2016 NOLA Sprint Kart Championship Season Preview

In the world of competitive kart racing, there is no real possibility of an off season. That is the story told of the 2016 NOLA Sprint Kart Championship at NOLA Motorsports Park as their fifth straight season of racing is slated to kick off on the weekend of January 16th and 17th with their traditional double header weekend of racing. Not really making changes, but adding to the continuously improving kart racing program at NOLA Motorsports Park, the addition of Jay Howard as Director of Karting and Track Pro with his Motorsport Driver Development program to the current staff that managed the successful 2015 season will put the NSKC one step closer to being the premier club level kart racing program in the United States. So far the 2016 season looks to have all of the makings of a great season. Twelve different course configurations are scheduled ranging from a mile long to as short as a half mile in length, this includes six never run layouts with three using NOLA’s arrive & drive portion for concession karts. Class structure remains the same with fourteen classes of racing karts all running under technical regulations for the United States Rotax Max Challenge and Briggs & Stratton ruleset for the LO206 engine package. The Shifter category will see some changes with racers being able to run under technical regulations of both SuperKarts USA and Maxspeed’s US Open Spec Honda Shifter with Shifter Open now allowing 2-cycle engines up to 250cc and 4-cycle engines up to 450cc. All shifter classes will run the MG FZ, commonly know as yellow, compound as the spec tire.

Micro Max was exciting for 2015, will that continue in Mini Max?. (Photo: Zayas Images)

Micro Max was exciting for 2015, will that continue in Mini Max?. (Photo: Zayas Images)

Starting this year, class champions will have the option to carry a “Number 1” plate in their class for bragging rights, similar to the “Driver Seeding” system that is used in Europe for club and national karting, the option is also open for the second and third from the previous year’s class championship to carry a unique number plate for their respective finishing position. The points structure for the finishing position in the Final has not changed from the previous year, but the bonus points system has been redone. Gone are the bonus points for class participants, and the amount of points have been increased for Fast Laps and class wins for Qualifying, Pre-Final, and the Final. Other changes for 2016 that can possible impact the championship are sessions that are declared “wet” and requiring the use of rain tires will now be worth double points and competitors classified as a DNF will now have to complete 95% of the race distance to earn points from the final. All of the points system changes were created to add more excitement to the series and inspire the racers to push every lap during a race day as well as make sure their equipment is in top form to see the checkered flag.

Besides the changes for the rulebook, there will be many shakeups on track as well. Silly season moved fast and frantic here for NOLA but you will see many competitors moving up to faster classes for 2016. Starting with last years class of Rotax Micro Max, all will move to Mini Max for this year. Champion Cole Killian looks to get the top spot again in a new class aboard his new Tony Kart. Vice-champion Jesse Mitchell will mount a BirelART chassis for the season with Peyton McDonough moving to a Tony Kart. Season podium finisher Noah Jourdan-Carollo and Tyler “Schummi” Clement will also move to new equipment this year to match the rest of the class. In the LO206 powered class of Junior 1, season runner-up Ayden Guilbeau will return abroad his Coyote and looks to be champion elect for the class, but don’t count out Max Meyer (CRG) who looks to improve after his first full season of kart racing finishing third in points. Sophomore drivers Ryan Gonsoulin Jr. (Expirt) and Camryn Reed (Ionic Edge) will be ones to watch as well. Reining champion Macon Moore will hang up the Ionic Edge for this year to concentrate on Junior Rotax to battle last years championship runner-up Bryce Boada (Kosmic) and Shifter Junior-S5 champion Tyler Bruno who will move to a Tony Kart chassis for this year in Junior Max, Boada and Bruno look to be the early favorites with Devin Melancon slated to return with his CompKart.

