Route 66 Sprint Series Hosts Record Breaking Event in Shawano
Record turnout for series first trip to US Air Motorsports Raceway
The Route 66 Sprint Series hosted its largest event in the 15 year history of the program (Photo: Kathy Churchill - Route66kartracing.com)
It was a record breaking weekend for the Route 66 Sprint Series this past weekend in Shawano, Wisconsin. The 15th season of the regional program continued with the second event, presented by Praga North America, visiting the US Air Motorsports Raceway for the first time. Weather was different from day to day, with rain setting in for much of Saturday while Sunday was clear and sunny. The weekend tallied 348 entries for the two days, hosting 11 categories each day with a number of competitors preparing for the United States Pro Kart Series event this coming weekend.
The largest category of the weekend was the RLV Yamaha 100 Senior division, which featured an astonishing 30 drivers. Victories were split between two drivers, two-time Springfield winner Brandon Lemke and veteran TJ Koyen. Lemke cleared the field by two tenths of a second in qualifying but the equalizer of rain set in for the Prefinal. After leading the first five laps, Lemke retired with engine issues, handing the lead and the win to another veteran Darin Marcus. The rain continued, and Lemke strapped on a borrowed practice engine for the feature, starting at the tail of the field. The 15-year-old was up to 12th by the end of the opening lap, and into the top-five by lap three. The following circuit, Lemke took over the lead from Killian Keaveny, showing the way to the checkered flag for his third straight victory. Koyen slipped up to second with Alec Evers, Marcus and Jake McWhirter following him through as Keaveny slipped to seventh. Lemke once again set the pace in qualifying on Sunday, but was challenged in the Prefinal this time by Mike McAndrews. After they exchanged the lead, Lemke came out with the win. The Final saw Koyen join the fight, and take over the lead early and show the way for most of the 12-lap event. On the final circuit, Lemke made contact with Koyen at the far hairpin, taking the lead and crossing the line first. Officials docked Lemke one position for the penalty, handing the victory to Koyen. McAndrews was a close third, with McWhirter and Keaveny completing the top-five.
Lemke did double duty on the weekend, taking on the competitive Franklin Motorsports Leopard Senior category for the first time. Once again, Lemke was the driver to beat in his class debut, only to have Derek Dignan score the victory before sweeping the action on Sunday. Qualifying saw Lemke post a solid 1:00.596-lap to clear the 19-driver field by two tenths with Dignan in the second position. Lemke conquered the rain and the field in the Prefinal for the win with Dignan holding the second spot. The Final saw Dignan close the gap, and eventually work past Lemke for the lead. Colton Ramsey slipped in for second, dropping Lemke back to third but only for a lap. As the race went on, Dignan was able to keep Lemke from closing in for a pass, and scored the victory. Darin Marcus ended up third over Josh Hotz and Round Two winner Ramsey. Brandon went even quicker in Sunday’s qualifying session, dropping two tenths from his time on Saturday. From there, it was wire-to-wire wins to close out the weekend. Championship leader Kindra Hurlbert, charged her way to the front of the field, beating out California driver Andrick Zeen for the second position on the podium. Josh Hotz and Ramsey finished fourth and fifth to match their results from Saturday.
Two new winners stood at the top of the podium on the weekend in Woltjer Racing Engines Yamaha 100 Junior as Alex Bertagnoli and Ben Varner took the victories. Double Springfield winner Michael Paterno clocked in the fastest time in Saturday qualifying just ahead of Bertagnoli. At the start of the Prefinal, Paterno was shuffled down the order, with Bertagnoli taking the lead on lap two en route to the race win. Bertagnoli led all nine laps of the Final from the pole position for his first class victory. Ben Varner won the battle for second over Matthew Northrop, Stephen Dial, and Spike Kohlbecker. Alex began Sunday where he left off, scoring the fast lap in qualifying by just 15 thousandths of a second ahead of Paterno. Both would fall victim to Gio Bromante, leading the way to the checkered flag in the Prefinal with Varner following through for second. The top two went back and forth all 12 laps of the Final, coming down to a photo finish. At the line, Varner was able to slip by Bromante by 92 thousandths of a second. Bertagnoli was third with Paterno in fourth while Northrop completed the top-five.
The win column grew to four drivers in the CKT Racing Engines Leopard Junior division after Gio Bromante and Austin Schaff landed their first wins in the category. Braden Eves was on the path to sweeping the action on Saturday after scoring fast time in qualifying and winning the Prefinal. Leading the main event, Eves lost his side pod and was flagged off the course. That gave Bromante the lead and the win. Bertagnoli was second with Schaff in third. Max Hewitt and Porter Weisensel completed the top-five. Bromante continued to show the way during the first part of Sunday, locking in the top spot in qualifying and the Prefinal. Bromante led all 12 laps of the Final to be the provisional winner, only to be removed in tech for too wide at the rear of the kart. That handed a first win to Austin Schaff with Bertagnoli second and Hewitt third. Weisensel and Eves rounded out the top-five.
