eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month – April 2015 – Brandon Lemke
Franklin Motorsports / Merlin driver claims three of four Junior feature wins at USPKS opener
In a continued effort to highlight the many outstanding performances by drivers around the country, eKartingNews.com is proud to introduce the ‘Driver of the Month’ program. Each month, the staff at EKN will determine the one driver who stood out above the rest and give the viewers a chance to know exactly what they accomplished and who they are.
The development of a driver can be a short period, or a long one. It could take a solid six months in the seat, or for some, years before the art of race craft is developed. A few exceptions are those that just seem to be born with the gift, from the minute they grab the steering wheel for the first time, you see them navigate the course and a race with such ease. The 2014 season was the first official year racing in the Junior division for Wisconsin driver Brandon Lemke with a few stints in 2013. A star in Cadet racing, it took Lemke some time to adjust to in the jump to the larger size and faster karts in the Junior ranks. By the end of the season, he was scoring wins and competing for podium results at every race. Moving into the 2015 season, it was no doubt that the Franklin Motorsports / Merlin driver was set on competing for more, and put himself in contention for championships.
After a solid winter campaign at the Florida Pro Kart Series program, earning the IAME Junior championship and an entry to the IAME International Final in France later this year, Brandon entered the United States Pro Kart Series opener as a favorite in both Leopard and Yamaha competition.
Lemke was the rain meister in the Leopard Junior category. Qualifying two tenths quicker than anyone else in the 29-driver field, Brandon won both heat races including a photo finish in Heat #2 by six hundredths of a second. Defending series champion David Malukas kept the pressure on all day, stealing the lead at the start of the 16-lap main event. Lemke retook the position, and drove away to a six-second advantage at the checkered flag for his first victory in the class.
Brandon came into the weekend on a two-win streak in the Yamaha Junior division, doubling up at the 2014 season finale at New Castle. Lemke found himself second in qualifying to Malukas, but was out to a solid lead early in the opening heat race. However, Brandon locked up his brakes and spun, relinquishing the lead and rejoining the race in the fourth position. Lemke drove to second in Heat #2, but a penalty for contact dropped him one position to line himself on the inside of row two. Slotted into the second position during the main event, Lemke eventually took the lead with Malukas there on this bumper. On lap 14, the two made contact entering turn four. Lemke was sent around for a 360 spin, and bounced into the barriers. Brandon continued on, holding onto the second position as Malukas drove the checkered flag first. Officials penalized Malukas one position for the contact, handing the win to Lemke.
Going from the wet to the dry, Lemke was perfect in any condition as he swept the Leopard Junior action on Sunday. The track just dried out from prior to the qualifying session, as Lemke scored the fast lap once again. From there, Brandon scored the opening heat race win with a final lap pass, and was awarded the win in Heat #2 after provisional winner Anthony Gangi Jr. was penalized for contact. Through the opening corners of the main event, Malukas set the pace with Lemke trailing. The two went back and forth until the final lap when Lemke struck entering turn four. Running a defensive line to the checkered flag, Brandon scored his second class victory of the weekend, this time by 25 thousandths of a second.
The attempt at sweeping the entire Junior main events on the weekend was cut just short, with Lemke placing second in the Yamaha feature on Sunday. Lemke just missed out on the fast lap in qualifying, with Malukas 58 thousandths of a second quicker. The opening heat race was a battle in the closing laps, with Lemke falling to fourth. It was the same in the second heat, this time with Lemke up to second in the final corners. The race came down to a duel between Lemke and Malukas. Heading into the tight turn eight, Malukas held the lead and ran a defensive line. Lemke set up for the cross over move, but the two made contact at the exit. This allowed new Franklin Motorsports / Merlin teammate Gio Bromante to slip through, stealing the victory. Lemke continued on to cross the line second, ending the weekend with three wins and a runner-up in the four feature races.
Lemke started off the month of May solid in his first Superkarts! USA SpringNationals, putting himself at the front of the TaG Junior field. Contact while fighting for a win in Heat #2 on Saturday dropped him down the order, with more contact taking him out of the race in the Final. Lemke bounced back to win both heat races and the main event on Sunday, his first in Superkarts! USA competition.
April 2015 EKN Driver of the Month – Brandon Lemke
Hometown: Eagle, WI
Parents: Bill and Sharon
Siblings: Emily and Brittany
Height/Weight: 5’6” / 110lbs
Education: Freshman Mukwonago High School
Engine/Engine Builder: Woltjer
Sponsors: MaD racing, Quickswim Inc, Race Ready Engineering, Franklin Motorsports, Woltjer, QPS Employment Group
Series You Compete In: USPKS, WKA Manufacturers Cup Series, Route 66 Sprint Series, SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour
Years Karting: 6
How did you get started in karting? A friend of my dad’s brought a kart over to our house and I tried it
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning 5 national and 6 grand national titles in a two year span
What are your goals in racing? To someday race professionally
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Smooth and consistent
Funniest moment at the race track? Being made fun of for being on my phone or when we cant find my dad
Favorite Track: US Air Motorsports Raceway (Shawano, WI)
Favorite form of professional motorsports: Formula One
Favorite karting driver: Kyle Kalish
Favorite professional driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr
Favorite website: youtube
Favorite movie: Never Back Down
Favorite actor/actress: Tina Fey
Favorite music/group: A Day To Remember
Favorite vacation/activity spot: at home in the woods
Favorite food: Steak
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? Hang out with friends
What are your goals outside of karting? To keep up my grades while being able to race as much as I can
What type of street car do you drive? N/A
What type of street car would you like to drive? Mazda speed 3
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? N/A
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Lower costs
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? Close competition, Very competitive, great people fun to be at the track all the time
April 2015 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– Brandon Jarsocark: United States Pro Kart Series – 2 Wins (Yamaha Pro Saturday / Leopard Pro Sunday)
– Callum Smith: California ProKart Challenge – 3 straight S5 Junior Stock Moto wins
– Carter Williams: California ProKart Challenge – 3 straight S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto wins