Newbie To Ff Midgets
Posted 29 July 2003 - 12:51 PM
Posted 30 July 2003 - 04:17 PM
I'm far from an expert, but I worked with a very accomplished racer and I think I can give you some general hints, that will help you.
Number one you got to have the motor. Depending on what state you're in, you will need an "EXPERT",
to dial in the motor at the track. Keith at "SCREAM", who is the exclusive engine builder for the Focus Series, comes to the races in California and helps shim and jet the motor, so you won't burn it up.
Number two, the chassis, I think it would be advisable to run the type of frame everybody else is running. Anybody at the track can help you. But most importantly you must set up a repoire with your chassis manufacturer so you can set up the car and dial it in each week. Of course if you can hook up with and accomplished racer to guide you that is the best advice.
In our example we bought a used TCR chassis. TCR gave us the basic set up, which for two races we used. Now we are ready to go to the next level and using the advice of experts in the field, we will make a bar change.
I can't stress the importance of finding experts in the field and using their advice.
Gear changes. Every track you will have to pick the right gear for the track. Again other racers
running that track can help you. But even if you use the same gear as everybody else, you make want a different one.
At the first race we went to we changed the gear three times. Again, we borrowed the gears until we found the one we liked. Then we bought that gear. Again, we were shooting for a rev range of 7000 rpm. A nice safe rev
range for the Focus Motor.
Extra parts. You will definitely need the spacers that adjust the tires in and out. An a aluminum jack is a must.
I think on extra tire and wheel for the front and one tire and wheel for the Right Rear and left Rear would be a safe bet.
Other people can tell you more.
Shocks. We plan on running two complete setups for front shocks. Two set of coil overs and shocks for the front end. As I have said we just have one set of shocks and springs that we have been using at present. We haven't had to make a shock or spring adjustment yet. We are learning about the car and are ready to go racing and start making changes.
So to sum it up. We bought a good use car/roller with a lot of spares. We got a whole new front end in the deal. A couple extra wheels. A couple set of shocks and some extra springs and bars.
But I want to reiterate. We were given a standard setup from the person we bought the roller from.
We asked questions and blocked/setup the car with general requirements from the TCR manufacturer. We bought a few tires in case we got a flat. Anything is possible. And we borrowed gear until we decided which one we wanted to run.
We talked to experts and manufactures in the field. Racers who are winning and using the same chassis.
Last of all I would advise some practice. Get a feel for the car. Get a feel for the gear. And dial the engine in.
Then get a expert, or fellow racer who is running well to come over and give you advice. Take his advice or don't aske for it.
Have fun, drive safe and move to the front.
Best of Wishes,
Lawerence B. Otani
Posted 30 July 2003 - 06:17 PM
Posted 30 July 2003 - 10:27 PM
I wanted to add one thing. I forgot, there is one other thing we did to the car upon racing it for the first time.
For some reason the car didn't want to turn. What I mean is that it was physically demanding to turn the steering wheel.
An old racer from the 30's, 40's and 50's suggested we tilt the spindles up/more vertical. For some reason we had layed the front spindles backward. More of a Sprint car set up. Remember these cars originally didn't have power steering.
Last years rules. Upon this premise we bought a manual steering gear/rack. The rules now allow power steeing, but we didn't want to loose any horsepower to drive the power steeing unit, so we stuck with manual drive.
Although the car was stable and the spindles layed back, it was too hard to steer. We straightened up the spindles/
more erect and the car steered normally and we noticed no problem with the stabiltiy of the car. It steered fine.
For us with the TCR chassis we have opted to go with some small diameter RR bars. Intially the car was hooked up for the first three races. But the reason was because we were loosing air to the RR tire. We found we had bad bleeders and the ring that holds the tire on the wheels was loose. The bolts that hold the ring on were loose.
Upon advice from someone else running a TCR chassis, we have opted to go to a lighter RR torsion bar.
I think this will give us the same results as a stiff RR torsion bar, but with Air Pressure that were way to low. How low?
We were running anywhere from 4-6 lbs. That is low air pressure.
