To those who own their own racing kart, you know how much work goes in to keeping it in tip-top condition. Imagine having to do that to 50 of them. In fact, as some of you may be aware, Daytona has over 250 karts in our fleet.
For Round 1 of the 2012 Vodafone DMAX Championship a team of about 20 people had a hand in just preparing the karts to race. A huge amount of work gets done in the lead up to the event with an exhaustive list of things to check and test. Once the engineering team has finished their checks and maintenance schedule, each of the karts gets track tested. The track testing is done by some of our top, experienced staff members and each kart is timed and scored in a number of areas. Any anomalies are recorded and then downloaded to the engineers for evaluation.
It takes around 2 days of solid testing to prepare for a championship event. Sometimes, Mother Nature makes a mockery of us all; for round 1, all the testing was completed on Thursday and Friday with a dry track and ambient temperatures of around 14deg. Racing engines are fickle, and each combination of carburettor and engine demands a slightly different set-up. You can’t set every engine up identically and expect the same performance. For example, one engine might like a larger main jet than another, some prefer a different air bleed position, some might even need a different restrictor size and all of those variables are – to a large extent – dependent on the atmospheric conditions. That’s why on Sunday with an ambient temperature of around 3 deg it meant that a handful of karts didn’t start the day as fast as they had been during the previous week. It’s a relatively easy job to re-jet a carburettor so when a customer suggests that a kart is down on power, we can fix it fairly quickly.
Each one of the engines is rebuilt by one of the world’s leading and most experienced kart racing engine experts to give us the best chance of keeping engine performance parity. However, every motor is slightly different so you might experience one kart with a bit more bottom end pull and another with a top end power but generally, over a lap they tend to even themselves out.
Running as many karts as we do, we notice patterns of reliability issues fairly quickly. For example, customers have a habit of ‘kerbing’ the karts quite often and many of you will have been given the warning board to try to dissuade it from happening. This isn’t because we don’t want you to have a fast lap, it’s because we don’t want your wheel falling off. Kerbing the karts does unseen damage to any number of parts but especially the wheel bearings. We routinely change the wheel bearings every month to mitigate the problem but we’ve now gone one further and designed our own wheel.
Unlike the die-cast, 2 bearing standard wheel, we are beginning to change over to a pressure cast, heat-treated 3 bearing wheel that should make wheel/bearing failure a thing of the past. Similarly, in response to a number of brake problems that occurred last year, Daytona is now making its own brake pads that increase the life by approximately 150%. They also have better stopping power and are less prone to bonding failure. The brake system is pressure tested and bled through before every event and often during the event should someone cook their brakes!
Having done everything we can to make every kart as good as we can, racing is racing and problems do occur. If you have experienced problems with kart performance at any of our Daytona circuits, know that we are always doing our utmost to make sure that our customers have the best karts at the best venues on the best tracks in the country.