EKN Trackside: 2014 Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix – Preview
Sixth annual event ready to rock downtown Lancaster in Southern California
Reaching 80mph, breaking the speed limit by three times the legal limit, with spectators surrounding the fences, that is the atmosphere over 100 racers will be feeling as they compete in the sixth annual Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix. The city, located roughly an hour north of Los Angeles, will welcome the Superkarts! USA for the fourth straight year, as the California ProKart Challenge wraps-up the 2014 season. Racers from all across the western half of the United States will take part in the two-day festival event, with championships on the line and drivers getting in one more event in preparation for the SKUSA SuperNationals XVIII in November.
eKartingNews.com will be in Lancaster, providing the EKN Live program – presented by IAME USA – on Saturday and Sunday. Live audio featuring the voice of EKN’s Rob Howden is available through eKartingNews.com/live page, beginning with qualifying on Saturday afternoon and continuing into the main events on Sunday.
The headline events are typically the combined S1 Pro Stock Moto and S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto feature, along with the TaG Senior division. Defending race winner and two-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Fritz Leesmann (Aluminos) is back for more. The 2014 season has been par for the Northern California racer, missing out on the podium thus far in the four Pro Tour main events. This will be his first California PKC start of the year, looking to build momentum for the SKUSA SuperNationals in November. The spotlight has been on Billy Musgrave throughout the California PKC season, as the defending champion looks to secure his second straight title. Musgrave (Tony Kart) finished just inches back of Leesmann at last year’s SOLGP, entering this weekend in similar fashion by winning three of the five California PKC races thus far. Jimmy McNeil (CRG) and Ron White (CRG) are the only drivers to beat Musgrave in the California heat, and ready to challenge in Lancaster. Watch for Ryon Beachner (Tony Kart), ‘Flyin Hawaiian’ Alec Gumpfer, and last year’s SuperNationals S2 winner Connor Wagner.
Last year’s TaG Senior category was the Chris Cricca (ART GP) show. A wreck in Heat #1 put him 24th for the second heat race. An amazing display of race craft, advancing to fourth in just 10 laps put him back in contention for the main event, where he went on to score the victory. Cricca is back to defend his crown. For three drivers, the focus will be the California title chase. Austin Elliott (Kosmic), who came back in Round Five following a broken collar bone at the SummerNationals in early August, returned to the seat and continued his chase for the championship. He leads Jake Craig (Tony Kart), who is electing to sit out the race to focus on the SuperNationals and Rotax Grand Finals in November. That promotes Nathan Seegrist (Tony Kart) into the top challenger role with former TaG Junior SOLGP winner Brenden Baker (Tony Kart) in third. Pacific Northwest driver Stepanova Nekeel stole the show at Lake Elsinore, and is returning for Lancaster.
The top three in the S2 division championship chase are the favorites going into Lancaster. Kolton Griffin (Tony Kart) has won three races, including two coming from the back of the field forward after opening heat race trouble. He leads by 100 points over S2 rookie Jarred Campbell. The Intrepid driver has won two main events this year, and been the quickest Stock Moto driver at the last two events in qualifying, but unable to translate that into a victory. Another S2 rookie is happy to return back to the Streets of Lancaster. Carter Williams (FA Kart) has been racing as part of the Scholarship program the city of Lancaster awarded him following last year’s event. His 2014 season at the California ProKart Challenge and SKUSA Pro Tour has been funded by the event, promoting the street race along the way. Williams is third in the standings, but will need a perfect weekend to challenge for the crown.
The S4 Master Stock Moto category will be the largest of the event with 17 drivers set to battle on the city streets. Darren Elliott will be making his Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix debut, looking to secure the series championship. The CRG driver has won four of the five feature races this season, and enters as the favorite to win. His MRC teammates Rob Logan and Willy Musgrave have been on the charge all season. Logan is making his SOLGP debut, while Musgrave enters as the defending race winner. PP Mastro, Nick Firestone (DR Kart), Robert Mark (CRG) and Mike Mantel (Tony Kart) will be among the top contenders, along with SummerNationals podium finisher Mirko Mizzoni (Italcorse).
It will be the largest S3 Novice Stock Moto field at the Streets of Lancaster since Superkarts! USA’s involvement with the event. Ten drivers will line-up in the S3/S5 Junior Stock Moto grouping, with a heated battle going on for the Novice championship. Cris Araujo (CRG) leads the standings over Steve Wetterau (ART GP) by just 75 points with Kalvin Chen (Tony Kart) close behind in third. Araujo is missing a win on the 2014 CV, and would like to clinch the championship with a victory. Wetterau and Chen each have a victory this season, while Travis Nicklas (AMV) has three this year, still holding on outside chance at the title.
Christian Brooks currently holds the top position in both Junior categories. Three wins and two runner-up finishes have the Tony Kart driver at the top of the standings in the TaG Junior division. Royal McKee (Tony Kart) is second with Michael Avansino (FA Kart) third. Justice Lepe (Tony Kart) is the top returning finisher from last year, placing just off the podium in fourth.
The top two drivers in the TaG Master category at the SOLGP the last two years are Ethan Wilson and Billy Cleavelin. Wilson (FA Kart) scored the emotional victory in 2012, with Cleavelin (CRG) edging out the former winner in last year’s event. The two are engaged in a championship battle, along with Kevin Manning (MMK). Wilson is at the top, with Manning trailing in second and Cleavelin a close third. The results Sunday afternoon will have a major impact in who is crowned champion this year. 2011 winner Steve Ryckebosch could be a factor as well.
Three drivers are within 200 points in the TaG Cadet championship. Trey Brown (Tony Kart) has led from the opening round, and holds a 157 point advantage. Oliver Calvo (Tony Kart) and Jagger Jones (Tony Kart) have been on the charge as of late, and looking for more success in Lancaster. Myles Farhan (Tony Kart) is the top returning driver from last year, looking to advance up the podium from the third position.