EKN TV: WKA Daytona KartWeek On-Board w/Brian Wilhelm
Veteran Formula 125 driver takes us around the high-banks in Daytona
For over 30 years, karters have flocked between the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays to take part in the annual World Karting Association Daytona KartWeek. Racers have hit the international road course of the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida since the 1970s. From all over North America, and previously from around the world, racers would take advantage to race around this historic facility.
The mission has and still is to reach the highest speed possible heading around the high-banks and through the tri-oval section of the course. Speeds into the 160mph bracket have been reached, with the unofficial record set in 2008 by Jim Russell Jr. in a PVP/Wally Wallen-prepared laydown kart, powered by a BRC250FE engine. Some will argue that karting legend Martin Hines has the quickest speed and lap ever, but Russell’s official times were the following over the two days of racing: Day One – 1:53.753/112.665mph and Day Two: 152.634/113.784mph. The calculated top speed was 167mph with zero tire growth. Speaking with Russell, he felt lap times under the 1:50 mark and speeds reaching 180mph could be obtained by a few aero and engine adjustments. To view the discussion regarding the speed quest, visit EKN Classic Forums. Speaking with BRC’s Riley Will who currently has the kart in his Alberta, Canada shop, he’s planning for it to make a comeback with something very wild and different for Daytona.
This year’s event saw just one race completed on the opening day of racing before the rains came and cancelled the remainder of the race groups. Thankfully, the sun returned for day two, with all groups getting in their full time slots for the high-banks. The fastest lap recorded over the two-day event was put in by 250 Superkart driver Bobby Butler out of Louisiana, pacing the 3.46-mile course at 1:57.447 for an average speed of 106mph aboard his Andersen Mirage/PVP251 entry.
One of the quickest karts year after year however has been the Formula 125 machine driven by Brian Wilhelm. The former co-promoter of the Super Kart Illustrated Formula 125 Challenge is among the continuing pioneers of the category, featuring modified laydown chassis with 125 shifterkart engine – either moto, ICC, Formula C, or KZ powerplants. The Owl/Pavesi package paced the Daytona circuit at an average of 104mph, clocking in at 1:59.561-lap time. The maximum MPH during the lap was recorded at 145.1, but his teammate Mitch White set a mark at 146.1mph in a similar kart on the same lap. The 30-minute race ended with Wilhelm edging out former Big South Road Racing Series promoter Robby Harper – driving a twin engine laydown powered by two 125cc Sudam motors – by a slim 0.076-seconds.
Mr. Wilhelm was able to supply EKN with his on-board footage from Daytona, giving us a birds-eye view from his helmet cam to provide the feeling of looking between your toes while going over 140mph.