California ProKart Challenge Ready for 2013 Season Opener in Buttonwillow
Top drivers from west coast begin season February 1-2 at Buttonwillow Raceway Park
The first weekend of February will welcome the ninth season of the California ProKart Challenge, the flagship regional program of the Superkarts! USA organization. Over 100 racers are expected to converge on the Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, California on February 1-2 for the first round of the 2013 six-race championship, all vying for a piece of the over $70,000 prize purse this season. Owned and operated by Superkarts! USA president Tom Kutscher, he and his dedicated staff strive to provide the best value to racers in the state, while adding the fun and exciting atmosphere you can only get at a SKUSA event.
The start of every new season gives a chance to spotlight those drivers moving up the SKUSA ladder system, both in TaG and Stock Moto. Those drivers claiming champions have the choice to remain or move up, and S2 California PKC champion Matias Podboj will advance to Extreme Karting/Vemme S1 Pro Stock Moto. Three victories and four podiums to his credit in 2012 bring him up against the top Stock Moto drivers in the country. Also at the top of the rung is new S1 driver – the ‘Flyin Hawaiian’ Alec Gumpfer, as the 18-year old is graduating from S2. Making a return to the series is NorCal driver Cody Hodgson. The former PKC champ spent the last two seasons on the east coast, competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those and others will be among the strong contenders that will challenge defending champion Jimmy McNeil for the 2013 S1 title.
With the departure of Podboj, the Buddy Rice Karting S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto title chase is up for grabs. Among them will be 52-year old Robert Marks, as the 2012 S4 champion is moving up a class to compete against the young guns. Marks is not the only ‘elder’ driver moving up to S2, as former PKC champion PP Mastro is rumored to be jumping up to the Semi-Pro class as well Trevor McAllister and a few others. Female drivers were successful in the S2 category in 2012, as Colorado’s Sabré Cook earned the SKUSA Pro Tour championship. Jessica Sollberger and Mariana Ramirez Savage represent two strong woman drivers heading into 2013. Sollberger finished fourth in the California PKC standings in her first season in S2, while Mariana drove to her best SuperNationals finish last November. The newest driver to make the transition from S5 Junior to S2 is Curtis Paul Jr. The NorCal driver drove to two podium finishes in his three California PKC starts last year.
The Pure Karting TaG Senior division will see a number of familiar names this season, with a good mixture of So-Cal and Nor-Cal drivers. Veteran Matt Johnson secured the 2012 title with four victories on the year, besting former champ Travis Lowe and Devin Lindsey. The same can be said in the Mike Manning Karting TaG Master class with strong numbers expected on the year. In 2012, Billy Cleavelin put together four straight victories in the middle of the season to earn the championship, and is back to defend the crown. Former SKUSA Pro Tour champion Ethan Wilson finished second, earning the other two victories on the year coming back from a broken wrist suffered in April. Paul Grey was third in the standings, and returns looking to improve on his two podiums from a year ago.
The elder shifterkart categories have always seen high numbers since the series was started in early 2005. The Leading Edge Motorsports S4 Master Stock Moto class will see many of the familiar names from the past and last year, aside from defending champ Marks and a handful of others who moved up to S2 for the season. This will open up this year’s title chase to some new contenders – including Tunnell, Hromada, Fosso, and Schilling – who have been regulars year after year. 2013 could be the year one of them is standing on top of the podium at the end of season. More from south and north California along with other surrounding states will be heading to Buttonwillow next weekend to earn the early bragging rights during Saturday nights bench racing. The S4 Magnum, the Master Stock Moto Heavy class will continue on in 2013, as the 2 Wild Karting S3 Novice Stock Moto division will welcome another crop of new drivers to the Superkarts! USA Stock Moto ranks.
In the Junior ranks, Carter Williams is back to defend both his championships. In the Phil Giebler Racing TaG Junior class, Williams will be joined by a number of drivers making their way into the California PKC program from the local clubs throughout California. There is no doubt the many contenders from last year, including last year’s runner-up Christian Brooks, will be back for more as the category could be the largest of the series. Williams earned his second title of 2012 in S5 Junior Stock Moto, sponsored by SwedeTech Racing Engines. After winning four races last year, he will find strong competition from Garrett Dixon, moving over from TaG Junior for 2013 to begin his run up the SKUSA Stock Moto ladder system. More drivers are expected to contest the full California PKC schedule this year.
TaG Cadet, sponsored by Sunshine Daydream Creations, continues to see new drivers each and every year, as we are introduced to the future stars of the California ProKart Challenge. One program that is helping numbers grow this season is SKUSA offering 15 new Mini Rok engines sold at discounted rates to those young competitors that were not part of the organization before. Entering the Buttonwillow event, six new drivers are pre-registered with more expected once competitors hit the track on February 1 for practice. The top three from last year – SKUSA Pro Tour and California PKC champ Hunter Kelly, Anthony Sawyer, and Jack von Quilich – are expected to return, taking the class entries to possible record numbers in 2013.
Pre-entry for the opening round of the California ProKart Challenge is available now at www.skusastore.com until midnight on Wednesday, January 30. Racers will hit the track Friday, February 1 as the California PKC will host a full day of practice, run from 9am to 5pm. Move-in will be permitted on Thursday, January 31 with no on-track activity allowed. Reserved pit spots are available for just $30, and are highly recommended but running out fast. Overnight camping is available with discount at local hotels listed at the SKUSA event page, along with all other event details at the following link (http://www.superkartsusa.com/regional/california-pkc/event-calendar/round-1-2013.html). SKUSA would like to remind competitors of the $10 gate fee due to the track for all attendees, which does not include the SKUSA spectator passes.
Superkarts! USA would like the thank the following companies, in addition to the support of the class sponsors, for their aid toward the 2013 season: MG Tires, Mothers Polish, Honda/HPD, VP Racing Fuels, Motul, MIR, and AiM. Stayed tuned to www.superkartsusa.com for any late breaking news on the event, as well as updates on Twitter at @SuperKartsUSA and at Facebook.com/SKUSA.