October 14, 2014 at 9:16 pm #35310
Grats on placing so high in the tag standings for 2014. My question is, do the front runners get the hand picked motors for their teams over the average guys? Second, are their tuners that much better over the average guy that has been in the sport for 10 yrs or so? Third, are most karts about the same or equal in handling? The forum has been slow and figured we could spice it up asking our resident guru his opinion. chi wa wa
October 14, 2014 at 11:31 pm #35312
interesting questions. my guesses would be…
Yes, Yes, Yes(not same handling, but probably very close in top performance when set up at optimal level)
October 15, 2014 at 6:36 am #35328
Front runners do get hand picked motors but thats not always the case I’ve seen plenty of times were the top guy has to borrow some average racers motor and the still win at the national event.
After 10 years the average guy should be a great tuner unless they didn’t keep up with the rule changes and raced all 10 years. But a great tuner that knows everything makes all the difference in a kart.
Karts are not equal in handling but with a good tuner and driver you can tune every kart to about the same time.
October 15, 2014 at 6:37 am #35329
Thanks a lot! To be honest we were hoping to finish the season better but we’ll take it.
And thanks for giving me something to talk about haha.
First question regarding motors: I would say it depends. I know that I have had both situations. I have run for teams where I owned all my engines and I have run for teams where engines were supplied to “team drivers” that were “proven”. Guess it depends on what class and what team you’re driving for/working with.
Second question regarding tuners: I don’t know, I would say I’m your average guy who has been in the sport 10 years or so (2015 will be my 13th year) and me and my dad have always done the tuning to our kart. Anyone can read up on tuning and go test for hours on end and get the same knowledge base as the paid tuners who work for the teams. There are some REALLY knowledgeable guys out there who go above and beyond just spinning wrenches that are worth spending the money on to have them work for you. Guys that will give you chassis advice, driving advice, engine advice all in one place are pretty valuable. I think you’ll find most of the good tuners who are wrenching for teams ARE guys who have been around the sport for many years who were once serious wheelmen themselves. I wrenched this past year at a regional series for a really great young driver and had a ton of fun. A lot of the national drivers work for other people on their off-weekends.
Third question: Almost any kart can be driven to the front by a competent driver. There are karts that handle differently or work differently, sure, but if you took 10 different brand kart frames, painted them black, and laid them up against the wall next to each other, it would be hard to tell much difference between the geometries from 5 feet away. Having gained some experience on different brands over the past few years, I can say that each of the 4 brands I drove for in the past 3-4 years all were capable of running up front, and we did so on each brand. But the Merlin has a different feel than the ART which feels different than the OTK product. I felt like all season last year on the ART we had a shot to win at every race, until my ribs would inevitably pop at some point during the weekend. The Exprit we had before that also kept us up front all season. And the Merlin before that gave me a couple Grand National wins so I think that one probably worked well too. Just like there are tons of driving styles out there, there are also a few different ways that karts work to get around a corner too. Some karts are very front end positive and need a stiff front bar because they do all their work on entry. They turn in great and then spring off the corner. Some karts aren’t as twitchy on turn-in, but are softer and will roll more speed through apex and roll off the corner more freely. I’ll let you test and figure out which kart does which! It’s true that maybe one driver prefers a kart over another, as it suits his driving style better.
Hope that helps or at least gives you something to chew on.
Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
October 15, 2014 at 6:50 am #35330
TJ, sorry to make you write so much but thank you for the response. As you have guessed we are gonna dub you our resident guru and start you off on yer writing/tech career. Yer a very talented kid! Let’s liven up the forums and have some fun, wish Mr Nunley would come back also. chi wa wa
October 16, 2014 at 5:29 pm #35389
As TJ mentioned, we learned our tuning craft the hard way, but we always got lots of advice from some of the best along the way. TJ had been racing for years and had a good amount of success, but he had a year that he spent a ton of time with Jamie Sieracki at FMS that helped take his driving to another level. Getting coaching from someone you respect can move a driver over plateaus in his skillset. I highly recommend a coaching day anytime you feel like you’re stuck.
When it came to kart setup, we learned it together, at track, for many hours, but that’s “how we roll”, as they say. Some people have more money than time, so they hire someone who has already put in the time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Some people are good with numbers and making bucks. Numbers make my head hurt. I’m more of the outdoorsy type, so I’d rather wrench on it than figure out how pay someone to do the same.
I’ve always felt that our chassis were good, or I wouldn’t waste my time/money racing it. The karts we’ve run along the way, were the same karts anyone else could buy. Maybe its different in Europe, I don’t know.
When it comes to engines, I’ve always applied the same philosophy that my friend and past 100cc engine builder, Kevin Nelson, would use. When I asked him if a particular engine was a good one, he would say “you’re not going to lose the race because of it.” In other words, a good, or even great engine, will probably not win the race for you, but a bad engine can certainly lose it for you. Have good, solid, reliable engines, and work on the things that matter most, like kart setup and driving. That doesn’t mean that buying a good proven engine isn’t worthwhile, as it usually is. It just means its usually not your biggest problem.
“Team” drivers or sponsored drivers usually have one big benefit working for them. The Team has a lot of knowledge about kart setup and they can draw on the efforts of other racers to share that knowledge across the team. It gets everyone up to speed quicker when there are 4 of you testing instead of just one.
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