eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: May 2023 – Zak Rinker

Chicago driver double dips to open up 2023 Ignite Challenge program

Zak Rinker swept the first two rounds of the Ignite Challenge program, winning both main events at Gateway Kartplex in Ignite Heavy (Photo: David Rinker)

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 month of May was an ‘off month’ for national level racing, providing us to focus on the regional and club level for the sport after a busy first opening four months to start off 2023. Among the growing programs in the country dedicated to getting people off the couch and into the seat of kart is Ignite Karting from Margay Racing. Their Ignite Challenge is a regional program, visiting five tracks based in the Midwest area, promoting two finals in a one-day format.

Rinker has won three straight in Ignite Heavy, dating back to last year’s finale at TNT Kartways (Photo: Mark Schwigen)

The opening event of the 2023 season was held on May 21 at the Gateway Kartplex, home of Margay Racing and the birth of the Ignite Karting program. The event brought together 90 total entries across five classes, making it the largest standalone Ignite Challenge event ever. In Ignite Heavy, 15 battled for a chance to hold the #1 spot. Throughout the day it was everyone chasing Zak Rinker. Rinker is in to his second season at the Ignite Challenge program, placing sixth in the 2022 standings off four podiums in the final six rounds – winning the series final at TNT Kartways.

Rinker cleared the field in qualifying by over two tenths of a second, posting a 42.251 lap time. It was a wire-to-wire victory in the opening final, leading all 19 laps to establish a five-second advantage at the checkered flag over Greg Mefford and Matthew Hartsell. Rinker’s lap time in the first main event was quicker than qualifying on the harder Hoosier tires, putting in the only sub-42 lap time in the race. It was a similar performance in Final #2 for Rinker. He led all 18 laps of the race, this time driving away to a one-second advantage at the line. Mefford was second with Matt Zigaitis in third. Rinker once again had quick lap of the race, nearly dipping into the 41-second bracket once again to clinch his third straight series victory.

On the weekend, Rinker was the only driver to not call Gateway Kartplex home to win on the weekend, putting Badger Kart Club on the board for the ‘Ignite Challenge Home Track Cup’ standings.

Rinker will be running the full Ignite Challenge program in 2023, along with competing at the Badger Kart Club and select Cup Karts North America events this year.

May 2023 EKN Driver of the Month – Zak Rinker

(Photo: David Rinker)


Born: Chicago, Illinois
St Charles, Illinois
Dave & Sherri Rinker
5’10” / 220lbs.
High School Jr
CKT Racing

Racing Resume

Chassis: Margay Ignite & Comet Eagle
Engine/Engine Builder:
CKT Racing Engines
CKT Racing, McGrath Motorsports, Fox Valley Blast & Coat, Mom
Series You Compete In:
Ignite Challenge, Badger Kart Club, Cup Karts North America
Years Karting:
How did you get started in karting?
K1 Speed Indoor
What has been the high point in your racing career?
Sweeping the Ignite Mega Weekend at Gateway (2023)
What are your goals in racing?
Professional Driver
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Clean & calculated but still full send.
Funniest moment at the race track? Running off-track in a rental kart and hitting a giant puddle. BIG thanks to Chad Clay for letting me borrow his suit and gloves for the rest of the day.


Favorite Track: 61 Kartway
Favorite form of professional motorsports:
Favorite karting driver: Nick Ksobiech
Favorite professional driver: Kyle Larson
Favorite website: cometkartsales.com
Favorite movie: Days of Thunder
Favorite actor/actress: None
Favorite music/group:
80s Rock
Favorite vacation/activity spot: The racetrack
Favorite food: Lou Malnati’s deep dish

The Real Deal

What do you do when not at the track? iRacing and work on karts
What are your goals outside of karting?
Attend an automotive technical school or become a professional driver
What type of street car do you drive?
Honda Accord
What type of street car would you like to drive?
Porsche 911 GT3
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Talking on the phone in public
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Reduce costs of regional/national racing to allow more club-level racers to attend large events
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting?
Racing wheel to wheel (cleanly) and hanging with the CKT family after the races.

May 2023 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:

– Miles Boertje: IKF Northern California Sprint Kart Series – 206 Junior 1 Winner

– John Burke: California ProKart Challenge – KA100 Senior Winner

– Morgan LeBaron: Texas Sprint Racing Series – KA100 Master Winner

– Tyler McIntyre: Sunshine State Karting Challenge – IAME Senior (2 Wins)

– Cooper O’Clair: Race Rotax US Trophy West Series – Senior Max (2 Wins)

– Eli Warren: Route 66 Sprint Series – 2 Wins (KA100 Senior / 206 Senior)

– Tahlon Yockel: Stars Championship Series – Pro Stars Winner

EKN Global Members Discussion: