EKN Trackside: 2015 Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour – SpringNationals Preview – Part 1
New era of national karting series begins at PKRA
The 2015 season for the Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour is set to begin at the Phoenix Kart Racing Association in Glendale, Arizona. The sixth season of the organization’s championship series is reaching new heights, welcoming new title sponsor Fikse Wheels, full television coverage thanks to a partnership with CBS Sports Network and Torque.tv, and another record breaking prize package well over $150,000 for the year. The future is bright, and the numbers showing with nearly 200 drivers set to battle in the four Stock Moto categories and the four TaG divisions.
This is the second trip for the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour to the PKRA facility in its current form, dating back to the early days of the organization with the ProMoto Tour debuting in Glendale. The 3/4-mile, 12 turn course is a mixture of technical and fast corners, including the famous ‘monza’ turn.
eKartingNews.com, the official media partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the sixth straight year of Trackside Live coverage of the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. Those unable to attend can enjoy live audio and live timing at the EKN Live page – ekartingnews.com/live. Daily race reports can be seen each day, along with updates and results posted to the Official Discussion Thread, in addition to the EKN social media feeds – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Today, EKN begins the preview series by looking at the younger categories – TaG Junior, S5 Junior Stock Moto and TaG Cadet. Wednesday will cover the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto, TaG Master and S4 Master Stock Moto with the headline categories TaG Senior and S1 Pro Stock Moto on Thursday.
During the first three seasons of the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour, the TaG Junior category was dominated by west coast drivers. In 2013, Brazilian Yurik Carvalho propelled himself to the top of the championship podium with a victory at the SuperNationals. Last season, Illinois driver David Malukas used a double-win weekend at the SummerNationals, coupled with a runner-up at the SuperNats, to earn the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour title. Carrying the SKUSA #1 plate, the target is now set for the 24 drivers taking part at this year’s SpringNationals. Malukas is considered to be one of the top Junior drivers in North America, and has a busy 2015 schedule that includes the defence of his title while also competing in the S5 Junior Stock Moto category for the first time. No stranger to double duty action, the Top Kart pilot is primed to have an excellent shot at defending his crown.
Among those that are considered the best in the Junior ranks within the United States include a handful competing at the SpringNationals, with a majority coming from the East Coast. Malukas’ teammate Zach Holden earned championships throughout his Cadet career, and added more during his first two seasons as a Junior pilot. New York’s Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart) was a winner at the 2012 SuperNationals in TaG Cadet, and placed third last year in Las Vegas. There is no question the speed is there for the rising star, so the biggest factor will be eliminating mistakes if he wishes to be there at the end each day for the victory. Heading into his second season as a Junior, Franklin Motorsports’ Brandon Lemke has made a name for himself among the top contenders. The 2015 season has started off strong, with the Merlin driver earning the Florida Pro Kart Series winter title, and he is heading to Phoenix riding off three victories and a runner-up finish at the USPKS event at GoPro Motorplex this past weekend.
With a new season comes on the graduating class from the lower level. This year’s crop of Junior rookies is strong, with many possible contenders to land victories or even the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship. It has been an impressive first four months for California driver Trey Brown (Tony Kart). The 2014 California ProKart Challenge TaG Cadet champ was solid at the Rotax Challenge of the Americas, and continued that momentum into the California PKC campaign. Following two runner-up finishes, Brown recorded his first Junior victory at Buttonwillow a few weeks ago. John Paul Southern moved to the Junior ranks at the end of last season and put himself right toward the front of the pack. The Ohio driver has remained toward the front end of the field thus far in 2015 and will make his SpringNationals debut in Phoenix, filling out the Top Kart three-headed monster paired with Malukas and Holden. Right there with Brown on the West Coast is Jagger Jones. The grandchild of Parnelli Jones, son of PJ Jones, stood in Las Vegas as the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour champion in TaG Cadet. The Ryan Perry Motorsports driver grabbed his first Junior podium at the recent California PKC event, and home track advantage could be a big boost to put him in the hunt over the weekend.
One of the more recognizable TaG Cadet graduates is Dylan Tavella (Tony Kart). The New Yorker was among the drivers featured in the Kart Life television program this winter, and he comes into the Junior ranks with a solid resume as a Cadet driver. Tavela has shown a knack for excellent race management, and can be counted on to be in the right position for the win at the end of hte race. Coming from Mexico, Sebastian Alvarez is another driver to watch. The PSL Karting pilot earned the Rotax Challenge of the Americas and Florida Winter Tour Mini Max titles in March. Alvarez will make his Junior debut this weekend aboard the new BirelART.
Others to follow on the stopwatch include Texan David Ilavia aboard the new CompKart chassis, the always-fast Chase Farley (Energy), and California driver Nicky Hays (FA Kart).
