eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: August 2019 – Jake French
Croc Promotion USA driver doubles up at SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals
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 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour completed its 10th season in August with the running of the SKUSA SummerNationals at the New Castle Motorsports Park. What started in Sonoma 2010 has become the one of the longest standing national programs in North American karting. Hundreds of drivers have competed in the 30 events that have made up the 10 championship seasons.
Among the few to make a start each season on the SKUSA Pro Tour is Texan Jake French. The now 23-year-old began in the S2 Semi-Pro for the first two seasons before graduating to the S1 division. He would have to wait until 2016 for his first SKUSA Pro Tour podium, ripping off three, including a third at the SKUSA SuperNationals to claim the vice-champion position behind Danny Formal. The following year began with French earning his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory at the inaugural SKUSA WinterNationals in NOLA. Jake stood on the podium for six straight main events, including a victory sweep of the SummerNationals to claim the 2017 SKUSA Pro Tour championship. The 2018 season was limited in karting as he ventured into open wheel competition. Still with four starts, French recorded three top-five finishes.
The 2019 season began with French focused on his RC car racing with karting not in the picture. That was until late March when Mad Old Nut Racing and Croc Promotion USA came calling. French was hired by the operation to compete at the SKUSA Pro Tour, California ProKart Challenge, LAKC and other events for the remainder of the season.
Since the signing, French was testing and racing nearly every week either in Texas or in Southern California. Heading into the 2019 SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals, French was among the favorites against the largest field of the Pro Shifter category on the season with 18 drivers. The tone was set early as French’s game plan in qualifying Saturday paid off with him posting a 1:11.438 to set a new track record for the ‘Supermile’ course, clearing the field by three tenths – including his teammate Billy Musgrave. A holeshot in the Prefinal led to him out front for all 10 laps to secure the win and a two-second margin of victory. The main event was much of the same, as he and Musgrave ran 1-2 the entire 16-lap Final with French gaining his first SKUSA Pro Tour victory with Croc Promotion USA.
Sunday brought the final round of the SKUSA Pro Tour with some drivers focused on points, and others determined to win. Qualifying did not play out as French had hoped, ending up fourth in the session. Holding through the opening laps, French moved up to third in the Prefinal behind Musgrave and top qualifier Kyle Wick. French dropped to fourth at the start of the Final with 2018 champion AJ Myers jumping ahead with a better holeshot. Musgrave led with Myers and Wick fighting for the second spot. Eventually, French was able to work past both in consecutive laps and run down his teammate with fast laps of the race. Taking over the lead on lap 10, French drove away to a 1.1-second advantage at the checkered flag. Aside from sweeping the victories at the SummerNationals for the second time in three years, it was his fifth career SKUSA Pro Tour victory.
His results from April to now have put French back into the top-10 of the EKN Shifterkart Driver Rankings powered by Bell Racing. French is ninth with seven scoring events under his belt. Jake and Musgrave are currently in Italy, visiting the Croc Promotion factory and taking in the FIA Karting KZ World Championships at South Garda Karting facility in Lonato, Italy. He will close out the season with the upcoming Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix, the LAKC finale and the SKUSA SuperNationals 23. French’s best finish was runner-up in 2017 in S1 to Musgrave.
August 2019 EKN Driver of the Month – Jake French
Born: January 16, 1996
Hometown: Garland, Texas
Marital Status: Not Married
Height/Weight: 6’ / 165lbs.
Education: High School Graduate
Occupation: Croc Promotion USA
Chassis: Croc Promotion
Engine/Engine Builder: IAME SSE / Musgrave Racing Company
Sponsors: Mad Old Nut Racing, AF Radiators, MRC, and Greyhound Seats
Series You Compete In: SKUSA Pro Tour, California ProKart Challenge
Years Karting: 14
How did you get started in karting? A friend that raced with us with RC cars bought a kart, and Dad got into it. I was driving shortly after.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Competing in the 24 Hours of Karting at Le Mans in 2017.
What are your goals in racing? To keep racing.
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Respectful
Funniest moment at the race track? When we decided to do reverse steering in a kart, turn right to go left and turn left to go right.
Favorite Track: Circuito Internazionale Napoli – Sarno, Italy
Favorite form of professional motorsports: F1
Favorite karting driver: Bas Lammers
Favorite professional driver: Lando Norris or Max Verstappen
Favorite website: N/A
Favorite movie: Days of Thunder
Favorite actor/actress: N/A
Favorite music/group: N/A
Favorite vacation/activity spot: N/A
Favorite food: Mexican
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? Race RC Cars or working
What are your goals outside of karting? N/A
What type of street car do you drive? Honda Civic SI Hatchback
What type of street car would you like to drive? 2006 WRX STI
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? N/A
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? N/A
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? It’s a small group so everyone knows almost everyone. We are all pretty close and it makes for mostly respectful but yet hard, aggressive racing.
August 2019 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
* Adam Brickley: Stars & Stripes Open – Micro Max Champion / WKA Man. Cup Series – 2 Wins (Mini Swift)
* John Burke: SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals – 1 Win (X30 Junior)
* Jace Denmark-Gessel: Stars & Stripes Open – Senior Max Champion
* Matt Johnson: SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals – 2 Wins (X30 Master) / First series championship
* Alexander Kardashian: WKA Man. Cup Series – 2 Wins (KA100 Senior)
* Race Liberante: SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals – 2 Wins (Pro Shifter 2) & First series championship / Stars & Stripes Open – DD2 Runner-up
* Ben Maier: Stars & Stripes Open – Micro Max Runner-up / WKA Man. Cup Series – 2 Wins (Briggs 206 Cadet)
* Luca Mars: Stars & Stripes Open – Junior Max Champion
* Bryson Morris: SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals – 1 Win (X30 Junior)
* Ryan Norberg: SKUSA Pro Tour SummerNationals – 1 Win / Four-time series championship
* Tim Shutt: Stars & Stripes Open – Masters Max Champion
* Cameron Weinberg: Stars & Stripes Open – Mini Max Champion