Paddock Insider: 2017 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour WinterNationals
Inaugural event underway in NOLA
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 2017 SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals at the NOLA Motorsports Park at New Orleans, LA. 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. Also, tune in all weekend long to the live audio and live timing at eKartingNews.com/live
The 2017 season for the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour is underway with the inaugural running of the WinterNationals. It marks a new era for the organization by hosting three distinct events for the eighth season of the national championship. The trip to New Orleans also marks the first time SKUSA has visited NOLA Motorsports Park. Opened in 2012, NOLA made its mark on the world stage by hosting the Rotax Grand Finals in 2013. The CIK-recognized course is 1.1-mile in distance with a long straight, very unique 17 corners with no elevation changes.
Friday Final Practice
Wind Damage Welcomes Paddock Thursday
Thursday was unofficial practice for the event with seven sessions offered on the day for all nine categories. Most teams and competitors were setup Wednesday evening or sooner to prepare for the weekend battle. When people began showing up Thursday morning, they were greeted with a few of the tents destroyed from wind damage that swept through the paddock. Ryan Perry Motorsport, Trinity Karting Group and other personal ez-ups were damaged or destroyed from the strong winds. Many of the larger full size tents are anchored down with massive cement blocks. One thing about the NOLA weather, you never know what your gonna get.
Video Marshalling System Implemented
This weekend also marks the start of the Video Marshalling System that SKUSA will utilize at all the SKUSA Pro Tour events. There are 10 cameras set up around the 1.1-mile course to oversee the racing action throughout the weekend. SKUSA official Nick Weil is overseeing the system during the on-track sessions, and RGMMC’s James Geidel is here among the most experienced in the field of video marshalling systems. It is a welcomed addition to the SKUSA Pro Tour by the competitors, establishing more eyes on the course to see the action.
S1 / S2 Combined for First Time at Pro Tour
The numbers are 13 for S1 Pro and 26 for the S2 Semi-Pro division here at the WinterNationals. Superkarts! USA is combining the two categories for the first time at the Pro Tour, making for a 39 driver race group. The move is to reduce on-track sessions and providing a more exciting show for television with a two classes racing at the same time. New SKUSA Director of Competition Joe Janowski has informed EKN that he is examining the idea of starting the two classes separate, with a 20-second gap between S1 and S2. The 1.1-mile course is large enough to support the number of karts, and the gap. This way, racers are still racing against their own class competitors. The S1 group is Red numbers on Green with the S2 having Yellow numbers on Green. It will be a similar program for the S4 and S4 SuperMaster, which ran together throughout the 2016 season.
Superkarts! USA is always trying to make the event and circuit as unique and exciting as possible. Last year at the SpringNationals, it was running the course in the counter-clockwise direction. For the inaugural WinterNationals, its the same thing. The NOLA circuit was designed by Alan Wilson, who has done a number of racing facilities throughout the world. The track was run in the clockwise direction back in 2013 for the Rotax Grand Finals. SKUSA has elected to run the opposite way, making it different from normal. The wide layout of the 1.1-mile course allows for there to be very little passing opportunities. A narrow line to defend is not going to hurt as much as it does at other courses. Talking with drivers in the S1 field, it’s a fast track, just not very many sections that you can gain an advantage over another driver. For the IAME classes, it’s about not making mistakes, but a defensive line when racing starts is going to be very popular.