Provisional TaG Junior Entry List
|294m||Sebastian Alvarez||PSL Karting||BirelART||PSL Karting||TX||MEX|
|28b||Trey Brown||Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM)||Tony Kart||High-Rev Engineering||CA||USA|
|15y||Colby DuBato||PKS Kart Supplies||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|201y||Chase Farley||Snow Racing||Energy||Snow Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|76d||Everest Fedler||2Wild Karting||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CO||USA|
|03d||Max Fedler||2Wild Karting||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CO||USA|
|00n||Savannah Fitzgerald||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||PA||USA|
|07n||Anthony Gangi Jr.||GT7 Motorsports||Tony Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||NY||USA|
|888c||Hannah Grisham||Phil Giebler Racing (PGR)||Tony Kart||Mack Motorsports||CA||USA|
|51c||Nicky Hays||Phil Giebler Racing (PGR)||FA Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|22t||Max Hewitt||J3 Competition||CompKart||P1 Racing Engines||TX||USA|
|222j||Zach Holden||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||IN||USA|
|27t||Blair Hosie||JB Motorsports||Intrepid||JB Motorsports||TX||USA|
|232t||David Ilavia||J3 Competition||CompKart||J3 Competition||TX||USA|
|98x||Jagger Jones||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||High-Rev Engineering||AZ||USA|
|01j||Brandon Lemke||Franklin Motorsports||Merlin||Woltjer Racing Engines||WI||USA|
|1||David Malukas||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||IL||USA|
|40j||Jack Miller||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||IN||USA|
|106c||Anthony Sawyer||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||Hyper Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|49c||Jonathan Shone||D Power Racing||Mad – Croc||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|20j||JP Southern Jr.||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||OH||USA|
|214n||Dylan Tavella||PSL Karting||BirelART||Woltjer Racing Engines||NY||USA|
|44x||Dante Yu||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
S5 Junior Stock Moto
The 2014 graduating class from the S5 Junior division is another solid group of drivers that will be making big strides over the next few years in the development up the SKUSA ladder system. The departure of these pilots opens up the door for new drivers to contend for race wins and the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship. The field for this year’s SpringNationals may be lacking in size, but the talent level is strong. Among them is defending TaG Junior champion David Malukas. The Illinois driver will have a go at both divisions, similar to what Christian Brooks did last season. Regarded as one of the top Junior pilots in the country, this will be his first attempt at the shifterkart category. Experience will be on the side for others returning back to the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour. Jason Pettit (Aluminos), Evan White (Kosmic), Anthony Freese (Praga) and Ryan Lewis (GP) all competed at the SuperNationals last year, with Lewis the top finisher among them. This year, Pettit has one podium finish at the Califorina ProKart Challenge in three races, sitting third in the standings. Momentum is on the side of Callum Smith (Praga). A newcomer to the category, the Aussie who now resides in California has won the opening three rounds of the California PKC program. Other new faces include fellow California drivers Hunter Kelly (Praga) and Josh Early (Top Kart). Each have a podium result as well at the California PKC this season. From the Texas ProKart Challenge is Andrew Engberson (Intrepid). A newcomer to the S5 ranks, Engberson picked up his first win in Katy and will make his Fikse Pro Tour debut.
Provisional S5 Junior Entry List
|77x||Josh Early||Empire Karts||Top Kart||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|48t||Andrew Engberson||Champion Racing||Intrepid||SwedeTech||TX||USA|
|551y||Anthony Freese||51 Motorsports||Praga||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|103y||Hunter Kelly||Leading Edge Motorsports||Praga||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|65t||Ryan P. Lewis||Ryman Racing||GP||SRS Racing Engines||TX||USA|
|79j||David Malukas||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||SwedeTech||IL||USA|
|442y||Callum Smith||Musgrave Racing Company (MRC)||Praga||SwedeTech||CA||AUS|
|238r||Evan White||Overdrive Motorsports||Kosmic||Ruthless Karting||AB||CAN|
It is a new era for the TaG Cadet division at the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour, with the category moving to the IAME Mini Swift engine for the year and the future. The change has been welcomed by the karting community and the class is one driver away from the 44-driver cap. Among them are drivers from all regions of the country, including last year’s Texas ProKart Challenge champion Jak Crawford (Energy). His first event running a IAME engine this year was the recent California PKC event in Buttonwillow, where he emerged as the winner. His results over the past 16 months have put him among the drivers to beat. In California, Crawford topped a number of solid drivers, as the top five in the series are all coming to Phoenix. Anthony Willis calls PKRA his home, and currently leads the Cali PKC standings with one victory under his belt. Oliver Calvo (Tony Kart) is the third different driver to win at the regional program, with Cadet front runners Ryan Schartau (Tony Kart), Tomas Mejia (Benik) and Colin Queen (Tony Kart) all looking to become Fikse Wheels Pro Tour winners.
