Paddock Insider: 2015 Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour – SpringNationals

EKN’s Paddock Insider is a new Trackside coverage addition, bringing you notes, updates and breaking news as it happens. The article will be a timeline of events as they happen during the 2015 Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour SpringNationals at PKRA in Glendale, Arizona. The information will not be seen anywhere else, including interviews and photos. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below: For complete coverage head to the EKN Event Page.

SKUSA Pro Tour SpringNats 2015 logoFikse Wheels

This year is a new era of the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour, with the addition of Fikse Wheels coming on board as the title sponsor. A respected wheel manufacturer for cars, the company is putting in their support of the growing national program that is the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. Throughout the year, the Fikse name will be seen at the track, with plenty of banners and product display, along with helping to support the television broadcast from each of the three events in 2015. Just signed on this week, Traxxas – the fastest name in radio control – will be providing product at the podium throughout the program.

European Invasion

Praga driver Patrik Hijek is among the Europeans here at the SuperNationals (Photo: EKN)

Praga driver Patrik Hajek is among the Europeans here at the SuperNationals (Photo: EKN)

As we saw last year, a solid group of drivers came across the ocean to compete in the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. The highlight was the championships of Jordon Lennox and Gian Cavaciuti in the S1 Pro and S4 Master divisions. Lennox will remain in Europe this season as the UK driver is focusing on his CIK and WSK programs with BirelART. The Italian Cavaciuti is back to defend his crown, this time sporting the American Aluminos brand, a partner with the GP factory. Keeping the Euro invasion going in the S1 class is Czech driver Patrik Hijek and Belgian Rick Dreezen. Hijeck is with the Praga North America operation, while Dreezen is taking the place at PSL Karting aboard a BirelART.

Tavella to PSL Karting / BirelART for Pro Tour

Dylan Tavella is set to contest the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour with BirelART (Photo: EKN)

Dylan Tavella is set to contest the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour with BirelART (Photo: EKN)

The quality of drivers under the Canadian-based operation went up a notch with the addition of Dylan Tavella to the squad. Regarding as one of the top Cadet drivers over the past decade, the New Yorker is set to contend the Pro Tour with PSL Karting aboard a BirelART kart, while remaining with Charlie Swayne at Iron Rock Motorsports at the USPKS events. Tavella is still getting adjusted to the full size kart after moving up this winter, but the young driver is already showing speed against the Junior veterans.

iKart Brings in ‘Money’

Brandon Jarsocrak making his national debut with iKart (Photo: EKN)

Brandon Jarsocrak making his national debut with iKart (Photo: EKN)

A rising star over the last 12 months has been Pennsylvania driver Brandon Jarsocrak. Scoring the championship at the USPKS in Yamaha, he grew as a TaG driver as well. He earned his first TaG victory last weekend at GoPro, and now moves to a new partnership with American manufacturer iKart. The chassis has shown well throughout the midwest, and is expanding west to California and the pacific northwest. Jarsocrak is no stranger to pulling double duty, running both S2 Semi-Pro and TaG Senior here in Phoenix for his Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. The final practice, he was 8th and 13th respectively.

Doing the Double – North Carolina to Phoenix

Last weekend, the east coast summer program United States Pro Kart Series began its 2015 season at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina. Making the long trek from the east to Phoenix are 22 drivers in TaG Senior, TaG Junior and TaG Cadet.

Blue Wave – Raising Awareness for Autism

Aaron Likens waving the Blue Flag during Friday Practice (Photo: EKN)

Aaron Likens waving the Blue Flag during Friday Practice (Photo: EKN)

One of the exciting components of the Superkarts! USA experience is the visual and physical passion that is displayed by the series’ official flagman Aaron Likens.  The Missouri resident is one of the best in the business and brings a special flare and a level of professionalism that is unparalleled in North American karting.  Aaron is also a noted public speaker on the topic of autism awareness, having been diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2003. He is the Easter Seals Midwest Autism Ambassador and spoke at over 125 conferences and schools in 2014, and has spoke at over 650 engagements during the last five years.  Last year, Aaron rolled out his ‘Blue Wave’ program, which he brought to the SpringNationals in 2014. The Blue Wave, a blue and white checkered flag that will replace the traditional black and white during the month of April, is now in its second-year.  The program is a way to raise awareness and generate donations towards autism awareness and understanding.

