Behind the Laptop: Formula 1 Format at SuperNationals 24

With the new two-engine platform format with shifterkarts in SKUSA, we can return to one headline shifterkart division (Photo: OnTrack Promotions - otp.ca)

During this forced downtime of not going to the race track, I have been able to catch up on my Netflix playlist. Sitting in there for some time was the second season for ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’. Many of us in the karting world are F1 fans, and I think this show over the last two years has helped to bring us closer to what always seems like a closed-off upper echelon of our sport. It’s been intriguing to see the inner workings of the 10 teams, with just two cars, racing around the world, spending billions of dollars to become a world champion. Unfortunately, we all know how the season ends before we even begin to watch an episode, but it is seeing the inner workings with each team at each event, or during a monumental or significant period in the season that keeps us intrigued.

A format change would provide some unique approaches to the SuperNats, including qualifying (Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

I wish there was an opportunity to duplicate this in karting. Of course, television costs a substantial amount and is the first of many road blocks. A global karting series is just not feasible, even racing 10-15 times across the country for one series would be tough.

What if, we take the Formula 1 format, to the SuperNationals.

Since 2010, we‘ve had two headline shifterkart divisions at the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals with the S1/Pro Shifter category and KZ. The 2020 season has brought us into a new era in terms of engines at the Pro Tour level of the organization. The new IAME SSE 175cc powerplant has now been joined by the KZ engine package in all shifterkart divisions under the SKUSA banner. This is the first time the program is allowing a multiple engine format in shifterkart racing since the G1 class was part of the SKUSA Pro Tour in the inaugural season.

The SKUSA WinterNationals at NOLA Motorsports Park was scheduled to be the debut of the two-engine base format for the Pro Tour. Since no official sessions were completed due to the cancellation from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re still waiting to see the combination make its debut.

Since November 2019, the 24th running of the SuperNationals has been in the works, as the massive undertaking by Superkarts! USA requires a minimum 12-month planning schedule. Before the teardown even begins, notes are taken and discussions are had to help the planning of the event for the next year. Contracts are already being drawn up for the many companies SKUSA utilizes to produce such a massive event. And by the time we reach June or July, classes and registration will be announced and opened.

So, I want to lay out a new format that we could do in a combined Pro Shifter/KZ division at the SuperNationals. It will be based on Formula One where the headline division would feature 10 teams, running 20 drivers, in a unique schedule that takes on different strategies for practice and qualifying, all leading up to the SuperSunday main event.

Teams:

To help narrow down to 10 teams, we have to take into consideration a few factors. First, those who support Superkarts! USA, the SKUSA Pro Tour, and the SuperNationals year after year. Next, hit all the different chassis manufacturers and brands that are available and among the leaders in the shifterkart world. Here is my breakdown, including the first nine with the 10th spot open for debate in no particular order.

1. CRG Nordam (CRG)
2. PSL Karting (Birel ART)
3. Rolison Performance Group (Tony Kart)
4. DRT Racing (DR Kart)
5. J3 Competition/Harden Motorsports Group (CompKart)
6. Magik Kart USA (Magik Kart)
7. GFC (GFC)
8. Aluminos (Aluminos)
9. Leading Edge Motorsports (Formula K)
10. *Wild Card Position

*Wild Card Options: Mad Old Nut Racing (?), Musgrave Racing Company (?), Franklin Motorsports (Merlin), Orsolon Racing (OTK), Nash Motorsportz (OTK), Catalyst Driver Development (Italkart), SpeedSense Motorsports (Exprit), KartSport North America (Kart Republic), Nitro Kart (Parolin), VemmeKart, Dallas Karting Complex (Sodikart), Crosslink (Exprit)

Format:

The same Friday, Saturday, Sunday format you see at Formula 1 and insert into the SuperNationals schedule. The top drivers in the country and the world don’t need to be on track for five days. Instead, their program would be just three days. With only two drivers/entries per team, they can pull from anywhere. Drivers here in the United States or from around the world can take part. That will be up to the teams that enter.

With the teams paying the entry fee, they have the choice of selecting the drivers who will pilot their two entries. Those drivers selected are only allowed to compete in this headline shifterkart division. The teams also have the option to select an engine. Teams can go with one entry on IAME SSE and one on KZ. Or both on the same powerplant. One of the two options are available. Of course, the engine they select prior to hitting the track on Friday is the selection they must stay with throughout the race.

This format change would bring us back to one headline shifterkart winner on SuperSunday (Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

The category hits the track Friday morning for their first session of SuperNationals 24. They’ll run two practice rounds that day with a third session on Saturday morning. Their qualifying session will mimic that of Formula 1 with the Q1, Q2 and Q3 rounds to narrow the field and provide some drama, all fighting for a $1,000 payday to be the quickest. Teams will have a limited number of crew members on the hot pit lane, with the ability to come in and make changes, including new or used tires. The results from qualifying puts all the drivers into the one race, featuring 20 drivers on the grid for a $50,000 prize package to the top-five, including $20,000 to win.

  • Two entries per team
  • Same engine format as SKUSA Pro Tour – KZ or IAME SSE

Practice:

  • Three 15-minute practice sessions (Friday between Heat 1 and Heat 2 of Morning Session, Friday between Heat 1 and Heat 2 of Afternoon Session, Saturday morning before Morning LCQs)
  • Hot Pit
  • Unlimited tires, four mechanics per team allowed on pit lane

Qualifying

  • Saturday night before afternoon LCQs
  • $1,000 for pole position
  • Q1: 10-minute with all 20 karts
  • Q2: 8-minute with top-10 karts
  • Q3: 5-minute with top-5 karts
  • Hot Pit
  • Unlimited tires, four mechanics per team allowed on pit lane
  • Must start race with set you finish in qualifying no matter the session.

Final – 25 laps

  • 1st – $20,000
  • 2nd – $13,000
  • 3rd – $10,000
  • 4th – $5,000
  • 5th – $2,000

Provide us with your feedback on the format, be it as a racer in the category, a team owner/operator, a general karter or even a karting fan that attends the SuperNationals every year. Let us know what you would like to change and update with the SuperNationals 24.

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