Paddock Insider: 2023 SKUSA Pro Tour – WinterNationals

Notes from the Orlando Kart Center pit area

The Orlando Kart Center has been home to much of the national level contingent for the last three weeks, and will host this weekend's SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals
(Photo: EKN)

EKN’s Paddock Insider is part of our Trackside coverage, and provides EKN Nation with notes, updates and breaking news, as it happens. The article will feature notes from trackside at the 2023 SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals 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.

The Rolison Performance Group hauler and paddock awning will have been on the road for 145 days by the time they return home in early May
(Photo: EKN)

Rolison’s Road Warriors

The life of a national-level karting operation is not for the faint of heart. EKN’s Rob Howden caught up with Rolison Performance Group team owner Mike Rolison at Orlando Kart Center early on Friday morning, and the two found themselves discussing the intensive RPG travel and work schedule. Like many teams, RPG had been set up at the Orlando Kart Center for the last month, but the reality is that the team’s haulers and equipment have been in Florida since the middle of December. Following the SKUSA SuperNationals in Las Vegas in November, the RPG hauler headed home to Oregon for two weeks before crossing the country from the Pacific Northwest to South Florida for the Sunshine State Karting Championship finale in mid-December. From there, it’s been the annual ‘off-season’ run through the SKUSA Winter Series, ROK Cup Florida Winter Tour, and now the USPKS and SKUSA Pro Tour openers. After packing up the equipment in Orlando on Sunday night, Mike and his road crew took two days to drive to Speedsportz Racing Park in Houston, where they’ve parked ahead of the USPKS there at the end of the month. Mike and several members of the team have flown home to Oregon and will be there for almost two weeks, taking the Easter weekend off. Back home, they’re already in the RPG race shop preparing karts for the beginning of the club and regional series in the Pacific Northwest. The crew will head back to Speedsportz for two on-track weekends in late April, beginning with a training weekend ahead of the USPKS event on April 27-30. Only then will the RPG hauler head back home to Oregon, having been on the road for 145 days. May is dedicated to maintenance and kart prep, in addition to their intensive five-day ‘RPG Training Camp’ at Pats Acres and McMinnville, which includes instruction from pros like Ryan Norberg, Ben Cooper, Danny Formal, and Luke Selliken. It takes commitment to win regularly at the national level, and the simply travel and road miles are just part of the equation.

Veteran driver Christian Brooks was on-track today in Pro Shifter, piloting a Leading Edge Motorsports kart
(Photo: EKN)

Brooks On-Track with Leading Edge Motorsports in Pro Shifter

Multi-time USF Pro Championships winner (formerly the Road to Indy) Christian Brooks was spotted suited up in the paddock today, as he’s been behind the wheel of a Mega Power / Leading Edge Motorsports shifter. The Californian continues to work on his budding open-wheel professional career and was victorious earlier this month in the USF Pro 2000 Championship event at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Throughout his move from karts to cars, Brooks has stayed in the karting paddock in a coaching capacity with Nash Motorsportz. LEM’s Greg Bell is pitted with Nash this weekend, and an arm injury for Nicholas d’Andrea has put him on the sidelines, opening a seat for Brooks to drive today. The duo have not yet made the decision if Christian will race this weekend.

Sodi Racing USA and Piquet Sports has a quintet of drivers at OKC ready to help grow the brand here in the United States
(Photo: EKN)

Sodi Kart Makes SKUSA Return

The Sodi Kart brand is making its return to national-level Superkarts! USA competition this weekend through the partnership of importer / distributor The Karting Distribution and Florida-based Piquet Sports. The team has five drivers entered for this weekend’s SKUSA Pro Tour opener, including British driver Harley Keeble in X30 Senior. Keeble was one of the top OK-Junior drivers in Europe in 2021, and is racing KZ2 with the Sodi Kart factory this season. Harley’s father works at the factory and is on the wrenches for his son this weekend. The team’s stable also includes Jakub Kolar, Patrick Ronveaux, Joshua Bergman, and Noah Jackson. Sodi Racing USA has brought in a number of factory mechanics for the WinterNationals, which is all part of the plan to re-establish the brand here in the United States. They are focused on consistent growth through their racing efforts and establishing their dealer network.

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