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.

Master Shifter

Former Formula One driver Antonio Pizzonia Jr. drove to victory in Master Shifter category in last year’s SuperNationals (Photo: EKN)

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.

John Crow is among the five former SuperNationals winners in the field (Photo: EKN)

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.

Four-time world karting champion Davide Fore returns for his second start in Master Shifter (Photo: EKN)

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.

SuperNats Stats

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

No. Driver Team Chassis Hometown Nation
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

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