EKN Trackside: 2023 Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix – Preview

28th edition of Labor Day weekend street race hits the Quad Cities

This Labor Day weekend hosts the 28th edition of the Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix as the city streets of Rock Island, Illinois turns into a two-day karting festival. It all began in 1994 with the first time karts competed around the six-turn, six-tenths of a mile long circuit along the Mississippi River with spectators from all over the Quad Cities area. The fun on and off the course begins Friday with set-up day and continues into Saturday with the practice along with heat races. Main events and the run for the ROCK trophies take place Sunday.

King of the Rock Briggs winner Drake Ostrom is among the many former RIGP winners in this year’s field (Photo: EKN)

A total of 16 categories will take on this year’s Rock Island Grand Prix with eKartingNews.com will once again partner with the RIGP family to produce a live audio play-by-play broadcast from the start-finish line on Fourth Avenue, all part of our EKN Trackside Live coverage program along with social media and forum updates. Jay Kidwell – sports director at WHBF-TV and race car driver Carter Pease – the same duo from the 2021 edition of the event – will be on the microphone to call the action throughout the weekend, and those not in attendance can listen in both days at www.ekartingnews.com/live along with the EKN Radio Network and watch the action on the EKN YouTube channel.

Seven of the categories are focused on the Briggs & Stratton 206 engine platform. Since 2012, the engine has been growing into the backbone of the grassroots level across the country and become the focus at the Rock Island Grand Prix. The headline King of the Rock is into its third year with former winners Michael Dittmer and Drake Ostrom set to battle for a second crown against the 23-driver field that includes multiple former RIGP winners – such as Scott ‘Skitchy’ Barnes, Jeff Dolian, Chase Jones, Connor Lund, 23-time ROCK winner Tony Neilson, Matt Pewe, Gage Rucker, Jeff Scott, Riley Scott, Michael Welsh and Justin Wishard. Many of those will be in the Briggs 206 Medium, Heavy and Masters category. A new class was added for 2023 with the Briggs 206 Novice category, reserved for new racers and those that have not won at the Rock Island Grand Prix.

Andrew Bujdoso will go for a third straight victory in King of the Streets (Photo: EKN)

The Briggs 206 class extends into the Margay Ignite program, which began racing at the RIGP in 2015. The spec-chassis program puts a focus on the driver, and it has shown in the results with seven different winners over the seven main events at the Rock Island Grand Prix. Riley Scott added his name to the winner’s list last year, returning to become the first two-time winner. Former winners Ashton Wheeler and Scott Barnes are in the field to do the same. Barnes has won the Final 2 class the last two years. The Masters class was introduced in 2017 with only two drivers winning during that span. Neilson won the last three times with former RIGP winner Jeff Scott joining the field this year for the first time.

The King of the Streets crown has been awarded at the Rock Island Grand Prix since 2000. It began in 1998 with a street race in Oklahoma and moved to Quincy Grand Prix the following year. 2022 marks the 22nd time the King has been crowned at the Rock Island Grand Prix. Andrew Bujdoso became the fourth driver in event history to win back-to-back years and is attempting to become the first to win three years straight at the RIGP. Scott Barnes and Joe Ruch are among the contenders to earn their first win in the class. Both of them will be competing in the Open Shifter Masters class as well.

Justin Wishard became the second different winner in the King of the Rock 100cc last year (Photo: EKN)

The King of the Rock 100cc class was introduced in 2021, won by Race Liberante while Justin Wishard came through, winning both King and regular Senior 100cc category. Chase Jones won the regular class in 2021, and is returning along with former RIGP winner Riley Scott in a field of nine. Yamaha SuperCan Heavy was a popular category in RIGP past and returned last year, coming back in 2023 filled with drivers looking to add their first ROCK trophy.

Vintage category closes out the categories for the 2023 Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix with three specific classes taking to the city streets once again to provide a glimpse into the history of the sport.

Be sure to follow EKN Social Media channels – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – all weekend long with updates, results, photos, videos and more throughout the weekend at the Rock Island Grand Prix.

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