Jimmy Sims Memorial Race in Virginia
Kart racers came to Callahan Speedway in Callahan, FL Friday and Saturday April 25th and 26th to race and remember a lost friend-Jimmy Sims. Sims, a karting legend, past away Wednesday March 4th at Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, GA. Sims was more than a karting competitor; he was an innovator, promoter, sponsor and a great friend to all who knew him.
As a racer Sims was a formative foe, as an innovator he introduced the ‘clone’ engine to the sport for which he will be most remembered by kart racers around the country. As a promoter Sims and his wife of 46-years, Judy, founded the Florida Karting Association leading that successful organization for more than 20-years.
While racers were busy competing against each other in the American Kart Racing Association (AKRA) sanctioned race sponsored by Unilli Tires, race officials had their hands full contending with Mother Nature. Friday things went off without a hitch but Saturday rain almost ruined the day.
Two Pro Box Stock classes were part of the nine-race schedule. The first was held that Friday night with Hunter Markham handling the 15-racer field. Markham was the outside pole winner sharing the front row with Michael Smith who clocked a 13.746 seconds rounding of the 1/5-mile dirt oval. Smith’s lap time was 0.068 seconds faster then Hunter Markham’s 13.814 seconds lap. With the field battling for positions behind them Markham and Smith diced up the lead. Markham got a solid grip on it in the final laps and took it to the stripe with a 0.382-seconds edge over Smith.
Further back Nick Kirkus stayed in third where he started. Following Kirkus in the top five were Drew Hammonds and track owner’s son David Hicken, Jr.
Saturday they got practice in under threatening skies. When it was time for racers to head to the grid fort feature races skies made good on their threat. Two hours of pouring rain forced racers and crews to seek shelter while the track took a drenching.
When the first of three showers ended, Hicken went to work on his track. After scraping off the top layer of wet stuff track vehicles and racers using their karts ran the track back in. As soon as they were done another, smaller, shower passed over. The track stayed hard and racers returned to the track to qualify for the evening’s feature races.
Thomas Tatum was the event’s only double winner topping Box Stock Medium and Non-pro Box Stock. Tatum had Houdini finishing close behind him in Box Stock Medium by just 0.457 seconds. Making up the remaining top five were Michael Smith, track owner David Hicken, Jr. and Nick Kirkus.
In Non-pro Box Stock Tatum turned the fastest qualifying lap of 16.503 seconds. Kyle Wright was second fastest qualifier with a lap time that was a mire 0.082 seconds slower than Tatum’s time.
Many of the field’s top talent struggled in qualifying. Eventual second place finisher, Drew Hammonds, battled his way through the field from an 11th starting position only to trail Tatum by 1.98 seconds. Third place Lee Regan started fifth in the day’s largest field of 23 starters. Further back Michael Smith came from a 13th place start to a fourth place finish and Hunter Markham started 12th and finished fifth.
Smith dialed in Pro-Stock’s top qualifying time in 13.746 seconds. Markham’s fastest lap of 13.814 seconds earned him the outside pole. The fight for the front was a dicey 25-lap battle. At the stripe there was a 0.382 seconds difference with Markham leading a large field across the stripe followed by Smith.
Mid pack battles were as fierce as the fight for the front. Nick Kirkus crossed third trailing by 0.509 seconds. Further back, 6.494 seconds later, Hammonds was fourth under the checkers followed by Hicken.
Jason Yarbrough dominated Box Stock Lite. After building a comfortable lead over Jimmy Balkcom he cruised under the checkers with an 8.049 seconds cushion.
Houdini pulled out his bag of tricks in Box Stock Heavy. Starting from the pole, he earned with a 16.121 seconds trip that was 0.152 seconds quicker then Mark Fleisher’s 16.273 seconds time, Houdini ruled the third largest field of the day. Fleisher offered several early race challenges, but faded to third when the checkered flag flew. Smith took second midway and offered a few challenges, but in the end Houdini was first across the stripe with a narrow 0.236 seconds edge. Markham and Robinson ran fourth and fifth.
After securing Junior 1-A’s pole with a 17.644 seconds effort Katie Green roared away building a huge 13 seconds advantage over outside pole winner Veronica Flynn. Two seconds later Zach Williams claimed third.
Green earned her second pole in Junior-B with a 17.121 seconds lap. Flynn got her second outside pole spinning a 17.360 seconds lap time. Williams started third again and then surprised the field with a win over the girls who finished second and third. Green grabbed second, Flynn third.
A 16.036 seconds rounding earned Houdini Saturday’s Pro-Stock pole. Hammond was second fastest at 16.050 seconds, just 0.036 seconds late for the outside pole.
Saturday’s Pro-Stock race was dedicated to Sims. As racers left the grid to line up for the final feature a lite sprinkle turned into the day’s third showering down pour. Fifteen minutes later Mother Nature turned off the waterworks and Hicken had to run in his track again for the final race. Once that was done racers returned to the track.
Houdini hustled into the early lead with Hammonds on his back bumper. Later Hammonds found away around Houdini in time to take the checkered flag with just 0.616 seconds to spare. Following in the top five of another large field this time were Smith, Markham and Ragan.