Elias, I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass. “Get better” or “Get better at karting” does not provide enough information for you to make an informed decision about which route to go this season.
Driving your kart (hopefully to it’s limits)
Tuning your kart (hopefully to optimize it’s potential each day)
Competing for position
You say that last year you ran top 5 to mid pack in a 18-25 kart field depending on track. However, you also said that “I never particularly pushed myself at the club level.” Is that really true? You seem to be motivated to get better, so it seems strange that you wouldn’t be pushing yourself to get to the front of the club pack at all tracks. Perhaps that feeling of not pushing is frustration from feeling like your pace has plateaued?
How long have you been about 0.5 seconds off the pace, or from another perspective, how long has it been since you felt like you made significant progress in your driving? Also, what would you say are your strengths and weaknesses regarding driving?
How well do you understand kart tuning, and how confident are you at it? What part of the variance in pace between different tracks do you think is related to tuning and what part is related to driving?
Based on your replies, it sounds like your racecraft is progressing, but there is still more to learn (there always is ).
Anyway, within each of the major categories of karting are MANY interconnected factors that influence your performance… and, of course, the categories are also interconnected. That can make it very difficult to know the areas that need improving, but only you know what’s happening inside your helmet, so you should think carefully and deeply about this.
One last question; have you ever driven a KA100 (or 2-stroke) kart before? If not, stepping up to that, at a Regional event, would seem like a significant challenge. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but with only one shot at it, it seems like it has the potential to be more stressful than fun.
I personally believe that the most fun thing in racing, is learning… taking that step forward, no matter how small. And the most de-motivating thing in racing is stagnation or regression, and not knowing why. So, my advice would be to go find that 0.5 seconds, improve all of your weak tracks, and continue with the great progression you’ve go going in racecraft.
I would agree here. While it sounds good and going faster is always better, the reality is 2 stroke and 4 stroke are not the same.
As I recall you are doing a tent program for your racing correct? If so I might suggest what Dom has done running the rental type karts. I know OVRP would have several endurance races in the past and I would assume they will again this year. There your biggest expense is entry fee and gas money.
AS is usually the case life decisions don’t usualy have easy answers. Do what makes you happy.
Oh I completely understand what you mean. I want to improve in all aspects of karting, but I understand what you mean
With karting, I’m not sure how to push myself. My time in the kart is limited, and there’s not much I can do about that, so race days are when I have to learn. It’s kinda hard for me. With other sports I’ve done, it’s “easy” to push yourself. With taekwondo, I train more during tournament season, I can physically push myself harder when sparring. None of that translates to karting for me
I’d say the last 2 years I’ve probably gained .15 on the leaders. I don’t feel like I’ve made any significant pace changes in the last season.
Tuning wise, I know the very basics. As a tent driver, I have a mechanic, who isn’t very communicative on what changes he does and what they affect. I have put some effort into learning that, but could definitely put more. I understand tire pressure, gearing, and rear and front width. (To some extent)
It certainly is. I honestly think watching national onboards has been very helpful
No I haven’t…
There’s a lot of this when I’m not doing well. I don’t quite know how to find that .5, but occasionally, at the end of a race day, I finally figure something out, and put some things together. Unfortunately, it’s always way too late
Here’s an idea…it sounds like track time has been your biggest opportunity for quite some time. Why not take a different angle and devote your time, energy, and money towards some productive test days? Maybe you have a friend and/or fellow competitor that is at the pointy end of the field and would dedicate some time to lead-follow sessions on a practice day? Why not travel to a place where you can pound out 100-200 laps in a day? Thinking back to my days of inexperience, and trying to develop, the biggest strides came from pounding laps. Having someone there to chase and/or coach you can boost the productivity of those sessions and make it all the more worthwhile. You’re not always going to learn more about driving/tuning in the context of a race. It’s going to require testing and practice. Why not go that route?
So, your first season, how far off did you start from leading pace? Just trying to get an idea what your learning curve looked like for your first season, before it kinda tailed off.
For driving pace (not racecraft) what’s the last significant ‘lesson’/lap time improvement/ah-ha moment you remember, and when did it happen during the season?
Trust your gut (don’t over think this)…what are the one or two biggest driving pace related (not racecraft) things that you are costing you time compared to the fastest guys?
The lack of track time is a huge challenge in all motorsports, so to reach your potential, you absolutely MUST supplement track time with continuous off-track mental training. Think of it this way, your on-track experience tries to teach you if you understand what you’re doing, if you have allowed yourself to feel what you’re doing, and if you have wired your head & heart to be in balance with each other and the kart.
It sounds like maybe you’re starting each weekend over to some extent… not carrying over the balance/wiring you created at the end of your previous race. Even the simple act of visualizing a few of your best laps from your previous race every night when you go to bed, and every morning before you get out of bed will go a huge way to firing neurons that will reinforce your ‘good’ wiring.
I know this sounds like la, la, BS, but when I first started racing, between my first and second weekend of competition I literally rewrote how I dealt with a car that I believed was unstable and oversteering in high speed turns. The car was actually behaving the way it should, I was overreacting. Using imagery training twice a day for 30 days, I completely rewrote how I perceived the data (sensations of the car moving), and how I interpreted what the sensations meant. This one lesson allowed my driving to elevate to the point that I set the lap record my 3rd weekend of competition.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record… if you want to go a step farther, try racewalking, which really is a very effective way of continuous training, and can help you understand and learn from your valuable track time experience.
“Few people even scratch the surface, much less exhaust the contemplation of their own experience.”
— Randolph Bourne
THIS 100%, but more of it. In the same way you want to use imagery to leverage your track time/experience, you should also learn by observation, but make sure you are learning EVERYTHING you can. For example, when you watch the national onboard videos, grab something to use as a steering wheel, and drive along… press the pedals, move your body the way the forces would actually be acting on you, feel the rear tires chirping during the banzai pass, etc.
You’re paying him, right, so get in there and be a PITA. You have a right to know what’s he’s doing and why.
For the Northeast, go club racing at OVRP or to F Series Gearup or State races at NJMP. NJMP is a very nice track. OVRP is old-school, but fun. Plenty of competition at both. You will need to run Tag, although 100cc should be getting stronger.
OVRP has a growing 206 class. Not sure how competitive it is but I noticed that one of the OVRP 206 regulars did very well at the CKNA Winter Nationals. OVRP is an Ignite class but I think you can run a non-Ignite 206. Call to check, I could be wrong.
Another alternative is the Northeast Rotax Trophy series. You can rent an engine for $250/weekend and the series is capped at 1 set of tires quali through the heats to the final which happen over Friday-Sunday. You might be able to sneak across the line for $1000. Competition is good.
As mentioned, there is the Stars 100cc race at NJMP. Should be very competitive. A 100cc is not cheap to buy or rent though.
Think about a quid pro quo with a team. You wrench (or some other skill you have) for them on off weekends and they give you wholesale on tires and give you free transport and a free tent spot and tuning advice. Maybe they will also give you a free rental engine.
If quid pro quo makes sense for you, DM me. I might have an idea.
wow, so, uhhh, after putting all my race data into a spreadsheet, I statistically haven’t improved at all. at least results wise. Id be happy to share the spreadsheet, but theres no way Im giving that data out to the public…
there have been a couple, “oh wow, I can brake a lot later” moments. most of them were my recent season.
Honestly, Im not sure. It takes a decent amount for me to get up to racing speed compared to others.
Very likely. hard to continue progress when there are 3 plus weeks between races
also another likely thing thats happening to me. I rewatch videos a lot, and always find new mistakes, but im not sure how I would rewrite my feelings in the kart.
there was one time where I gained .2 in one turn, and to this day I dont know how, and havent been able to recreate it. it upsets me and keeps me awake.
Ive tried, but probably not hard enough.
I nearly started helping them at the warehouse, but I got hired for another job right before I was about to start.
@E13 this is a great idea. You can go to OVRP on a practice day. Pound out the practice laps with a buddy and then stay for the club race that weekend. You will be racing against some of the top drivers in the country - Adakonis, Cicero, race TAG there. Field is 25-30 strong. Talk to Tim at OVRP and see what you can do work wise for him to earn a discounted on a Rotax Evo rental for the weekend.
I will give you a set of low mileage MG Yellows to practice on.
FYI. I can normally get in 100 laps in 5-6 sessions on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.
I think some consistent and dedicated time spent with data and video review would help. As you said, you don’t know why you go faster or slower sometimes and I think a consistent regimen of looking into that stuff could be beneficial.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’ll get a ton of knowledge from changing to 2-stroke and jumping into “tougher” fields. Or more precisely, I don’t think you will get the knowledge you seek unless you can commit financially to it and spend the time needed getting the more powerful kart under you.
A couple races and practice days, only, will take you in the wrong direction. Like Warren was saying, it will be more about managing a “novel” experience unless it (the kart) has become routine.
I’d rather see you spend your money lapping or improving your sim setup. I like @Paul_Montopoli suggestion re ovrp. Plenty of quick people there and plenty of racing, all classes.