CKN Driver Diary – Jordan Redlin @ SKUSA Spring Nationals
Hi, my name is Jordan Redlin and it is my pleasure to blog on CKN this summer. I’m currently sixteen and have been racing karts competitively since the age of seven. This year will be tough as I have now moved up into the Senior category. Racing with Team CRG West from West Kelowna, BC, I will represent them as their Senior driver for 2014. In my first two races of the year I ended up with good results, taking the championship lead in the Canadian ROK Cup as well as the NorthWest Gold Cup. Next on my agenda was the SKUSA SpringNationals in Dallas, Texas where I was entered in the TaG Senior division. The weather forecast was showing 35 degrees Celsius and rumors suggested that the track would be ultra grippy and it sure was!
Below is my day by day CKN Driver Diary of the event.
After arriving Wednesday afternoon, I soon realized that the saying “everything is bigger in Texas” was true. When we looked at the map we realized that the distance between places is also further. My father and I began the one-hour drive from the airport to the Dallas Karting Center, but bombing down the six lane highway at 75 mph and jamming to music made the drive go by quick. When I arrived at the track I walked into the main building and immediately realized that this facility was different. There were arcade games, soda machines, a big concession, brand new washrooms, second story VIP seating, kart displays, party rooms and many more things that set up a unique atmosphere for racing.
Thursday: Setup Time and Rental Karts with Eddy
Team CRG West began to set up shop. Helping me for the weekend was Mr. Eddy Tinini from the CRG Factory in Italy. Bright and early at seven o’clock we began to discuss lines and walk the track. Immediately it became apparent that the combination of special track sealant, sticky tires, big fields and hot weather would create a level of grip unfamiliar to North American kart racing.
Due to a testing ban before the event, I was unable to hit the racing track with my kart, however the Dallas Karting Complex offered the next best thing. Every member of CRG West who was unfamiliar with the circuit jumped in one of DKC’s rental karts and began to learn the track. Before Eddy and I went out on the track he said to me, “I follow you. Brake too early, boom you’re off.” With this in mind, I pushed that rental kart to the limit and jumped the curbs as if I was riding a dirt bike. Eddy could give me a run for my money in the turns, however with the unfair weight advantage I had, I walked away from him down the straightaways. I learned a lot driving with Eddy and also had a great deal of fun at the same time. I wished there were more sessions, but the day was over.
Friday: Time to hit the track in my actual kart
Finally after days of anticipation, I was able to hit the track in my own kart. I would only have six 7-minute sessions before jumping into race day, so I could not afford to relax for even a second. After two sessions we began to make engine, chassis and gear changes. For the third session I felt we were getting closer to the setup as I was only 2-tenths off the leader. In the last few sessions the grip began to lay down hard. Inexperienced with these conditions, I slowly began to lose time to my more experienced Senior competitors. In the final practice session, I placed between Matt Johnson and Chris Cricca in 14th position. I was satisfied with the first day and looked forward to improving throughout the weekend.
Saturday: Race #1
We tried a different setup in the morning session however it didn’t produce the results we were after so we readjusted the chassis, engine and gear beforeI began my qualifying session. During the drivers meeting, SKUSA had arranged for three skydivers to jump out of a passing plane and carry the USA flag down to the track surface all while the saxophonist for Prince played the American national anthem. After all of that cool stuff we were informed that penalties would be given if we remained within two feet of a driver or bump drafted down a straightaway in Qualifying. With only 10 minutes, 1km of track and 40+ drivers, the track became very crowded during qualifying and a clean lap was precious to find. Knowing that 3-tenths quicker would put me top-five, I pushed hard, maybe too hard, and qualified 15th. Initially upset, Eddy told me that qualifying 15th in my first major senior race was not that bad, and I began to feel better about the result.
As the heats started to progress, I was astonished with the amount of red flags in the Cadet and Junior categories. I had never seen so many flipped go karts in my life! One or two flipped go-karts per weekend is normal at one of these events. However there was on average two flipped go-karts per race in the Cadet and Junior categories. The TaG Senior races, whilst extremely aggressive, went without a red flag.
In the first heat I lost positions at the start but by the end, I returned to my qualifying position. In the second heat I was rear ended and thrown up into the air while apexing corner two. When I returned to the ground I had a badly bent axle, but with Schumacher’s Supernationals performance on a bent axle in mind I refused to give up. While driving with almost unbearable vibration my kart finally gave up and threw the chain driving down the back straight.
