SimCraft 24 Hours of NOLA Reaches Checkered Flag
The three entries for Satelitte Racing crossing the line together to close out the 2022 SimCraft 24 Hours of NOLA (Photo: Nathaniel Labhart)
A 24-hour race may seem like a long event, however, the lead-up to the SimCraft 24 Hours of NOLA lasted 467 days. The third edition of the 24-hour karting endurance event promoted by TJ Halsema of PMG Promotions, was held on March 10-13 at the NOLA Motorsports Park of Avondale, Louisiana. Several factors led to the long delay of the event hitting the track, and mother nature nearly put an end to the race prior to the green flag waving. Through the commitment of competitors, the dedication and hard work of the staff, including USAC Karting, and thanks to amazing partners of Briggs & Stratton, Hoosier Racing Tires, Pryde Race Gear and many others, the SimCraft 24 Hours of NOLA was a huge success.
The first two editions of the SimCraft 24 were held in Orlando, Florida in 2019 and 2020. The second was contested during the first weekend of February, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the third edition was announced in November 2020, it was roughly one year prior to the event’s original dates in November 2021. Within days of registration opening, the 50-team roster was sold out. Unfortunately, the news went negative in the coming months. The fallout from COVID brought on schedule changes in the motorsports world for the 2021 season, and among them was the move of the Petit Le Mans. With the connection to SimCraft and IMSA for the event, the 24-hour race was rescheduled for the opening weekend of December 2021. All the movement caused more issues surrounding the event, including a new date of the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 24 on the same rescheduled weekend. SimCraft 24 then made the announcement in November of a new date to March 2022 for the host the 24-hour event.
Scrambling continued prior to the racing getting underway. The event officially kicked off on Thursday, March 10 with registration and seven hours of practice for the teams and then Friday hosted more practice along with qualifying. Weather was an issue on Friday with rain in the area effecting the final practice session. Eventually the track dried enough for teams to put down laps to decide the starting order.
Local knowledge was key with NOLA Karting #325 team securing the fast time in qualifying with the only lap below the 53-second mark – leading the overall session along with the Pro class. Top Masters team PRYDE Black #666 was seventh overall while top Heavy team of Adrenaline Fix Karting #167 was 18th overall in the field of 29 teams.
#325 – NOLA Karting – 52.813
#9 – Blazers – 53.124
#40 – PittRace / Pro Karting Concepts – 53.342
#666 – PRYDE Black – 53.523
#176 – Team Ignite – 53.751
#206- Briggs Racing – 53.969
#167 – Adrenaline Fix Karting – 54.425
#67 – Satellite Racing – 54.741
#14 – Apex Kartsports – 54.907
Prior to the 29 teams taking to the track on Saturday, a Tornado Warning was issued Friday evening for the area. Large hail and wing gusts peaking around 55mph hit the facility. Teams lost many awnings and tents, including barriers being moved by the weather around the facility. Everyone regrouped for the green flag to wave at 10:30am Central Standard Time to begin the 24-hour journey. The unique aspect about the timing, was the race would conclude at 11:30am Central Daylight Time with Sunday serving as the Daylight Savings Time transition.
In a race of so many stories, 29 teams to be specific and the many drivers and crew people on hand to attempt the 24-hour enduro, we begin with those going into the race.
– #96 Team Bermuda qualified fourth in class, 14th overall. They received their Margay kart on Thursday in a box of parts from St. Louis headquarters after a huge shipping delay. Thankfully, many had competed on the Margay before and
– #321 Touring Kart Racing brought out a brand-new chassis “New Gen” for testing and development. They qualified seventh overall and were fast all day Thursday during the NOLA extra practice day.
– #21 NHKA Red Mist is made up of the surviving members of three teams, who all had other scheduling commitments for the March date. The goal of those at NOLA on the team was to have fun and finish.
– #9 Blazers Bhanu Yedla’s team finished second from last in 2020. The team has been running at Atlanta Motorsports Park and has improved a bunch since that race. Their qualifying speed was very impressive.
– The #40 / #222 Pitt Race team suffered a stuck piston during the 2020 event in Orlando and were packing up Friday. That was until another team came to their rescue with an extra engine to make the race.
