No excuses

A tough weekend at the HMSA Historics. It was pretty obvious early on that we were third fastest on the grid, and that didn’t improve.

Hardware wasn’t to blame, it was the wetware. Yellow jacket ran well. But I made some decisions on and off the track that didn’t work out.

To begin with, I have not done any karting this year. In past seasons, I had a couple months of  karting by now to improve my reflexes, to get into the feel of speed, to get used to flowing with G-forces. Trying to finish “Chalice,” wrapping up some real estate work and personal matters, I decided to forgo that sharpening. It showed. Thinking I could jump into the cockpit after nearly ten months, and be the best I could be, was just stupid.

I did not adequately think through a decision I made about tires. Not Hoosiers vs. Goodyears; Both work fine. But I chose tire sizes that were wrong. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail, but it mattered. Again, my error.

Pre-race preparation was poor: My internal clock, always a little off-kilter during a race weekend, was running too slow. I let myself be distracted. I did not leave myself time to adequately prepare for each session. Which meant  that by the time I got on the track, my head was not where it needed to be for precise shift points, turn-in markers, braking zones. When you are looking for one second in a two-minute lap, this matters.

Previous problems with oiling caused me to make engine changes that should have been reversed after the oiling problem was solved. I didn’t do that.

And it was hot. God, it was hot. 140 degrees on the asphalt, little or no relief even in the shade. Thinking was a chore. I did a few things to take care of myself, but should have done more.

But Yellow Jacket, with engine prepared by John Sartelle, brakes by Jeff Taylor, was in fine form. Had I been able to bring my best game, it might have been a different story.

Hopefully that will be the case in Seattle this next weekend.

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About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

2 Responses to No excuses

  1. Gregg Smith says:

    Grant and I enjoyed seeing you again and we are both very grateful you got off the gas and saved yourself and the yellow jacket from the inside wall. I sold my karts the year because I started to get motion sick after three or four sessions and Grant was loosing interest. If you want to tune up @ Pat’s Acres or McMinnville I have friends with multiple Karts who would be glad to share. Anyway I have faith that you will prepare in a way that will be successful both for your racecraft and enjoyment. If you will be at an event that will allow a passenger during practice, I will be able to scratch off a bucket list item. I don’t have but a few left. Good luck, safe racing, have fun.

    Gregg S. Smith

  2. Erik Dolson says:

    Yes, I was looking at that wall, still carrying way, way too much speed. At one point I thought, “Oh, man, this is gonna to hurt.”

    But by the time my brain finished the thought, my hands and feet had already found the solution. Then I was surprised I was lined up but still whistling into the chicane far too fast, hard on the brakes. I knew I wasn’t going to make the turn, so I coasted over to the worker and worked on getting Yellow Jacket started again.

    Whew! That took a bit of the edge off for a couple of laps!

    Thanks for the kart offer, I’ve got a fresh engine on the floor, just not had any time. I now have more incentive to put it back together and get down to Pat’s. Sorry about you selling yours, but I understand. Life is in session.

    We are up in Seattle now, the competition looks fierce. I couldn’t touch Kunicki in Portland, my home track where I usually have him by about a second, so it’s going to be tougher up here. But we made a couple of changes that might make it more even, and I am no longer driving my first race of the year.

    Thanks for coming out and stopping by to say hello. See you soon.


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