Nothing is as traditional in motorsports as the ‘black and white’ checkered flag, so changing something that has been the same for 100 years will no doubt generate questions like “what’s with the flag?”.  Well, when Aaron was born in 1983, the rate of autism was 1 in 1,500. When he started racing and flagging in 1995 when he was just 12, the rate was approximately 1 in 750. When he received his diagnosis of Asperger’s in 2003, it was 1 in 150 and today, per the CDC, the national rate is 1 in 68 and the numbers continue to climb.  Armed with this knowledge, Aaron set about putting together a program that could provide assistance and awareness, and in cooperation with Tony Otto at DynamicDezigns, they came up with the special blue and white checkered flag.

For this weekend’s SKUSA SpringNationals, the special ‘Blue Wave’ checkered flags used to finish the races will be raffled off during the Sunday podium presentations. This year, a total of three flags will be raffled off. Each day, Aaron will have a ‘Champion’s Flag’ that will be signed by all of the winners, but unlike last year, there will also be a ‘Podium Flag’ that all of the podium finishers from both days will sign. At the end of Sunday, this flag will be raffled off as well. Tickets are being sold at $5 each or five for $20, at registration, with 100% of all proceeds going towards autism awareness and understanding. (Tickets purchased on any given day are good throughout the weekend.)

In 2014, $3,500 was raised by the project as a whole, with $1,100 being raised in Dallas during the SpringNationals alone.  Winners must be present to win and the tickets can be purchased up to the final podium presentation. Also, all raffle ticket purchases are tax deductible and forms will be there to fill out for the proper papers to be mailed at a later time.  Aaron’s overall goal of the project is that over time, all series would use the Blue Wave flag during the month of April.  EKN asks that the karting community step up to support a great cause, one that is near and dear to a very special member of our racing family.

East Coast Teams Working Together

Toward the south end of the paddock is one of the large circus tents, enclosing four different teams based on the eastern half of the country. KartSport North America, Praga North America, Franklin Motorsports and Mike Doty Racing are all under one tent, with a mixture of TaG and Stock Moto entries.

Fast Friday

SKUSA #2 TaG Senior plate holder Louie Pagano ended the day at the top of the order in Final Practice (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

SKUSA #2 TaG Senior plate holder Louie Pagano ended the day at the top of the order in Final Practice (Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

Veteran drivers stood out in the headline categories during the final practice session on Friday. Belgian driver Rick Dreezen is making his Fikse Wheels Pro Tour debut in the S1 Pro division after a few starts at the SuperNationals. He is trading in his KZ power for Stock Moto, and showing no issues with the move, taking the place of championship driver Jordon Lennox in the PSL Karting / BirelART stable. Dreezen clocked in quickest in the final go around with a 44.753. That was good enough to edge out both Billy Musgrave and two-time Fikse Wheels Pro Tour champion Fritz Leesmann by under a tenth of a second. Louie Pagano has finished inside the top three of the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour the last three seasons in TaG Senior. Carrying the SKUSA #2 plate for a second straight year. He put his 2Wild Karting Tony Kart to the top of the charts in the final practice with a 46.012-lap. The top-15 is separated by just half a second, setting up for an exciting two days of racing.

Carter Williams has not missed a beat in the opening months of his sophomore season in the S2 Semi-Pro division. Three straight wins into the California PKC season, the Phil Giebler Racing FA Kart driver is sitting number one after the Final Friday practice. New S4 Master driver Ryan Kinnear is displaying his youth on the opening day at the SpringNationals. Moving from S1, the Champion Racing Intrepid driver was three tenths clear of the field in the final run. Defending champion Gian Cavaciuti (Aluminos) was fourth in the order. Mario Barrios from Peru has joined up with BBR Karting and is the quick driver in TaG Master. The Gillard pilot posted a 47.476-second lap to steal fast time over former champion Paul Bonilla (Tony Kart).

Callum Smith put his Praga at the top of the time charts in the S5 Junior division, clearing the field by over a half-second with a 45.270-second lap. TaG Junior rookie Sebastian Alvarez (BirelART) bested the 23-driver field with a 46.295-laptime. Defending champion David Malukas (Top Kart) was second in the order. Rounding out the Fast Friday top performers is Lachlan DeFrancesco (Benik) in TaG Cadet with a 51.172-laptime.

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