eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: September 2022 – Hayden Jones
Rolison Performance Group driver secures sweep of USPKS Heartland Grand Prix main events
Hayden Jones doubled up in the win column at the USPKS Heartland Grand Prix at the New Castle Motorsports Park (Photo: EKN - Nate Dean)
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 X30 Senior category has seen very few winners on the season across the country at the national level. Considering the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour and the United States Pro Kart Series, SKUSA SuperNationals 24 winner Ryan Norberg won 11 of the 12 main events heading into the USPKS finale. The Heartland Grand Prix was contested over the September 16-18 weekend at the New Castle Motorsports Park with a solid 27-driver field competing in the X30 Pro category. Leading the way at the end of each day as the checkered flag waved was Rolison Performance Group driver Hayden Jones, earning his first two victories of the season.
Jones managed to qualify second to open the Saturday round of racing, off by just over a tenth to Norberg’s 1:04.364 lap time. They along with fellow Rolison Performance Group teammate Nate Cicero broke away from the field in the Prefinal with Jones coming out on top after the 12-lap battle. At the start of the 18-lap Final, Jones found himself shuffled down to third but quickly passed Norberg and Cicero for the top spot. Jones led most of the race, with both Norberg and Cicero taking a turn at the point from lap 12 to lap 15. That’s when Jones secured the top spot and was able to get away for his first victory of the season.
The eighth and final round of the 2022 USPKS season began similar to the previous day’s results. Jones ended the qualifying session second in the timed session, this time with Cicero setting the fast lap of 1:04.330. The start to the Prefinal was tough for Jones on the outside of the front row. After dropping off course, he was able to rejoin in the fourth position. Heavy fighting up front allowed Jones to go from fourth to first on lap two, and from there lead the remainder of the race for the win. The start of the Final was similar, with the field going on the attack early. Jones found himself shuffled down to ninth by the end of lap three. With consistent speed, Jones began picking off drivers one by one. Once toward the front, leader Nate Cicero lost his rear bumper and was meatball flagged off the track. Jones had just worked past Massimino for second and took over the lead when Cicero pulled off track. From there, Jones was able to drive away to a 1.8-second margin of victory to sweep the weekend. His performances helped him earn the $5,000 payday on the weekend, along with giving Rolison Performance Group all eight victories of 2022 in the X30 Pro category, making it 12 straight dating back to the 2021 Road America event.
Jones was slated to compete at this weekend’s IAME Warrior Final event in the X30 Senior category as the lone driver from the United States at the event in Le Mans, France. Passport issues along with injury from the IAME USA Grand National Championship and coming down with the flu, Jones elected to forgo the trip across the pond and focus on his schoolwork at Virginia Tech. Next on the docket will be the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 25 for the eKartingNews.com TaG Driver Rankings presented by Skip Barber Racing School #2 driver.
September 2022 EKN Driver of the Month – Hayden Jones
Born: January 5, 2004
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Marital Status: Single
Height/Weight: 5’6” / 140 lbs
Education: Currently freshman in college at Virginia Tech
Occupation: Engineering Student
Engine/Engine Builder: IAME X30 by AVP
Sponsors: Yamaha Power Products and QuickReg
Series You Compete In: Superkarts! USA and United States Pro Kart Series
Years Karting: 5 ½
How did you get started in karting? I was playing soccer at the place right next to GoPro Motorplex and my dad and I heard an engine running so we went to go check it out after the soccer game and we fell in love with it.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Beating Ryan has really been an accomplishment because he has been the best for the past six years and no one has been able to beat him this year, so it really shows my progress since I have joined RPG.
What are your goals in racing? If everything were perfect, I would want to race GT3 in IMSA
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Very smooth and relaxed. If you watch my video you can barely see my hands turn the wheel.
Funniest moment at the race track? Probably something Bjorn did, like leaving the exhaust cover on while trying to start the engine
Favorite Track: New Castle Motorsports Park
Favorite form of professional motorsports: IMSA / GT3 racing
Favorite karting driver: I don’t have one
Favorite professional driver: Jordan Taylor
Favorite website: YouTube
Favorite movie: not really a movie person
Favorite actor/actress: not really a movie person
Favorite music/group: Some chill alternative or 2010’s music recently
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Grandparent’s Mountain House
Favorite food: Chicken Parmesan
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? I am a full-time engineering student
What are your goals outside of karting? To get a good education
What type of street car do you drive? 2017 BMW 330i (F30)
What type of street car would you like to drive? BMW 340i (F30) or an M3 (E92 or F80)
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Getting asked a question more than once and people that drive under the speed limit
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? I think the cameras that SKUSA has are great. In the past two races, I have raced in there have been two penalties that haven’t been called because they “didn’t call them on track”. I think the other series need to start to move towards this.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? How hard everyone works to be the best and the amount of teamwork that the teams put in.
September 2022 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– Scott Barnes: Rock Island Grand Prix – 2 Wins (Open Shifter Masters, Ignite Senior 2)
– Andrew Bujdoso: Rock Island Grand Prix – 2 Wins (King of the Streets, Open Shifter)
– Caleb Gafrarar: USPKS Heartland Grand Prix – 3 Wins (KA100 Junior / X30 Junior x2)
– Malachi Haight: Route 66 Sprint Series – 2 Wins (Briggs 206 Junior x2)
– Laurentiu Mardan: Route 66 Sprint Series – 2 Wins (KA100 Masters x2)
– Helio Meza: Texas Sprint Racing Series – 1 Win (KA100 Junior)
– Sawyer Roussel: Texas Sprint Racing Series – 1 Win (Briggs 206 Junior)
– Riley Scott: Rock Island Grand Prix – 3 Wins (Briggs 206 Heavy 2, Briggs 206 Medium, Ignite Senior)