Archive for December, 2010

Mykart 300 Lap Enduro

DATE: December 11, 2010

Today, over 20 Singapore residents, representing Karting Singapore, travelled up to KL to take the competition over to our compatriots in My-Kart, our sister organisation in Malaysia.

We had but one practise session to learn the track but thereafter with some ups and downs that we will treasure as experiences, the Singapore contingent finished a respectable 5th, 8th and 9th out of 12 teams. Given that it was our first attempt and the missing personnel we encountered in Teams 1 and Team 2, it was a fair result for the day and we were grateful that we took the battle to our friends across the Causeway.

Our JB friends Rizal, Kenyi and Mun Keat who formed one of the teams in Vertical Speed did well and finished as one of the top teams.

Here is a copy of the results and a couple of the photos. We sure did have fun as a whole and look forward to going back and improving next year.

Commissioning A Painted Helmet

DATE: December 1, 2010

The application of paint and design onto a helmet is an expression of art. It provides the wearer, a sense of individuality or in the case of a team design, a sense of belonging. There is no right or wrong to a driver’s personal decision to wear an unpainted or painted helmet – this is purely a personal decision on aesthetics; which although having no effect on performance, certainly adds to the existing fanfare involved in participating in Motorsports.

The following are 10 suggestions concerning Helmet Painting that I would like to share:

(1) Picking the Helmet: This is probably the most important decision to get right. If you can look past the branding and styling; a good helmet would not only protect you. Very importantly, it needs to be comfortable to wear or else it becomes an impediment to driving fast. There are a number of articles on the internet advising how best to chose a helmet but here are my opinions on what a karter really needs – ( a ) if you can afford it, choose a helmet with a “K” level Snell rating. Snell is an organization that test and rates helmets and a “K” rating denotes testing for suitability for Karting. Ignore the automobile ones, especially if you are the type that thinks pricier is better. The difference in ratings is that the “SA” automobile rated helmets include a layer of nomex fire retardant material which can dramatically increase the price as well as weight of a helmet. Try an Arai SK5/SK6 then an Arai GP5/GP6 and you will find a big difference in weight. Factor in the additional G-force on a heavier helmet around corners in a long race and you will realize how practical the weight savings are to actual kart racing. ( b ) Purchase a full face helmet (if budget permits) that covers the chin. This will protect you in a head-on collision. It will also mean that the visor will have a body to snap on securely. ( c ) The helmet needs to fit snugly but comfortably. This phrase is frequently misinterpreted by newbies. They either purchase a helmet that seems to be comfortable in the shop but when racing in a kart, the intense neck snapping jerks result in the helmet moving around and result very quickly in being a major nuisance. On the otherhand, newbies take snugness to an extreme and get a helmet that is too tight. In the heat of a kart race, they find the helmet too constrictive and may find it difficult to breathe. It can be difficult to get the choice right on the first attempt at buying a helmet but after trying different helmets and different brands, you start to learn which helmet brands and sizes suit you best.

(2) Accessorizing: If you going to spend cash on a painted helmet, why not go all the way? One of those tinted visors is a must – be it staring down another driver to checking out a cute chick – do so in style behind a mirror chromed visor. Make sure you consider purchasing a helmet spoiler which gives your helmet a modern F1 helmet shape. Finally, don’t forget to purchase a summer balaclava for inside wear.

(3) Finding a Painter: This is a tricky affair as a paint job once done is not refundable. You need to find a credible painter who will do a satisfactory job, and who is within budget. As there is a Karting Singapore forum thread on local and international painters that you can approach, I will avoid duplication. Please refer to the forum post for URLs to the respective painter’s website. Before contacting the painter, have an idea of a design that you want. Preferably, create a drawing or else copy a picture of what you have in mind that you can send to the painter. The painter cannot read your mind so be clear in your guidance of what you are looking for. This will cut down the design time. Based on the initial concept you have, ensure that you have shortlised 2-3 painters for which you can seek quotes. Please realize that the better known or more established painters will charge more. They do so not to cheat you but because their previous work has established their reputation in the community for delivering a quality paint job. In my opinion, you get what you pay for. If you are unsure of the painter, post on local and foreign forums for feedback from their previous clientele. Try asking the painter for drawings – some will do so, either at a cost or free, some will not. In addition, many painters also sell helmets as part of their services. Save some cost in mailing a newly purchased helmet out to foreign painters by purchasing directly from them. You might even get a small discount on the paint job for the packaged deal.

