I had my last go kart race last weekend. It was a WKA national race in Kershaw, South Carolina. It was a three day weekend, Friday was practice, Saturday was a race, and Sunday was too.
On Friday we were running great, about a second to half a second faster than everyone else. We chose to not run the money race of Friday because if you won, you got a free rebuild for your motor, and we just got our motor rebuilt and it was our last race, so we decided to save tires and our engine. Mostly to not let anyone know my line. I did watch the race though, all day, I had the fastest time at a 54.5, and the second fastest time was on a brand new set of tires at a 54.6. At that point we were feeling very confident about the Saturday and Sunday races, because we didn't have on new tires yet.
On Saturday, we went out in the one and only practice session on the old tires, and everyone else had on the new tires from Friday and I was still quickest by one tenth. In qualifying, we went out on a brand new set of tires and qualified fifth at a 55.2 and the pole sitter had a time of a 54.6 again. We were questioned by these results because everyone else went out on new tires too. We were told that our tire pressures were too low, about a pound or so. We thought that was why we finished so bad. In the heat race, we went out, on higher pressures and the kart was still pushing. I finished fourth and I was barely fast enough to keep up with the front pack. In the feature race, we were still questioned because our fastest time was a 54.9, and that was with a draft. When I started the feature race, I got shuffled back to 7th. I fought my way up to fifth, but by that time, the front pack was gone. The kart was still pushing and I fell back to 6th at the finish with a best time of a 55.4. After that, we heard that there was a rumor going around that front tires with a barcode on them were three tenths slower than the ones without them. We looked and our new front tires had a barcode, and the practice tires didn't have them on, so on Sunday, we bought new front tires without barcodes.
On Sunday we put the practice tires back on in the only practice and we were back down to 54.6 and everyone else was 2-3 tenths slower than me. So in qualifying, we put the new fronts on and we were back to fifth with a 55.0. So the barcode did help about a tenth, but first still had a 54.6. In the heat race, I made the decision to switch back to the old tires and Santa was back, I made my way to third with, trying to not pass them (starting 3rd in the feature is best) with the quickest race lap time of 54.4, and I finished third. In the feature race, the tires were finally worn out with eleven heat cycles on them and I stayed in third and could barely keep up with the top two. On the last lap, the leader went off the track and I passed him. I finished the race in second. We were then told that it was pushing because we had the kart set up on old tires and new tires gave it too much grip so it had to push. If we would have given the kart a setup for new tires, maybe I could have had a quick time of a 53.9, although the chassis is 3 years old and likely flexing where it shouldn’t by now.
It was an emotional weekend for me knowing that I would probably never see my kart racing friends again, but at some point, you have to move on, and now is that time. We will be doing Legends and only Legends next year.