Cup Karts North America: 2023 Champions Profile – Todd Baron
Veteran karter earns three class championships in two different divisions this season
The Cup Karts North America program is celebrating its 10th season in 2023. The family-friendly racing series is based around the Briggs & Stratton 206 engine platform which has rejuvenated the grassroots karting movement across North America over the last decade. As the leader in grassroots regional racing, CKNA has grown into four different divisions that run from Eastern Canada down to the southern tip of the United States.
The 2023 schedule began with the South Division, opening up the season with the Winter Nationals before trips to Mississippi, Florida, and South Carolina for the finale. New for the 2023 season was the North East Division, which began at the Spring Nationals in Charlotte. Events in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania highlighted the series’ inaugural season. The ‘OG’ division is the North, which featured four races in four different Great Lakes states. The new-in-2022 Canada Division expanded to three events this year with the season started with a race in Quebec and capped with a pair of events in Ontario.
All the programs and races have helped to build the excitement for the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 7, which are set to return to New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Indiana on September 28-October 1. Featuring 385 entries in 2022, the event is expected to break the 400-entry mark this year to make it one of the largest karting events of the season in North America, and around the world.
Before the engines rumble in New Castle for the 2023 CKNA Grand Nationals, EKN would like to recognize a handful of drivers who were able to claim divisional championships.
Cup Karts North America 2023 Champions Profile
South Division: Masters and Legends Champion
North East Division: Legends Champion
Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Occupation: Physician / Gastroenterologist
Kart: Arrow X3 and Arrow X4
Sponsors: Myself and my brother Gary. Help welcomed.
The season started out hot for veteran karting driver Todd Baron. Two victories at the CKNA Winter Nationals helped to kick off the South Division in both Masters and Legends. Baron would go on to sweep the season in Legends, winning the remaining six main events at Finishline Performance Karting in Biloxi, Mississippi, Monticello Karting in Florida, and Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC. That perfect record helped him earn the CKNA South Division Legends championship. He nearly did the same in the Masters division, winning five of the six final races. The Sunday main event at Monticello was the only non-win, placing second to Jorge Ruiz. Still, Baron doubled up on the championships at the South Division with the Masters title.
Following the South season, Baron turned his attention to the new North East program. His win at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Spring Nationals and the opening round of the division series helped to kickstart his championship campaign. Placing runner-up at the New Jersey Motorsports Park rounds, he came back to win both main events at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex at the end of July to claim the title and third championship of 2023 in CKNA competition. The Masters division was a challenge, landing on the podium in only the final two rounds of the five races he contested in their best five of seven format. Finishes of second and third at Pittsburgh helped to elevate him to the third step of the championship podium.
1. When and where did you start karting?
TB: I began karting in 1969 in Hollywood, Florida after my dad saw an article about go-kart racing in the Miami Herald and we raced at Michel’s Kartway and South Florida Kartway in South Florida. We ran only two-cycle engines and won many state and national races. I went off to college in 1980 and was out of karting for 37 years until 2017, shortly after moving to North Carolina. Someone suggested Briggs 206 racing, and I started racing at GoPro Motorplex (now Trackhouse Motorplex).
2. Why do you compete at the CKNA?
TB: I feel that the CKNA represents the best 4-cycle racing in the country in many ways, including the competition and the integrity of the organization. They run amazing events and treat the racers with respect. Family is welcome and fellow racers are friendly. It’s also a good value for the racing dollars spent.
3. What’s your favorite track to compete at?
TB: My favorite local track is Trackhouse Motorplex (formerly GoPro Motorplex) in Mooresville, NC. I was told that if one could win there, one could potentially win almost anywhere. Thus, I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last six years. However, of the nine CKNA tracks my personal favorites are Jacksonville, Charlotte and Pittsburgh the most. However, I have enjoyed all the tracks thus far.
4. Who do you look at as your primary challengers in each event?
TB: At the CKNA level I race two classes (Masters and Legends), so for the most part I have different challengers, though like me there are others who race both of these classes. At the CKNA Nationals, I particularly like to race against (with) Ryan Cassity. Us old guys gotta stick together. But seriously, there are too many to name as the competition level is so high that everyone is a challenger.
5. Are you racing at the CKNA Grand Nationals 7, and if so, what’s your goal for the event?
TB: Yes, I will be racing at CKNA 7 and competing in both Legends and Masters classes. My goal is to win both classes, understanding this is a tall order. I would be very satisfied to be on the podium for both classes.