– Once again, Marko Radisic was attempting another Guinness World Record of ‘Greatest Distance Travelled Karting on an Outdoor Circuit in 24 Hours’. The previous mark he set in 2020 was 1,521.8 km (945.6 miles) in Orlando, which was the ultimate goal, however, he would need 1,402 laps to break his own goal of the 1,000-mile mark (his own goal). The laps needed to break his current record was 1,327 laps.
The race began with the traditional Le Mans style start with all the karts lined up on the front straight. Typically, they would run across the track to the karts and speed off, however, with the radios teams were using drivers sat in the karts and took off when the green flag waved to begin the 24-hour journey. The early laps consisted of multiple lead changes between the top qualifier NOLA Karting, PittRace / PKC #40, PittRace / PKC #222, Blazers and PRYDE Teal #333.
The NOLA circuit produces high-G forces over the lap with bumps mid corner, presenting issues throughout the race in terms of beating up on the drivers, and beating up on the karts themselves, especially with the cooler weather than normal for the area. Teams throwing chains was the number one culprit of lost time. A few cracked chassis from incidents added in as multiple teams took trips to the welders during the night. A typical fuel run lasted 65 laps with teams limited to one gallon of gas.
Over the span of the 24 hours, 11 teams in total led at least one lap. Satellite Racing #32 was among them in the early portion of the race, moving to the front after starting way in the back. They were leading at one point when they were involved in an incident near the last turn. The Satellite Racing #64 took the overall lead on lap 64, becoming the first Masters team to lead the entire field. They led a total of 23 laps; however, it was Bermuda Triangle #96 that shined in the Masters class and for the majority of the race overall.
Bermuda Triangle led a total of 583 laps to lead the way overall with PittRace / PKC #40 second with 368 laps led. Blazers #9 was third, leading most of their 184 laps during the night portion of the race.
From the Hour 3-mark, Bermuda Triangle was in the hunt for the overall victory. That was until three hours left when an axle carrier weld broke. They went to work with a temporary fix that included bolts and clamps, unsure if it would last to the end.
As the event drew to the end, more heartbreak unfolded. With less than 20 minutes to go the Apex KartSports #13 entry has a clutch go bad on the back straight. The team rushes around the outside edge / recovery lane with extra parts to fix the kart out on track as the pit lane closed while they were bringing it back. They get the kart and put it back together but drop to fifth in class, seventh overall after running third in class.
The tough luck continues with the Heavy class leaders NOLA Heavy #116, who breaks down just past the #13 kart with less than 10 minutes to go. The kart has zero drive as their rear sprocket has worn smooth. The SimCraft 24 rules state that a kart must cross the line under its own power to finish, otherwise it is a DNF and they are put to the end of the results. The driver pushes the kart to the front straight to try and get it there but without the engine providing power, it’s over for them. They went from eighth overall with a 20 lap lead to the next in class to a DNF.
While all this is happening, the PittRace / PKC #40 kart leads the final three hours, a stint of 213 laps to secure the SimCraft 24 Hours of NOLA victory. In total, they completed 1468 laps to win by a margin of 12 laps. Bermuda Triangle continues to finish second overall, winning the Masters class. PittRace / PKC #222 is third overall, giving the squad a 1-2 result in the Pro class. Completing the Pro podium is Blazers #9 in fourth overall. Satelite Racing #64 finishes second in Masters with NHKA Red Mist #21 third in class. Adrenaline Fix Karting #167 completed 1427 laps to win the Heavy division ahead of Satelite Racing #67 and Hit the Pace Kart #3.
Marko Radisic was able to make history by completing 1382 laps to break the Guinness World Record. He was unable to reach the 1,000-mile mark, travelling 981.22 miles. He led for a time during the 24 hours, just after the 1-hour mark for 25 laps. The lone Solo driver was provided more than a single gallon of gas to perform his attempt at the record.
Another special team that stood out was the Briggs & Stratton Racing team, comprised of employees of the Milwaukee-based company. The team were able to complete 1,410 laps to finish just off the Masters podium in fourth. Members included Kyle Clausen, Ryan Fischer, Nick Ksobiech, Robert Murray, Regan Vehring and Director of Motorsports Dan Roche along with Marty Murray and Dan Ksobeich as crew members. Speaking with Roche, it was a great team-building experience for their first 24-hour event as competitors, including the late-night axle change. A total of 26,250 miles were covered by the 29 teams in the 24 hours, all running the Briggs 206 engine.
“As a brand, we love endurance racing, not just because it’s something only we can do but because we’re all about teamwork. We had two father-son pairings on our team and making memories like that is really special!”
Two other stories surrounding the event made more of an impact on people and life rather than in the results column. The FRIEND | Motorsport #15 captain and kart owner BP Day suffered a massive heart attack two weeks prior to the event. He was told by doctors he would not be able to race. Following the race, Day was allowed to take a ‘victory lap’ around the track with the paddock lined up to give him high fives as he returned to the pits. The Racing for Children’s #12 entry along with End ALZ #29 raised a total of $15,000 toward their charities over the weekend.
For those at the SimCraft 24 Hours of NOLA, it was a closure to one of the longest events in karting. From the time it was announced to the checkered flag, it took hard work, determination and dedication from the staff and competitors. It is unknown at this time if there will be a fourth edition of a SimCraft 24 in the future. That will be up to the karting community and industry to show their support and commitment for another two-times around the clock event in 2023.
For more images and videos, head to the SimCraft 24 Facebook page.
|Pos||PIC||No.||Name||Class||Laps||Diff||Gap||Best Tm||Miles||Pitstops||Last pit|
|1||1||40||PittRace / PKC||PRO||1468||51.961||1042.28||20||1412|
|2||1||96||Bermuda Triangle||Masters||1456||12 Laps||12 Laps||52.806||1033.76||24||1396|
|3||2||222||PittRace / PKC||PRO||1454||14 Laps||2 Laps||52.756||1032.34||23||1435|
|4||3||9||Blazers||PRO||1447||21 Laps||7 Laps||51.972||1027.37||25||1382|
|5||2||64||Satellite Racing||Masters||1439||29 Laps||8 Laps||52.895||1020.98||19||1331|
|6||4||32||Satellite Racing||PRO||1439||29 Laps||0.089||52.32||1021.69||20||1327|
|7||5||13||ApexKartSports||PRO||1436||32 Laps||3 Laps||52.97||1019.56||24||1431|
|8||3||21||NHKA Red Mist||Masters||1428||40 Laps||8 Laps||52.83||1013.88||19||1383|
|9||1||167||Adrenaline Fix Karting||Heavy||1427||41 Laps||1 Lap||53.311||1013.17||20||1400|
|10||2||67||Satellite Racing||Heavy||1416||52 Laps||11 Laps||53.396||1005.36||19||1393|
|11||4||206||Briggs Racing||Masters||1410||58 Laps||6 Laps||52.276||1001.1||21||1332|
|12||3||3||Hit The Pace Kart||Heavy||1398||70 Laps||12 Laps||53.509||992.58||20||1313|
|13||1||22||SRQ Motorsports | Marko||Solo||1382||86 Laps||16 Laps||52.874||981.22||10||1259|
|14||6||11||SRQ Motorsports||PRO||1369||99 Laps||13 Laps||52.474||971.99||23||1267|
|15||5||28||SRQ Motorsports||Masters||1351||117 Laps||18 Laps||54.24||959.21||20||1306|
|16||7||168||Adrenaline Fix Karting||PRO||1263||205 Laps||88 Laps||52.585||896.73||20||1258|
|17||6||29||End Alz||Masters||1256||212 Laps||7 Laps||52.597||891.76||23||1227|
|18||7||24||SRQ Motorsports||Masters||1238||230 Laps||18 Laps||54.332||878.98||21||1176|
|19||8||176||Team Ignite||Masters||1138||330 Laps||100 Laps||52.669||807.98||18||1098|
|20||8||333||PRYDE Teal||PRO||1109||359 Laps||29 Laps||52.303||787.39||22||1089|
|21||9||666||PRYDE Black||Masters||1047||421 Laps||62 Laps||52.78||743.37||20||1027|
|22||9||15||FRIEND | Motorsport||PRO||984||484 Laps||63 Laps||52.987||698.64||16||887|
|23||10||8||Hooligans||Masters||856||612 Laps||128 Laps||53.649||607.76||21||843|
|DNF||DNF||321||Touring Kart Racing||PRO||1157||DNF||64||52.943||821.47||20||1144|
|DNF||DNF||12||Racing for Children's||PRO||1037||DNF||3||52.267||736.27||14||998|
|DNF||DNF||69||Dumpster Fire Motorsports||Masters||885||DNF||152||53.55||628.35||18||885|