(4) Timing is Everything: Helmet painting is a seasonal affair. Painters get the most requests just before the start of the racing season. Sending in orders at this time may mean that you will be charged a premium for the job or that you may be queued on a long line of client requests. This is further compounded when using a reputable painter whom celebrity drivers go to. Their helmets come first – even if they join the queue later. That’s just the facts of life. Hence, contacting a painter at the right time is key to getting your helmet done right and in a timely fashion – I recommend doing so at the end of the racing season when nothing is really happening for the painters and business is slow.

(5) Deciding on the Coating: So you have decided on a design and colours for your helmet. Now, you need to decide on the practical aspect which is what coating should you get. There are 3 considerations here – firstly coating affects cost, i.e. a chrome finish will cost more and take longer to finish than a matt finish. Secondly, the coating has an affect on the design, i.e. designs look different with the different coatings. Also know that in respect of aesthetics, you can choose to mix and match, i.e. matt and chrome finish on different parts of the helmet. Lastly, from a practical point of view, you need to picture what circumstances these helmets are going to be exposed to, i.e. if you are driving on a track which has a lot of stones on the surface that get flicked up by a kart you are following behind, and if you plan to take the helmet out for racing where accidents can occur, it makes sense to do so with a matt or normal painted coated helmet rather than a chrome finished helmet.

(6) Protecting your Investment: When you own a painted helmet, you may need to make some changes to your habits when at the track. Purchase a helmet bag that you can store the helmet when moving between home and the track. You can add create an additional level of safety by placing the helmet in a cloth helmet bag before placing it in the helmet bag. At the track, wipe down the helmet with a soft cloth whenever you drive back into the pit, before keeping it stored in the cloth bag in between your track time. For chrome-finished helmets which can scratch easily, you can add a stoneguard plastic wrap that you can install quite easily on the helmet. The transparent plastic wraps will help protect your finish from small stones that get flicked in your direction by the kart in front. The stoneguard can be purchased from UK shops and is distributed by Arai UK http://www.whyarai.c…ture_shield.php. In addition, should you also have an expensive Caracoat or FMV tinted visor, you will definitely want to purchase transparent tear-off strips for your visor – like the helmet stoneguard, it will add a small degree of protection from flying debris and accidental scratches.

(7) Stains: The best way to take off stains is to polish it off as soon as they occur. The latter you try to remove them, the harder they are to remove. I use natural turpentine as well as a soft car polish to clean my helmet at the end of a track day. Remember to also use a soft cloth.

(8) Cleaning the Inside: Inevitably the helmet will smell from all the perspiration that stains the inner linings. Many helmets have removable paddings that you can pull out and wash. For those that don’t, you may wish to take your helmet with you to the bath whereupon you can jointly shampoo both your hair and helmet. Washing a helmet is inevitable – but you can extend the duration between washes by wearing a balaclava (the cloth lining will capture most of your perspiration) as well as airing your helmet in the sun in between sessions at the track.

(9) Driving in the Wet: Karters that use darkened visors or have tear off visors, should immediately take them off or change to a clear visor, before driving in the rain. Lightly tinted visor users may be lesser affected by the darkened sky which accompanies rain. However, those with dark visors (which look the coolest as they are fully opaque) will find their visibility affected by the lower levels of light. This is fine for casual driving sessions but absolutely dangerous in racing pace conditions. Karters with visor tear-offs, will experience build up of water trapped in between the strips and the visor – this will also affect visibility and is dangerous in racing pace conditions.

(10) Take Photos: Eventually, you may wish to get a new helmet painted with the same design. Taking photos of the helmet from different angles will help the painter (who may be the same or a different person from that who painted your original helmet) achieve a close replica of the original design. This is especially necessary when dealing with foreign painters who don’t have the luxury of visually sighting the original design.