eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: July 2018 – Gary Lawson
Emperor of RIGP returns to seat for first ever Brick trophies at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Gary Lawson drove his Comet Eagle to victory in both Briggs 206 classes at the USAC Karting Battle at the Brickyard (Photo: EKN)
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.
A great deal of the talk from weekend to weekend at the national and regional level often centers on the amount of talent in the paddock. But, no, I’m not talking about the current drivers. I’m talking about the guys who are now team managers, top tuners, and shop owners; the guys who are typically on the fence watching instead of racing. You can go from tent to tent and pull out old IKF Duffy, WKA Eagle and Stars of Karting winners, and even Canadian National champions. Among them is Ohio native Gary Lawson. While he may be a San Francisco 49ers fan, he is a true Midwest racer with deep roots in 4-cycle racing.
The legend that is Gary Lawson has amassed 25 victories at the famed Rock Island Grand Prix, with his last performance coming in 2013 where he won all four of the classes he entered. Since then, Lawson left the teaching field to become a full-time employee with Comet Kart Sales and the Comet Racing Engines program. Typically, you’ll see Gary providing customer support for the many CKS and CRE racers at WKA, USPKS, Route 66 and KRA events throughout the season.
Jumping into a kart here and there, Lawson went full force at the USAC Karting Battle at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. Gary contested the Briggs 206 Medium and Heavy divisions aboard the Comet Kart Sales Eagle chassis. Briggs 206 Heavy was the first class in the order, with Lawson schooling many of the new 4-cycle racers with a 1:14.840 lap to secure the fast time in qualifying against the 50-kart field. Lawson edged out fellow WKA champion Eric Fagan for the win in the heat race and followed it up with another close finish over Zachary Linsell for the win in the Prefinal. Lawson was shuffled back to fourth at the start of the main event until locking on the bumper of Brandon Jarsocrak. The two pulled away from the field until Lawson was able to secure the victory with a last lap pass, earning his first Battle at the Brickyard ‘Brick’.
Many of the same competitors were in the Briggs 206 Medium category, which was later in the order of the event. No one learned from the first qualifying session as Lawson went even quicker, posting a 1:14.252 lap for the pole position, clearing the 57-kart field by six tenths of a second. Lawson won both the heat race and the Prefinal, putting him on the inside of the front row for the main event. Once again, Lawson and Jarsocrak partnered up to get away from the field, and the two-time USPKS champion could not hold back the 4-cycle veteran on the final circuit. Lawson got the better of Jarsocrak, crossing the line first to earn a second ‘Brick’ trophy and another taste of the Indy milk.
Lawson is planning another trip behind the wheel in September at the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals at New Castle, looking to add new hardware to the trophy mantel.
July 2018 EKN Driver of the Month – Gary Lawson
Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana
Marital Status: Married
Height/Weight: 5’9” / 198lbs.
Education: Bachelor’s of Science in Early Education
Occupation: Engine Builder/Driving Instructor at Comet Racing Engines and New Castle Motorsports Park
Chassis: Comet Eagle
Engine/Engine Builder: Briggs 206 / Comet Racing Engines
Sponsors: Comet Kart Sales/Lawson Tree Service
Series You Compete In: Select events
Years Karting: 26
How did you get started in karting? My uncle was racing at a local track in Thompson, Ohio and my Dad brought me out to watch. One of his friends let me drive his son’s kart and I loved it so my uncles got together and bought me an old Margay with a Briggs flathead.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Getting to celebrate with my family after winning at Indy.
What are your goals in racing? Have fun and win races.
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Turn in late and on the gas early (laughing). Attacking and smooth.
Funniest moment at the race track? Any time Matt Wharff starts telling stories…
Favorite Track: Former-Charlotte Motor Speedway; Current- Pittsburgh International Race Complex
Favorite form of professional motorsports: IndyCar
Favorite karting driver: Anyone on a Comet Engine or Chassis
Favorite professional driver: None
Favorite website: eKartingNews.com
Favorite movie: Gladiator
Favorite actor/actress: Samuel L. Jackson
Favorite music/group: A little of everything but mostly country/rock/alternative
Favorite vacation/activity spot: St. Lucia
Favorite food: Good BBQ
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? Enjoy every moment with my wife and children and wait for football season.
What are your goals outside of karting? Provide my family with the best life possible.
What type of street car do you drive? 2018 Chevy Silverado 1500
What type of street car would you like to drive? I love my new truck
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Drivers that turn in early. Drivers that use the brakes without letting off the gas. Drivers that stay on the outside when they’re being passed. Drivers that ‘tuck’ on the straight. I could go all day (laughing)!
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Focus on building karting at the local level in order to feed the national series. The top-down approach is short sighted and destined for failure.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? The time I got to spend with my family growing up at the race track and all the friends I’ve made along the way. I hope my children enjoy it as much as I have.
July 2018 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– John Crow: California ProKart Challenge – Third Straight S4 SM Win
– Nick de Graaf: California ProKart Challenge – Third X30 Master Win of Season
– Jeff Dolian: USAC Battle at the Brickyard – 2 Wins (Ignite Senior / Masters)
– Jeremy Fairbairn: WKA Man. Cup Series / USPKS – 3 Wins (X30 Junior)
– Billy Musgrave: Texas / California ProKart Challenge – 3 Wins (X30 Senior / S1)
– Max Hewitt: Texas ProKart Challenge – 2 Wins (S2 Semi-Pro)
– Brandon Jarsocrak: United States Pro Kart Series – 2 Wins (IAME Senior)
– Rob Logan: California ProKart Challenge – Second Straight S4 Win
– Ben Maier: United States Pro Kart Series – 3 Wins (Micro Swift)
– Branyon Tiner: Texas ProKart Challenge – 2 Wins (X30 Junior)
– Dante Yu: California ProKart Challenge – Second Straight X30 Senior Win