|OnTrack with PG Racing
Over the eight year history of Super Kart Illustrated Magazine, publisher Rob Howden and his staff produced a long list of OnTrack and Chassis Test articles that gave much insight into the karts that were in competition. With the departure of the magazine from the scene, the program is making its debut on EKN, beginning what will be a regular addition to the site’s editorial.
After getting through the final issue of the magazine, the EKN staff is now focusing 100% on the website, and the 2007 racing season is now well underway. For the segment debut on EKN, we looked to the Wild Kart chassis, now imported by Greg Yocom and his PG Racing out of the St. Louis area. EKN News Desk Manager David Cole donned his equipment to kick things off, hitting the track at Gingerman Raceway in Western Michigan this past May. Along with his OnTrack report on the chassis and the outing itself, we’re also going to take the opportunity to introduce the EKN readership to Greg Yocom and his PG Racing operation, as we will be future OnTrack segments.
| PG Racing's Greg Yocom|
Who is PG Racing?
The ‘G’ in PG Racing is owner Greg Yocom. Born in Dallas, TX in 1968, Yocom was introduced to karting by a mutual friend at the North Texas Karters Club in 1994. While sprint and road racing 125cc shifters in the Southwest with friend Paul Keplinger, the two formed a race team, PG Racing. They built a website, designed a logo, and when Greg decided to turn his passion into a career, he kept the PG Racing name. Although Paul is not part of the business, he is still a friend, mentor, and team driver on occasion. In 2001, Greg moved to the St. Louis area when his full-time job with AT&T as an engineer sent him to Missouri. Little did he know that it would help grow his passion into a full-time gig.
A New Home
Since moving to the St. Louis area, PG Racing has had two homes, and now possibly a third and final address. The first location used when Greg first got started in STL was a 1000 square foot office/warehouse in Kirkwood. As his business grew, he quit his regular job to pursue his dream of running a full-time kart shop. With the growth, he needed more space, thus a move to the South St. Louis area in 2004 and the 3000 sq. ft. shop that was PG’s home for the past three years.
After the continued expansion of the company, PG Racing now calls Wentzville, MO home. The city is located northwest of downtown St. Louis, roughly 40 miles out. The new temporary shop is in a new 30,000 sq. ft. building in which they occupy about 25% of the floor space. The future home, which is still to be built, will be a stand-alone 10,000 sq. ft. building where PG Racing will be based next to the new track that is currently in the works.
| A look at one of the buildings for the new Crossroads Motorsports Complex|
If You Build It, They Will Come
The new Crossroads Motorsports Complex is in its final planning stages and meetings with city officials, with construction to begin sometime this month. The new facility will be in PG Racing’s new home city, Wentzville, and will employ the popular country club concept. The 3/4-mile racing course will have multiple configurations, garages, lights for night racing, a pro shop, lounges, restaurant, indoor and outdoor viewing areas of the track. The track will also offer arrive and drive, corporate and league activities. As of now, they hope to have the track ready for on-track testing by the end of the year so that they can start out 2008 with a full racing schedule. The new track has been a vision of Yocom’s for the past few years and will give the St. Louis area a fresh, new stepping stone to build karting even more in the area.
24 Hours a Day
One thing that Yocom is known for is going the extra mile. At any event which he attends, it’s like watching the Energizer bunny going from kart-to-kart, driver-to-driver, making sure everything is fast and working correcting. When not turning the wrenches or debriefing with drivers, Greg’s trackside, cheering on all his drivers, hoping they gain that extra few tenths in qualifying or running at the front of the field. When the track action is complete, he’s still going…prepping all the karts for the next day until everything is done and ready to go.
One group of drivers that Yocom is quick to tell you about is his Cadet following he has developed. Nearly 10 boys AND girls are the stars of his team. It’s a family affair with three drivers from the Donahue family and two each from the Weatherman, Laurent, and Nigro families. Each one with their own unique personality, but all are determined to have fun and race. One key to Greg’s outlook for each of the kids is that just being out on the track and having fun is the best part, no matter where you finish.
Along with the shop and team, Greg is also part of the Central States Super Series. The regional sprint program developed by the area sprint tracks is to help grow karting in the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois area. The class structure promotes the shifter and TaG categories, from Senior to Cadet, along with some WKA style classes mixed in.
| The Donahue's are just one family that is part of the PG Racing group|
Performance Speaks for Itself
Over the past 13 years that Yocom has been in karting, he and his drivers running under the PG Racing banner have let their results speak for themselves. Besides being the owner, Yocom is a stellar driver as well, earning many race wins and championships on both the sprint and road racing circuits.
The last few years, a few drivers have stood out for the team. Derek Crockett, Clayton Prater and Scott “Skitchy” Barnes each have won Championship Enduro Series titles, as well as the prestigious Road America SuperNationals 125cc shifter race. Crockett and Prater have both been nominated for the EKN Road Racer of the Year award, Prater in 2005 and Crockett this past year. Joe Sturm, Owen Wharton and Pat Malacarne also run under the PG banner in the 125cc shifter category. It was a PG Racing sweep at the CES Gingerman weekend in May with Prater winning the Pro Shifter race and Sturm winning both CIK 125 Sprint classes. Just a few weeks at Grattan, Malacarne won the Saturday CES class with Wharton earning the victory in the Pro Shifter event. Race wins are a regular occurrence for this squad.
