Saturday, 21 December 2013

Le Midgetmax est mort, vive le Midgetmax

Its with great regret we report the passing of Midgetmax.

In truth, Midgetmax has done sterling service but should have been pensioned off years ago, when I sold my final MG Midget racer and ephemera of years of Midgeting. Through the 924 years (that sounds so long, in truth I only raced it once!) I clung to the moniker because, well, "you never know."

Midgetmax was my screen name on eBay when I started buying parts. It became my trading name when I bought, broke and sold MG Midgets and I own the URL, this blog is under the name of midgetmaxracing and I still have a midgetmax blog somewhere, so it's kind of grown. Oh I think there are a few "forums" I use various forms of the name but probably the less said about those the better. Ahem!

As an aside, despite being an avid MGCC man and therefore steeped in the history of "Midgets" the only Midget I actually owned was my RWA FISC car which ended life embedded in the tyre wall at Zandvoort. Not my fault, honest, I wasn't even in the same country at the time LOL. Everything else I've run has been an Austin Healey Sprite - such is the way of the world!

NB for those that don't understand these acronyms, Google them.

So what's caused the end of Midgetmax? Simples - the purchase of an old Tonykart EVX kart! I now have NO racing cars around the place but THREE karts and one of them purchased with me specifically in mind! Woohoo! I found it on Fleabay last week, made an offer and went to Derbyshire on Thursday to collect it. Pretty good nick, I'm just waiting for the rain to ease off so I can get it prepped for its first school day on 4th January, and I may even get the chance to sample it myself - looking forward to that ;-) 

S-o-o three years ago we bought an old kart "just for Alex to have a go on". Today we've got 3, a big box trailer, gin palace awning and we run a racing team. Funny how things go.

As for the name...TonykartMax doesn't sound right so I thought of TKMax but it appears someone's beaten me to it so...

Le Midgetmax est mort, vive le Midgetmax

And anyway, I'm too tight to buy a new URL!

Monday, 9 December 2013

More of a Turkey Amble than Trot...

To be fair, I was never going to set the world alight with my performance on a kart that Alex discarded as "too small" 18 months ago! But I'll admit the annual Clay Pigeon Kart Club Turkey Trot race meeting was more of an amble thanks to my ineptitude. I'm sure Attaq Motorsport's #1 driver would have been quicker - and if he hadn't a swift boot up the backside would have been delivered!

Despite the dire predictions of the Daily Express we set off down to Clay on a damp but not-too-cold Saturday and set up for the weekend in the new Attaq Motorsport Gin Palace - a 6m x 3m pro-quality awning that keeps us snug, warm and dry. It will also do sterling service as's "Racewear Towers" away from home.

Alex tested all day on the Saturday and I managed to squeeze out for one session on slicks on a drying track. You know what? I wasn't slowest and superstar had to fight to get by me and couldn't pull away - at least until I tried "a demon new line through the kink". Ah, that'll be why no-one else uses it we did a little rain dance and retired home to beers, pizza and bed.

Race Day. Practice. Cold and damp and half the grid out on slicks, including me. I managed to drop it at the hairpin because I had been laughing too much at Liam spinning in front of me and missed my braking point. Pillock. Superstar wasn't very happy as it was the furthest point from the pit lane to run with the trolley....

For those not versed in the art of TKM racing, a little education. Clutches are not a feature of karting in its purest form and drivers either have to run with the kart, jump in and juggle the throttle while it fires (unlikely given my bulk and height) or enlist the help of strong able bodied pushers. I had Alex, who recruited our colleague Josh from Combe Karting, and the pair of them barely added up to my body weight. Thanks guys, you did a great job! Once the engine is firing, you really, really don't want to spin because the engine stalls and if you can't restart on your own you're finished. It was my mistake with the direct drive that caused my practice spin - I braked hard on the wet surface, stalled the engine, didn't come off the brakes soon enough to re-start it and whoops! round we went.

So, Race 1. All but one driver changed to wets - Sally stayed on slicks and was on pole! It would have been an inspired choice had the race started just two or three minutes later. As we drove out for my first TKM start I cursed outwardly: the bottom end of the circuit had a proper dry line. This was going to be expensive on wets :-( Race started and we headed off round Billy's, through the chicane, down the left hand side of the straight to the (wet) Hairpin - where I'm overtaken by a Tonykart going faster backwards than I was forwards. Massive avoidance, he hits me side on and I j-u-s-t managed to keep the engine running or my first race would have been over before it even started. Head down, set off after the others. I caught & passed Steve after a few laps, and despite a few excursions Sally suddenly started making progress, absolutely flying along on her slicks on what was a drying track. If only it hadn't been so wet for the first couple of laps she'd really have been in the mix.

Race 2 was dreadful. We found a puncture on my alloy-wheel mounted slicks and had to fit Alex's half-mag Alonso wheels. The kart was dreadful. It didn't generate any heat, the tyres wouldn't grip and it was all I could do to get it to the finish a whole lap down on everyone else. Back in the Gin Palace we had a lightbulb moment: the Alonso rims had a different offset and the geometry had been totally wrong! No wonder it was so bad. A bit of a guesstimate re-set and it's time for the Final, a mammoth 12 minutes plus one lap.

