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.
Highlights of the two heat races