EKN Exclusive: Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 26 – Preview Series – Master Shifter
Pizzonia seeking to repeat in Las Vegas
eKartingNews.com is proud to present our Preview Series for the SKUSA SuperNationals 26. Leading up to the on-track action of the 2023 edition of the marquee SKUSA event, EKN will preview each of the nine categories that will compete on the temporary circuit located outside the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas from November 8-12.
Trackside coverage is set to begin on Tuesday, November 7 as the EKN crew sets up our SuperNationals 26 home, roaming the LVMS grounds with Paddock Insider and social media content. Coverage continues into Wednesday as karts hit the track for the first time. EKN Live begins on Thursday, November 9 as qualifying is conducted for both the morning classes and the afternoon divisions. Listen LIVE to the heat races throughout Friday, November 10 and into Situation Saturday, November 11, including the five Last Chance Qualifiers held on the day. That sets everything up for SuperSunday, with the main events for SuperNationals 26 audio streamed live on eKartingNews.com/live and eKartingNews.com/radio.
Complete coverage of the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 26 can be found at the EKN EVENT PAGE.
Shifterkart racing is the foundation of Superkarts! USA, and continues to be a focal point of the organization now entering its 26th SuperNationals event. Master Shifter – or G1 – began at the 2000 event at the XPLEX facility on the south end of the Las Vegas. It had an 11-year run before the S4 Stock Moto division came in for 2006 and lasted until the move back to the G1 name in 2019. Now that the engine option is on the same level as the rest of the shifterkart programs around the world with the KZ platform, numbers have increased over the past two years, now welcoming 47 drivers from 12 different countries to add their name to the record books on SuperSunday.
The last driver on that list is Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia Jr. (Orsolon Racing / Birel ART) – who made 20 starts in Formula One from 2003-2005. Pizzonia was able to dominate last year’s race on SuperSunday to be able to complete the Vegas sweep, winning the ROK Vegas event prior to SuperNationals 25. The 2023 Florida Winter Tour champion is vying for a trio of big titles this season, coming off a repeat ROK Vegas victory heading to this year’s SuperNationals.
Three of the other four podium finishers are returning for a chance to better their position from a year ago. Third-place driver Scott ‘Skitchy’ Barnes (Magik Kart USA) claimed a second straight podium result at the SuperNationals. Barnes won two Rock Island Grand Prix ‘Rock’ trophies with wins in Masters Shifter and Open Shifter as a highlight thus far in 2023. Joe Ruch (Vermont Kart Company / Maranello) placed fourth a year ago in his third Master Shifter start at the SuperNationals. He landed another Stars Championship Series title in 2023. Scott Presti (Presti Racing / RS Kart) was the surprise of the podium finisher last year, just behind Ruch at the checkered flag in his first SuperNationals start.
One driver that entered last year’s event as a favorite was Jordon Musser (PSL Karting / Birel ART). The five-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion made his 11th start in the category at the SuperNationals, suffering a flat tire in qualifying. He fought back over the three days of racing to finish sixth on SuperSunday, leaving the void of a SuperNats victory present for another year. The Texan’s best finish at the SuperNationals is runner-up, coming in 2013 and 2019.
The field of 47 drivers features four former SuperNationals winners aside from Pizzonia – the only former winner in Master Shifter competition. The most recent SuperNationals winner is Derek Wang (LN Racing Kart) – a X30 Master victor in 2021 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The multi-time Team USA member at the Rotax Grand Finals is no stranger to racing shifterkart at SuperNationals, having raced S4 Master Stock Moto in 2013 and 2014 with a best result of sixth. Brian Keck (GFC Karting) was a winner in the S2 Semi-Pro class back in 2004. Keck was among the top contenders last year, but an opening corner wreck took him out of contention on SuperSunday. Winning a year later in 2005 was John Crow (Factory Karts) in the TaG Master class. ‘The Crow Show’ is on a run of nine straight starts at the SuperNationals in Master Shifter action, with a best result of third-place finish three times in that span. He finished eighth last year, and one spot behind was the 1999 S2 Semi-Pro winner AJ Noud (Fury Motorsport / GP Kart). Noud jumped back behind the wheel last year at the SuperNationals for the first time in over a decade and is returning for another chance at the podium this year.
Some other notable drivers to watch this year include top-10 finisher from a year ago John Baldasare (Trackmagic), Justin Kelly (Vermont Kart Company / Maranello) – who finished 11th in his first SuperNationals last year – and Jonathan Vitolo (GFC Karting). Vitolo was another contender last year until contact early on SuperSunday took him out of contention. 2023 SKUSA Pro Tour champion Luis Quinones (Factory Karts) is seeking to improve on his 17th result in his first SuperNats start last year. Same for last year’s SKUSA Pro Tour champion Robert Fiege (VTM / TB Kart), who finished this year second in the standings and placed 15th at SuperNats 25.