To tell you the truth that is about all I can say for the first three races that we have run. I'm kind of excited about the next race, to see what the softer bar does and to see if my driver/his car will move to the front. We got a 3rd in the first race and a 7th in the second. It's going to be fun to see if we can move to the front. But I will say this the guys are competive in this division and they are really hammer down. These little Focus Midgets move out and I think it
is possible to get hurt if you are not careful. Be careful and Hammer Down.
Lead Foot Larry, goin' to the front!
Hope to see you race some day and Good Luck! God Speed!
Posted 03 August 2003 - 09:49 AM
Are you racing the Califronia series or Indiana series?
Posted 03 August 2003 - 02:24 PM
Posted 04 August 2003 - 08:57 PM
I'm going to suggest something to you, that proabably you won't be able to do because of cost,
But I honestly feel it is the best thing you could do.
I've went to a lot of schools. Driving Schools. To be exact I have gone to 9 schools driving a non-wing sprint car. Personally, it costs me thousands of dollars. I could of bought three used cars for the price I payed to learn how to drive. But one school, I think you can benefit. In fact, you might finish the school and the instructor might tell you something you won't want to hear. What's that? That maybe you don't have what it takes to be a sprint car driver.
I assume that is your dream and mine too. I never stepped into any race car until I was 48 years old.
Lucky for me, I took to it like a duck to water. I was pretty fast right out of the box. Then I had to learn how to drive the car. I got worse and worse. But the instructor against all his better judgement, gave me my chance. The rest is history, but I turned out OK for a beginner.
Here's the advice. The best thing I could tell any driver, is to go up to Jimmy Sill's School of open wheel racing. You can take your own car. He will work with you to set it up. He will instruct you for 8 hours giving you his own personal book of what a driver needs to do and things to think about when driving a sprint car. The Jimmy Sill's set up book is different than the book he gives you when you attend his school.
Like I said this is expensive. Hopefully you will convince Jimmy you are serious about this endeavor.
My practice started out in a 410 sprint car, non-wing at night. At the school was Justin Fisher. He was lightning quick.
1/10 off the track record for a USAC midget. Trust me, he made a lot of mistakes too. Flew off the track many times,
but finally got it together.
Jimmy will work with you on the line. It's a fast line at the top of the track. For me, 4 laps at 14.00,
14.04, 14.10 and 14.20 on a true 1/4 mile track was enough to make me "WET my Pants". It was really scary.
I kept saying to myself, "Larry, don't hit this cement wall". "It's going to hurt !" I didn't but I drove it in too deep in Turn 1 and got the ###### thing upside down. My stupid mistake. But I learned. All I'm going to say is Jimmy said, "Larry,
I have hundreds of kids, come here and I will say this "You're not afraid to put the Hammer Down". That was a compliment.
But if you can go, it will be the best money you could spend. It's two days long. And I never learned
what I learned there in any other Sprint Car school I atteneded.
I can't stress the importance of practice. Going to a race and racing trying to learn how to race is dangerous. You will be pushed so hard in a race, that I don't think that is the way to go. Go to as many practices as you can. Learn form, learn lines and get help from someone you can trust. Learn good habbits. Learning on the race track
is dangerous and stupid. I don't suggest it. But if that's what you want to do. All I can say is drive within yourself.
I went to race a couple of weeks ago. My first race in a TQ. Another rookie got on his head. Not a good thing. Practice makes perfect and when you can go as fast as you can in practice, I would say then go racing.
When you get into a race, some of these guys might have 20 years experience. Excellent equipment and "Hammer Down". You don't even have time to think. You're on the gas and brake hard. All you can do is rely on all the practice you had and trying to keep the car on the right line.
I would suggest stay low, and pass on the inside.
My best always,
Little Grasshopper, Huntin' Prey. A name Mr. Cory Kruseman gave me after one of my practices.
How many laps did I do before I raced. About 1000 laps. At about 150 per session. Take care and be safe.
