eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: January 2020 – Hunter Pickett
GFC driver sweeps Challenge of the Americas opening event in Tucson
Hunter Pickett swept the entire opening event for Challenge of the Americas in Shifter ROK at Tucson (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.
The 2020 season is here and well underway with a full month of racing completed to kick off the new year of karting. From coast-to-coast, karters got their first taste of what the season will bring and who were able to jumpstart the season with success. For the ROK Cup USA Challenge of the Americas program, they hosted over 100 drivers to the opening event of the year, held at the Musselman Honda Circuit. It was the first time since 2017 the Tucson, Arizona facility hosted the opening two rounds of the series, moved as the second event in 2019. In the Shifter ROK division, it was a very similar to last year with the same driver at the top of the podium at the end of each day – Hunter Pickett.
The northern California driver finished the 2019 Challenge championship chase in Shifter ROK in the second position. His opening two rounds in CalSpeed were not as expected, but bounced back in Tucson to earn his first two series victories. He would go on to place runner-up in the final two rounds behind eventual champion Ron White.
Fast forward to 2020, Pickett has a full season under his belt with the GFC chassis and team, working with multi-time shifterkart champion Gary Carlton. As the top returning driver from 2019, Pickett was expected to lead the charge of the 18-driver field in Tucson. A weekend sweep was not expected, yet Hunter put in a masterful performance for all three days.
Pickett came out of the Pre-Qualifying session at the end of Friday practice with fast time, setting the stage for the weekend. Qualifying for the opening round on Saturday was a tight finish to the session. Pickett was able to edge out GFC teammate Cole Shade by 59 thousandths of a second with a 49.120. That was the closest anyone was to Pickett for the remainder of the day, winning the Prefinal by more than three seconds and leading all 22 laps of the Final for the victory. Shade played wingman, as the 2019 ROK Sonoma champion earned his first series podium finish with a runner-up. Kol Bailey made it a GFC 1-2-3 on the podium edging out two drivers at the line for the third spot.
Sunday was a very similar story, nearly down to the difference in each session. Pickett was a bit quicker in Qualifying, laying down a 49.110-second lap. Shade was off by only 79 thousandths this time. The Prefinal was all Pickett, earning another three-second win in the 15-lap race. Fighting for second off the line gave Hunter the opportunity to stretch out a solid lead early in the Final. After 22 laps, the advantage was 3.3 seconds to earn a fourth straight victory in two years of racing the Challenge in Tucson.
The perfect weekend of 120 points both days for fast time in qualifying, winning the Prefinal and Final, along with quick lap in the main events puts Pickett at the top of the championship standings heading into the second stop for the Challenge. Hunter’s bid for the title continues on February 21-23 at the CalSpeed Karting facility in Fontana, California. Redemption for the poor finishes is on his mind, along with continuing his win streak that began in Tucson. Pickett will be racing where Team GFC travels to, including ROK Cup USA events and selected Superkarts! USA races.
January 2020 EKN Driver of the Month – Hunter Pickett
Born: March 17, 1995 in Walnut Creek CA
Hometown: Alamo CA
Marital Status: Married
Height/Weight: 5’9” / 140lbs
Education: School of Hard Knox
Occupation: Flavor Chemist
Engine/Engine Builder: SwedeTech
Sponsors: Pro-Form Laboratories and Europa Sports
Series You Compete In: ROK Cup USA, Challenge of the Americas, Superkarts! USA
Years Karting: 7
How did you get started in karting? Growing up my grandfather raced sports cars and I quickly grew a keen interest.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning a couple SKUSA Pro Tour events, ROK Cup events, and some formula car events has been a great accomplishment to me and my team but I feel I am still beginning my racing career and am hungry for much more.
What are your goals in racing? To win.
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Smooth and precise
Funniest moment at the race track? N/A
Favorite Track: Simraceway Performance Karting Center
Favorite form of professional motorsports: Formula 1
Favorite karting driver: Vinny Cervelli
Favorite professional driver: Klaus Graf
Favorite website: Bleacher Report
Favorite movie: Superbad
Favorite actor/actress: Scarlett Johansson
Favorite music/group: House EDM
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Bahamas
Favorite food: Steak and Potatoes
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? I have a unique opportunity from my family to help them with a start up in the Flavoring industry of Food and Beverage. A lot of my time and energy goes into this company.
What are your goals outside of karting? To be able to provide for my family.
What type of street car do you drive? Truck and a Tesla
What type of street car would you like to drive? Ferrari is a dream car
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Laziness
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? One engine and one tire, something we can take anywhere at anytime and race.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? I really enjoy the technical aspect of the sport. I find myself getting more and more involved working with chassis set up and data.
January 2020 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
* Andrea Kimi Antonelli: SKUSA Winter Series – 4 Wins (2-X30 Junior, 2-KA100 Junior)
* Alex Berg: Challenge of the Americas – 2 Wins (Junior 100cc)
* Oliver Calvo: Challenge of the Americas – 3 Wins (Senior ROK, 2-Senior 100cc)
* Renato Jader David: SKUSA Winter Series – 2 Wins (X30 Master)
* Enzo Deligny: Challenge of the Americas – 1 Win (Junior ROK)
* Frankie Mossman: Challenge of the Americas – 1 Win (Junior ROK)