EKN Trackside: United States Pro Kart Series – Mooresville Preview Series – Leopard

Star-studded line-ups set in the IAME categories, highlighted by over 30 in Pro division

USPKS United States Pro Kart Series logo

This weekend marks the inaugural United States Pro Kart Series event, set for the Mooresville Motorplex in North Carolina. The new series is aimed at providing a new and fresh karting organization to promote the sport for the racers – in a four weekend program. Created by Route 66 Sprint Series director Mark Coats, a number of industry members have stepped behind this new program that will host over 100 drivers at the opening rounds, presented by GoPro.

The USPKS is fielding seven categories for 2013, based around the Yamaha KT-100 and IAME Parilla Leopard engines. The Yamaha holds four classes, from Rookie to Senior, with the Leopard divisions for Pro, Semi-Pro and Masters. The event format will feature two rounds of racing – one Saturday and one Sunday – consisting of qualifying, two heat races and a main event. The Mooresville weekend will see the heat races last 10 laps each with 20 laps scheduled for the mains. Bridgestone tires will be the spec tire of choice for the USPKS, with YLC compound used in all classes except for the Pro category, which is set to use the softer YLB tire.

The Mooresville Motorplex is a state-of-the-art karting facility that opened at the end of the 2012 season. The 7/10-mile course is based on the famous and historic Kartdromo Parma in Italy, recreated to match the specifications of modern world karting championship standards. The United States Pro Kart Series will be the first national event at the North Carolina facility.

eKartingNews.com will be onsite for the inaugural USPKS event weekend – providing the ‘EKN Trackside Live’ broadcast presented by DRT Racing athttp://www.ekartingnews.com/live . Live audio play-by-play action, live timing and forum discussion is available all on the one page, in addition to a mobile audio link for those on the go. Follow updates at the Official Discussion ThreadFacebookTwitter and now on Instagram.

EKN is providing a two-day preview program leading up to the weekend’s action of the USPKS Mooresville event, highlighting each of the seven categories. Today reviews the IAME Parilla Leopard categories.


Pro

EKN no.1 TaG driver Phil DeLaO will take his talent to the USPKS inaugural event in the Pro category (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

EKN no.1 TaG driver Phil DeLaO will take his talent to the USPKS inaugural event in the Pro category
(Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

The best of the best will do battle in the Pro category at the inaugural USPKS event in Mooresville, with over 30 scheduled to take part in history. The driver roster is a mix of veterans, current stars, and those looking to make a name for themselves against the top pilots in the country. Sixteen of the current EKN TaG Driver Rankings Top-50 drivers will be on-hand, all looking to earn that first ever victory in the new series.

Veterans include Jamie Sieracki, Mark Dismore Jr., Chris Wehrheim, Billy Lewis, and TJ Koyen. These drivers have been racing for over a decade against one another, and could set the tone for the weekend. Sieracki, owner of Franklin Motorsports and Merlin USA, showed last year in the SKUSA Pro Tour just how competitive he still is at the rip age of 33. Dismore (Arrow) – the third generation at Comet Kart Sales – is jumping back behind the wheel to be part of history and has the muscle to contend. Wehrheim has been all over the country and aboard in the sport of karting, returning back aboard a Top Kart for his 2013 debut. Lewis (Ultimate Kart) has the determination to win every time he straps on the helmet and saw some good pace at a recent test in Mooresville. The ‘Comeback Kid’ Koyen (Exprit) heads to North Carolina after some rally impersonation at the SKUSA SpringNationals, where he proved to have the speed to be a contender. Should lady luck turn his way, he will be among the drivers at the top of the results sheet.

This weekend features the top two drivers from the recent EKN TaG Driver Rankings going head to head once again. Arizona’s Phil DeLaO – the current #1 driver – has found a new home with the KartSport North America operation and the Arrow chassis, and is looking to defend their home turf in Mooresville. Mason Chelootz – former #1 driver and currently second – was the top non-Rotax driver at the recent SKUSA SpringNats, sticking with his weapon of choice through the weekend. The Top Kart USA driver returns to the familiar Leopard and Bridgestone tires as well, as he’s a proven winner and champion with both.

Tommy Andersen, Robert Bujdoso, Jacob Knueven, Jacob Donald, Nick Rivellini, Colton Ramsey, Scott Kopp, Joel Jens, Calvin Stewart, Kindra Hurlbert, and Adam Crepin – all currently sit inside the Top-50 of the EKN TaG Driver Rankings. They have all been there and have the talent to be contenders on the weekend.

A handful of drivers are working on their rookie season at the Senior level, or are making their TaG debut at the USPKS opener. Ashley Rogero (Tony Kart) has had a stellar Cadet and Junior career, and has already begun making the transition to the top level of the sport in Florida this winter. Kyle Kalish (Merlin) has worked up the karting ladder and is in his rookie season at the Senior level as well. EKN’s January Driver of the Month Jack Weprin (FA Kart) is at the halfway stage in his karting career, working between Junior and Senior. The New York driver placed fourth in the Junior Rotax standings, and is competing at the Senior level in the Rotax Euro Challenge, working with current #4 on the EKN Driver Rankings Danny Formal this weekend.

With a long list of contenders, it will be a battle of the young and hungry versus the calculated and experienced to leave Mooresville with a victory in hand.