And when you hear people say "Win it or Wear it", they are serious. But it would be nice to know what you are doing before you put your life or somebody's elses on the line. Best of Luck, but be serious about this and take driving very seriously. It is no joke and it is very Dangerous. You could loose you life. Be smart, be safe and make sure you know
what you are doing before you put that hammer down.
Lead Foot Larry, goin' to the front!
Posted 04 August 2003 - 10:39 PM
I want to add one more thing. Kind of an advanced topic, but I think helpful and at least encouraging, if not
enlightening. Bobby and I went to Bakersfield, Ca for the first time in the Focus Midget. Bobby probably has 23-27 years experience driving TQ's, Sprints...non-wing and Wing and WoO in California. And he has went on Tour and traveled even at a young age driving TQ's and 1/4 midgets halfway across the country....like Indiana. The best time he ever had in his life. Just him and his Dad. He never stops talking about it and wants to go back. Personally I think it is to bring back the memories, of the most fun he ever had in his life. Just him and his Dad kicking tail all over the country.
But when Qualifying began, Bobby told me it really important to Qualify well. Bakerfields, Ca starts on the outside of the track halfway back from turn 4. You are off the track on the lead up road before you hit turn 4.
Bam, he was on that gas! Peeling out and "Hammer Down". I was laughing my head off. Time to go racing. When he entered turn 4 onto the track he was at full speed. Going down the front shoot starts the qualifying time clocks.
Bobby, I think got 6th fastest qualifying time.
Ok, now you qualified well, but they will probably invert you in the heat race. Fast qualifiers start at the back.
Next step. Start at the back of your heat race and try to pass as many cars as you can before you end the heat race. Why. Not just racing, but the points you get for passing adds to your total and you quick qualifying time so you will be put on or near the front row when the "Main" event starts. I think Bobby started on the second row, in position number 3. He ended the "Main" race in third position/third place.That's where he started the main. It's hard to pass and keep that position even when you are at the front. Think how hard it is if you start at the back of the Main event. It's hard to start at the back and win the event or move to the front. It's better to start at the front and maintain, or gain one or two positions. Even with a good, car and years of experience. Bobby only finished where he started in the main. And that was in third place. Nobody ever told me this before and I thought it was good information for a wantabe, rookie racer, like myself. Best of Luck always,
Lead Foot Larry, goin' to the front! Best wishes always, Larry "O". Have fun Trevor, racings great. Just be safe and put the car on the trailer in one piece. These are the exact words Bobby told me in my first race in the TQ. Larry, just put this car on the trailer in one piece and we will got to the next race. I accomplished my mission. Know what you want to do before you get on the race track. Have fun, but personally I know racing is the hardest thing I have tried to to do. Good Luck,
Little Grasshopper, Huntin' Prey! LOL
Posted 05 August 2003 - 01:53 PM
Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:06 PM
I'm not an expert. Just another wantabe trying to fulfill my dream. I'm sure their are thousands of kids and grown men just like me. So much in fact that are local track started a series for men over 45. I personally think the promter did it to get the guys out of the regular division that shouldn't be there and to give newcomers like me a shot.
Well the series gets over 25 sprint cars, for this over 45 gang. To tell you the truth it has gotton dangerous in my book. Do you want to spell disaster. Get a group of old men. Some experienced and some not. But one thing a lot of old guys have is money. Man do they put the money into these machines. Horsepower???? More than they could ever use.
Skill???? It varies. You want to see a fiasco, have 22 guys on a 1/5 mile clay track with over 600 HP each and a desire to go as fast as they can. It really scares me.
But on the particular note you are asking. Jimmy Sillsl School of Open Wheel racing is on the West Coast.
Just click on www.sprintcar.com and it comes right to his site.
But the thing I want to point out. Call up the school. You will undoubtly talk to Bob Burbach. Jimmy business manager and Bob goes around the country filming all kinds of dirt track events.
What I'm trying to say is that it is not uncommon for Jimmy to pack up his two seater sprint car, his 410 winged cars, which you can take the wings off. That's what I did. I wanted to drive a sprint car without a wing. And his Esslinger midget and come to you. If you could get a group of kids or people/grown up that wanted to do a clinic/school he would take these cars in his 18 wheel hauler and come to your track.