The performance doesn’t stop at just the road racing ranks, however. PG Racing’s strong contingent battles at the St. Louis Karting Association weekends, as well as the CSSS events, racking up top qualifying awards, race wins, and championships. They also travel to the Rock Island Grand Prix each year, where they have had great success as well. Last September, British driver Martin Pierce drove for PG Racing and the Wild Kart factory, earning a commanding victory in the tough TaG Senior division. Along with Pierce’s victory, the rest of the team was able to earn podium finishes that resulted in Yocom losing a bet, and his hair, to the members of the team at the event’s award banquet. Along with the Cadet drivers, Austin Duncan is a rising star in the Junior ranks, running both TaG and 80cc shifter, earning multiple wins this year.
| Stephano of Wild Kart and PG Racing drivers enjoy the RIGP haircut|
Over the past few years, many in the karting industry have been impressed by Wild Kart and the components that they have manufactured, including axles, hubs, sprocket hubs, brake systems, steering components and nearly everything else you can put on a bare frame to prepare it for competition. The company then began developing their own chassis brand, introduced to the U.S. market in 2005.
Like many others, Yocom was always captivated by the Wild Kart components. At the beginning of 2006, he was able to meet with Stefano Pozzo of Wild Kart. The two formed a great relationship and PG Racing became a new importer for the Wild Kart chassis and components. Yocom’s customers were quickly impressed, with nearly all his customers making the switch over to the Wild Kart, finding success quickly. As mentioned above, PG Racing and Wild Kart won the TaG Senior class at the Rock Island Grand Prix and have continued to earn checkered flags throughout the Midwest.
Back in May at the Championship Enduro Series Gingerman event, I was given a chance to drive the Wild Kart in competition under the PG tent in the TaG division. Back in 2005, I was lucky enough to run with Greg at the same track for a SKI Track Test. On short notice, we called the PG shop before the event and he was happy to put together a ride for us.
We met at the track on Friday for a full day of practice, my first time on-track since September of 2006. During the first couple of sessions, I took it easy to get accustomed to the track and the kart. After that, it was hammer down. My best time during the day was about four seconds off my fast lap in 2005, but with a rougher track and at least 20 lbs more weight on the driver, slower was expected. We were confident in getting quicker on Saturday after working with a loose condition at the exit of the corners, adding extra seat struts to help plant the rear of the chassis.
| For a second time, EKN's David Cole paired with Yocom at the Gingerman Raceway|
(Photo: PG Racing.com)
For Saturday morning practice, we strapped on new Bridgestones and were ready for the race about mid-way through the day. Running in the TaG Heavy class, 10 drivers took the green flag. I was a bit slower then the others in getting off the line, but still crossed the line in sixth at the end of the first lap. By lap four, I was able to move up to third and still had the leaders in my sights. On lap five, the leaders got together and second place went off track, moving me up to second. From there, I battled hard with another driver and a quick 80cc Junior shifter. By around the halfway mark, the kart got real loose in the exit of the corners once again. I sat cruising to what I thought would be a third place finish until road racing veteran Scott Grenier caught up and passed me with two laps to go. With motivation to drive harder, I stayed on his bumper but was unable to get by, finishing fourth. After debriefing with Greg on the race, we assessed the problem to be the wrong tire pressure with the hot conditions. My best lap time did not improve from practice, but we still had one day left.
Sunday would be a new day as I ran my first-ever SKUSA Great Lakes Pro Tour race in the TaG Senior division. Although they did not get a great turnout (only seven karts), it was a fierce battle for the win. After getting a bad jump again as the green flag waved, I was sixth again crossing the line for the first time. Moving up to fourth after the second lap, I began to run down the lead group that was a few seconds ahead already. Three laps later, I was able to get on their bumpers and began to strategize my move to P1. Heading into a sweeping right hand corner, I mis-judged the speed of the group and climbed the back of the third place kart, coming down hard after getting off the gas and slamming on the brakes to stop from going off track. As I regained my bearings, I fell back to fifth and out of the battle, eventually finishing fourth. The plus to the race was that I ran my fastest lap time, 1:33.140 while trying to run down the lead group. Although not as quick as in 2005, it was something to work on for next time.
| The Wild Kart Warrior in action|
(Photo: Joe Brittin)
Overall, the Wild Kart chassis performed extremely well with no issues throughout the weekend, thanks in part to a great setup from PG Racing.
EKN OnTrack SuperSpecs:
Chassis: Wild Kart Warrior - 32mm
Engine: PG Racing Parilla Leopard
Gear Ratio: 16-83
Tires: Bridgestone YHC
Wheels: Douglas 5” magnesium
Caster: 0 degrees
Camber: 0 degrees
Front Width: ~ 45 5/8”
Rear Width: ~ 54”
Front Bar: In
Rear Bar: In - 45 degrees
For questions on PG Racing and the Wild Kart chassis, visit the official thread in the EKN forums.