Again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. There is a good reason for it though.
I love driving, and racing. It’s my a favorite thing to do. If I could, I’d make a career out of doing it. Karting is really the way that I express my enjoyment about my passion. Simply put, karting is awesome.
However, honestly, I haven’t had that much fun lately. Like really haven’t been having fun. It’s been frustrating, and I couldn’t figure out why. So I decided to write a post about it to see if it would help me clear my head. (This post might not even stay up long…or it’ll stay up forever. Who knows.)
When it came down to it, there has been one overarching theme that has been following me for the past year –Engine Reliability.
One of the things that has been plaguing me since the summer of last year has been engine reliablity of the current engine packages that I’ve chosen. Between my X125 and the PRD that I’ve owned, I’ve broken down out of three races and at least four practice days, which eats up a large amount of my running time for the year.
Every kart track is at least an hour to two hours away from me, so every trip to the kart track is at least four hours of commuting time, in order to get some practice in. Depending on my schedule, it can be several weeks before I’m able to get back into the kart again to practice, which means that every track day that I lose at the track is a large percentage of my annual practice time gone.
I don’t have the luxury to be able to spend every day at the kart track. I have to work. I know several people who don’t have to work, and so if they have an engine problem or an issue, they can just come back the next day and start working on it.
I need to have an engine that’s reliable, so I can get in a useful amount of laps to learn something new about my chassis or about my driving style. I personally just need more time behind the wheel of my kart to get more competitive, so I can’t spend the time on the side of the track with a broken motor. If I travel to an away race that’s far away, I don’t want to have to spend all day worrying if my engine is going to make it through every heat race. That’s a lot of time sitting and watching other people race, if it breaks. (I really hate doing that.)
Plus it’s a downer, when people remember you more for breaking down in races, than finishing well them. It doesn’t make me feel very good, because I really want to be seen as a good driver. So when my engine lets me down, I can’t just go on where I “think I would have finished.”
The problem really isn’t just the number of times that my engine have broken. It’s the fact that I’ve gotten used to them breaking, I’m now expecting it to happen, and so I’m not looking forward to driving it. So now my confidence in the product that I have is low, and it’s not as enjoyable to use. I don’t need to be sitting next to a timebomb, while I’m trying to put laps in.
So, bitching aside, what am I going to do about it?
- Solution 1: I purchased a used IAME X30 engine package. I heard that the X30s are pretty reliable, so I’m going to run one for a while and see if that’s true. If it is, I’m going to get another one, so I can have a spare engine when I’m at the track for larger races. The goal would be eventually to have engine build by a shop like Tru-Tech, but that requires more budget.
- Solution 2: I’m working with a colleague to get some seat time in an LO206 four-stroke for some extra seat time during the year. Although much slower than my TAG kart, the LO206 should be much more simple and reliable to provide me with extra seat time.
- Solution 3: Work to partner with some sponsors for the year, and provide value for them. With a more flexible budget, I can get spare engines and other things that won’t make any engine failure such a traumatic event.
Looking back on it, the majority of issues that have been taking the joy out of karting for me has been dealing with engine reliability to a degree that any other product would be found to be of unacceptable quality. Karters seem to deal with it some times because “that’s just the way it is”.
That doesn’t make it any fun when you spend half the season with your kart in pieces.
Needing to improve as a driver, I can deal with. Being able to get the seat time will help me improve my driving, and so over time that problem starts to go away. It’s something that I can directly control. Laptime suck? Don’t worry, just change your setup and drive more. That’s all great, but if the engine isn’t running, then I can’t get the seat time I need to improve while others do. Then it takes longer to catch back up, and everything gets stuck in a vicious cycle.
Don’t get me wrong. I really really like racing TAG. I like the speed, and the skill that it takes. What I’m hoping is that by changing engines…again, I can find a package that is reliable, and I can trust to run more frequently. If I had that , then I would start being interested in being able to run races that are farther away, drive new tracks again and enjoying karting like when I started.
Karting, for me, needs to be fun. (It’s one of the reasons that I’ve been pushing the #keepkartingfun hashtag on social media for groups like KartPulse.) Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
I’m going to find a way to fix this problem, because I’m not giving myself any other choice.