It doesn't cost anything to ask and talk. That is what the telephone is for. Bob can help you determine, if Jimmy and his school can help you, your local track and possible get a group of people together to learn how to race and set up their cars. If it was enough people it could be a two or three day event. Maybe following a race. Or maybe during the race to have people experience the thrill of driving a Sprint car in the back seat of the two-seater. I did this and it was great/thrilling and educational. You feel Jimmy's speed, you feel how he throws the car. You see how he powers out of the turns. You can learn a lot if you are listening, feeling and looking down the track. Trust me this two seater,
without the wing is thrilling. I will never forget the experience.
Jimmy could have a clinic for everybody. He could also run a school one day to help several drivers, bringing their cars and helping setting them up. Then he could work with you on another day to help you drive the cars to the best of your ability. For those who want to drive the Esslinger Midget or Winged 410 Sprint car or take the wing off, that could happen and could be arranged.
Go to the web site and check out the cost. It's not cheap. But I feel in the long run, it's worth it. Jimmy's job, is to make you a good racer. He want to do you right. It's in his best interest. It's even possible Jimmy could run a race in your local show.
Just check out the Website. Check out the costs. Talk to some friends. Maybe the promoter. See if a plan is possible.
If their is interest and talk to Bob Burbach at Jimmy Sills. You might get lucky and Jimmy might answer the phone, but usually you get a message machine and Bob Burbach will call you back. It's an option and I personally think a good one. If you don't know who Jimmy Sills is, ask. You might be impressed. Who else do you know that has written a book and made a video on Sprint car racing and setup. Who do you know that has won as much as him on anything that is dirt or for that matter, Sprint car asphalt. And who do you know that runs a school and can bring you a 410 Winged sprint and take off the wing. A Esslinger midget and for those fans and would be racers a two seat 410 sprint car where you can feel and experience the speed of driving fast on dirt.
I hope this helps.
Just remember these words....."Have a plan and work the plan". My best always,
Larry "O", Little Grasshopper Huntin' prey! So fasssst it's scarrrrrry ! LOL and have a great day.
Hope you get out of racing what you want. Be smart and use your head. You are you own worst enemy or you could be the best friend you ever had. You have a brain, and trust me, you are probably just as smart as the next guy, you just got to give yourself a chance. One of Jimmy's number is 1-800-508-8448. Tell him Lead Foot Larry, sent you.
I think he wil remeber the name. Bob Burchach, gave it to me. Take care, be careful, drive fast and be smart.
Remember put in on the trailer in one piece. My best advice I could give you. Have fun! It's a great way of life. Just
try to keep it sensible.
Posted 07 August 2003 - 09:29 PM
I would like to add a few posts/after thoughts. If you are not going to race all the time. Try to help somebody who is. You will learn a lot.
If you can try to figure out who is the smartest guy at the track is. Try to become friends and ask him some questions. How many questions. Until the guy tells you "To get the Heck out of here". That should be enough questions.
Amazingly, I met up with somebody who is quite knowledgeable. He probably raced for about 23 years. I can't belive it, but he has not kicked me out of his shop yet. Kind of hinted he would. But he hasn't yet. It really baffles me and I have gotton him mad on more than one occassion.
Let me tell you how I met this guy. I wanted to learn about racing engines. I looked through the catalogue and found a tape on Sprint Car motors. Well, the magazine didn't sell the other two. How can you advertise a racing tape and not sell the complete set? Well, I watched the tape. I think it was on fuel injection. But I wanted the tape on the heads
and the Block. Well the tape listed a phone number. Well, that persons shop was two blocks from my house.
That's how I met Bobby. From there I met other shops. Do you know that Scream, the exclusived engine builder for the Focus Racing Motor is two blocks from my house also in the other direction. One day Bobby said, go buy me some Torsion bars at Sanders.