Sam Mayer extended his win streak to three in the Switch Racing Engines Yamaha Cadet class, only to see Robert Noaker III stop it on Sunday with his first victory of the season. The two were the head of the class Saturday and Sunday. Mayer qualified first to open up the weekend with Noaker winning the Prefinal. Mayer led eight of the nine laps for win #3 of the season, with Noaker a close second. Caleb Bacon was third ahead of Madison Campeau while Kyle Thome finished fifth. Mayer posted a monster lap in Sunday qualifying as the only driver below the 1:10-lap time mark. Noaker closed the gap in the Prefinal, slipping past on the final lap of the Prefinal for the win. Throughout the 12-lap Final, Noaker was able to keep Mayer at bay, securing his first victory of the season. Thome improved to third with Reece Gold up to fourth and Campeau placing fifth.
Mayer and Noaker battled all weekend in the Haddock LTD/Comet Kart Sales Komet Cadet class as well, this time with Noaker coming out on top both days to bring his win total to three for the weekend. Mayer struck first in Saturday qualifying with Noaker driving to the Prefinal win. Mayer led the first eight laps of the race, until Noaker completed a last lap pass for the victory. Tristan Farber placed third. Sunday the tables turned with Noaker earning fast time in qualifying with Mayer winning the heat race. Farber joined the party in the Final, and took over the lead on lap four. Noaker settled in and waited for the final circuit to make his move. The strategy paid off with his third victory of the weekend. Farber settled for second with Mayer a close third.
The Express Karts & Parts Komet category welcomed another double digit number for entries, with Ryan Weyer earning his first victory of the season before Stephen Dial added a third to his total. Weyer was quickest in qualifying but Dial moved to the top of the order in the Prefinal. After the green flag, Dial retired and left Weyer to take the helm, leading all nine laps for the victory. Kyle Gluth was second with Michael Paterno in third. Paterno came back on Sunday to just edge out Dial for the fast lap in qualifying. Dial proved too strong in race conditions, winning the Prefinal and Final. Weyer ended up in the second spot with Paterno once again in the third step of the podium.
Aidan Hinds won twice on Saturday, the first coming in the KartLift Yamaha 100 Rookie division that came just one entry short of 20 drivers. Bryce Mersberger set the pace in qualifying, but it was Hinds that triumphed in the Prefinal and Final. It was a five-second victory for Hinds over Mersberger with Zach Collins in third. Mersberger came back to earn fast time in qualifying for Sunday, but was edged out in the Prefinal by Hinds. They were joined at the front by Conner Chruchill, but at the checkered it was Mersberger scoring the victory. Churchill led at the white flag but settled for second with Hinds in third.
Hinds second victory came in the Tony Kart Micro Rok category. Saturday was a perfect score as he led from qualifying to the final checkered flag. Churchill was second with Dylan Julien placing third. Sunday was a sweep performed by Keegan Bosch. He led the entire day, placing ahead of Hinds and Churchill in the main event. The Mini Rok division was added for the weekend to allow United States Pro Kart Series competitors to prepare for their upcoming event. Reece Gold and Lachlan DeFrancesco split the victories on the weekend. Saturday, Gold held off DeFrancesco at the line while Luca Mars finished third. The top-two positions swapped on Sunday, with DeFrancesco earning the victory over Gold and Mars.
Adam Brickley doubled up once again in the Hollywood Crane Service Kid Kart division. After earning fast time in qualifying, Brickley lost the led at the start of the Prefinal and was unable to work around Indy Ragan for the win. The Final went in favor of Brickley, winning by over three seconds ahead of Sofia D’Arrigo and Ragan. Sunday was all Brickley, leading from qualifying to the Final as Ragan drove to second and Maxim Mabee up to third.
The third event on the 2015 Route 66 Sprint Series program is scheduled for July 17-19 at the historic Michiana Raceway Park in North Liberty, Indiana, just outside the South Bend area. For more information on the Route 66 Sprint Series, head to route66kartracing.com.
Route 66 Sprint Series would like to thank the following companies for their support; L&T Clutches, MG Tires, Vortex Engines, Schwanbeck Racing, PKTAxles.com, IAME USA East, KartSport North America, Haddock LTD, MTEC, Target Distributing, Innovative Performance, Look Trailers, and Wings Etc Restaurant.