Those that attended Shasta Kart’s October 10th race were treated to one of the best kart races a driver or spectator could ever hope to witness. 15 Senior Animals lined up on grid on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to run a seldom used track layout, run in reverse. Since few have logged a high volume of laps on this layout, the choice proved to create a very level field amongst competitors. Of course fence-sitters eagerly awaiting the start shared concerns about the potential for a New York traffic jam going into turn one, along with a few other “pinch-points” around the 4/10ths of a mile layout, but I’ll get back to those tight turns later. As the karts were gridding up, the usual talk amongst drivers was a bit more subdued, partly because this physically demanding layout had taken some of the energy out of even the fittest or drivers. After settling in two by two, engines were started, and the thunderous roar leaving the grid (which is one of the coolest aspects of the race) signaled those yet to leave the pits that the feature would soon begin.
Jim Azbil on pole, Keith Foux along side, followed by Zac Cavert & Scott Charlton, Jennifer Charlton & Zack Potts, Jeff Havens & Willie Wild, Julie York & Dave Quintel, TerriLynn Wilhelmson & Richard James, Dave Doubleday, Justin Foux, and Loudon Amlin rounded out the field. A slow approach to the green flag created hopes that all would survive turn one, and spectators were not disappointed when each wiggled through without incident. This track is quite technical, with 11 turns testing chassis set-up, and driver concentration, so any momentary lapse would create opportunity for the closest competitor to move up a spot. After the 3rd lap, it became clearer who would challenge for the win. 4 karts separated, Azbil, Foux, Cavert, and Charlton were running nose to tail flawlessly. On lap 6, Azbil opened the door for Foux with a wide approach into turn 1, but quickly closed it again, only to be faster on exit and maintain the lead. Meanwhile, Cavert was also looking for the slightest of openings, drafting Foux (two karts, working together can be faster than one) in an effort to get a run on the leader. The front 4, still bumper to bumper, until a bobble by Cavert created separation for 3rd & 4th. Charlton had to check-up to avoid contact, then lost contact with the leaders. Cavert not only regained lost track position, but tried to do a slide-job under Foux into turn one, only to have the door shut by the second place #10 kart. While this was going on, Jennifer Charlton was in a battle of her own as the guys behind her were doing all possible to get around that “wide” kart in 5th place. Finally Zack Potts was able to take over the position going into turn one, along with a few others that took advantage of the opportunity.
The beauty of kart racing, several sub-plots make up the story. Individual battles between Dave Doubleday & Richard James are always entertaining, and cannot overlook Willie Wilds & Jeff Havens. These two ALWAYS end up turning similar lap times, regardless of layout. One of the better moments of the weekend, Julie York’s continuing improvement to the point of challenging for positioning, and smooth cornering demonstration. For a relative new-comer to karting, she has demonstrated some impressive skills, along with Terrilynn Wilhelmson’s continued improvement with each & every race she runs. Gotta say, our 3 lady-drivers in the field are a pleasure to watch!
Back to the lead pack. It’s starting to get really interesting for our three up front. With 14 of 20 laps counted, it’s become obvious that lap traffic on this short track will play a part in the outcome. Carl Schutte is standing next to me, and as if a spotter for a NASCAR team, he’s offering advise as to which line will be the best tip-toeing around back-markers. As the leaders approach our oak-tree turn, they’re 3 wide, and a forth kart is trying to give them room. The look on Schutte’s face is priceless, we both know the chances of someone running over a rear wheel, then looking at blue sky is way past possible, but inevitable. The only one’s that weren’t worried, our lead 3, they stayed side by side! This chess match went on through traffic for the remainder of the race, each giving the other room to race, as the craziest race lines (that included passing attempts off track) one could ever hope to watch unfolded before an energized crowd of spectators until the checked flag fell.
In a perfect world, there would be no rubbing or bumping in racing, each would respect the others earned space, and a minimum of 55” would be left for another kart driver when challenging for position. That friends, is when a beautiful dance begins. Drivers racing around the track side by side requires much more skill than most can fathom, and when a racer experiences that moment, they’re forever changed, then hungry to do it again. We had such an experience last weekend, and our club, along with the many witnesses trackside are better for the experience. It matters less who won the race, only that respect for fellow racers went up, along with a fun-factor that will not soon be forgotten. I guess that’s the beauty of club-racing. All wanted to win, but creating a positive experience for others to enjoy was of higher priority, then carried the day.
I commend those that took part, along with countless other who have laid the foundation. Thanks for the positive memories, they are the main ingredient to a healthy club.