As a subscriber to Firestone Karting Info, you thirst for more knowledge, you are very hands on, and you want to have an edge over your competition. Karting should be about drivers or families working on their own equipment, as it is the grassroots bastard child of racing that receives little respect from those that leave us hardcore karters behind. It is the simplest form of motorsports and a very cost effective way to feel the sensation of high speed cornering and head tilting acceleration (if your kart has a Swedetech engine).
On that note, I am not going to highlight one particular engine package this month, but the complete karting package as a whole. In my opinion, one of the most overlooked resources easily available to karters is the rule book and/or technical regulations available from every major karting series.
Organizations spend hundreds of hours compiling rules and regulations to keep the racers safe, to keep costs under control, and to bring standards to our favorite motorsport. As the main contact person at SwedeTech, I field most of the phone calls and emails. I have the general attitude that no question is stupid. I am constantly communicating with the owner and our technician about engine related technical inquiries. This is how we learn. Every year when the new rule books come out, I order them for the shop and read through the various sections that relate to our engines and customers. Every time I go through the rulebook, I learn something more. For this article I grabbed three of our most referenced rulebooks. It is about a 3” pile of paper, filled with technical jargon, diagrams, numbers, and a lot of dots.
If you are racing in a series, YOU NEED TO HAVE A RULEBOOK for that series. If there is any technical question, race event format, point structure, chassis requirements, engine specifications, etc, it will be in this book. It is even a rule in most rulebooks that you need a rule book with you at the race event. I was participating in an event years ago for a local IKF regional series. Ron Emmick was the tech guy and his post race technical procedure was to bring your rulebook to tech. I’ve never seen so many racers running around like idiots trying to beg, borrow, or steal a rulebook so they would pass tech. The best part was Ron marked each book, so you could not share with a competitor. I thought it was brilliant.
The rule book should be the first publication that you read at the beginning of each year. For example, that new rear plastic bumper you purchased for your chassis has a minimum distance front the bumper to the rear tires. It also has a maximum dimension. It would suck to get disqualified because you mounted the bumper with flat stock and zip ties, then wrapped the zip ties in electrical tape, only to find out it was not within the proper specifications for mounting or within the legal dimension.
What about checking the head volume in your engine? If you don’t know how, don’t call the local kart shop or engine builder, grab the rulebook and read the technical procedures. Many of the rulebooks will explain the CC process as well as many other technical procedures.
I know that it is much easier to call the local shop, or just the first one that happens to answer the phone. You may ask them a question and receive the proper answer. But what if you call that same shop and they misunderstand your question, they don’t know which series you are racing, or you cannot explain to them the exact technical question that you have.
For example, a few years ago there were about 4 sets of Stock Honda rules floating around. Depending on the part of the country you were in, it could make a big difference on the technical regulations. One series called out for stock, OEM direct replacement reeds. Another series specified a range of model years that were legal for the Stock Moto. One series allow for open reeds, but did not allow for reed stiffeners. At that time, if you didn’t know the rules and you ordered reeds online from SwedeTech, there could have been a good chance that your reeds were not legal.
If you want the proper answer, you need to do the research. I have found many times that someone will call and ask a tech question on something they should know. If you are racing any series, as a competitor it is your responsibility to know and understand the rules.
Do a little exercise right now. Grab your current rulebook for the series you are racing in next. Randomly open the book to any page. Read those two pages and ask yourself if you learned anything new. If the answer is yes, think about how much information is contained in the other 136 pages.
As an engine shop, our noses are constantly buried in the rule book. At the end of a race, what is the most common item that is scrutinized? It is not the driver or the chassis, it is the engine. If we make a mistake, our customers are greatly affected. We have a great reputation for quality and our service, and a huge reason is because we know and understand the rulebook. You can better play the game if you know the rules.
Years ago I worked for a kart shop that started an in house engine blueprints service. They hired an “engine builder”, purchased a dyno, stocked the shelves with engine parts, etc. There was one HUGE problem. The engine builder didn’t understand the rulebook. There was one particular engine that he spent many hours and even more dollars on developing. He had swapped the OEM ignition for an aftermarket one. One big problem, the rules specified that the ignition stator and flywheel assembly must be OEM. Dollars and hours were wasted by this company because an employee did not understand the rulebook.
I field many questions on a daily basis that are easily answered in the rule book. I have seen people disqualified from events because they didn’t understand the rules. My job is to help people, but it is your responsibility to arm yourself with the proper knowledge. In many cases, this knowledge is very easy to access if you take the time to read it.
So before you decide to build a custom fairing, or machine the head on your stock Honda, or run a 1.5mm thin walled axle, or run a fuel pump driven off the axle, or any other creative idea that might strike you at 3am in the morning, read your rulebook.
And in closing, how did that earlier exercise work for you? Did you learn something new?