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
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 Thread, Facebook, Twitter 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.
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
|0||Mason Chelootz||Top Kart USA||Top Kart|
|1||John McCluster||Mike Doty Racing||Haase|
|2||Mark Dismore Jr.||Comet Kart Sales||Arrow|
|4||Austin Queen||Team Queen||Top Kart|
|6||Chris Wehreim||Top Kart USA||Top Kart|
|7||Jason Foley||Franklin Motorsports||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|
|341||Nick Rivellini||Team WRS||Kosmic|
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
|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|
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
|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|