From the Tower: United States Pro Kart Series – Pittsburgh

Challenging weekend for competitors at Pittsburgh International Race Complex

USPKS logoWith the entire day spent up in the tower, watching every on-track session to provide the EKN Trackside Live program, not much time is spent roaming the paddock for the stories. This new ‘From the Tower’ column is our chance to delve deeper into some of the stories that developed over a race weekend, those that may or may not have been included in the daily race reports. – DC

The third event of the 2014 United States Pro Kart Series took place at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, PA, welcoming the third highest total of entries at 151 each day. Despite some weather challenges on Sunday, the event was completed and the chase for the eight championships were defined even more as the sophomore season prepares to close out the year.

The big story of the weekend came toward the end of the event. For much of the weekend, and through the six events thus far, the United States Pro Kart Series has worked to listen to the racers, while also showing their respect when it comes to decision-making. Here is a quick recap of what happened. After the Parilla Challenge final was completed, one of the competitors in the class pointed out to tech officials that the winner did not have an overflow container for his radiator. The rulebook clearly states one must be mounted and utilized. Officials deemed him to be ‘non-compliant’ and was disqualified.

This carried over into the other water-cooled categories – Leopard Junior and Leopard Pro. The top-five in Leopard Junior were removed from the results for ‘non-compliance’ in regards to the overflow container rule, as was fifth place in the Leopard Pro division. Series officials stood their ground, not wavering from their original decision per the rulebook. The paddock was split, with those agreeing with the decisions made, and those against the ruling.

What was miserably mis-quoted in the hours that followed was a witch-hunt by one team to gain a ‘non-competitive’ advantage over the others to retain a victory. Speaking with tech officials themselves, this was never the case. Unfortunately, the small community we have in karting still leads to rumors and innuendos that are completely false, or were fabricated just to make others look bad.

A number of discussions among series officials took place over the next 24 hours, bringing up a number of points and procedure improvements that could be made to help eliminate this type of issue.

On the Wednesday following the event, USPKS announced that those competitors would have their on-track finishing positions restored, but placed on probation for rules infraction and safety violation. The series stated that they will institute an official Pre-Tech form that will clarify the safety tech items, at the responsibility of the drivers to be compliant of all items on that form. It was instituted at the recent Route 66 Sprint Series event and will make its debut next weekend at the USPKS finale.

One thing that the karting community has to remember is that this organization is only six race weekends old. Having attended each weekend, I know that improvements have been made with each weekend, and the USPKS officials are striving to continue improving for the future.

Kyle Adkins Health Issues
During Saturday’s racing, Kyle Adkins was complaining of arm and chest pain. Having previously suffered a heart attack, Adkins was tended to by the Merlin Nation family and USPKS promoter Mark Coats transported him to the hospital. It was discovered that one of his arteries was about 90% blocked. Thankfully, the WKA Hall of Famer was able to return home after receiving a stent, and is looking to return to the track this weekend for a day or two. We, along with the rest of the karting community, send our best wishes to Kyle in his efforts to keep healthy and continue providing that great Adkins horsepower.

USPKS-Pitt-Sun-Mike Doty RacingDeadly Veteran
For the past few seasons, veteran Mike Giessen has made some appearances behind the wheel when not helping to coach or wrench for other drivers along the East Coast. Last year, Giessen drove for the American-made iKart factory team, earning a victory at the inaugural USPKS weekend in Mooresville, NC. The Pittsburgh weekend was his first of 2014 for the series, and he turned in a dominant performance teaming up with Mike Doty Racing aboard the new Deadly Kart. Manufactured in Australia, the brand was created by multi-time Aussie champion David Sera and the DPE Kart Technology operation. Brought into the United States by KartSport North America, the kart is among the most glitzy and bright you will see in the paddock. The ‘Deadly’ Kart was just that with Giessen behind the wheel, as he and Doty worked flawlessly in Pittsburgh, leading six of the seven on-track sessions. Both in the dry and the wet, Giessen and the Deadly Kart were untouchable. The combo are looking to close out the series in New Castle with more success.

Money Jarsocrak
On the other side of Mike Doty Racing is the rising star Brandon Jarsocrak. The Senior rookie has been doing the double-duty in Leopard Pro and Yamaha Pro this season, with most of his success coming in the Yamaha division. For three straight weekends, Jarsocrak has secured the $1,000 check at the end of the event for recording the most points. The opening weekend was a combination of two podium finishes, followed up by his first win at South Bend. The Pittsburgh event could have been two wins, however, he had the first taken away for a questionable contact call during a last lap pass. A top-three in all six main events has the Pennsylvania driver nearly a lock for the championship next weekend.

USPKS-Pitt-Friday-FoodFriday Fun
With each USPKS event, every Friday (or Saturday incase of rain) has seen the series host a dinner for the competitors and their families. I remember getting picked up at the airport last year in Charlotte, and going directly to the store and purchasing all the food to feed the crowd. Each weekend, dinner is ready to go when practice is completed. This last time at Pittsburgh, with the second highest total of entries the series has seen, the line for food was busy for 90 minutes as racers took a break from wrenching to enjoy a massive meal provided by the series and its supporters. The Friday dinner has also been joined by activities presented by USPKS and eKartingNews. In South Bend, the second annual Cornhole Tournament was won by defending champions John Dignan and Gary Lawson. In Pittsburgh, the first Ladder Golf was won by the father/son duo Bill and Trevor DeLong. USPKS Series director Rick Fulks and the New Castle Motorsports Park will be hosting a 3-on-3 basketball tournament during the series finale, with two permanent baskets available at the Indiana facility.

Ridin the Storm Out
The threat of weather hung over the area throughout the weekend. Friday was clear, although some rain to hit the region overnight. By the time of warm-up, the track was nearly dry as all competitors stayed on the slick MG tires. Sunday, however, the forecast of rain increased with the chance for heavy thunderstorms. Series officials believed that 4:00 pm was the cut-off time to avoid the storms and reorganized the schedule to eliminate one of the rounds of heat races, adding two laps to the heat and leaving the feature laps alone. It nearly worked, as rain came down just before the last two main events. The problem wasn’t the rain, it was more with the lightning, which was very close to the facility. After some delays, the Leopard Junior race was completed while the Leopard Pro was called just after the halfway point. An hour after the racing was complete, the sun came out and provided some sunshine as teams packed up to head home.

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