Quest to Send Artie Carpenter to 2015 Rotax Grand Finals Continues
Northwest driver adopted by karting community seeking to compete at ‘Olympics of Karting’
Karting is much more than just a sport. It provides different things for different people, all around the world. Karting can be educational, karting can be a way to relieve stress, karting can be entertainment, and karting can be a lifestyle. For Artie Carpenter, karting has provided him a family larger than anyone can possibly fathom.
The 19-year-old began racing Kid Karts back in 2003, competing at the Tri-City Kart Club up in Richland, Washington before jumping ahead into Rookie Sportsman and Comer competition in 2004. Artie worked directly with his father, Arthur Carpenter, who founded Kart Sport Northwest in 2007 to combine his passion for racing with helping others at the track. Artie developed as a driver in the Cadet ranks, and finished his final season in 2007 with 20 wins and 24 podium finishes in 25 starts to earn an IKF Region 6 TaG Cadet championship and the Gold Cup Mini Max crown. The kid showed great promise early on.
The father/son duo continued to work their way up the karting ladder, eventually trying their hand at the prominent Snap-On Stars of Karting series in the Junior ranks. Their passion continued until one day, while at the Horn Rapids Kart Track facility in April of 2010, Art suffered a fatal heart attack. Artie’s parents had been divorced since he was a two-year-old, and he lived week-to-week between his father and mother. After the passing of his father, Artie then moved in full-time with his mother Jennifer Campbell in Oregon, and began calling the Pat’s Acres Racing Complex his new karting home.
“I personally didn’t think I would continue racing, because I didn’t think my mom wanted to do it. But she stepped up and made it so I could keep racing,” Carpenter offered.
Despite not having the support of his father, Artie continued to race thanks to the karting community in the Pacific Northwest. Among those who stepped up was Jeff Popel, who wrenched for Carpenter during that season. Later, it was Luke Vasquez from Black Flag Racing Products. In 2011, Artie finished fifth in the United States Rotax Max Challenge point standings in Junior Max during a season that included the Northwest Gold Cup championship. The year ended, however, with a broken arm at the SKUSA SuperNationals.
Artie’s success carried over into the Senior ranks, placing seventh in the national point standings in his rookie season, while earning a third-place finish in the Northwest Gold Cup points chase, including two wins on the season.
His mother Jennifer eventually re-married to another karter – Dayna Ward – in May 2011. On September 2, 2013, Dayna and Jennifer were on a motorcycle ride in Clackamas County. Jennifer crashed her bike, leaving the road and running into a tree. Sadly, she passed away from injuries sustained in the accident. Artie, at age 17, had now lost both his father and mother in a three-year span. Carpenter turned to his love and passion for karting in an effort to make his life as normal as possible.
“All I wanted to do was be at the track, which at that time of my life and until now, was at Pat’s Acres.”
Artie continued karting in 2014 at the Can-Am Karting Challenge, and was supported by a number of families on and off the track, including national-known names like the Eggers and the Wimsetts. Carpenter became an adopted son to many of the Northwest karting families after losing his mother. At the start of this season, Artie was not planning on climbing back behind the wheel until just before the season began.
“I had planned on working and not racing, because I couldn’t afford it by myself. By March, I had planned on working for a Rotax Senior driver Kyle Dupell. I got a phone call from Mike Rolison and we were just shooting the bull on me racing and he convinced me to race the CanAm first race. So I called around and tried to line up everything like engine package and a mechanic and we ended up getting everything lined up for the first round. Luke Vasquez, Ben Eakins and Blake Craig offered to help me out and cover my entry fee and engines so that way I could race. Craig sent me an engine, a non-evo engine, for the first race and a majority of the drivers in Senior were on the evo packages, so we didn’t think we had a shot. I ended up having the speed to challenge Christian Brooks and Luke Selliken. So then, after the first race, I didn’t think I would run the second one because I didn’t have the funds, then a nice family up here, the Crisciones, offered to pay for my entry fee at the next race, so Blake sent me up another engine for the race. And after the second round, we realized that we might actually have a shot at the championship.”
With two victories in four races, the shot at the title became a reality when the series visited the Greg Moore Raceway on July 10-12 – one of Carpenter’s favorites tracks on the West Coast. The opening round of the weekend, Artie battled with Canadian Coltin McCaughan and Senior rookie Christian Brooks in both qualifying and the Prefinal. Carpenter took over the top spot early on in the Final, driving away to his third victory of the series. The following day was all-Artie, as he swept sweeping the events and led the Final wire-to-wire to provisionally lock up the championship. The series finale was held at his home track (PARC), where he drove to a comfortable second place in the main event behind Selliken to secure the title and the Rotax Grand Finals 2015 ticket.
“I don’t think anything could possibly top that feeling. It was so cool to get off from the scales and see so many people smiling waiting for hugs. I have never given so many hugs in such a short amount of time. It was absolutely incredible! It’s a pretty great feeling knowing there are so many people behind me helping me out! It makes me really appreciate the sport and all that it has given me. I don’t know where I would be without karting.”
Vasquez has watched Artie develop from the kid to the young man he is today. Luke worked as Carpenter’s mechanic all season, and will at his side in Portugal. “I first met Artie around 2003 or 2004 when he was a little guy running Cadet karts. Over the years, I would always see him and his dad racing anywhere they could. Artie is plain and simply a great young man. And I say ‘young man’, because he has had to grow up so quickly due to the obstacles that he’s had to face over the last five or so years. He is a meticulous goal-oriented driven person. There is never a detail that is missed with Artie, whether it is in his driving or preparation and the cleanliness of his equipment. Artie is more than a close friend, but more so a part of our family and the karting community’s family. I am very proud to have been able to be a part of what he has accomplished in his racing career and hope that he will have more opportunities for people to learn what kind of a person he is and what young racers should strive to be like.”
Next on the agenda for Carpenter is actually making it to the Rotax Grand Finals at the Kartodromo Internacional Algarve in Portimao, Portugal – site of the 2012 edition of the event. In winning the ticket, Artie receives an entry into the event, along with the kart, engine fuel/oil and tires.
“I’m honestly not sure what to expect. What I have been told it is extremely aggressive and that I need to finish the heat races. At this point, I don’t know what my goal is, but making and finishing the final would be great.”
Through all of this, Carpenter went on to graduate high school and is a sophomore at Oregon State University, working towards a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. With no solid income to help pay toward reaching Portugal, the karting family is stepping up once again to help support Artie to travel to the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals. A ‘Portugal Savings Account’ fund has been set-up along with a GoFundMe account by Maddi Egger. So far, nearly $9,000 of the $11,000 goal has been raised, leaving about $2,000 left to be collected to help pay for the airfare, hotel, transportation, food, incidentals, licensing and passports for the event.
As always, the karting community is very generous with their time and their money, helping for a number of great causes when tragedy strikes. This time, everyone can join in on something positive, by sending Artie to the Rotax Grand Finals so he can compete on the world’s stage at the ‘Olympics of Karting’.