eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month – July 2015 – Jesus Rios Jr.
iKart driver doubles up at SKUSA SummerNationals against largest TaG Senior field
Jesus Rios Jr. drove to victory at the SKUSA SummerNationals twice in the TaG Senior division (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
In a continued effort to highlight the many outstanding performances by drivers around the country, eKartingNews.com is proud to introduce the ‘Driver of the Month’ program. Each month, the staff at EKN will determine the one driver who stood out above the rest and give the viewers a chance to know exactly what they accomplished and who they are.
The sixth annual Superkarts! USA SummerNationals took place at the New Castle Motorsports Park for the first time ever. It was the second time the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour had traveled east of the Mississippi River, the first coming at the inaugural SummerNationals in Shawano, Wisconsin. The weekend was also a first with SKUSA opening up TaG Senior and TaG Cadet categories to more than 44 entries, making the headline category 59 drivers deep for the largest SummerNationals field ever. In one of the toughest fields next to the SuperNationals, iKart driver Jesus Rios Jr. emerged as the top pilot in both main events, scoring a double-win weekend and the first SKUSA victories for the American-made kart.
The SummerNationals marked the return to the seat of a kart for Rios after months away, with the rust shaken off quickly. By the end of the Friday practice day, Rios was among the frontrunners. Rios held the provisional pole position in qualifying for Saturday’s round of racing, only to see his time beat out by fellow Floridian and USPKS 2014 Leopard Pro champion AJ Myers. Rios drove to a third place result in a hard-fought opening heat race against the A Group, and finished first in the second heat against Group C to land the pole position for the main event. Rios was joined on the front row by Austin McCusker, the runner-up at SuperNationals XVIII. The two slotted in line to begin the 14-lap event, with McCusker taking over the point after three laps. He led just two circuits before Rios retook the position, and began pulling away. With consistent lap times, the iKart driver maintained the lead through the remaining laps to secure his first Fikse Wheels Pro Tour victory.
Sunday’s round began with a sixth place in qualifying to land himself in the C Group for the two heat races. Starting fourth against Group A, Rios jumped to the lead in the opening circuit, leading the first seven laps. On the final lap, defending SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour champion Jake Craig was able to work past both Rios and EKN TaG Driver Rankings #1 pilot Brandon Jarsocrak to land the win. The second heat race, Rios locked up with 2013 US Rotax Grand Nationals champion Oliver Askew. Askew led the first six laps before Rios took the point away, going on to score the win and the pole position once again for the Final. Top Senior rookie driver Christian Brooks started with Rios on the front row, and that was the last contact anyone had with the iKart CBX-RM2. From the drop of the green, Rios bolted away from the field to retain the lead. Lap after lap, he extended his lead until reaching the checkered flag over two seconds ahead to earn win #2 on the weekend.
The performance was a clean sweep for Rios and the iKart brand, earning the IAME Top Performer award and the $1,000 payday for most points earned on the weekend. Rios ran double-duty, similar to his SpringNats predecessor Jarsocrak, by competing in the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto class aboard the iKart shifter version. Rios qualified inside the top-15, but fell down to 23rd in Heat #1. He climbed his way in Heat #2 and the Final to end the day 10th against a stacked S2 field. Jesus sat out the shifter racing on Sunday after coming down with a migraine and stomach ache Saturday night, focusing his strength and attention toward the TaG program.
Rios has returned back to ‘Happy Valley’ to resume his studies at Penn State in economics along with information sciences and technology. With August off, Rios returns to an iKart for the RoboPong 200 event at New Castle in three weeks. Jesus will attempt to race all 200 laps of the event solo, gunning for the top prize and best ‘Ironman’ entry. Rios is now in contention for the SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship chase as well despite missing the SpringNationals. With an outside chance, a victory in Las Vegas could help Rios move up the point standings and further expand the success of the iKart brand. Jesus will also race in the KZ2 category as he did last year.
July 2015 EKN Driver of the Month – Jesus Rios Jr.
Hometown: Miami Beach, FL
Marital Status: Single
Height/Weight: 5’8” / 160 lbs
Education: Current Student at Pennsylvania State University
Occupation: Student/iKart Factory Driver
Engine/Engine Builder: IAME
Sponsors: ISMI Springs
Series You Compete In: Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour and any other series I can find the time to get to
Years Karting: 10
How did you get started in karting? When I was 10 I stumbled upon karts online and I knew my dad had raced in the past so I asked him to start. He got me my first go kart which was an easykart-60.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning at Spa-Francorchamps in the F3 European Open Series in my inaugural F3 race.
What are your goals in racing? At this point I’m not even sure. There was a long period where the goal was obviously Formula 1 but with the current state of motorsports and difficulty faced by drivers trying to ascend the racing ladder finishing school is now my first priority.
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Methodical, aggressive, respectful
Funniest moment at the race track? Too many to pick just one.
Favorite Track: Karts – La Conca (Italy) / Cars – Circuit of Spa Francorchamp (Belgium)
Favorite form of professional motorsports: F1, DTM, and Australian V8 Supercars.
Favorite karting driver: Davide Fore
Favorite professional driver: Kimi Raikkonen
Favorite website: Anything not related to school
Favorite movie: V for Vendetta
Favorite actor/actress: Leonardo DiCaprio
Favorite music/group: Zeds Dead
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Anytime I’m at the race track. At least until I visit Bora Bora
Favorite food: Churasco
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? School, fitness, Netflix, socialize
What are your goals outside of karting? Be as successful as I can be in whatever I eventually choose to pursue wholeheartedly
What type of street car do you drive? 2003 BMW 330i ZHP
What type of street car would you like to drive? Realistically Audi RS4 or BMW M3. In a perfect world though I would love a Maserati MC12 and Gemballa Mirage GT
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Don’t have too many pet peeves
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Make it more accessible to people. It is completely secluded and kept under the radar.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? The camaraderie between all the competitors and the relationships you build with people from around the country and world.
July 2015 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– Chris Giumarra: SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour SummerNationals – TaG Master Double Winner
– Jacob Heavlow: WKA Gold Cup Series – 4 Senior wins
– Riley Kelley: WKA Gold Cup Series – 4 Sportsman wins
– Brandon Lemke: WKA Manufacturers Cup Series – 2 Junior wins
– Miguel Lopez: SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour SummerNationals – S2 Double Winner
– Jimmy McNeil: SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour SummerNationals – S4 Double Winner
– Billy Musgrave: SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour SummerNationals – S1 Weekend Winner (Sunday Final victory)
– Callum Smith: SKUSA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour SummerNationals – S5 Double Winner