Home Forums TaG Introduction – lengthy

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    • #47220
      Samir Shah

      Hi guys. I’ve shown up on your forum and started asking a lot of questions, and I believe an introduction is in order.

      This started out as a message to Clark Gaynor Sr. but it expanded into an introduction, and I felt that it was more appropriate on this forum.

      My son Raif is 13, and has been karting since he was 7. Till Nov of 2014, he had only raced at Norwalk Karting Association in Norwalk, CT, a tiny family oriented club that races 4 cycles in a parking lot track that the parents set up every weekend. We were renting karts all these years.

      Late last year, we decided to try 2 cycles and rented a Yamaha Junior at Englishtown. Over winter we decided to race Leopard Jr, and I bought a used chassis with a used engine (turned out to be a mistake – was an old direct drive sudam), and started replacing parts (including another engine) and getting this kart to be legal and safe, learning along the way from the internet.

      I’m in a unique situation – we’re not total newbies. I’ve also raced karts, and managed my own Alfa time trail car, and do a lot of my own work on my cars. However, I’m diving into kart ownership with both feet, with a used kart, used engines, and a fast son. Based on Raif’s adoption of the increased hp, new format, new tracks and performance so far, we think he has the potential to raise some eyebrows and get noticed! As a result, we have been practicing and racing every weekend for the last 3 weeks, and will be for the next 4-5 weeks before we get a breather, and are scrambling to setup the kart for 2 regional events that are coming up in a few weeks.

      This is our first year in 2 cycles, and the first kart I’ve owned, at all new tracks, where we don’t know anyone, and have no support, so it’s a very steep learning curve for both of us.

      Every week, I have to evaluate Sunday’s racing, diagnose problems (and ask questions on forums) on Monday, order parts on Tuesday, repair on Friday, and race again on Sat-Sun! This leads to tremendous time constraints and urgency.

      Unfortunately, there is no engine builder or kart shop within 2 hours of me, so I am relying on information and help anywhere I can get it.

      We are also going to new tracks every week, where we know no one, so we can’t rely on anyone to help us right off the bat. We are quickly making friends though. So far, we’ve been to Englishtown and OVRP, and will be at Millville, NJ in a few weeks. We might go to Pittsburgh and F1 Outdoors in Boston at some point. If you see us, please introduce yourself!

      Englishtown is where we know the most people as we went there for 2 events last year (rented a Yamaha Jr in Nov 2014), and they help us when we are there (Thanks to the Raffas, Paul and the Ferris’es).

      I am used to asking for help on forums, and used to be very active on BMW, Alfa and Lotus forums in the 90s, as well as on many audio forums, and have both taken and given back to all those forums. I have found that the cumulative knowledge and experience in a group is usually far greater than that of a single individual or a manual that you might have access to, and also supplements what I can learn from the internet.

      I am also getting terrific support over email and phone from Italian Motors (whose engine we race with), Fastech, TS Racing (we practice with a used TS Racing engine), Stu Haynor of this forum,  MRP, and Peter from OVRP (the kart is a 10+ year old Birel R31). And via a connection through Craigslist, Kaos Karting allowed us to grab some used tires! To this list, I can safely add this forum, and its archives, for being a wealth of knowledge. (It does need a search function though).

      The kart is rapidly getting more stable, reliable, and faster, as I figure it out.

      We’re very excited with the results so far:

      Raif won the first 2015 Leopard Jr race at Englishtown 3 weeks ago, on his third weekend there ever, against kids that have run there for 4-5 years or more.

      This shocked both of us – we did not expect him to be fast out of the box, given the old kart and beginner mechanic, and were merely hoping to finish the race mid-pack, as we did last year in the Yamaha.

      This past weekend, in his first time at OVRP, we found more speed in the alignment, and he was extremely fast, and was fastest of all the juniors (including the Rotax Jrs, and almost all the seniors) in qualifying. (This is on used takeoff YLCs from Kaos’s junk tire pile). We had issues with the gas mix (we were given Rotax mix as I did not know to ask for Leopard mix), resulting in engine bogging, and also with a shifter that was racing in the same class that made a mistake – missed a shift – forcing my son off the track in avoidance of an accident, else he could have won there too on his first club race at OVRP! (Why there was a shifter in his group is a different conversation!)

      I am very surprised by how well he’s taken to the new format, and am scrambling to catch up to give him the equipment he needs, so he can maintain the momentum. So, I hope you understand why I am so driven to have the kart ready for him by the weekend.

      I don’t mean to be a pest, and I hope all the questions are not too annoying for you guys. As the season progresses and we go back to tracks, and figure out who can help us at each track, I suspect that the volume and naivety of my questions will diminish.

      But till then, it’s up to me to be as prepared as I can. So far, my experience has been that at Englishtown, they know Leopards, but not Birels. At OVRP, they know Birels, but not Leopards. I have no choice but to learn both.

      In the meantime, I just got a camcorder, and shot a few videos at OVRP.


      I would certainly appreciate any tips about the chassis setup, or how he’s driving, if you get a chance to view them.

      I really appreciate the support I am getting from this forum. Many thanks. I hope to contribute back to the forum as I learn more.


      Regards, Samir.

    • #47240
      David Cole

      Thanks for the post Samir. Keep diggin.

      David Cole - EKN Managing Editor

    • #47272
      TJ Koyen

      Looks like you guys are doing fine for where you’re at. Just keep chipping away.

      With regards to driving, the only thing I would say is it looks like your son needs a little work driving in traffic. But that’s normal for kids, especially ones who have just moved up. It just looked like he was waaaaay faster than the CRG kart and he rode behind him for two laps or so when he could’ve gone by at least a dozen times. That’s especially bad in qualifying when you need open track, and he caught the guy right during his prime laps on his tires.

      My advice there is not to force it though. Let him build the confidence to make a pass somewhere other than the straight. If he starts to try and force moves he’s not confident of, then he’ll probably misjudge something and end up making contact or going off. Just take it slow, it’ll come to him as he gets more comfortable.

      Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
      Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com

    • #47277
      Samir Shah

      Thanks TJ. He is very cautious and in general a very clean driver. He does not have it in him to bump a driver in front, for example, or make any contact at all. I agree, he needs to work on his passing, and anticipation and setup-for-pass skills, instead of just following.

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