Tul-aris Scores Again!

Calvin Kim
by Calvin Kim
Thanks to Rob Tuluie and Mid-West Desk correspondent, J.R. Hunter for this release:

Tul-aris rider Steve Johnson piloted the Tul-aris to it's 2nd win this yearand an additional three 2nd places during the CRA races at Mid-AmericaRaceway. During the 3-day race weekend, we completed a total of 96 laps, or220 miles of racing at the twisty racing circuit without any mechanicalproblems or failures. In fact, not a single wrench was turned all weekendother than to make suspension adjustments, shock linkage ratio changes,swingarm pivot height changes and tire changes. We changed jets once, neverchanged the plugs and just enjoyed the super reliability and greatacceleration of our Hot Seat Performance 780cc motor. Steve made everypractice and race start to finish and never missed a lap. Some Formula Oneteams would kill for this level of reliability from a home-engineeredmachine.

While we could enjoy great reliability, we did spend most of our timechasing the optimum setup. A severe thunderstorm hammered the track Thursdaynight, creating infield lakes, washing mud across the track and removing anyrubber that had been laid down previously. Hence Friday morning practiceconsisted of sliding our way around the track and wondering if Michelin DoTtires would be a more suitable choice than our Michelin Pilot slicks forthis very peculiar track surface. Thankfully Tom Mason of Mason Racing Tiresheaded us in the right direction with his recommendations for tirescompounds and pressures. So, while we might not have quite found the bestcombination, we certainly made significant improvements in tire life andgrip thanks to Tom and Walt Schaeffer Michelin. In addition, Tul-aris teammember Stefan Herdel and I tried typical damping adjustments and preloadchanges in the search for more grip on corner exits, but this only yieldedminor improvements. After studying the data from our PI data acquisitionsystem, a change to a softer rear shock linkage ratio yielded a bit moregrip, and a final change to the swingarm pivot height finally produced ourfastest laptime (which was faster than the lap record we nearly broke hereearlier in the year, but not quite fast enough for the new lap record, setby Robert Jensen this weekend). After winning the Heavyweight GP class inthe 12-lap Trophy Dash race, Steve and the Tul-aris were looking for our 2ndwin during the Heavyweight GP sprint race. Steve gained the lead on the 2ndlap and held it for 1½ laps, but fell back to second place in a longleft-hand sweeper exit where we had been struggling for grip all weekendlong. Steve put his head down and the Tul-aris shot back into first placewith great corner entry speed going into turn 1, only to be passed again onthe pen-ultimate lap in the same sweeper exit.

Unfortunately, Steve'sadvantage (turn 1) is the first turn after the checker flag, so we ended upa very close 2nd place. In addition, Steve also finished a close 2nd in theUnlimited GP sprint race and in the Dash-for-Cash race as well. With thelack of traction during the corner exits, it was incredible to watch Stevelight up the rear tire, spinning it so you could clearly hear the changes inengine rpm, and then pulling big 100mph power wheelies once the tire hookedup again!

In summary, I must congratulate our rider Steve Johnson on never crashingthe Tul-aris all year in the dry (one minor get-off in the wet notwithstanding) and riding the wheels off it. His feedback and setup skill aresecond to none. Thanks to Steve and our sponsors, we made significantimprovements throughout the year, which netted us 2 wins, many top-3finishes and one lap record. Our reliability has been fantastic all year,with mostly only rain causing Steve to pull in a few times this year. Infact, in eight race weekends (with several races each weekend) we only had 2mechanical DNFs all year, one a slipping clutch and the other a failed powervalve controller early in the year, which since then has been workingflawlessly.

Our next event will be the Formula USA and CCS national championship racesat Daytona, but is not certain that we will be able to make these at thispoint. Our final tally for the regular racing season is:

  • Two 1st places
  • Five 2nd places
  • Two 3rd places
  • One 4th place
  • One 7th place
  • One lap record (Blackhawk)

None of this success would have been possible without the support, adviceand good-will of our sponsors and the volunteer support of all the Tul-aristeam members. Our sponsors are: Walt Schaeffer Michelin, Hot SeatPerformance, Nutec Racing Fuel, Mason Racing Tires, Ohlins USA, MTS Systems,Lofgren Racing/Manley Cycle, Yoyodyne Titanium, GP Tech, Headhunter Racingand DCM Services. Special thanks also to Jim Hubert, Chad Pierce and EricChristensen. Steve Johnson is sponsored by Delano Sport Center, Hi-PerSports, Mason Racing Tires, EBC Brakes and Lockhart Phillips.

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Calvin Kim
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