California ProKart Challenge Champions Decided
2014 top drivers to be honored at season banquet on October 25 at Riverside International Automotive Museum
The 10th season of the California ProKart Challenge concluded at the end of September, celebrating one of its best seasons to date. The flagship Superkarts! USA regional program completed the six-event season at the recent Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix on September 27-28. Over 230 racers took part in this year’s championship series from all along the western half of North America, including pilots from as far as Texas and North Carolina. It was a challenging year for the PKC competitors and teams, featuring six distinct circuits – including one historic track, a return trip to Sonoma, and two temporary courses – that highlighted the skills and talent of the 11 drivers who finished the year at the top of the standings.
The Mike Manning Karting TaG Senior championship is the second regional title for Austin Elliott. A championship winner in 2011 in the last season of the ProKart Challenge North program, Elliott has been at the edge of returning to the top of the standings once again. Two straight podium finishes to open up the year helped to put Austin in position, but the victory in Round Four at Simraceway propelled him to the top. Top-five results in the final two rounds helped him to secure the title. Then to top it off, the Shingle Springs, California driver was awarded the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix Driver Scholarship program, worth $12,000. The early pace-setter in the TaG Senior standings was current Pro Tour leader Jake Craig. A runner-up finish and victory put Craig as the target, but he was unable to return to the podium for the remainder of the season and settled into the vice-champion position. Brenden Baker was the top rookie driver on the season and finished the year third in the points race. Baker secured the fast time in qualifying three of the six events, but only managed one podium finish.
For the second straight season, Billy Musgrave is the champion in the Extreme Karting/Vemme Kart S1 Pro Stock Moto category. A winner in three of the six events on the season, Musgrave was runner-up in the other three main events on the year (behind former champion Jimmy McNeil and Ron White twice). Ryon Beachner landed on the podium three times in six races, scoring the vice-champion position in 2014, with Matias Podboj ending up third.
The championship for the Leading Edge Motorsports TaG Masters went down to the wire, with two-time race winner Ethan Wilson edging out Kevin Manning. Going into the finale at Lancaster, every point mattered. Wilson took the 10 bonus points for the fast time in qualifying, and the two drivers split the heat races, keeping the totals very close. The main event was a great battle, with Manning able to secure the top spot on the final lap to earn his first victory of the season. Wilson settled for runner-up, but secured the fast time in the race for 10 more bonus points. The final standings have Wilson ahead by just six points, giving the former Pro Tour champion his second regional title. Ending up third is current Pro Tour championship leader Billy Cleavelin, showing the high competitiveness of the category this season.
The Phil Giebler Racing S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto was a close affair, dominated by two drivers. Arizona driver Kolton Griffin and S2 rookie Jarred Campbell split the race wins on the year, with Griffin coming away with the point championship. Both were in the hunt for the win at the finale, including the overall win against the S1 drivers. The rookie and 2013 S5 champion Campbell was able to secure the big victory at Lancaster, but fell 40 points short in the title chase to Griffin. Behind them was the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix Driver Scholarship winner for 2014, Carter Williams. A S2 rookie as well, Williams had five top-five results on the year to finish third in the title chase.
2014 marked the return of former SKUSA driver Darren Elliott. The three-time SuperNationals winner made a comeback behind the wheel and dominated the 2 Wild Karting S4 Master Stock Moto championship. A total of four feature wins, including two on-track sweeps, helped to put the veteran back on top in his debut season. Chasing him all year was Rob Logan. Three runner-up finishes preceded Logan’s triumphant victory in Lancaster over Elliott for his first of the season, ending the year second in the standings. Third in the final points is defending champion Willy Musgrave, ending up with three top-five results this season. Jeff Krogstad won his first championship in the Mothers Polish S4 Magnum Stock Moto category.
This season was the best yet since the creation of the Nash Motorsportz S3 Novice Stock Moto division. Sixteen different drivers contested the class on the season, helping to build the future of Stock Moto racing in California. At the top of the standings after six rounds is Steve Wetterau. Four podium finishes in six rounds, including a sweep in Round Two, helped to give Wetterau a 55-point advantage over Travis Nicklas in the end. A winner in four rounds, Nicklas’ disqualification in Round Two prevented him from scoring the championship. Cris Araujo ripped off six straight top-five finishes to end up third at the end of the year.
The Sunshine Daydream Creations S5 Junior Stock Moto championship was decided just after the final checkered flag was waved in Lancaster. Christian Brooks had led the championship for much of the season, winning three of the four races to begin the season. Nicky Hays, however, came on late but strong, earning two runner-up results and then finishing up with victories at the last two rounds, including Lancaster. Although Brooks was the provisional winner, he did not past post-race inspection. That gave Hays the victory and the championship. Brooks finished the year second just 35 points back, with Jack von Quilich in third.
Brooks was dominant in the Buddy Rice Karting TaG Junior division, winning three races and placing runner-up at the other three races to secure the championship. When the final points were tallied, Brooks won the title by 131 points. Royal McKee’s victory at the season finale in Lancaster helped to promote him into the vice-champion position, ending the year with five top-five results. Michael Avansino ended up third, earning four of his own top-five finishes.
Trey Brown was able to hold the championship lead in the Pure Karting TaG Cadet class almost the entire 2014 season – for his first California PKC title. Brown won the first three races of the season, and held off a charging Jagger Jones who won the final three races of the year. Just 66 points separated the two after the final tally was calculated. Oliver Calvo was a strong contender, and finished the year in third. Leading the Rookie division was Stephen Brucker, placing 11th overall in the standings and first in class. Jullian Busick was second, with Luca Roma in third.
The 2014 year-end awards ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, October 25 at the Riverside International Automotive Museum. The top three drivers in the championship standings for each category will be honored, presented with awards and prizes for their accomplishments, along with a number of exciting raffle prizes for all attendees. Tickets are $39 for drivers and guests, including kids over the age of five. The ticket includes appetizers, dinner, drink tickets, dessert, museum self-tour, and eligibility for various raffle prizes. Superkarts! USA welcomes all PKC supporters, but is asking attendees to purchase a ticket prior to Monday, October 20 through the SKUSA Store – as tickets won’t be available for purchase at the door. For more information, visit the SKUSA Banquet Page or contact Patti at the SKUSA office – 951.491.0808.
The California ProKart Challenge champions (in the SKUSA Pro Tour categories) will once again be awarded a guaranteed starting position on SuperSunday at the SKUSA SuperNationals XVIII, set for November 19-23 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. For more info on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com – or call the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.