Jake snider got a better start than I did, so I ran 2nd to him for the first few laps. He eventually had a little contact with an ICC that let me by to the point. I ran some consistent quick laps, but didn't get away from Jake. We had a nice little fight at the half way point when he got along side on the front straight. I didn't want to go at it too much and let others catch up. I took the spot back and held it for the heat win. That felt good.


In the main (final) race, I finally nailed my start. We all got on with it and I found a rhythm at the front of the class. I saw Jake was out very early. There was an ICC all over my ass, but I couldn't afford the time to lift and "let" him by. They have like what, 7 more horse power? I expected him to drive around me on the straight. It only took a few laps for that situation to turn into a mini-accident. Tim got his kart lifted onto mine by my rear tire in a slow corner. I continued, but it really F'd my focus. As the laps counted down, I was clobbered again from the rear by an ICC as Jack Bradley was finishing chasing me down. Now I was just furious as the 1st thing I saw was Jack and I (wrongly) though he punted me. I was coming apart. We missed the tire pressures for the main, the 1st accident broke my silencer (changing the exhaust note), and I was imagining bent parts and flat tires. Jack got by me as I was recovering. I managed to get the lead back, then later that same lap he got through again (great move, btw). I lost my cool with 3 corners to go, thinking if I could get a killer run, I may be able to force it with 2 corners to go. I spun it, and let one spec driver by, dropping me to 3rd. @*^%*$%^$^%#$%$#!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is not what we had in mind.

Lessons learned. Let's do this again. I'm still pissed, but it was a ton o' fun. Results link and video below. It's a little long, but it made sense to me to just gather all the highlights. The audio problem could annoy the hell out of some of you. Please don't give up on it, just play some of you own soundtrack over it. Maybe, open this in another browser and reduce the kart video volume to acceptable levels.




Race the Rockies #1, Spec Honda Video Clips from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

5-3-09 Club Race (Knock off the rust)

Kirk and I went to the second day of the doubleheader club races at Centennial this past weekend. The 1st race was postponed due to weather in April and was held on Saturday, May 2. The weather was cold and overcast on Saturday, so I passed. Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day. Our goal was to shake off our rust and see what we could do with the new chassis. We learned quite a bit and did some things to fix a somewhat surprising understeer that was quite a nuisance.


My guess at an initial setup was way too tight and I qualified poorly, 9th of 12 overall (4th Spec Honda). No big deal, this club race has a format of two 10 lap heats leading into a 20 lap main. I had plenty of time to work my way up. We made huge changes for the 1st heat and they worked. I went more than a second per lap faster, setting a 54.2s lap at the half way mark. It was still a little tight, but rolled way better almost everywhere. I was still losing time on the way in to the corner. I moved up to 6th overall which was really 3rd in spec moto (top 3 specs occupied 4th, 5th, and 6th). The 2nd heat went a little better, I never lost touch with 5th and had a little run on him at the white flag. It didn't work out and I could have been a little more clever about it. Oh well, I held 3rd in class and felt pretty good about taking a few more tenths off my previous best. The class leader did a lap about 0.5 faster than I went, so I'm curious where I'll find that. I've got some ideas, so look out, Jack (his home court pace is very impressive).


We made some more changes to the kart for the 20 lap final to "free" it up some more. It helped a little, as I set my first ever 53.X lap at centennial in either direction. We were running "uphill" or CCW, which is historically my weaker direction. Yay, us. So, in the final, I was cruising around a little behind 2nd in class, waiting to see how the last 10 laps would go. An ICC driver working is way up from way back made a surprise move on me in lap 12 in a hairy spot. Then on lap 13 he did the same to the fella I was chasing down, unfortunately sending him off track. Once I had inherited 2nd and knew 1st had a big gap, I backed it down a bit to finish 2nd ~10 seconds off the leader.

Not a bad day at the track. Learned some stuff and cranked down on my personal best so far. The kart is going pretty well, and we have some tricks up our sleeve for the first regional event in Grand Junction on the 17th. Results and video below.



Our buddy, Troy pointed out Kirk's racing stripe as we were calling it a day. :)


Some clips from the 2nd heat race and the final.

Mile High Challenge Race #2, Spec Honda Video Clips from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Winter testing in 1 day

The weather looks crappy this weekend, so I decided to go to the track today (Wednesday). Good choice. Great weather, had the place to myself, and saw some friends. I was there solo, but the helpful staff didn't hesitate to give me a hand getting the kart on and off the stand.

I was running some old tires, just getting comfortable in the kart. I adjusted the pedals and seat and finalized the engine install. Played with carburetor settings and even gearing. I tried setting the gear tall enough that I was only using 5 of the 6 gears. I took a lot of shifting out of the lap, but I think it is ultimately slower. It was awfully consistent, though.

Here is a short clip of two laps after I got the camera on and functioning. The 1st set of "charged" batteries I put in the recorder died in 30 seconds (as I entered the track). Sweet.

Winter testing at The Track from Jeff Field on Vimeo.

Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 is a GO!

Welcome back! I shouldn't have let this blog sit so long. I hope to keep it up a bit this year. More videos, more pictures, maybe more words.
After some debating on what I can afford to do for kart racing in 2009, I've got myself a newer used GP rolling chassis. It's the same one I "rented" and won a couple CSC races in 08. My friend Kirk (crew chief), and I put my spec moto engine on the kart this weekend and tied up all the loose ends.

This year, we've gone from having 1 regional series to 2. The Colorado Sprint Championship (CSC) remains with a 4 race schedule. The new series, Race the Rockies (RtR) is also 4 races. I plan to focus on RtR.

RtR series

The 1st round is May 17. I'm pumped. Grand Junction Motor Speedway is on the west side of the state, about 4 hours from Denver. They have a fantastic track that is really fun in both directions.

Here is a shot of the recently assembled machine. I still need numbers and some seat time to get dialed in.

We plan to test on the 1st, then do some club races on the 3rd and 10th. I hope everything goes well!