WDMS Chapter 184


Dallas Karting Complex

24 July 2011


Track map on left, and a contingent of VomoFolks on the right


(Note: Yes, I know...long time no update! I've been stupid busy and while I've hit a few autocrosses, nothing motorsports-worthy has happened. A trip to California , the Circus, Fort Worth Zoo, etc... However, I finally got back into a competitive seat and here is the tale)

Running the chipper...for hours. The awesome BBQ pit had a vulture thing on top and with the clear sky and flags I thought it made a nice picture

It was pre-dawn on Sunday the 24th of July. DFW is somewhere in the 15+ days at over 100 degree heat and today would be no different. I was exhausted and sore at 0615 when I fumbled around to tell my iPhone to snooze me for another 10 minutes. The previous day I had taken part in Day 1 of the VomoDemo! Vorshlag Motorsports is moving into an awesome 4000sq ft shop but the new place previously held some offices that would not be needed. Walls to knock down, tile to remove, blah blah. I put in a good shift running the tile chipper machine thing and it flat wore my hands and forearms out. I was using my hip to push it a lot and have a HUGE bruise there too. The tile was double stacked even, with a fresh layer covering up one that had burn marks and melted glue underneath. Sometimes it was good when I could get a half an inch of tile up. Oiy! However, there was a LOT of folks helping and by the end of the day a TON of work had been done. After the workout, it was time for a buddy’s pool party with backyard grilling action and pool festivities with the kids! Great way too cool off for sure. Didn't get home until late and I very quickly drifted back to sleep.

10 minutes later my iPhone again reminded me that it was time to get up. I seriously contemplated not going. In the end, a quick shower woke me up, I slapped on some clothes, grabbed my helmet bag and Miss and I were east bound in less than 15 minutes as I snacked on an apple. An hour later I pulled into the new Dallas Karting Complex, mostly in a daze. My forearms still sore, hands beaten by the tiny handles on the chipper, and shoulders toast from throwing kids all afternoon in a pool battle of 'King Of The Hot Tub' (I won...heh).

FYI: The skill of the driver is inversely proportional to the presence of a camera. At least that's what I noticed that day...

There were 52 of us showing up that day for the Vorshlag Karting Challenge and I was happy to get to play. Matt at Vomo had some issues with his back and ribs the day before and kindly offered me his spot and I jumped at the chance. I've not been karting in 5+years and was wondering if my arms and hands could last an entire session. Those of you that have karting experience know it really taxes the forearms and grip and after my workout the day before I was hesitant. Regardless, I went inside, registered and paid my money and waited. We were broke into 4 groups of 13 and I would be in the final group for practice, along with Fair and Amy. I knew a few folks there, but not a ton. I snapped pics with Fair's camera and took it easy. It looked to be a great track and the drivers were certainly having fun. In between a few of the early groups the owner of the track took a small group of karters around the track in an oversize off road golf cart thing and took the time to show them the fast line, what corners to brake for, how to setup for specific corners, etc. I was snapping pics and wishing I knew that information.

Fair (standing) telling McCall (#13) "Just pass the guy in front (Ken O.) of you and go really really fast!"

So we went out for the practice session and I intentionally started last in our group. Since I did not get one of the first karts, I hung back on the two recon laps and let folks pass me. I left a pretty big gap after the car in front of me went and then launched. The car was stupid loose (loose = where the back of the kart hits the wall first, tight = where the front of the kart hits the wall first) the first few laps and I was wondering how folks were driving these things and then the rear tires came in and the car handled decent. Not great mind you, but decent. With about 2 laps in I started catching traffic. Oiy. Over the last 4 laps I passed four folks and really didn't feel like I got a decent lap. Yes, I was doing ok, but you still lose a bit of time passing folks. Coming in I was pretty bummed. My best time was a 74.0 with the fast folks in the mid 72s. This was not going to fly. I'm pretty competitive, but I'm also a realist. My forearms were toast and my hands were killing me...my hands shook just trying to take a drink from my cup of water! I fully realized a lot of the folks here kart a good bit and I was way out of practice and it was a new track to me, but I like to be somewhere near the front and wasn't feeling like I was. After the first 3 groups went out again for qualifying, our group went out. I ended up in the last kart so I really waited after the second to last kart went. And then I waited some more. Then I launched and tried to put the track together with a good run. Same thing again with a loose kart for the first few laps and then once the tires came in it handled good. Not nearly the same as my first kart, but not bad. I had to relearn and adjust for turn in points and such, but it was decent. Sadly, 3 laps in I caught folks who had spun or were slow and for the next 5 laps I caught and passed 5 karts. UG. The times were much better though as I put down a 72.7 and felt I was still leaving time on the track, as well as traffic costing me a small bit. Checking times, I went from 1.3 seconds behind out leader to only .38 second back. Not bad!

