EKN One-on-One: Puget Sound Road Racing Association’s Aaron Stanford
Dedication, ingenuity and hard work helps fuel rebirth of Pacific Northwest's road racing program
There was a time, both in the Pacific Northwest and in the United States as a whole, when road racing was a huge part of the karting landscape. In the past, many racers would participate in both the sprint and road race disciplines, while there was also a strong community of dedicated enduro and superkart competitors who made the IKF Region 6 Road Race program one of the best in the country. As a nationwide trend, road racing has been watching its numbers fall from coast-to-coast in recent years, which is a real shame when you consider that it’s an exciting and enjoyable part of the sport. There is just so much history in the category. The simple opportunity to race on the country’s most incredible tracks is one that we should never relinquish, and we’re lucky to have a list of dedicated men and women who continue to put in the time to organize and promote events. In the PNW, the Puget Sound Road Racing Association retains its post as the organization that promotes, organizes and supports road racing in the Seattle-Tacoma area and they will be working hard this year to strengthen their own bank account while putting on a single road race. EKN had a chance to chat with PSSRRA president Aaron Stanford to discuss their plan for 2014 and the event that they’ll be running at the end of May.
Rob Howden / eKartingNews.com: Aaron, thank you for taking the time to discuss road racing in the Pacific Northwest, and particularly the work that you and your volunteers are putting in to maintain the program with the Puget Sound Road Racing Association. Racing has a long and storied history in the PNW, but it has fallen off of late. Let’s start by getting your overview on the IKF Region 6 Road Racing program, so that we can educate the EKN readership on their road racing opportunities in that area of the country.
Aaron Stanford: In the past, the Pacific Northwest’s Region 6 has had one of the strongest road race programs in the country. We would run up to 14 road race events in a year, traveling to various tracks such as Pacific Raceways, Portland International Raceway, Spokane Raceway Park, and Bremerton Raceways. But with the rising cost of track rentals, it’s getting harder to rent tracks and at the same time keep entry fees affordable so that people can continue road racing as a family sport. We have some serious diehards who make every event, and others who come when they can afford it. This year, we have a schedule of three Region 6 Gold Cup road race events. The Puget Sound Road Race Association is holding one event this year on the May 30-31 weekend at the Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington.
EKN: Aaron, tell us about the new facility – The Ridge – and why people should come out to join the PSRRA this year. Is the club planning anything cool and interesting for this year’s race? While I’ve road raced a few times and loved it, EKN Managing Editor David Cole is a life-long road racer and is up to jump behind the wheel at any time. What would you say to racers in the Pacific Northwest or surrounding region’s to convince them to come run with you guys this year?
AS: The Ridge Motorsports Park is a new road course. The new facility is amazing. This place is state-of-the-art and when the complex is all finished, it will be one of the best in the USA. The straightaway is over 2800′ long. The track has over 500′ of elevation changes, a fun downhill corkscrew, and a perfect 180-degree corner. It’s just an all-around awesome track. If you’re the kind of racer who likes to sample new circuits, this one is definitely worth the trip. For this year’s event, the PSRRA will be giving away two entry fees to two lucky pre-registered racers. We will be giving away sets of tires and we are working on some other cool gifts and giveaways. We’re also working to get the Turn Two Lapping Club – a local Porsche racing car club – to come out and share our practice day on Friday. It will obviously help with our costs and it will be sweet to watch some high-dollar cars run the same track we run our karts on.
EKN: OK, that track sounds like it should definitely be on the bucket list. In regards to the race at the end of May, do you have any plans in place for the event to bring everything together and enjoy the camaraderie of the sport.
AS: On Saturday, after racing is done, we will have a ‘buddy drive’, so friends and family can climb into a kart and try what we do and love.
EKN: What do you expect to be the bigger classes for this event?
AS: I’m guessing that the bigger classes will include the 125cc shifter classes, and I expect that the four-stroke classes will be right up there with the shifters in entries. But don’t be fooled by the number of 80cc Laydowns that Russ Dyer’s group supports. We’ll see a good field of them as well.
EKN: I’m sure that an event like this needs the support of the local karting industry to be a success. What shops have stepped up to support road racing in the PNW?
AS: Kart shops in the Northwest are vital to racing community. The one shop that is essentially a ‘parts store on wheels ‘is KART-O-RAMA. Roger Semro does the whole Gold Cup Series for Region 6. The one thing that separates Kart-o-Rama from the rest of the kart shops is that Roger is not a race team support vehicle. Roger carries a variety of parts for just about every engine or chassis. We have other kart shops that participate in different race venues. Some do sprint, others do road races, dirt track or speedway. We are lucky in the Northwest to have such a huge racing community.
EKN: With the race less than two weeks away, give us one more promo to get those in the region to come out to play.
AS: The race is being held by Puget Sound Road Race Association on May 30-31 at the Ridge in Shelton, WA. We aim to make this the best event of the year for Region 6. This event is the only two-day event we have this year. The PSRRA will also have gifts, prizes and two entry fees to hand out. The club is also splitting Friday practice with Turn-2-lapping association. It will be quite the experience to watch professional race cars run the same track as our karts. Friday after practice, people can hang out and mingle or take a small drive to the Little Creek Casino. Saturday will be a day packed with racing. After racing had concluded, we’ll have a buddy drive for non-IKF members. People will have the chance to drive a competition kart on the nicest road course in the Northwest. For more information on the PSRRA or to enter the event, we invite everyone to head to our website – www.psrra.com and see us on Facebook.
EKN: Thanks for chatting with us, Aaron. We hope all goes well with the event and we hope to get a race report and lots of photos!
AS: Thank you, Rob. We will make sure to send lots of photos and some videos of racing, along with a race report of the event. Thanks for the chance to talk about road racing in the great Northwest. We look forward to seeing all the EKN readers at the track soon.