EKN Legends: Randy Fulks
Karting’s road racing great continues to add victories to resume
Road racing, or enduro karting, as it is known to many of the sport’s early enthusiasts, continues to provide racers with the unique opportunity to compete at historic facilities around the country. There is nothing like being able to tell people both in and outside of the sport what it feels like to race at Mid-Ohio, Virginia International Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and many others. The pinnacle of United States road racing is the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the equivalent to us karters is the World Karting Association’s Daytona KartWeek at the Daytona International Speedway. The ‘World Center of Speed’ welcomes karters from across the nation and from all over the globe to take on the historic 3.5-mile course. The driver who has visited the DIS victory lane more than any other in the sport of karting is Randy Fulks – or ‘Mr. Daytona’ – as he is known by many of his peers and competitors.
Randy is 1/3rd of the Fulks racing family, and is always joined by his father Reggie and brother Rick, who form RRR Racing out of the Springfield, Illinois area. All three have a long history in the sport. Reggie and Randy are both in the WKA Hall of Fame, while Rick carries a successful and very diverse resume from street racing to road racing. Over the last four decades, Randy has been the defacto measuring stick when karters make the annual pilgrimage to Daytona between Christmas and New Year’s Day. With a total of 46 wins in the last 33 years, Fulks certainly has the CV to back it up.
Randy began karting in the late 1960s, on a Margay powered by a McCulloch 49 Rookie engine, and he continues to run the brand to this day. The first tracks on which he gained experience were TNT Kartways and Mid-State Raceway, both of which are still in operation. When speaking with Fulks about his history in the sport, he brought up going to Barnesville in 1968 for a national event, and getting beat by former WKA President Randy Kugler. Certainly, the two went in different directions in the sport, as Kugler is known for his many years of services with WKA, rather than his skills behind the wheel. Fulks mentioned that Mr. Kugler would make sure everyone knew about this feat, brining it up at numerous events over the years including banquets and driver’s meetings. Just one of the many memories that Fulks has of his early years.
The first year that the WKA held the Road Racing Championships at the DIS facility was in 1974, running around the 3.81-mile course of the time. Since that debut, Fulks has only missed two events held there, both due to work (in which case he switched jobs to continue racing Daytona). Randy’s first taste of victory did not come until 1980, however, when he won twice that year. No matter the class or the engine, Fulks has found the fastest way around the Daytona high banks more then any other driver in the history of KartWeek.
This year, he competed in five classes over the two days, including B-Stock, 100cc Controlled, and 100cc Controlled Spec. Randy was one of the quickest in B-Stock, his first race of the event, until an engine let go and cost him the chance at victory. He followed that with win number one of the weekend, as he outlasted ALMS Muscle Milk / Pickett Racing Team Manager and engineer Brandon Fry in the Controlled Spec 1 race, with Rick placing third. Later in the day, Fulks drove to win number two in the regular Controlled class, running nearly one-second a lap quicker than the competition. The next day, his team registered him for both the 100cc Controlled and 100cc Controlled Spec classes, running at the same time. He would start with the Spec field, 10 seconds behind the regular Controlled class. He and Fry ran down the entire field together and raced to a photo finish for the overall victory. After a couple of side swipes and tire smoke streaming from the contact, Fulks crossed the stripe first by just 38 thousandths of a second. The victory was the first time a driver won two classes in the same race, putting his Daytona total to 46.
When asked what things have changed from his first trip at Daytona to these most recent excursions, Randy mentioned how the track is now different from the original layout. The old Horseshoe was deeper into the infield of DIS, and the Bus Stop was used briefly until major incidents forced WKA to stop using that section of the track in favor of running nearly the entire 2.5-mile oval portion of the course. One thing that remains the same is the camaraderie and the respect others have on the road racing side of the sport. Fulks’ victories this past December were not earned by just the driver, but a team of friends and family – including his parents Reggie and Barb Fulks, Bob Varga, the Spaudes (Bill, Tod, and Bret), Kevin Kann, Jack Murray, and the Schoonovers. Everyone was pitching in all weekend and helping Randy to be ready for each and every session on-track, no matter what time constraints were put in front of them. Fulks commented on how it was much different from the Manufacturers Cup Series, where everyone seems to have their spears out, ready to attack, while on the road race side, drivers still have the desire to compete but they are primarily there to have fun and enjoy themselves.
Aside from Daytona, Fulks stated that his favorite facilities at which to race are Mid-Ohio, the old Road Atlanta, and Grattan Raceway in Michigan. When asked if there was an accomplishment that he placed near or above the Daytona wins, he replied with every single one. He feels that each one is special in its own way, although the Daytona wins seem to have a little more importance than the others. Now into his 50’s, he’s grown more respect for each and every win that he earns, adding to the roughly 300-400 victories in his career. Fulks plans to continue racing karts for years to come, and has the WKA National Road Racing Series events and other selected races on his schedule for 2013.