Among returning drivers from the top of last year’s standings include Lachlan DeFrancesco (Benik) and Jace Jones (Tony Kart). DeFrancesco is at the kart track nearly every weekend, and Jones calls PKRA home. The Glendale facility is producing some solid talent in the younger categories, and Diego LaRoque (Benik) is among them. One of the shortest drivers in the paddock, LaRoque carries a punch when behind the wheel. The Arizona pilot won all six feature races this winter at the Rotax Challenge of the Americas program in Micro Max, matching a similar feat performed by Jak Crawford in 2014. From the Pacific Northwest, Josh Pierson (Tony Kart) is among the top drivers in the region and is making his SpringNationals debut. From the east, Sam Mayer will carry the Merlin Nation flag into Phoenix, coming off a successful weekend at the USPKS in Mooresville, NC. Among the rising talents in Cadet racing over the past six months is Ugo Ugochukwu (Tony Kart). The eight-year-old completed a spin-to-win at the Pan American event last year, and has increased his talent during the winter programs.
Provisional TaG Cadet Entry List
|7m||Ian Aguilera||GP Texas USA||CRG||MEX|
|81g||Caleb Bacon||CB Motorsports||FA Kart||Iron Rock Motorsports||TN||USA|
|136x||Logan Calderwood||Ruthless Karting||Kosmic||Woltjer Racing Engines||AZ||USA|
|63x||Tuesday Calderwood||Ruthless Karting||Kosmic||Woltjer Racing Engines||AZ||USA|
|12y||Oliver Calvo||PKS Kart Supplies||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|3m||Jesse Carrasquedo Jr.||GP Texas USA||CRG||MEX|
|555c||Cole Cotham||Baldozier Racing||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|1t||Jak Crawford||Nash Motorsportz||Energy||P1 Racing Engines||TX||USA|
|30f||Lachlan Defrancesco||Team Benik Kart||Benik||FL||USA|
|108c||Jace Denmark-Gessel||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||AZ||USA|
|48f||James Egozi||Team Benik Kart||Benik||Supertune Racing Engines||FL||USA|
|18j||Riley Erickson||Top Kart USA / CRP Racing||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||OH||USA|
|72x||AJ Hernandez||Ruthless Karting||Tony Kart||AZ||USA|
|168c||Ethan Ho||Kyle Gash Racing (KGR)||Formula K||CA||USA|
|153z||Jacob Hudson||Black Flag Racing Products||Energy||Tru Tech Racing Engines||OR||USA|
|198x||Jace Jones||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||High-Rev Engineering||AZ||USA|
|027y||Jared Korth||PKS Kart Supplies||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|56x||Diego LaRoque||Nash Motorsportz||Benik||AZ||USA|
|100c||Carson Mallett||Tony Kart||CA||USA|
|888n||Luca Mars||Kartwerks USA||Praga||Comet Racing Engines||PA||USA|
|23a||Wesley Mason||Team Benik Kart||Benik||Supertune Racing Engines||GBR|
|74s||Tyler Maxson||Team Benik Kart||Benik||Supertune Racing Engines||GA||USA|
|022j||Sam Mayer||Franklin Motorsports||Merlin||WI||USA|
|50y||Tomas Mejia||PKS Kart Supplies||Benik||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|88x||Carson Morgan||Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM)||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|03n||Robert Noaker III||Franklin Motorsports||Merlin||Woltjer Racing Engines||PA||USA|
|41z||Josh Pierson||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||OR||USA|
|111c||Colin Queen||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|111j||Gage Rodgers||Trackside Services||BirelART||Fleming Racing Engines||MI||USA|
|99x||Aden Rudolph||PSL Karting||BirelART||AZ||USA|
|152x||Tyler Ruth||Ruthless Karting||KGB||P1 Racing Engines||AZ||USA|
|22n||Philip Savopoulos||Praga North America||Praga||DC||USA|
|17c||Ryan Schartau||Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM)||Tony Kart||High-Rev Engineering||CA||USA|
|29t||Enzo Scionti||Motorsports Development Group (MDG)||Praga||Motorsports Development Group (MDG)||TX||USA|
|14c||Dakota Tate||Ryan Perry Motorsport (RPM)||Tony Kart||Fleming Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|102z||Ashton Torgerson||BBR Racing||KGB||P1 Racing Engines||OR||USA|
|01n||Ugo Ugochukwu||Koene USA||Tony Kart||Koene USA||NY||USA|
|13x||Noah Warren||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||AZ||USA|
|15j||Jason Welage||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||OH||USA|
|37o||Henry Williams||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||KS||USA|
|73c||Anthony Willis||Nash Motorsportz||Benik||Phil Carlson Racing Engines||AZ||USA|
|125z||Max Wright||Black Flag Racing Products||Formula K||Tru Tech Racing Engines||OR||USA|
|8a||Matias Zagazeta||PDB Racing||Gillard||BBR Race Engine Development|