Well you know where Sander Engineering is. Two blocks in the other direction. If I made a Map of all the shops within a two mile radius of my house, you would be amazed. Simpson Racing, Bodio, Scream, Drake Engineering, Sander Engineering, Barnes and the list proabably goes on. Announers at my near by track live near. In my local community
many racers live. Super Rickie, Mike Kirby, Bobby and a couple of other beginning Sprint car drivers.
So you just never know where life will lead you. It's endless. The internet helps.
Buy some tapes of local Focus Races. Study the drivers. Look at their cars. Ask questions. I will tell you this.
If you are truely interested in the sport and are willing to put your money where your mouth is, people will take notice.
Well, at work we have few Sprint car drivers and it seems no matter where I go I meet one new driver. One new promoter and one new fan. If you truely love this sport you will get involved and learn. It's up to you and good luck.
Believe it or not I live for racing and I am 100% committed. My lack of enthuisam sometimes show, because
when I look at the Big Picture, it doesn't seem worth it. But my Mom and Dad got me into racing at a young age.
Just a fan and spectator. We watched racing and went to the track every week. My dad made it fun and he made me work for the privledge. I still work to be a part of the sport. It has been my dream. And to tell you the truth I have already lived it. I just wanted to get into a sprint car. At 48 I did and everything is history. It's gravy. I have already accomplished my goal. I just have fun now.
My best always, Little Grasshopper, Huntin' Prey. Read those books and study hard. If you are not born with a Silver Spoon, get a good edcuation. That is all I can tell You!
Lead Foot Larry, goin' to the front!
Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:17 PM
I would go to Jimmy Sill's school before you purchase a car. Racing a midget is very different from drag racing. Jimmy is a great guy and you will have great time with him. If you still want to race after attending his school......then go purchase a car.
Then if you have the cash go back to see Jimmy with your car. It is a lot cheaper when you use your car instead of the schools cars. Try to get as much practice before your first race and have fun. Good Luck.
Posted 14 August 2003 - 06:26 PM
Posted 14 August 2003 - 08:56 PM
I'm a little confused, but I don't think racing a Focus Midget is a bad idea. You say you want to run in California.
I tell you what I like about that. California is a little slow about getting started. What I mean is that there is not that many cars in California. Even less in Northern California than in southern California. But I do think the Series will grow. I certainly hope so, and I think "Ford" and possibly USAC will do everything in it's power to make it happen.
I tell you what I like about it. If you have less cars, that means at every race you will get valuable track time.
If the series was filled you might not get to race. With the low head count right now, you are proabably guaranteed racing in every main event. That's what a rookie needs is seat time and laps.
Cory Kruseman once told me, to pick the type of racing I wanted to do. Save your money and do that type of racing. If you want to go Focus racing, do it. Plain and simple.
I agree to go to Jimmy Sills and drive his Esslinger midget would be the ultimate. The funny thing is, I don't know if he would let you drive it. When I drove his 410 non-wing sprint car, I had to talk my way into the program. I told him I had taken one Beginner Program with Cory, One intermediate and one advanced. He allowed me to walk into his advance program at night and run the 410 non-wing Sprint car.
You will have to talk to him to see what is best for you. Jimmy will not lead you down the wrong path.
Also, I think you have two very valuable resources at your benefit.
www.ryanlittracing.com and www.travisberryhill.com I'm sure if you wrote either of these two racers they could help you get on the right path. And if they don't help you, at least you tried. Don't stop trying, but you have to have the inititative first. If you are persistant, I think good racers and good advice will come your way. It has come to me..
As for the cost of Focus Midget Racing. Well, I will say this. It seems in TQ racing or Ford Focus Midget racing,
people respect their machinery and crashing is less evident than what I see in normal 360 non-wing racing.
Also I feel in general the motors are cheaper. Ford Focus Motor with a few extras is about 8300 dollars.
A killer 360 motor even if you have a cast iron block could run as high as 30,000 dollars. I know some people do it cheaper, but even at Ventura Speedway in California, you might be amazed at how much money some of these people put into their engines. In any case about 13,000 dollars can buy you a good used 360 killer motor.