Starting the Final from the rear I put my head down and kept my nose clean at the start. I was able to make it back up 19th position in the Final. Definitely a disappointing result for me but cutting the field in half and landing top-20 was good considering where I started.
Scary Sunday: Race #2 and Disaster
Dallas was really hot and the air was weird. Getting the tuning just right was really important to a fast lap time. On the second lap of the morning warm up I pulled out to make a pass at the end of the straight away and a soon as I lifted my foot off the throttle the engine seized. After we retrieved the kart from the track, Eddy wasted no time getting down to business changing the engine before Qualifying. Trying to find a bit of clear space, I waited a bit before heading out in my qualifying session. While the majority of the drivers were already up to speed, I rolled out of the pit lane and began to start my session. Unfortunately my only clear lap was my out lap and my qualifying session did not end up well. I would start the first heat mid pack in 25th position. After losing two positions at the start, I steadily made up one position per lap until the 8-lap race ended, finishing in 19th position.
Five minutes before I was to go out for my second heat I hear this announcement, “Everyone who has a fire extinguisher please report to the CRG West tent immediately.” I looked towards the tent and saw smoke in the air. I jumped out of my kart and ran towards the tent. I arrived to the site of smoke billowing out of the top of the trailer. Many people were there to help extinguish the fire. Ron Hyde, a fireman from Victoria. BC, was attacking the fire as if it were another day in the office. My father and I grabbed some fire extinguishers and handed them to Danny Kacic of CRG West. My father was able to retrieve the passports but it was too dangerous to go back for more belongings. My session was on grid and ready to go out so I had to leave the burning trailer and somehow prepare my mind for a race.
While taking the warm up lap I prayed the smoke would not turn to flames. I took a glance over at the trailer and saw massive flames coming from the top of the trailer and was astonished. As we completed the warm up lap I could not believe they were going to start the race. To my relief they threw the red flag instead of the green.
After the entire paddock evacuated to turn one, the fire dept. soaking the trailer and a 30 min delay, our race started again. Still horrified at what just happened I found it quite hard to concentrate during the race. My focus was to overtake at least one kart per lap and did, advancing to 12th position. After the heat I returned to the CRG West tent, and gave Danny the owner a big hug. We helped him look through the rubble and salvage anything possible, we have to thank God that no one was hurt, or that it did not happen during the night while we were all sleeping!
Next up was the Main, with an unbelievably fast and aggressive start, I could not believe the marshals threw the green. A classic pile up occurred in turn one, and I found myself driving off of the track to avoid a collision. With all of the karts whizzing past me and with my marble filled tires, I had to return to the drawing board. I over pushed the tires in the heat races, causing a nasty front end push. I was able to regain most of my positions but not all, finishing in 15th position. Again not the result I was looking for, however considering what happened only one hour earlier, I was thankful that the weekend was complete with no major injuries.
Monday: Time to head home
After packing up the karts Sunday night, we returned to the track to drop of the crew and realized that someone had stolen the data table from CRG West! Talk about kicking a man while they are down. Whoever took it, please return it at the next event, as it was the only thing in perfectly fine condition! A
fter we left the track we headed towards the Holiday Inn to pick up David Fore and his mechanic Bola. My first encounter with the five-time World Champion was an interesting one. It started by trying to figure out how to fit all of Me, My dad’s, Eddy’s, David’s, and Bola’s luggage into the small trunk of our Mazda 3 rental car. After a quarter hour passed by we realized that it would not be possible and placed a huge suitcase in the 5th passenger’s seat of the car. With that entire space taken up and more luggage still in our hands, I shared a seat with David, cramming cheek to cheek as we began our one hour journey to the airport. To kill time, we discussed a variety of racing set ups and I learned some “colorful” words in Italian. The GPS took us all over the place as construction was taking place. Soon enough we made it to the airport, said goodbye and parted our ways. My father and I bought some clothes in the airport, as our jackets and shoes were also destroyed in the fire, and then took our flight to return home.
I have to give a huge thanks to Mr. Eddy Tinini for his time, hard work and expertise. CRG West and PSL Karting for supplying me the racing equipment. Fikse Racing wheels, Kodiak Aerospace, CKN and anyone who helped support the team with arrangements after the fire. The team will rebuild and I’m looking forward to the next race.
– Jordan Redlin