Cup Karts North America: 2023 Champions Profile – Derek Wargo
New Orleans driver claims South Division Junior title in rookie season
Derek Wargo won the CKNA South Division Junior championship in his rookie season in the category (Photo: CKNA South)
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: Junior Champion
Hometown: Metairie, Louisiana
Occupation: Student – 8th Grade
Sponsors: Socias Roofing, Nupi Americas, Niron, Ferguson, and Christy Kendall
One of the many Junior drivers competing in the Cup Karts North America program across the USA and Canada is Derek Wargo. The 2023 season was his first at this level, having contested the last few seasons in Cadet. Wargo finished up his career at that level with a vice-champion position at the CKNA South Division program, featuring one win and four other podium results. It was capped off by a near victory at the CKNA Grand Nationals 6, coming up short of victory in Sportsman class by only 21 thousandths at the line to Isaac Malcuit.
His first start at the Junior ranks began strong with a top qualifier honor at the CKNA Winter Nationals at 103rd Street Sports Complex. He bested the 18-driver field in qualifying and won the opening heat race. Issues in Heat #2 put him further back in the field, which led to a DNF in the Final. He bounced back at the Finishline Performance Karting in Biloxi, MS in February. Wargo was able to stand on the podium for the first time in Round Two action, following it up one step better on Sunday – winning his first CKNA Junior main event. That momentum continued over into the Monticello Karting facility in northern Florida. Wargo was able to complete the sweep, winning both main events. His win streak would end at three, as he finished one step off the podium during the opening round at the series finale from the Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC. Wargo bounced back from a bad heat race in the final round during the end of April event. He climbed back up into the sixth position at the checkered flag. His best five races, including four podium finishes, helped him to earn the CKNA South Division Junior championship by 42 points over Texan Ragan Saville.
When and where did you start karting?
DW: I started karting when I was 5 at NOLA Motorsports Park.
Why do you compete at the CKNA?
DW: I compete at CKNA because I love four stroke racing and it is really fun.
What’s your favorite track to compete at?
DW: My favorite track to compete at is NOLA, not because it’s my home track but because it is big but somewhat technical track.
Who do you look at as your primary challengers in each event?
DW: I usually see Cade Jaeger, Sam Tutwiler, Isaac Malcuit, Brady Schad, Josey Chambers and Lucas Thek as my biggest competition.
Are you racing at the CKNA Grand Nationals 7, and if so, what’s your goal for the event?
DW: I am racing at CKNA Grand Nationals 7 and my goal this year is to win because last year I lost the Sportsman win by 21 thousandths!