Paddock Insider: 2023 Rotax Max Challenge US Trophy Final

(Photo: EKN)

EKN’s Paddock Insider is part of our Trackside coverage, bringing you notes, updates and breaking news as it happens. The article will feature notes from trackside at the 2023 Rotax Max Challenge US Trophy Final held at the New Castle Motorsports Park in New Castle, Indiana. This is insider info will not be seen anywhere else. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below.

Triple Digit Entries for Second Year Event

The second edition of the Rotax Max Challenge US Trophy Final is welcome a big growth from the inaugural event last year. Entries have surpassed the 110-driver mark for the five categories, giving an average class total over 20. The over 40% growth for the event helps to solidify the foundation by event promoter Race Rotax and J3 Competition with their US Trophy West and US Trophy East programs. There was growth from 2022 to 2023 with those series and it has transitioned into the US Trophy Final. For this weekend, the growth is in the new entrants to the event, including some major names and teams returning to Rotax competition. Rolison Performance Group, Speed Concepts Racing, PSL Karting and others have returned trackside for the ‘big one’ for Rotax racing here in the USA.

10 Years Later: First Rotax Grand Finals for Ryan Norberg

Ryan Norberg – 2013 Rotax Grand Finals to now

It was 10 years ago that a young Ryan Norberg made his first start at the Rotax Grand Finals, which were held at the NOLA Motorsports Park. The Florida driver was a late entry into the 2013 event, after a Malaysian driver pulled out. This allowed Norberg, who finished fourth at the US Rotax Grand Nationals, to join Team USA on its home soil. Norberg was unable to qualify for the main event, along with the following year in Spain in the Junior division. It wasn’t until 2019 that he shined at the Rotax Grand Finals. Norberg started third and was among the leaders until contact early dropped him down the order.

Speaking with Norberg about those initial Rotax Grand Finals events, he remembers how it was his introduction to international competition. How tight the fields were, and the level of competition is what he remembers about both. Returning to Rotax competition, the Rolison Performance Group driver utilizes Rotax power at his Norberg Karting Academy down in Orlando.

Cleavelin Looking for Return to Rotax Grand Finals

Billy Cleavelin is attempt to return to the Rotax Grand Finals for a second time (Photo: EKN)

One of the eldest drivers here at the Rotax Max Challenge US Trophy Final is Billy Cleavelin. The 66-year-old legend in USA karting was a member of Team USA at the Rotax Grand Finals back in 2016. His goal from the start of this season was to be able to contend for the ticket in Masters MAX. Cleavelin came away with the top spot in the US Trophy West program, and is among the seven drivers in the ‘Reserved’ list for one of the two tickets available. The Californian is claiming that this is his last year of karting, with Cleavelin’s career spanning multiple decades.

EKN Global Members Discussion: