Racin' Mason

Racin' Mason

Monday, October 21, 2013

RACE SEASON 2013... The Downward Spiral

 Racin’ Mason’s 2013 season has come to an end and I’ve been reflecting on the events that transpired during this time.  I haven’t created a blog in awhile due to short posts that are easier to update on facebook.  It might be nice in the future to be able to view the blog posts to remember what we went through during our journey to pursue Mason’s racing career, so here we are.  In 2012 we realized that we attempted to do too much.  We raced locally in two classes and one class on the Burris Thunder Tour.  Even though Mason ended up with a 2nd place points championship at Arthur Raceway, it was too much and we weren’t able to give our full attention to any one direction.  We made the decision for 2013 to primarily focus on the Burris Thunder Tour, running two classes and pop in here and there at the local shows when we could.   

We started this year with all the stars aligned, so we thought.  We had a new kart, new engine, a tire specialist with new tires, a chassis specialist and a full fresh season ahead of us.  Before our first Tour race, our chassis specialist quit the Tour so we were left on our own to figure out how to make the “Freight Train” fast at each particular race.  Our tire specialist helped out a lot with this, but he didn't have much experience with our brand/make of chassis, 2012 Epic Evolution.   He promised he’d get us to the front and it happened on several occasions and for that we are thankful.    Things weren't looking too bad.  Mason raced Ambush Weekend in Owosso, MI and took a first place finish cashing in on $500.  We were ecstatic and really thought things were going great.  The second big event was the Summer Shootout.  We struggled and struggled trying to get his chassis to make some speed.  Finally we hit the numbers just right and Mason was bad fast.  He even pulled off a 2nd place finish.  Unfortunately, this was a non-points event so it didn’t really help us on the tour.  A few local shows later, we ended up having to purchase a new body, even before the 2nd round of the tour.  The local shows are tough on the equipment.  We have a theory on that but I won’t get into that now.  We ran a couple more rounds of the Burris Thunder Tour and seen some things go down that we speculated would eventually hurt the Tour.  We went into round 4 of the tour completely on our own.  Our tire specialist ended up changing “real” jobs and was unable to make it to this race.  He did his best to make sure we had the tires we needed but he wasn’t there to see the track.  Mason drove his heart out and he had 1st place during every race, even if it was just for a few seconds.  The turnout was very low for this event and rumors were swirling that the Tour was going to be cancelled.  We were furious.  If the Tour was cancelled, we just fork out $900 for an engine refresh and a set of new tires for absolutely no reason.  Well, it turns out the promoter clarified those rumors and said the final race will take place due to it being a points series.  Ok good, right?  Wrong!  The Monday prior to the Friday of the last event, the promoter did, in fact, cancel the show due to low entries.  Not only did he cancel the show, he cancelled the Tour altogether.  As of right now, there will no longer be a Burris Thunder Tour.  .  As of right now, Mason is 6th in points.  The points are supposed to be recalculated to throw out the worst race but we aren't holding our breath for that to actually happen.  Karting is not in a good place right now in general.  One of the local tracks, Owosso Kart Speedway is having a hard time with it right now too, and it appears they won't even be running a full season next year.  Where does this leave us? 
I don't have an answer for that question.  I have never seen such a group of quitters in my life.  When we say we are going to do something, we do it.  We gave 110% to our karting program.  I can tell you that we are one of the hardest working teams out there.  I can tell you that we put our blood, sweat and tears into this racing program.  And what do we have to show for it at the end of 2013?  Nothing.  Why?  Because karting quit on us.

We could stay and race back at Arthur Raceway and everyone keeps asking why we don’t.  Remember a little while back when I told you we had a theory on local racing?  Yeah that’s the reason but I’m still not going to get into that.  Just remember, we are trying to advance Mason’s racing career.  He is only ever going to be as good as him competition.  He will become a better driver the more he is challenged.  Our goal is to keep him advancing and find him a racing platform that will allow him to grow and advance.  Unfortunately, karting at this point in time, doesn’t appear to be the answer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


