Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Loooooong Weekend

Virginia International Raceway (VIR) is one of two tracks the Woodbridge Kart Club races on each season (the other being Summit Point Raceway in West "By God" Virginia). It is the Ritz-Carlton of road courses offering an immaculately maintained, challenging and thrilling track along with the best state-of-the-art facilities. For a little less than half the value of William Jefferson's (D-Louisiana) freezer contents, you too can spend an action-packed weekend in Danville, VA!

A view from the flag stand at racers gridding.

We normally drop the green flag from the pits with the karts starting from a dead stop. At the insistence of a bunch of whiny sprinters, the Club reluctantly agreed to try a "rolling start" for 6 of the 14 groups that raced over this weekend. It actually turned out pretty cool and I managed to get some shots of the starts.

Each race group contains two or more classes that are similar in speed and kart configuration. The classes run the gamut from Briggs powered Cadet Karts driven by 8 to 12 year olds (new for this year) to twin-250cc Gearbox "Honest! I was going so fast I couldn't see the red flag" speed demons.

Mandatory Drivers' meeting before each group goes out.

Each kart is equipped with a transponder that emits a unique signal which is picked up by the electronic scoring system as the kart crosses the "loop" buried under the asphalt at the Start/Finish line. The drivers provide the transponder number along with their driver profile data in the registration process.

The race director gives the signal: One Minute to Flag!

The Club saves all the driver/kart data in an MS Access db so the racers and registration workers don't have to re-enter everything each weekend, just the classes. This data is then sent race-by-race via our wireless intranet to the scoring computers.

The Pace Car: a Mercedes-Benz Kompressor provided by sponsor American Service Center proceeds to pit-out.

As part of the new "rolling start" change, the classes involved were also allowed to partake in qualifying sessions on Friday night. Qualifying for grid positions is SOP for short track racing, but it's never done (to my limited knowledge) in enduro racing (on long road courses/super speedways). You start from the position in which you registered - first come, first served.

The gridman sends karts out after the pace car.

This new wrinkle meant that the starting line-up for all the classes in 6 groups had to be re-ordered from the qualifying sessions prior to sending the race data to scoring.

Race Director Brandon Taylor cuts 'em lose!

I mention all this technical stuff because I spent 12 hours each day (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) as well as four hours Thursday night in Registration covering for the two paid workers who didn't show up. I only got to pop out and start TweetiePie in the first of his three races (the one he WON! Yippee!) and to take some pics of the rolling starts.

A few drivers refuse to lift and try taking turn 2 five wide on the first lap. The result: Doh! a few drivers sit out the rest of the race watching from the grass.

So, I didn't get to relax and play "pit-babe", I didn't get to blog from the track, I didn't take anywhere near enough pictures of family, friends and karts. I did spend three and a half days with a few hundred of the best people on the planet.

Note to self: If I start racing again, I won't be so apt to "volunteer" my entire weekend away from the team.