December 23, 2018
The Journey to WKA Spec engine took time
When I traveled with Dan Raymond to purchase and pick up my Ultra-Maxx race kart from Thundering Valley Raceway owner Nate Anderson in June of 2013, it came outfitted with a sealed engine. The new kart class at Spud Speedway followed Nate’s rules that governed his track allowing racers to compete at both facilities.
His rules included utilizing sealed engines which he sealed at his trackside shop. They included specifications similar to the L206 Briggs and Stratton Racing Animal engine, though not exactly the same.
He placed three seals in strategic locations on his engines which prevented disassembly of the engine. Upon returning engines to him at season end or when refreshing was needed, he would put in new parts as needed and re-seal the engine.
The kart racing group Northern Maine Karting Association (NMKA) was formed in 2015 to act as the sanctioning body for racing at Spud Speedway. At the time of formation the members decided to continue to use Thundering Valley rules with minor modifications which still allowed kart racers to run at the Caribou track and Anderson’s St. Albans track.
Meanwhile several NMKA members were racing at multiple kart tracks in 2016 and noted that racers at southern Maine tracks were utilizing World Karting Association (WKA) rules for many of their classes. In the winter of 2016, the NMKA formed a committee to look specifically at the engine rule for use by its members for the 2017 season and beyond.
The committee, consisting of Marcel Bosse, Galen Morror, and Jason Theriault, reported to the members what they had researched for a couple of months. They unanimously agreed that NMKA needed to adopt the WKA Stock Animal rules. Upon hearing the committee’s recommendation members voted to adopt them for the 2017 season.
That marked the beginning my odyssey from sealed to WKA Spec engines. That trip was fraught with second thoughts and questions galore about the feasibility of cutting those engine seals and moving into a new era.
The seal cutting did not take place immediately with me for one season. I had my 2016 engine rebuilt and sealed by a local engine rebuilder on a trial basis. The NMKA wanted to know how that would work having a local engine rebuilder/sealer.
I am frugal and do not like to spend sponsor money or my company’s unnecessarily, so I decided to run my sealed engine for a second year at Spud Speedway. The engine ran fine, however, it was not competitive with the Team JRT karts. I cannot blame the competitiveness on only the sealed engine’s power disadvantage.
Any Team JRT kart will be set up very well by master mechanic Jason Theriault. I did not have a lap time person on a consistent basis, however guesstimate that we were about 3/4 second behind them at best.
The seal is cut
Once the seals were cut I began the methodical process of disassembly followed by cleaning and inspection, with shipping of parts needing machine work to Jimmy Rivers at JRPW in Augusta, Georgia (yes the same town where the Masters golf tournament is held. Only about 5 miles from JRPW).
Jimmy Rivers does his magic
Home sweet home and the rebuild process begins
Interview with the master machinist himself
After Jason Theriault talked highly of the work performed by Jimmy Rivers, I decided to jump into the WKA Specs fray both feet. In February of 2018, I called Jimmy on the phone and talked directly with him about my project. I was surprised by how polite and forthcoming he was. I guess I have had some preconceived ideas about grumpy old machinists or kart shop owners who act like they can barely tolerate you. Not so with Jimmy.
I told him that after the season was over I would be calling him to get some of his ideas for between season maintenance as well as his thoughts about the sealed vs WKA Spec engines. Here is the interview.
Jimmy Rivers and JRPW
UpNorth Motorsports How did you get started? “I was a machinist by trade for 25 years with an interest in racing. My dad was an automotive machinist. After working as a machinist for 5-6 years I became very interested in engines. A friend helped me build a competitive engine which gave insight into the process.”
“When Oreco, a hydraulics manufacturing company that I was working for, shut down I actually began my business. With the severance package that Oreco gave me, I started the business in my parent’s garage.”
“Working out of that garage for six years gave me verticality with no overhead. That allowed me to purchase property for my first shop which was built to my design specifications.”
“I outgrew that shop quickly and moved to where we are located now 2 ½ years ago. The new shop is triple the size of the old location and is located across the street. A bank had been on that site, however, it was torn down to make way for the new JRPW shop. The shop is in downtown Augusta, Georgia.”
UpNorth Motorsports What do you recommend for off-season work to WKA spec engines? “I recommend that the valves be lapped, new valve springs, freshen carburetor, and polish crankshaft where the clutch attached.”
UpNorth Motorsports How often should the WKA spec engine be freshened? “The engine should be able to go 10 races assuming a typical race may consist of 50 laps between practice and race.” (NMKA season was 10 races)
UpNorth Motorsports Jimmy how do you weigh in on the sealed 206 engine vs the WKA Spec engine? “The 206-engine program definitely has its place. It is for racers who want the exact same thing as everyone else. It is a plug and play 206 engine.”
“A spec engine program typically does not survive long. Racers wants control. The ultra-competitive guys are not in 206 series engines.”
“The more serious guy wants control of his destiny vs what is available right out of the box. I am not one of those guys.” (That makes sense since JRPW does machine work on engines. Sealed engines do not have that type of work completed since they do have seals)
I want to thank Jimmy for his time and tell him my cylinder heads will be “headed” his way now that Christmas tree season is finished for 2018.
Ross Bentley Webinar on tap for January 2019
I sat in on a Ross Bentley seminar as reported in a previous episode. It featured race engineer Jeff Braun. It was excellent. When I heard about the latest offering, I want to make sure the readers are aware that these are available. They are not cheap, good information never tends to be.
The name of the webinar is “Improve Your Braking and Corner Entry” which will be offered on January 15, 2019 at 5:30 pm Pacific or 8:30 Eastern. For more information or to register click here https://speedsecrets.com/webinars/
As a Christmas gift, Ross sent me (and others, I am sure this was not an exclusive) the Trackmaps of several tracks in pdf for where you can download them for the track where you may be racing. He gave me permission to share these track maps with you. They are found here:
Last second Christmas gift and announcement from Spud Speedway
The Only reason for this season
Soli Deo Gloria (Luke Chapter 2)