So, after 1.5 years in the BirelArt Series, then the Daniel Ricciardo Series, there are conflicting reasons that are being said, for the reason we decided to leave, so I thought it best for us to write a blog, to clear up any confusion!
When we started in the BireART Series, the grids barely got over 19-20 per round. This suited us well, as being a new challenge for Chase, we didn't want large grids particularly, as he was still learning. We had taken him out of Stretton, our local track, as we saw it as an opportunity that we couldn't miss.
Last year went well. Chase ended up 6th in the rookie championship and we had a great time. But as with everything karting, the costs involved were very high, which wasn't a problem, as we have our very loyal sponsors, who pay for us to do what we do. And not to go off tangent here, they literally pay for everything, they are amazing, our full on dream team, so we have to understand their interests as well. In our car racing, since the 2nd year of our racing, 16 years ago, we have had sponsors pay for us to race. How do we do it? Other than giving them great exposure, the rest of the reasons is for another post...
So, we had a great 2018, end of. Everything was going great, with us getting excited about 2019, especially with the news that the series was changing to DRS and the F1 winner himself would be supporting the series.
We pondered about whether to get a new kart or not, but we did, as we wanted to throw ourselves into the series as we have done the year before. In January 2019, we took delivery of the kart, the testing would start and we were onto a winner.
First race came, baring in mind to get to this stage, we had shelled out 3k for the new kart and engine rebuild, good race, but nothing to write home about. There were bigger grids, which was great for the series, but being a Parent that panics when Chase goes out on track, I was having eggs, standing on the sidelines! I much prefer smaller grids!
The major problem we had though, was since the engine rebuild, (not saying anything was wrong with the engine rebuild) we have had nothing but trouble with setting the kart up to go quickly. All our time was spent changing the settings on the carb, which didn't need half as much fiddling with the year before and was now just pissing us off! Chase would go out on track, within 2 laps his thumb goes down when passing me and he ends up way off the pace. We were not cutting corners. No word of a lie, we were spending in the region of £500-600 a weekend, if you include the fuel to get to the tracks. We wanted Chase to go out in a kart and whatever the weather would be, even if the degrees went up by 2, the kart would handle the same. It was rapidly becoming the situation, that it wasn't the case and we were rapidly falling out of love for the kart series, we desperately loved.
I like to think I did my fair share of promoting the series. Actually I did way more than I should have done, editing and sending videos to the series to use, doing things on Social Media, as well as getting my Nephew Photographer involved to take photos of the weekend for everyone, but hey ho.
All we kept on saying to each other is "Do you remember how simple the Honda Cadet days were".
During our struggles with the DRS, I actively was looking for a way to get Chase into a car. We are a car racing family. I missed karting out all together and the first time I sat in a race car was on the start line at Silverstone, at the age of 21. My Brother was 31 and my Father was old, even then! My Father was racing an Austin A35 in the Classic Touring Cars Series in the 80's and we decided 17 years ago to start racing ourselves.
We wanted Chase in a car as soon as possible, but we knew the lowest age was 12 for Autograss, which is the youngest thing you can do before race circuits come about when you are 14. We have the full set up to do everything to cars. We have the transport, we have the knowledge and where as karting was a new thing for us, cars wasn't.
Then we found out that the National Autograss Association was thinking about reducing the age of Junior Special Autograss cars to 10 years old! Class 1 was already at 10, but there is a lot of contact compared to Junior Specials, so we were desperate for that class!
After a lot of talking to heads of car race series, people that we have got to know in the last 17 years and now the people we call our friends, in fact everyone who I wanted an opinion from, they told me that Autograss is a massive first step in performing in a race car on a race circuit. It promotes the car control that you need to perform on track and being on a loose surface, it promotes that feeling you need to see how the car is handling. A bit more research and Colin Turkington raced in Autograss and many more famous racing drivers as well! We were onto a winner, but the decision had not been made yet re the reduction in age!
I was frantically ringing the NASA Scrutineers, Directors and everyone to get some news and finally, after their main meeting in June, the decision was confirmed!
It's at this stage, I have to admit that I had already bought a Junior Special Autograss car, as I had it on good authority the rule change would go through, but there was still a chance it wouldn't!
It would be perfect. Chase would test his autograss car until he was 10 in February 2021, not long really to master a race car! We would then bring him back to Honda Cadets, where he could shine and the kart mechanicals wouldn’t be a problem.
After Round 2 of the DRS series, with more problems on the kart, we all had had enough and the decision was made to leave with immediate effect.
DRS was told and we were free! The conversation didn't go well, but those close to me know what was said and this made our decision to leave even more right. Even after an apology from the series, the damage had been done and we left. We weren’t thrown out, they left it open for us to re join, but we didn’t want to.
We then bought a Honda Cadet, which Chase would race until he was 10, so he could get the racing fix, whilst testing his Autograss car.
“We feel it’s a great decision for Chase.”
Chase was ecstatic and he has had a couple of tests in his car already and he is doing amazing. Re Honda Cadets, his first race he finished 2nd. So, decisons, although hard to make at the time, turn out well. We think this is the best thing for Chase until he is 13, when we bit him his first circuit race car and get him testing that until he can race at 14!
So, I hope that has cleared up or reasoning to leave.
We wanted Chase to shine in his kart, but being very hard to set up, we always felt we were on the back foot. Our vision was always to get Chase in a car ASAP and thanks to some age reductions in Autograss, it has pushed our decision forward by 2 years. Basically, instead of spending £500 a weekend racing in a series where we don’t know how we will perform due to not knowing how to set up a complex carb, the money is better spent teaching Chase how to race an Autograss car and spending a quarter of that amount racing a Honda Cadet!
I would like like to thank Airshroud and all of Chase’s sponsors for thinking the same as us and letting us
do what we feel is right. They are more than sponsors, they are our family and we love them dearly.