eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: October 2023 – Christopher McKeithan
Precision Performance Karting driver bags CKNA Grand Nationals win and IKF Duffy in same month
Christopher McKeithan won at the CKNA Grand Nationals 7 and IKF Sprint GrandNationals in October (Photo: Studio52.us)
In a continued effort to highlight the many outstanding performances by drivers around the country, eKartingNews.com is proud to introduce the ‘Driver of the Month’ program. Each month, the staff at EKN will determine the one driver who stood out above the rest and give the viewers a chance to know exactly what they accomplished and who they are.
The month of October featured two major races for those competing in the Briggs & Stratton 206 categories. The first came with the Cup Karts North America Grand Nationals 7 at the New Castle Motorsports Park with the International Kart Federation Sprint GrandNationals held on the Speedsportz Racing Park as the second. Both have their own history within the sport, CKNA newer while the coveted IKF Duffy going back decades. The only driver to win at both was North Carolina’s Christoper McKeithan.
The Senior rookie took part in his first CKNA Grand Nationals at the headline level, competing in both Senior Light and Senior Medium after finishing fifth in Junior last year. This was after a busy 2023 season in which he competed at all four CKNA Division program with Precision Performance Karting / Coyote. He followed the full CKNA South program, earning two wins in seven rounds to finish third in the Medium standings, and the same spot in Light with one victory. His one championship came at the North East program in Medium, while finishing third in Light. Christopher stood on the podium four times in the lone North Division weekend in April and traveled north of the border for the CKNA Canada finale to win three of four main events in Light and Medium competition.
The first category in the order at CKNA Grand Nationals was Senior Light. McKeithan qualified third and was shuffled down to seventh in his opening heat. He bounced back to win the second heat race and finished second in the final to stay in the third spot for the grid on the main event. Christopher slipped to fourth at the start but managed to stay in the lead group to the very end of the 16-lap race. He passed Brandon Jarsocrak for the third step of the podium on the final lap.
The battle in the headline Senior Medium class started out missing the speed in qualifying, ending up 13th overall in a field of 95 drivers. McKeithan fought his way forward to the front in the opening heat, ending up second at the line to gain five spots. He managed to hold strong in the third spot for Heat #2 and added another runner-up result to close out the heats. That lined him up in third again for the Medium main event. It was a battle for the first ten laps of the 16-lap Final. Christopher led for a portion but was shuffled back. He reclaimed the top spot and from there was able to run away to a 1.5-second advantage to claim his first CKNA Grand Nationals victory.
A couple weeks later, McKeithan traveled west to the Speedsportz facility north of Houston, Texas to compete in the 2023 running of the IKF GrandNationals. On the line to the winners in each category was the coveted Duffy trophy, named after karting patriarch Frank ‘Duffy’ Livingston. A total of 34 drivers contested the 206 Senior division, where McKeithan slotted sixth in qualifying at a track he had never visited before. With fast laps in the opening heat race, Christopher drove up to the third spot. The second heat was much tougher, bouncing in and out of the top-five to end up eighth at the line. The final heat saw McKeithan drive up to the lead, ending up third at the checkered flag. He managed the opening laps of the 20-lap final to remain in the lead group and took the lead on lap five. After holding the lead for seven circuits, he slipped to third. It was a final lap move from third to first that put McKeithan at the checkered flag first by over a tenth of a second, earning his first career Duffy trophy.
His plans for the 2024 season include following the Cup Karts North America programs once again, including the start of the championship programs with the CKNA Winter Nationals this December at NOLA Motorsports Park. McKeithan is also looking at the option of 2-cycle competition as well in 2024.
October 2023 EKN Driver of the Month – Christopher McKeithan
Born: March 28th, 2008
Hometown: Gastonia, North Carolina
Parents: Tim McKeithan
Height/Weight: 5’8 / 145 pounds
Education: Sophomore at Forestview High School
Chassis: Coyote Racing Chassis prepared by Precision Performance Karting
Engine/Engine Builder: GT Machine
Sponsors: Coyote Motorsports, Precision Performance Karting and Odenthal Racing Products, Millers Transmissions
Series You Compete In: Cup Karts North America, WKA, Trackhouse Motorplex Karting Challenge, International Karting Federation
Years Karting: 6
How did you get started in karting? I watched a lot of Nascar when I was little and I went to my first race and I was hooked. I raced a few indoor leagues at Victory Lane karting in Charlotte and eventually started racing at Trackhouse in Mooresville.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning CKNA Grand Nationals in the premier class this year
What are your goals in racing? My goal in racing is to never get out of it as I grow up. Even if it is not the way I make my living, I still want to be involved in motorsports somehow.
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Determined to win
Funniest moment at the race track? Anytime with the Coyote team, more specifically anytime with John Seglem
Favorite Track: Goodwood Kartways – Ontario, Canada
Favorite form of professional motorsports: Right now IndyCar, I really enjoy all forms of racing though
Favorite karting driver: Christopher McKeithan
Favorite professional driver: Carl Edwards
Favorite website: iRacing
Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption
Favorite actor/actress: Adam Sandler
Favorite music/group: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Sanibel Island, Florida
Favorite food: Chicken Milanese with Fettuccine Alfredo
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? Work out, hang out with my friends, and school
What are your goals outside of karting? To continue to work hard no matter what I am doing and to make sure I enjoy it.
What app or game do you play right now? iRacing
What type of street car would you like to drive? BMW E30
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Bugs
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? What I think that could be done to improve karting is lowering the cost of what it takes to run at the top level or close to it. Also having less politics amongst competitors and teams would be a good thing for the sport.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? My favorite thing about karting is that it is always so close amongst the competitors and that oftentimes the driver who can find the slightest edge over the competition comes out on top.
October 2023 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– Diego Ardiles: USPKS Carolina Grand Prix – X30 Junior Winner
– Alexis Baillargeon: ROK Vegas – Mini ROK Winner
– Chris Carroll: CKNA Grand Nationals 7 – Senior Heavy Winner
– Stephen Eisert: ROK Vegas – VLR Senior Winner
– Holden Harder: CKNA Grand Nationals 7 – Sportsman Winner
– Hayden Jones: USPKS Carolina Grand Prix – X30 Pro Winner
– Marc Stehle: CKNA Grand Nationals 7 – Masters Winner
– Enzo Vidmontiene: USPKS Carolina Grand Prix – KA100 Junior Winner
– Kyle Wick: ROK Vegas – Pro ROK Shifter Winner