Amy (#13) passed #4 on the entrance to the previous corner and will be putting down #3 in another few seconds

Now that everyone had qualified, they ranked the 52 drivers into four race groups. The last (slowest) 13 would race first in the 'Driving Miss Daisy' race. Then the next batch of 13, then the third batch of 13 and then the fastest 13 would race. I hoped I was in the top 13. As an incentive, the winners of the first three races all got to bump up to the next race. So, hopefully I was in the top 14 so if I was in the second fastest race group I had a shot at winning and could race in the 'fastest' group also. As the spots were called out, I ended up 11th fastest, gridding behind Fair in 10th who was .012 of a second in front of me. We agreed no team orders (heh), but also agreed to run friendly and help each other if we could. While the first three race groups ran I took plenty of action pictures and hydrated as the heat of the day was completely upon us.

<Inigo Montoya> "I hate waiting" </Inigo Montoya>

So we suit up for battle and head out in our thundering 16hp machines. I was one of the last ones to be assigned and the only seat insert left was only a half-back insert with the right side completely missing. I thought about not using one at all, but it left 2" per side between my hips and the sides of the seat, so I'd just have to tough it out with my right ribs hitting the pointed seat corner. It already hurt taking the car out of the paddock so this would be interesting. I had not driven this kart and didn't really have a clue how it handled. The second race of the day had seen a huge pileup in turn one of lap one and it was a mess. I was hoping that it would not happen for us. This will be a gridded standing start like F1 and we cruise out to our spots. No lights, but the green flew and 14 of us dropped the hammer. I was on the inside and quickly found out that the 4th place person had an issue that resulted in them not going anywhere and so the field on our side of the grid swerved madly to avoid the dead kart. Turn one was a mostly clean affair with some light touching but nothing serious. Fair was beside me in the corner, but had a better exit so I ducked in behind and stayed there and had a faster t3 and pushed him along a bit. We chose correct for the next bunch-up corner and both moved up. Sadly, he went wide in the next corner and I stayed tight picking off a few folks. By the time we were coming back to the main straight I was on fire and on the tail of the lead pack. Till they stopped us all. I glanced up to see I was in SIXTH. 11th to 6th inside the first lap. Wow. Sadly, they re-gridded us in our original spots, replaced the dead kart and gave us an 'installation lap' and then as we came around the front we bunched up again. I was expecting us all to stop, but the green flew and I was not in the best position. Actually, I was pretty far back since I had no clue we were changing start styles. Oh well, time to put my head down and go to work. I picked off a few on that first lap and a few more on the second. I was going into one of the few corners that you have to brake for and got tapped as I turned in. I knew instantly it was going to be close. I may make the corner, but I may not. Worst case I hoped to only put two tires off (I'd not put any off all day) and continue, but sadly the two that dropped did so in a place where there was a drop off to the dirt of several inches. The back end started to rotate as I crossed the rumble strips on exit and I corrected and went back across the track still mostly in control, but heading for a four-off for sure. Ug. Off I went, slowed it down, avoided a plastic pipe thing in the dirt and, after glancing for clear track and seeing Fair scoot by, I reentered the race in last. Simply wonderful. Not.

Start of the fastest group. The first start. Where I OWNED. It was short lived...

So, nothing to do but put my head down and go to work. The kart was handling pretty well once I got the dirt off the tires and I began to pass folks. I snuck past a pair, then a few singles, then Fair and then the guy just in front of him as Fair tagged along with me to get him right after me. Snuck by another one in a very slick under-braking move and then I realized we likely didn't have a lot of laps left. I could see the leaders across the track and for the last few laps they were in the same spot each time. They were not putting any distance on me, but I wasn't catching them either. I was already anxious to see the lap times, but was focused on really trying to get one more pass before the end of the race. Didn't happen and I finished 8th in the 'big race' of the day.

Working my way back up through the field. I was last in this little group two turns ago. Fair (red shirt) went with me as we climbed the charts

I was bummed to not finish better; I was beat to heck on my ribs where the bare seat had put dozens of blood blisters on my side. I was hot and tired and exhausted. My forearms were pumped. I was smiling though, and this had been a lot of fun. I knew I had run times with the leaders and I was anxious to see the results. First session I was about 1.3 seconds off the fast folks. Second session I was down to three tenths and some of that was still in traffic. Stepping out of the cart I was looking forward to lap times since it is all I had as my race was literally punted out from under me. The final kick in the teeth is “we didn’t get lap times”. Really? How does that happen?

Yeah, when your seat does not have a liner this happens. My left ribs. This was taken 2 days after the event. Still sore. Srsly.

Overall, I'd rate the event an A- for sure. Nice building with great AC, good selection of stuff and plenty of room for everyone. Great track to drive, good karts, very good folks working the event and a good atmosphere. Not having enough usable seat inserts for all of us is not cool. Not having working timers is absolutely not cool. We are competitors and not knowing our times is simply not excusable. Lastly, the track needs to be friendly to dropping a tire off and not hooking the edge. The dirt needs to be even with the track and packed down. On their behalf, this is a new thing and I'm sure they are working out the kinks, I just hope they can work them out quickly.