12 minutes doesn't sound much to car racers, but proper karts on sticky tyres are just so physical that it was going to be hard work. Dicing hard into the first corner, I made up a couple of places and came out of the Chicane to see Derek facing towards us. In fact I could see the whites of his eyes as we all scattered every which way to avoid him. I flicked left and just snagged Steve's rear bumper. It ripped my nose cone off from the mountings and from then onwards it was going to be a struggle - if they let me continue. Sure enough, the black and orange flag was shown and I retired to the pits, my TKM debut over.

The kart still hadn't been right in those few laps so we learned that the Venom doesn't like half mags - and that'll be why the Alonso was so rubbish on the allys first time we ran it. So a good lesson, but it was a bit deflating.On the plus side we had no mechanical problems apart from the set-up error but I don't feel I did myself justice. The wrong side of 50, the wrong side of the weight limit, I'm never going to be quick but I really wanted to have been a bit better. Will I do it again? I don't know - if I do I'll need a clutched engine so I don't need to keep finding "willing" pushers :-) Oh and there's a new "Heavies" class just to entice me, although I still need to lose 10kg.

Now both karts have to be rebuilt over the Christmas break, our first Step up to 2-Stroke day is on 4th January at Clay followed by 18th January at Llandow. Anyone fancy a go?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Of Princess Diana, Snow and Trotting Turkeys

So here I am, just days away from my TKM racing debut and the country is set to be "swept by Arctic storms", when temperatures "plunge" below zero and we suffer "the worst winter for decades". Shrugging I turn the page of the newspaper to be told that Princess Diana was murdered because she wanted to force down the price of houses...ah yes, it's the Daily Express, so it's going to be a balmy weekend then!

All of which is my Express-esque method of getting an attention-grabbing headline myself!

So, I'm days away from my TKM debut and am I ready? What do you think? My race kit is strewn all over the house and Racewear Towers, the kart is in pieces in the trailer and the engine is in Cornwall. Oh well, I'm sure it'll all come good on Saturday or Sunday.

Actually it's not my TKM *debut* having raced a few times in Club 100 endurance races, but I'm entering as a Novice because I don't fancy starting my first sprint race from pole. I'll be quite happy concentrating on not getting lapped and seeing if I can bring my lap times down every lap - just like I tell all my ARKS candidates. I don't expect to be competitive on an old Venom, and if it goes well perhaps I'll get promoted to the Alonso or something similar? Testing went OK, the biggest laugh I gave the assembled multitude wasn't my lack of pace but my lack of Space...squeezing my legs onto a kart we decided was too small for Alex 12 months ago certainly caused a chuckle or two. Please Jo, fill up the memory card before the STKM race ;-)

It's been quite a road to get here - every time I thought I'd get a start, something went wrong with Alex's kart so my entry fee gently disappeared. Finally it's come together in a perfect storm - Alex's Junior engines are no longer competitive, the new Senior Lightweights don't come into being for another month and we have bought an Extreme engine off Team Gamble so it's now or never. Am I looking forward to it? YOU BET!

Some pics from my last attempt at TKM. Yes it does only have three wheels.

Here's hoping I don't repeat that on Sunday :-) Turkey Trot, here we come!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Funny how it goes - and last posting dates

I've been selling racewear for "quite a few years now" (make that decades) so you would think that at last I'd been getting a handle on it. But the only thing that's predictable about this business is its unpredictability!

Last year we sold mainly Sparco products, this year the big seller seems to be our Speed Racewear range - take a look and see what's attracting so many buyers.

Last posting dates for Christmas from

Final date for despatch of physical goods - FRIDAY 20th DECEMBER
Final date for despatch of e-vouchers* - TUESDAY 24th DECEMBER @ 12:00
Office re-opens for despatches - MONDAY 6th JANUARY

*e-vouchers include the following products: Freechoice Gift Voucher
Attaq Motorsport Step up to 2-Stroke voucher
Junior Racing Academy voucher

The "activity" vouchers normally come in a presentation box by post, between Saturday 21st December and Tuesday 24th December these will only be available by e-mail

Any goods for return or refund should be returned by 14th January in the original packaging and in unworn, re-saleable condition. Please send a copy of your packing note or invoice if possible, if not reference to the name of the customer who bought the gift.Please note we can ONLY refund to the card/Paypal account of the purchaser.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

An electrifying prospect?

It seems that the world is not yet ready for electric car racing, particularly to judge by the reaction at the end of the article:

The new formula has its inherent hilarities - swapping cars half way through isn't going to convince the sceptics - but I think we should give it a chance. Motor racing has always improved the breed.

100 years ago cars had riding mechanics, among whose duties was pressurising the fuel to keep the engine running - we developed fuel pumps to do the job! Today we take disc brakes for granted - developed in the fifties on the Le Mans Jaguars of course. Who knows where the KERS/ERS/Hybrid systems of F1 and WEC cars will lead? 

At the moment electric cars are a joke. But then again so was the internal combustion engine, and it hasn't done us too badly. So I say give the race series a chance and let motor racing lead the way in transport technology again. 

One further point comes to mind...if electric car racing appeases race track neighbours and keeps circuits open, then I'll race electric cars! Although by then of course I'll be limited to those old people's scooters that seem to be everywhere. Now there's a thought for my dotage...