EKN Trackside: 2020 Capri Tools US Rotax Grand Nationals – Preview
Historic event to provide nine tickets to the 2020 Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal
A bit of history will take place September 17-19 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The US Rotax Grand Nationals are back, now under the guidance of J3 Competition – the northern distributor for Rotax products. Taking over in 2019, J3 hosted a pair of events to promote the Rotax powerplant and products with the Stars & Stripes program. The title of US Rotax Grand Nationals went absent on the year, and is set for an amazing revival in Concord, North Carolina this weekend.
The circuit inside the famed Charlotte Motor Speedway is also experiencing a revival in 2020, with a new surface laid down in the early months, setting up for what will be the first visit for the US Rotax Grand Nationals to ‘Americas Home For Racing’. Dozens of national and international events have been held inside the famous NASCAR tri-oval, including the 1998 FIA Karting Formula C world championships, won by Italian Gianluca Beggio. The track sat inactive in recent years due to a sink hole that formed roughly a decade ago. Following the return of the World Karting Association to the facility in 2019 for the CMS Karting Challenge, attention turned to the historic kart track. The facility and WKA have a connected history, with the organization moving just east of the famed oval in Concord, NC from Ohio, coinciding with the kart track that was constructed in the early 1990s. The first WKA Manufacturers Cup Series event was held in 1992. It was November 1994 that the first edition of the North American Karting Championships was held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Several Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR, IMSA and stars of other motorsports have competed on the kart circuit at CMS over the last few decades.
History for the US Rotax Grand Nationals goes back to 2001, with the inaugural event held in Las Vegas at the track known as XPLEX, or the Las Vegas Karting Center, located south of the city. From 2001 to 2016, the event moved around to 12 different locations from coast to coast, north to south. In 2017 and 2018, the event was opened up to competitors outside the United States.
2019 was a pivotal year for Rotax in the United States with J3 Competition launching the Stars & Stripes program, including the Trophy event in Utah and the Open event at Pittsburgh. The Open race over the Fourth of July weekend was deemed the ‘unofficial’ Grand Nationals event. Tickets were awarded at both events, helping to provide drivers with the opportunity to compete at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, and form the Team USA squad. It was the first year, however, there was no event branded with the ‘US Rotax Grand Nationals’ title.
J3 is happy to bring back the Capri Tools US Rotax Grand Nationals title in 2020, coming this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Competitors move into the facility on Wednesday, September 16 with on-track action beginning Thursday, September 17. Six practice sessions, equaling 65 minutes of practice per class will give the competitors and teams ample opportunity to come to grips with the 0.65-mile, 13-turn course. Qualifying and three rounds of heat races make for a busy Friday, September 18. Results from those set up the Prefinals Saturday morning, with the Final races conducted Saturday afternoon.
Those drivers who stand on the podium September 19 etch their names in history as Capri Tools US Rotax Grand Nationals winners. A total of five Rotax divisions and a special Pro 4 Cycle category fill out the class roster. Senior Max, Masters Max, Junior Max, Mini Max and Micro Max will compete on the weekend. The Pro 4 Cycle class features competitors racing with the Briggs 206 engine.
On the line for the Rotax divisions are 9 tickets to the 2020 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal. The ‘Olympics of Karting’ brings together over 300 drivers from 50 countries to battle for the title of Rotax world champion. Two tickets are up for Senior Max and Junior Max each. The winner in Masters Max and Mini Max earn a ticket, while the top-three in Micro Max all receive a ticket to Portugal. A $1,000 check is waiting for the winner in Pro 4 Cycle. A full list of prizes for the podium finishers on the weekend can be found HERE.
For the first time in US Rotax Grand Nationals history, eKartingNews.com is providing trackside live broadcast to stream from Qualifying to the final checkered flag. Those karting enthusiasts not in attendance can listen from home or on the road to the EKN Live broadcast page at www.ekartingnews.com/live with Eric Brennan providing the play-by-play call. This weekend’s broadcast partners are Alan Rudolph Racing Academy, Stilo USA and Acceleration Kart Racing. Daily reports and updates on the EKN Social Media network will fill up your timeline throughout the weekend. Coverage begins Thursday as we will have more regarding the teams, drivers and other news from the paddock.