Pro – Provisional Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis
0 Mason Chelootz Top Kart USA Top Kart
1 John McCluster Mike Doty Racing Haase
2 Mark Dismore Jr. Comet Kart Sales Arrow
3 Michael Geringer Arrow
4 Austin Queen Team Queen Top Kart
5 Alexander Salsbury Merlin
6 Chris Wehreim Top Kart USA Top Kart
7 Jason Foley Franklin Motorsports Merlin
08J Colton Ramsey Merlin
9 Cal Stewart Kart Star Motorsports Praga
10 Jacob Donald KartSport North America Arrow
11 Billy Lewis Ultimate Kart
12 Kindra Hurlbert Franklin Motorsports Merlin
16 Jamie Sieracki Franklin Motorsports Merlin
17 Ashley Rogero Ocala Gran Prix Tony Kart
18 Drake Ostrom Kart Star Motorsports Praga
19 Kyle Kalish Franklin Motorsports Merlin
21 Andrew Bujdoso Checkered Motorsports PCR
24 Derek Dignan KartSport North America Arrow
30 Jacob Knueven DRT Racing DR Kart
32 Robert Bujdoso Checkered Motorsports PCR
34 Jack Weprin SLV Motorsports FA Kart
35 Joel Jens Joel Jens Racing Tony Kart
37 Adam Crepin Laukaitis Racing Merlin
38 Scott Kopp Innovative Performance Praga
68 TJ Koyen DB Motorsports Exprit
77 Phil DeLaO KartSport North America Arrow
81 Tommy Anderson Top Kart USA Top Kart
88 Sam Cate Tony Kart
94 Shawn Sharkey Franklin Motorsports Merlin
97 Nathan Seigliano
341 Nick Rivellini Team WRS Kosmic


Masters

Chuck Gafrarar will look for home-court advantage this weekend in the Masters division (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

Chuck Gafrarar will look for home-court advantage this weekend in the Masters division
(Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

The Masters category has five familiar names from the national scene, all with victories and championships to their credits. The home track advantage goes to Chuck’s from North Carolina – Chuck Gafrarar and Chuck Tate. Gafrarar (Parolin) is a SuperNats podium finisher and current #3 plate in SKUSA competition. Tate (Arrow) is a veteran of the sport as well, bouncing between driver and owner with son Caleb racing alongside him in the Yamaha Rookie category. Both have many laps on the MMX facility and could be the early favorites. Experience overall falls into the hands of Jim Russell Jr. of Russell Karting Specialties. A life-long karter, Russell (Parolin) has done it all in every form of the sport. Russell’s experience with the IAME engines has him at a favorable advantage. Brian McHattie (Exprit) has done it already with SKUSA and the Rock Island Grand Prix, looking to add a USPKS title to his CV. The DB Motorsports owner will fight to the very end to come out on top. Looking for his first taste of national glory is Brian McEvoy (Merlin). Showing well over the last couple of years, a major win has slipped from his hands here and there.

The Michigan duo of Jim Brickley (Arrow) and Tom Bruce (Tony Kart) will escape the cold temperatures of the north for the warmer weather of North Carolina. Both are respected racers at the club and regional level, stepping up to the national scene. Lamar ‘Cowboy’ Humphries will be a paddock favorite. The longtime Route 66 Sprint Series competitor will bring his enthusiasm to the USPKS opener.

Masters – Provisional Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis
3 Chuck Tate Racersites Arrow
5 Jim Brickley Arrow
8 Chad Kruger
21 Jim Russell Jr. Russell Karting Specialties Parolin
24C Lamar Humphries Cowboy Racing Margay
28 Scott Button Franklin Motorsports Merlin
44 Tom Bruce Tony Kart
79 Brian McEvoy Franklin Motorsports Merlin
93 Brian McHattie DB Motorsports Exprit
655 Tim Shutt Top Kart
3s Chuck Gafrarar Russell Karting Specialties Parolin


Semi-Pro

Davey Manthei Jr. has the most experience in a Leopard among the Semi-Pro drivers (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

Davey Manthei Jr. has the most experience in a Leopard among the Semi-Pro drivers
(Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

The transition from Junior racing to the top level in the sport can be a large hurdle to overcome. For some, it’s not an issue. For others, it may take a year or two of adjustment and growth before becoming a regular contender against the best. This is what the Semi-Pro category will do for the Leopard drivers. The field in Mooresville is filled with young drivers, many who have yet to start a Senior level event. Doing double duty, racing Junior in Yamaha and Semi-Pro in Leopard are Mike McAndrews (Birel), Gresham Wagner (Arrow) and Matt Solarcyck (Birel). Austin McCluster (Haase) is another Junior racing jumping into the Semi-Pro category, concentrating on just the one class, as well as Californian Davey Manthei Jr. The Arrow driver has experience with the Leopard engine, coming off strong runs at the SpringNationals in Arizona. Braden Eves (PCR) is just starting out his Junior career, looking to gain some experience in the more horsepower Leopard class. It will be very intriguing season watching the young drivers as the season progresses.

Semi-Pro Provisional Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis
1 Mike McAndrews MRP Motorsport Birel
2 Andrew Cook Appco Racing Arrow
2 Austin Erikson Kart Star Motorsports Praga
5 Gresham Wagner KartSport North America Arrow
6 Austin McCluster Mike Doty Racing Haase
12 Matt Solarcyck High Velocity Racing/MRP Birel
41 Braden Eves GT Karting PCR
42 Davey Manthei, Jr. KartSport North America Arrow
71 Dustin Stross Tony Kart

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