Pole Position Jersey City – Winter Racing Series 2012 – First Race

Its been some time since I have written to you guys.  Happy holidays and a happy new year to you all.  I have been go karting like a mad man.  60 times since October 1, 2011.  My local go karting track, Pole Position Raceway (P2R) of Jersey City created a Winter Racing League.  10 drivers, 4 races, 4 different tracks.  I signed up and last night was the first race of the series.  Here is my experience.

I was pretty nervous going into the race last night, not because I feared my own abilities, I know that I can put down some good lap times, my fear was that perhaps there were others that I had never raced with that could put down even better lap times than I could. Either way, I went and was greeted by familiar faces at PP – the employees.  Everyone I was racing with, I had no idea who they were.

So I walk in, and I see a bunch of older guys.  I am thinking – ok muscle car owners? these guys have no chance. then i see they all have their own helmet and they are not open faced – so i say, ok Motorcycle guys – could be different – as those guys have no understanding of whats safe and whats not safe – they go balls to the wall.  ok this could get interesting.

we wait until 7:30 and meet up with Harrison (tall dude always wearing black).  he went over the points rules (17.5 points for p1 in qualifying – 35 points for p1 in race -time doesn’t matter during the race – and 3 points for fastest lap of the night in either qualifying or race).

pretty much the breaks in between the races are either 1 race or 5 minute break.

so on came practice. i let people pass, warmed up the tires for 1 lap, and off we went. i managed a 21.380 or something in practice. p1.

qualifying came – since i had qualified p1, i was out first. spent the first lap warming up, but thats when i ran into issues. not with the kart, but with the fact that there were 10 people on the track.  i was catching up with people so quickly, there was traffic every lap! so the best i could muster was a 21.440 over and over. then saw my name slip to 2nd, as someone hit a 21.410. i buckled down and aimed for a low 21.2, but could only manage a 21.340.  P1 for the race.

then came the race.  a bit nerve wracking since this was 9 people that i had never raced with. i had no idea what they would do, or how they would react in certain situations.  when we drive on the track in our real cars, we prefer to drive with people we know, so there is a sense of predictability.

either way, it was too late for that so we lined up on the grid. off we went. no problem in turn 1. the inside line is good enough, but since the tires are cold and you have to lift, if you want to be a dick about it in p2, you could really take that hard and see what happens. i have yet to do that, would like to and see how that works.  i move away from p2 and p3. i have about a kart length.  this is when i ran into more issues.  the front right tire was low or SOMETHING was off about the car. on my 2nd lap, the car just felt so bad. not cold tires bad, but almost moving to the right bad.  something about the front end felt very light.  i had to fight through that.

i kept going and the guy who qualified p3 moved to p2 and he was on my ass the entire time. now i wasn’t trying to set a fast lap, i was protecting my lead and closing the door every turn.  trying to be as consistent as i could be and make zero to no errors.

now comes the most annoying part about the winter racing series. traffic.  by lap 12 of the 15 lap race, i was coming up on p10.  it was a nicer older guy so i didn’t want to spin him, but what i did want to do was pass him in a place where only I could pass him and p2 would have to be held up behind him or something along those lines – so i could build a gap and then turn on the afterburners and try to make the gap bigger with the remaining 3 laps.

it was the final hairpin on track 1 – so the one before scoreboard straight. i was coming up on p10 hard and took the inside line which led me to understeer out of the turn. unfortunately p10 moved to the right instead of maintaining his line, so p2 also slipped through. so there i was, p1 middle of the track and i see p10 on my right rear bumper and i see p2 on my left rear bumper.  i had to hold him off.  on the main straight near the kink right under the scoreboard, i moved to the left so he had no choice but to brake or spin me out. at that point i needed to close the door on him.  it worked, he braked and he lost some time, but was still at a good pace behind me.

2 more careful laps and i finished first.  he actually ran a better time on the race than i did – he got a 21.340 where i managed a 21.4 (clean racing lap)

conclusions:

the winter racing series is interesting.  would i endorse it? yes for the race stories. its a good time. you have drivers who know what they are doing and look at the flags.  the level of competition is pretty good as well!

traffic – its a part of racing, but it comes up really quickly on you. especially when the races are 15 laps long, u come up to traffic in the 10+ lap point, and thats when it gets dicey if you are battling with p2. fortunately, these guys are good guys, and during qualifying and practice, if they saw a blue flag, they moved over immediately.

racing vs. arrive and drive.  honestly, i prefer arrive and drive right now, maybe i will change my mind later on in the series. I find that its nicer to go there with your buddies and set lap times.  obviously racing is another beast and way more strategy goes into place, but I’ve been in the mind set of trying to beat a specific time, so i was happy i had a p1 sweep, but somewhat unhappy that i had to share ftd (fastest time of day).  my goal isn’t to win, its to dominate with no mercy (strike first, strike hard, no mercy).

All in all, it was a great time.  I really enjoyed the level of competition and can’t wait for next weeks race – Track 2.  Time to practice.

Here is the video of the first race:

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