Paddock Insider: 2023 United States Pro Kart Series – Southern Grand Prix

(Photo: EKN)

EKN’s Paddock Insider is part of our Trackside coverage, bringing you notes, updates and breaking news as it happens. The article will feature notes from trackside at the 2023 United States Pro Kart Series at the Southern Grand Prix held at the Orlando Kart Center in Orlando, FL. This is insider info will not be seen anywhere else. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below.

Another Big One

The paddock is fully paved now to at the Orlando Kart Center (Photo: USPKS)

The 2023 opener for the United States Pro Kart Series is making its second visit to the Orlando Kart Center right in the heart of Orlando, Florida. The entry total is near the 300 mark, making it the third largest event in USPKS history behind last year’s Orlando weekend and the second event at GoPro Motorplex, with both surpassing that 300 threshold. The track and the amenities surrounding the facility remain the same, however, the paddock has been completely paved, allowing for a new north-south path/fire lane, allowing the trailers and tents to span more area. The struggle of course is parking all the passenger vehicles around the facility, utilizing again the nearby asphalt headquarter property. Nothing however can beat the weather in terms of the stuff up north. Temps are into the 70s early and a nice breeze is keeping everyone comfortable as the practice sessions are underway in Orlando.

Karting Still a Family Sport

Tommy and Tim Andersen are back on the grid at USPKS (Photo: EKN)

The sport of karting can be what you make it. We say that all the time, from the club level all the way up to the national level. It can be something you do once a month, every weekend or for some, when the chance arises. One consistent from the top down to the bottom, karting is a family sport. There are a number of father/son, father/daughter or mom/son, mom/daughter combinations of driver and mechanic – from Cadet all the way to the Master ranks. The KA100 Master class is welcoming a new driver to the class, but not to the series with Tommy Andersen returning behind the wheel. Tommy has been a racer from the beginning of the series, and worked as tuner/mechanic as well over the last 11 seasons. After time away from the seat, Tommy is back behind the wheel for his debut in the class after reaching the age of 30 recently. The best part about his return, is having his dad – Tim Andersen on the wrenches. The two were a dynamic duo in the past, winning multiple races at the national and regional level. Tim was part of the USPKS for last several seasons working as a tech official. With Tommy back behind the wheel, Tim switched out the USPKS apron and pulled out the old mechanic one out of the closet for a great father/son weekend in the ‘Sunshine State’.

Same Names with a New Home

Hayden Jones and Caleb Gafrarar making their debut with Trinity Karting Group this weekend (Photo: EKN)

With the start of a new season, it is expected to see drivers at a new team and different chassis. For the case of both Hayden Jones and Caleb Gafrarar, they followed the same path. Jones and Gafrarar have moved from the Rolison Performance Group operation to Trinity Karting Group aboard the Kart Republic to help lead their X30 Pro roster. Each have had testing sessions and even racing at their home track of GoPro Motorplex, helping to build up the new TKG South program based in the Mooresville, NC area. Here in Orlando, both are showing really well during the first three practice sessions on Friday, posting times toward the top end of the results sheet. Joining them on the weekend Arias Deukmedjian, returning back to karting after a year away.

No Longer Single Speed Only at USPKS

RPG’s Danny Formal is among the top drivers entered for the inaugural Pro Shifter race at USPKS (Photo: EKN)

The United States Pro Kart Series is entering a new era for the program with the addition of the Pro Shifter division, making its series debut here in Orlando this weekend. This marks the first time a shifter class has been part of the championship program. The 18-driver field is stacked with top drivers from the USA and around the world. Costa Rican driver Danny Formal of Rolison Performance Group is among those fighting for the inaugural victory and part of the international field, including former FIA World Karting Champion Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel AR), Polish driver Karol Pasiewicz (IM / Lenzo Kart), Canadian Josh Conquer (Maranello), Jamaican Collin Daley (DRT / DR Kart) and Argentinian Giorgio Carrara (IM / Lenzo Kart). Leading the way for USA are multi-time SKUSA champion AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA), Hunter Pickett (PSL / Birel ART) and others.

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