Anybody knows the fuel bill for a Ford Focus Motor is going to be a lot cheaper than a 360 V8 engine.
Also the tires are a lot cheaper for the Ford Focus series. Let's just say 125.00 dollars for a tire. And a 360 sprint car tire could cost you 200.00 dollars.
Don't forget the "Pull" bill. A bigger heavier car is going to cost more than a lighter Ford Focus Midget.
I would say it cost a lot less to pull a Ford Focus Midget to the track than a 360 sprinter.
The ony other thing I would add is this. Don't get caught up in trying to keep up with the "JONES". You don't need a brand new truck. You don't need a fancy trailer. You don't even need extra parts.
I ran a eight races with Cory Kruseman, School Cars. Here's the deal. Break this car you're done for the night.
I only broke the car one time. We recently ran a TQ for two races and one practice. We had zero parts/spares. We have not broke the car yet. If we break it, we go home. We will get the parts we need then continue racing.
I will admit, we do have spares for the Focus Midget, but we don't bring them. We haven't brung them for the last two races. Wantabes? Yes, maybe? But we just feel if we crash this car, let's bring it home and fix it. We don't want to hustle like crazy putting on new front ends or sorts only maybe to crash it again.
Luckily we have raced twice and broke nothing on both cars. But I do admit, with the Focus we brang a few extra tires and wheel, shocks and springs and torsion bars. But those are mainly for track tuning which we have never had to do yet. We got a 7th in one race and a 3rd in another.
Here's the point. Races are won in the shop. Do your homework and try to setup your car correctly at the shop.
Try to have a game plan for what you might do at the track. Here's are basic game plan. Set the car up loose then tighten the car as the night goes on.
We have never changed anything on the Focus Midget or TQ in four races. Now we are ready to tune the chassis.
We will go to a lighter torsion bar in the RR in th e Focus. In the TQ I made a suggestion. I would like to put a half a turn into the right front torsion bar and a full turn in the LR. Bobby said "Larry the car is already tight". If you do that we got to move the right RR tire out and increase the tire Pressure. To me that is winning in the shop. I'm trying to figure out what this car needs to go faster.
I feel this change will make the car tighter on a loose track and really hook me up in the main if I get a good track.
I know I will have to driver this car hard into the corners and the one time I spun out I felt I got on a off camber track and my left wheel lifted causing me to spin. I think the changes will make me faster.
Best of Luck and see you at the races.
Lead Foot Larry, goin' to the front!
Posted 15 August 2003 - 05:42 PM
I know people hate me answering my own posts but after talking with a few people they give me more ideas and suggestions.
You probably know my home track is Ventura, Ca.
I wonder if it is your home track also? I also wonder if you will be a northern Calfornia Focus Series driver or Southern, California Focus driver?
If you are a Southern California driver, my friend, Bobby said, have Trevor park next to us in the pits and we will try to help you out. We also pit next to another team Bobby Owens. Bobby Owens is new to this Focus game also.
Bobby Owens car number is 7. And Bobby Michnovicz's car number is 21.
We might go to a few asphalt races next year. We haven't figured that out yet. And to be honest we have been hitting the smaller tracks, like Ventura Speedway, Ca and Bakersfields, Ca.
I can't help but think if we go asphalt racing Irwindale, Ca would be a logical choice.
Also Ventura Speedway, Ca has said....ie... Jim Naylor the track promoter that he will bring back Midget Racing to
Ventura. He would like to run his own series. What engine will it be? Who knows, maybe the Focus. And if not maybe
Jim will run more Focus Races at Ventura Speedway, Ca.
Personally that is the only track I have raced on. It's a great track. And although I have no intentions of running
the Focu's there, Bobby does. So if it becomes your home track, I'm sure Bobby, Keith at SCREAM and many more drivers would be willing to help you out.
Take care and best of Luck. I hope we are not scaring you. Just trying to give you some advice from my own
experience, because that is all I have to offer.
Larry "O", goin' to the front!
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