2016 is shaping up to be the most competitive year for Senior Max. (Photo: Andy Guerra-Mondragon)

2016 is shaping up to be the most competitive year for Senior Max. (Photo: Andy Guerra-Mondragon)

Junior Max Champion Logan McDonough will step up to the competitive class of Senior Max this year on his Tony Kart. The Hahnville racer will have be on a learning curve for the first part of the season but look for him to be up in the mix with reining senior champion Everett Thomas (CompKart) and vice-champion Zach Rouse (Energy Kart). Season podium finisher Sebastain Guerra-Mondragon and veteran racer John Robicheaux will be back to battle for the class championship, although rumored to be on new equipment. Rotax DD2 Max will grow a bit for season with Everett Thomas looking to double up on the year and go for two class titles and the return of J. Peter Licciardi to kart racing after a year hiatus, of course both will have to take down current DD2 Max and US Open DD2 Masters Champion Luis Zervigon who will return with a CRG. Former class champion Chad Clark Jr. (CRG) will also be back to compete. DD2 Max season podium finisher Al Hassenboehler will move his CRG to the Rotax DD2 Masters class for 2016. Hassenboehler will have reigning champion Todd Meyer (CRG), George Zarragoitia (CRG), Chris Clement (CRG), and Doug Thornton (BirelART) to compete with for the class title. Rotax Masters Max champion James Dix will return to defend his title aboard a new BirelART chassis against a group of four fast racers coming to the class for 2016.

Greg Lacoste Jr. has not confirmed as of yet whether he will run a full or partial schedule in the LO206 powered Senior 4-cycle class or move another class for 2016. But everyone can bet that he and his Margay chassis will be a force to reckon with coming off of a near perfect season winning eleven of twelve races on the season. Scott Griffin will return to the class aboard his Razor kart to take the fight to Lacoste as well as this year’s Shifter Masters-S4 champion Anthony Harwin on his K&K Kart. Junior 2 champion Micheal Causey will move to the senior ranks as well and will be one to watch with class veteran Peter Tufaro (Margay) and class sophomore Nicholas Bernos (CRG). The Shifter Senior-S2 class will see growth for the year as well with Shifter Open champion Dallas Lassalle III (CRG) making the switch to battle Blaine Cavin (Sodi) who has shown good pace in the last part of the year in the class. Stephen Lamana (CRG) can make it a three way battle in this class but has not confirmed whether he will run this class or Shifter Open for 2016. Look forward to the first weekend of competition for the NOLA Sprint Kart Championship being unpredictable with all of the changes taking place for the year.

The Rotax DD2 category is on the rise for 2016 with potential field of twelve on grid. (Photo: Timmy DiVincenti)

The Rotax DD2 category is on the rise for 2016 with potential field of twelve on grid. (Photo: Timmy DiVincenti)

The NOLA Sprint Kart Championship is a track run racing series for sprint style racing karts at NOLA Motorsports Park, located less than 20 minutes west of New Orleans. The Championship will hold 12 races over 10 months with the majority being single day events with two doubleheader weekends and two Saturday night races held during the summer months. Each race in the series runs on one of over 80+ configurations that can be set for the NOLA Motorsports Park Kart Track, the largest and most versatile karting facility in North America that has hosted two international karting events, the 2013 Rotax Pan American and Rotax Grand Finals. NOLA will also host the first round of the Maxspeed Entertainment’s US Open on April 21st thru the 24th. Race track length can run from as short as a quarter of a mile to a mile in length.

Focusing on affordability and competitiveness, the NSKC’s kart classes are based on the national rule sets for the Briggs & Stratton’s Local Option 206, the United States Rotax Max Challenge, the US Open and Superkarts USA’s Spec Honda Shifter Categorys, helping to ensure that experienced and novice kart racers from 7 years old to 30 years plus can all have a level playing field to compete in. There is even an Arrive & Drive class that racers who do not own karts can come and compete in called the NOLA GT MAX Cup that uses concession style Sodi brand karts powered by 21 horsepower Rotax FR125 engines. All classes race for trophies and awards each race with end of the year awards handed out to points champions. The NSKC is also part of national points programs such as the United States Rotax Max Challenge, Briggs & Stratton Weekly Racing Series and the Sodi World Series.

Albeit a local or sometimes referred to as a “club” series, the NSKC often draws over 60+ racers, rivaling that of some larger regional events, attracting racers not only from the state of Louisiana, but all across the Southeaster United States. For more info on the NSKC and NOLA Motorsports Park, visit our website at www.nolamotor.com or send an email to karting@nolamotor.com

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