We arrived home from Macon, IL at 4am Monday, June 24th.  The Burris Summer Shootout was on schedule for Friday and Saturday, the 21st and 22nd.  We left Friday morning and arrived at Macon Speedway, geared up to do some racing.  After a rain delay, racing was underway.  Mason started with a few laps of practice, going into qualifying and finally the feature race.  He was the 10th kart on the track in his class, Jr 1, for qualifying order.  His time sat him in 5th position for the feature.  The race started single file and got off to a bad start with a caution not even one lap in.  The race director decided they would restart the race from the beginning, which would put Mason in 5th place, his qualifying position determined by his lap times.  Well, at least that’s how it was supposed to go.  We and I’m pretty sure almost everyone else that was witnessing the event, we dumfounded at the order in which they re-lined up the kids.  I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what happened when they put Mason into the 10th position.  At these large events, however, there is nothing that can really be done about an error like this and what’s done is done.  They restarted the race and Mason got up to 5th place.  Another caution came out and again, he was lined up in the wrong position.   When all was said and done, the official results put him finishing  5th.  Needless to say, we were quite a bit discouraged to have driven all that way to have the race be so messed up.  We did our best to shrug it off and prepared for Saturday’s events.  We arrived at the track nice and early and got everything ready to go.  Practice started and we made it through qualifying for one of his classes before more rain hit.  This time it didn’t let up and we didn’t get to race.  Officials postponed the events for Sunday.  The short amount of time he did have on the track, we struggled.  We just couldn’t find any speed to get where we needed Mason to be.  He’s times were consistent, just consistently slower than the other kids.  After much deliberation and chatting with our peers, we began to doubt the decision we made of purchasing the new chassis…  maybe we should have went with a different brand…  where are we going to get the money to purchase the chassis we need to be competitive?  A million different scenarios went though our heads but we knew we were stuck.  As a team, we made the decision to make a couple big changes to the setup for Sunday’s races.  After all, what did we have to lose?  After Friday’s events, we pretty much knew we weren’t contenders for the big money that was on the line this weekend.  We decided to just treat the weekend as a practice for the Burris Thunder Tour as there weren’t any points on the line.  Sunday rolled around and the officials decided to race the big money races first, in case of more rain.  So Mason began the day with the Jr 1 Pro class.  He qualified in 6th position with barely any difference in times between the 3rd-6th place karts.  They were all very, very close.  We were pretty darn happy and since Mason generally races better than he qualifies, we felt our chances of a top 3 were quite good.  He went out for his race and as his was running in 5th place, was involved in a crash.  He made it another full lap around the track when his kart died.  Rick took the starter out to restart him, but it was no use.  The carburetor bolt pulled out from the motor.  This race was over for him.  Luckily, there were plenty of people around to loan us the tools and help us with the repair to get it fixed for his last race, Jr 1, where he qualified in 2nd!  We couldn’t believe it!  He was going to start the race in 2nd place, in front of the best drivers in his class!  Let me tell you, poor Mason was so nervous starting that race.  (Probably almost as nervous as his mother that was about to throw up during the pace lap.)  Mason was dancing around the pit and so happy.  It was nice to see him that way as we were beginning to see him lose confidence in himself and us as his “crew” due to the struggles we had at this event and previous races.  Before he started the race, I felt as though we had already won due to the great advances we had made from the Friday before.  Had we went home right then, we would have been content with our results.  During the race, there were many cautions and the laps were cut down to once again try to avoid rain.   Mason was able to stay in 2nd place during the race, with Sam Johnson ahead of him and Cole Falloway hot on his trail.   We know we still have a lot of work to do and Mason has a lot to learn but just knowing that we have the capabilities, tools and resources for Mason to be competitive means the world to us. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

7-7-7 Burris Thunder Tour Race #1, 2013


Luck is on our side.  The first Burris Thunder Tour race is now behind us.  We are completely exhausted but had a good time.  We left home at 8:30 AM Friday morning and arrived at Ben Hur Speedway in Crawfordsville, IN at 2:30 PM.  Mason ran the Jr 1 Flathead class Friday evening.  He qualified in 12th position out of 22 karts in the class.  He was a bit timid the first couple times on the track.  Ben Hur is a tough track to drive and they refer to it as “The Fastest Kart Track in the State Of Indiana”.  Mason quickly got it figured out and was able to get the Freight Train up to 7th place when he took the checkered flag.  Due to a kart not passing tech after the race, Mason was bumped up to 6th place for the official results.

Saturday’s races consisted of another Jr 1 Flathead and the Jr 1 Pro classes.  Practice started for the day at 2:30 PM and Mason ran his very last race at 2:00 AM.  He qualified in 7th position for the Jr 1 Flathead feature.  He felt good going into the race and was excited to have the inside line to start.  All 21 karts began the race double file.  After several times of the leader jumping the start, they decided to make them start single file.  We don’t understand this concept.  The leader controls and sets the speed for the pace lap.  Since he failed to do this and kept jumping the start, does it make sense to make the rest of the field start single file, essentially awarding him for his actions?  No, it doesn’t and it wasn’t fair to the rest of the kids.  After a lap or two, the leader changed and a caution came out and they had the same problem again with the leader jumping the start but they allowed him to keep do it.  In our opinion, those kids should have been put to the rear of the field.  They may have actually got in a whole 3-4 laps worth of racing due to the trouble they had with the start and restarts.  After 20 minutes, they called the race and scored it where everyone sat with Mason in 7th.  It was very frustrating to watch.  Many parents were quite angry and very vocal about it.  We feel so bad for Mason and the other kids that didn’t do anything wrong.  We are confident he could have gained a couple more positions if they would have had a chance to actually race.  The reason we ran on Friday was to prepare and get a feel for the track for Saturday’s races and the race was a complete mess.  Unfortunately, what we are expecting to possibly happen for the future races is limit the number of drivers going into the features.  That means not all kids will be guaranteed to race at these events and they will have to race their way into the feature.  This is just speculation on our part but all we do know is that we spend too much time, money and effort for a race to end like the Jr 1 Flathead did. 
Mason didn’t qualify quite as well for the Jr 1 Pro class, with a 16th place start.  We tried a little something different with the tires and gearing and it wasn’t to our advantage.  The feature race for the Jr 1 Pro class ran at 2:00 AM.  It didn’t take long to decide to start them single file once again.  There were a total of 25 kids in the feature race.  Mason drove from 16th all the way to 5th.  At one point, he drove into turns 3 and 4 too hard, got into some soft dirt and lost a few positions.  Before the race ended, he made up one more position and ended with another 7th.  He was exhausted and went back to the trailer and fell asleep in no time.  

It was a good time and we are very fortunate to be able to spend time as a family racing.  It’s also really nice to meet new people and make new friends in the process.  This was really our first real chance to work with our new tire specialist, Eric Askren, Xcel Cuts and we think it’s going to be a great relationship.  He sure knows what he’s doing and is a super nice guy.  We are very lucky to have the opportunity to be part of the Xcel Cuts team.  We are taking Mason’s 7-7-7 finishes as a sign that there are good things to come!

Special thanks to our 2013 sponsors...  Dietrich's Collision, Imlay City; Dietech Tool & Mfg., Imlay City; Don's Auto Repair, Imlay City.