Cup Karts North America: 2023 Champions Profile – Holden Harder

Near perfect score in North Division for Wisconsin driver to claim first Sportsman championship

Holden Harder won seven of eight main events in Sportsman at the CKNA North Division (Photo: AG Digital Content)

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

North Division: Sportsman Champion

Holden Harder

(Photo: CKNA)

Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin
Age: 11
Grade / School: 6th – Glacial Drumlin School
Kart: Nitro Kart
Sponsors: GGM, and helmet sponsored by GGR

For the 2023 season, Cup Karts North America split up the Sportsman division into two categories, following the 2-cycle counterpart. Now the Sportsman class is reserved for drivers 10-13 years of age with Cadet set at 8-10 years old drivers. Wisconsin driver Holden Harder is among the veterans of the class, finishing up his fourth year in the category. It began with just one round in the North Division in 2020 at Road America, placing runner-up. The 2021 season was his first full year in Sportsman, finishing the year seventh in the championship. Harder gained his first victory in the class in 2022 at Shawano, landing on the podium three other times in the eight rounds of the championship. His results put him third in the final standings, placing behind eventual Grand Nationals winner Isaac Malcuit and former Grand Nationals winner Brady Schad.

The 2023 CKNA North program began in April at the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati Kart Plex with Harder setting fast time in qualifying and winning the two heat races. He was shuffled back to third in the main event. It was the only time Holden did not win a main event. He closed out the weekend with a wire-to-wire victory on Sunday. The second event took the CKNA North program to the Kart Circuit Autobahn in Joliet, Illinois. Harder was able to complete the weekend sweep, finish P1 in all on track sessions. He fought off Brayden Domont in Saturday’s main event before going wire-to-wire on Sunday.

The third event at Mill-Rite Raceway – home of the Badger Kart Club in Wisconsin – saw Harder claim both main event victories. He fought forward at the end of Saturday round, taking his fourth victory. Holden won the heat race Sunday, leading every lap of the main event for a fifth straight victory. The series finale was held in July at the Whiteland Raceway Park south of Indianapolis. It was another two heat wins and main event victory on Saturday, holding off Alex Haese. Harder fought forward from a P5 qualifying effort on Sunday to win the Prefinal and then held off Brayden Domont and Christopher Youtsey for a seventh straight victory on the season, claiming the CKNA North Division championship in Sportsman.

Harder completed the season with a victory in his series debut at the CKNA North East Division, with their finale at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Holden won the Saturday main event, placing second on Sunday. He will be making his fourth start at the CKNA Grand Nationals in the Sportsman division, recording a DNF, 13th and 24th over the last three editions.

When and where did you start karting?

HH: I started racing Comer Kid Karts when I was 5 and raced at Sugar River Raceway and Badger Kart Club in Wisconsin.

Why do you compete at the CKNA?

HH: I love racing the Briggs class and like that there’s always a large field of great competition.

What’s your favorite track to compete at?

HH: It’s hard to pick a favorite track because I enjoy racing at them all, but my top three would be New Castle, Whiteland, and Pitt.

Who do you look at as your primary challengers in each event?

HH: There’s a lot of great competition.  I don’t have a particular primary challenger.

Are you racing at the CKNA Grand Nationals 7, and if so, what’s your goal for the event?

HH:  Yes, my goal is to win!

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