Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, March 27, 2000

Local family enjoys go-kart racing

By Andrea Vargo

Wheels spin, dirt flies, engines roar. The racing season opener for the Schuelke family of Howard Lake will soon be here.

The whole family participates in kart racing, and their first competition is at the Cedar Mills Karting Association (CMKA) track Saturday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Ginny and Rich Schuelke and their sons, John, 13, and Andrew, 11, are active members of the CMKA. All are race drivers and Ginny is on the CMKA board of directors.

Their first experience was as spectators, said Ginny.

Rich heard about the track when they lived in Chanhassen. They ventured to Cedar Mills, west of Hutchinson, to watch a few times, but decided it was too far to travel on a regular basis.

Then the family moved to Howard Lake, and it became a workable situation, Ginny said.

The boys started with a used kart that cost about $600 to $800 or so, Rich said.

This is a reasonable figure for an entry level kart, because the new ones can run approximately $3,000, ready to go, he explained.

Then, each kart is tweaked to get the most speed out of it. The engines are standard five-horsepower Briggs and Stratton, but drivers can play with the carburetors, and the heads are machined, he said.

Placement of the tires is also important, and the gear ratios can be adjusted, depending on the driver/kart unit weight to get the most speed out of the kart, Rich said.

After the purchase of the first kart, John, who was 9 years old, raced for the first time.

Racers compete for trophies every Saturday night during the racing season, and points are compiled for both the half-way mark and for year-end points, said John.

"I didn't have a very good kart that first year," he said.

Then Rich purchased a White Chassis for oval track racing.

"It looked like (that kind of kart) was working pretty well for another racer," John said.

Well, it worked "pretty well" for John. He was in first place at the first half of the season and got the second-place year-end trophy.

Now, there are no more split-season points and trophies, he said.

Last year, John took first place in his class at the end of the year, said Ginny.

Andrew started his racing career at age 7.

He has a few tales to tell. Most of them are around minor mishaps he has had on the track.

The first year he raced, he hit another kart head-on.

"The guy behind me hit me, and my kart ended up in a v-shape," Andrew said

"Once, I slammed into a wall, trying to pass another kart," he said.

As his mother smiles, Andrew sincerely states that all his half dozen or so accidents are someone else's fault.

Is this safe?

Yes, they all chorus.

Racers wear helmets, neck braces, gloves, wrist restraints, heavy, protective jean jackets and pants, and high top shoes.

Roll cages are mandatory for all karts, said John.

Andrew earned five trophies his first year and four the second season. Last year, he got first place half-season points in his class maintained his lead for first place at the end of the year.

In fact, he was so far ahead of his competitors in points, he was able to safely take a vacation and went camping with some friends.

To help pay their racing expenses, the two boys help in their dad's machine shop, Schuelke Machine, just outside of Howard Lake.

The Kiddies and Sportsman classes will not receive year-end points, starting this year, decided the CMKA board of directors.

The classes were developed to be a place to learn, have fun, and focus on driving skills, and it was felt that being competitive was counter-productive, said Ginny.

This is a sport for all ages. Children can start racing at 6 years of age, and there are racers over 60 years old, she said.

The Cedar Mills Karting Association will sponsor a driver's clinic Saturday, May 20 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The clinic is designed for new or inexperienced drivers. They will learn track rules, signals, flags, and how to line up.

The drivers will also have driving time on the track.

Experienced people will be available to answer questions regarding kart and motor specifications.

For questions or additional information, contact Ginny Schuelke at 320-543-3877.

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