The driver to beat for much of the race last year was four-time world karting champion Davide Fore (Italian Motors USA / Italkart). Fore set fast time in qualifying and won two heat races but started 11th and could only complete one lap in the Final. The Italian won the FIA Karting KZ2 Masters Super Cup this year and is among the 15 international drivers in the field.
Leading the rookie class in the Master Shifter field this year is multi-time WKA Manufacturers Cup Series champion Robert Bujdoso (Magik Kart USA). Bujdoso is returning to the SuperNationals, making his first Master Shifter start with his last time behind the wheel at the SuperNats coming in 2015, placing fourth in S2 Semi-Pro.
1 – Master Shifter SuperNationals winner in the field
5 – Former SuperNationals winners in the field
12 – Different countries represented in the field
15 – Drivers from outside of the USA
65 – Age of eldest driver in the field
Provisional Entry List – Master Shifter
|633||John Baldasare||Trackmagic||Trackmagic||Los Angeles CA||US|
|609||Skitchy Barnes||Magik Kart USA||Magik Kart||Merritt Island FL||BM|
|610||Levi Bennett||Team Visalia||CRG||Visalia CA||US|
|688||Sam Beswick||Ignition Motorsports||Italkart||CA|
|632||Robert Bujdoso||Checkered Motorsports||Magik Kart||Girard OH||US|
|638||Cameron Cassels||Catalyst Driver Development||Italkart||CA|
|619||Brian Chatfield||GFC Karting||GFC||Brooklyn MD||US|
|656||Nigel Cochrane||Catalyst Driver Development||Italkart||CA|
|686||Vincent Cossard||Ron White Racing||CRG||Houston TX||US|
|631||John Crow||Factory Karts||Factory Kart||Brownsburg IN||US|
|617||Brad Danoff||Vermont Kart Company||Maranello||Wakefield MA||US|
|684||David De La Torre||Aluminos||Irvine CA||US|
|602||Robert Fiege||VTM||TB Kart||Indianapolis IN||US|
|692||Davide Fore'||Italian Motors USA||Italkart||IT|
|669||Luis Gautier||PSL Karting||Birel ART||Miami FL||US|
|603||Michael Guasch||Maranello SRP Factory Racing Team||Maranello||Martinez CA||US|
|611||Antoine Hilligot||Sodi Racing USA||Sodi Kart||FR|
|607||Victor Jimenez||Rolison Performance Group||Tony Kart||The Woodlands TX||MX|
|615||David Jones||Team Visalia||Aluminos||Selma CA||US|
|681||Brian Keck||GFC Karting||GFC||Sacramento CA||US|
|689||Justin Kelly||Vermont Kart Company||Maranello||Omaha NE||US|
|680||Tiffany Kelly||Vermont Kart Company||Maranello||Omaha NE||US|
|696||Leo Kurstjens||PSL Karting||Birel ART||NL|
|604||Will Lin||Italian Motors USA||Italkart||CA|
|673||Rusty Lingle||Croc Promotion||Croc Promotion||Maple Valley WA||US|
|671||Don McGregor||Italian Motors USA||Italkart||CA|
|643||Ruben Millan||FCR Motorsport||Birel ART||Garden Grove CA||US|
|625||Jeff Mills||Ron White Racing||CRG||Pittsburg KS||US|
|616||Jordon Musser||PSL Karting||Birel ART||Dallas TX||US|
|652||Randy Nelson||Taylyn Development||Suprise AZ||US|
|605||AJ Noud||Fury Motorsport||GP Kart||Noblesville IN||US|
|664||Patrick O'Neill||Ron White Racing||CRG||San Rafael CA||IE|
|677||Daniel Parras||Leading Edge Motorsports||Tony Kart||Los Angeles CA||SV|
|672||Larry Pegram||Trinity Karting Group||Magik Kart||Hebron OH||US|
|693||Antonio Pizzonia, Jr.||Orsolon Racing||Birel ART||BR|
|608||Scott Presti||Presti Racing||RS Kart||Naples FL||US|
|601||Luis Quinones||Factory Karts||Factory Kart||Los Angeles CA||US|
|623||Luis Quinones||Lfb racing / project 53||Tony Kart||Port St. Lucie FL||PR|
|653||Joe Ruch||Vermont Kart Company||Maranello||Frankfort IN||US|
|699||Frank Runco||Checkered Motorsports||Magik Kart||Carmel NY||US|
|621||Ken Schilling||Harden Motorsports Group||GP Kart||US|
|676||Chris Souliotis||Italian Motors USA||Italkart||CA|
|612||Darrell Tunnell||Team Visalia||CRG||Visalia CA||US|
|668||Morne Van Taak||VTM||TB Kart||Sarasota FL||US|
|634||Jonathan Vitolo||GFC Karting||GFC||Ft. Lauderdale FL||US|
|678||Derek Wang||LN Racing Kart||Kirkland WA||US|
|647||Armondo Watson Torres||Orsolon Racing||Birel ART||PE|