EKN One-on-One: PSRRA’s Aaron Stanford
Pacific Northwest road racing enjoying forward momentum
The IKF Region 6 Gold Cup Road Race series heads to Oregon Raceway next weekend with important momentum
Like many regions in the country, the Pacific Northwest’s karting scene is enjoying a positive surge in participation and excitement. In sprint karting, growth and increasing grids are being seen in the Briggs World Formula and LO206 categories, while the area’s road racing events are also on the rise with higher numbers and impressive momentum. The Puget Sound Road Racing Association has worked closely with the management at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA and they’ve promoted a few programs that have helped bring new blood into the road racing community. After a strong increase in turnout at the PSRRA event in May and the Portland Karting Association’s event at Portland Int’l in early August, the next race in the IKF’s Region 6 Gold Cup Road Race Series is set for the end of the month in Oregon. EKN connected with the PSRRA’s President Aaron Stanford, who works closely with the other clubs in Region 6, to discuss their program and the health of road racing in the region.
eKartingNews.com: Aaron, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We connected over a year ago to discuss the state of road racing in the Pacific Northwest and you were very positive with how things were developing in the region and with the PSRRA at The Ridge Motorsports Park. Now that we’re halfway through the year with the next race just over a week away, how have things been progressing in 2015? Has the positive momentum that we discussed continued with increasing numbers?
Aaron Stanford: Thanks, EKN, for reconnecting again in regards to the PSRRA.
This year has been a definite improvement from the years’ past. As you know, we wanted to set a goal to increase entries at the Region 6 Gold Cup Road Race series in 2015. I feel we have exceeded our expectations. The numbers have increased dramatically, beginning with our race at the Ridge in May.
EKN: Can you give us some exact numbers and where are you seeing the most growth?
AS: We actually had about 48 more people enter this year at the PSRRA event, which created almost 100 more entries over last year. The major growth was in the 125 Shifter classes. We even had one competitor drive from Texas to our race with his kart on top of his Honda Civic.
EKN: That’s so great to hear. Any growth in road racing is a very positive thing right now. Can you point to any particular programs or initiatives that were put in place to attract karters to the road racing discipline or to attract new racers, period?
AS: The biggest thing that helped was simple word-of-mouth at local sprint races. A lot of the sprint racers who had raced at the Ridge last year talked up the experience and convinced fellow racers to give it a try. We also had the Turn2 Lapping group running their big cars at the track on Friday. They split the track with us and everyone enjoyed watching karts AND cars run on the road course throughout the day. We even got a few of the car guys into our karts. That was big. It’s all about educating people on what karting is about and actually getting them in the seat to experience what it’s like to drive a performance kart. And obviously, we try to push out a great deal of social media to get people talking about what we do.
EKN: For our readership, can you give us a quick overview of the events that have been run thus far in the PNW and what is still on tap for the remainder of the year?
AS: We started the season off at the Ridge Motorsports Park in late May, and then we were at Portland International Raceway on August 1 for the second round. We’re now looking forward to running at Oregon Raceway Park on August 28-29. We also ran an exhibition race during the SCCA Rose Cup event at PIR in June and we put several different karting classes on-track, from Superkarts to four-cycles, 125cc shifters to 80cc Laydown, all with the idea of further building the awareness of karting. It was a great event organized by John Sullivan.
EKN: We love the idea of getting karting in front of the car racers, and it seems like everyone in the region has been pitching in with that effort. Back to the series itself, you guys had a strong increase for the PSRRA season-opener at the Ridge, but how was the turnout for the Portland race early August?
AS: The turnout at the Portland Karting Association event at Portland International Raceway was better than 2014, which just continued the positive momentum in Region 6. We can always hope for more drivers and more entries, but the PKA crew did a solid job in pushing forward. It was a very warm day with lots of good racing and I believe that it was just another positive step forward for road racing in the PNW.
EKN: Everyone is now looking forward to the season finale at Oregon Raceway Park in just over a week’s time. Can you give us a little promo for the race at this track?
AS: Oregon Raceway Park is a 2.3-mile, 15-turn track located near Grass Valley, Oregon. The track has been around for about seven years, and we’ve been racing there since it opened. The race is being run by the PKA and we’ll have Friday practice and Saturday racing. The track has a unique layout with lots of technical areas, some blind corners and lots of elevation changes. It’s very fun to drive. I’d say it should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list. If there are any karters on the fence about the event, or want to come try road racing, I’d tell them to get entered and come out and play. It’s going to be an awesome weekend to cap the summer. They can find more information on the website – http://www.portlandkarting.com
EKN: Thanks for chatting with us, Aaron, and congrats on the continued growth of road racing in the Pacific Northwest.