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Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix Race Report

10/20/2009

Article by: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine

It’s positively clear that the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix (streetsoflancastergrandprix.com) was a hit with racers, fans and host cities alike. The inaugural street race presented by Lancaster Honda is finally in the bag after months and months of work from Tri-C Karters and the City of Lancaster, CA. The city welcomed racers with gift bags at registration on Friday (at the Panache Salon on Lancaster Blvd.) and a driver reception at the art gallery featuring beer, wine, sodas, and assorted appetizers. The mayor and other city officials were on site to greeting racers and crews.

All weekend crowds gathered for the street fair starting early Saturday morning. The street festival featured live music, a beer garden, food vendors and business booths that started at the end of the straight. Tri-C Karters collaborated with Henderson Karting and Courtney Concepts to promote karting in a booth at the festival. The racers received awards on the stage at the festival with trophy girls, umbrella girls, and interviews in front of a crowd of local citizens. Drivers were asked to sign autographs for local kids. The best part about the festival was the people. Spectators actually lined the track and watched the racing. Not moms and dads of participants but moms and dads, and kids who were interested in the 120 drivers rocketing down their streets. This race did more to boost outside interest in the sport of karting than any other race in So-Cal this year.

Immediately following qualifying on Saturday, the city held a hot-rod car show. The cars cruised the race circuit revving their engines and doing burnouts on the straight. Their speeds were a lot less than their karting counterparts for sure. Some of the shifter drivers even did bigger burnouts when the green flag dropped for racing on Sunday. The Celebrity race was run during the lunch break on Saturday. It featured city officials and major sponsors competing for bragging rights and trophies. It seems there are many different sides to how the race actually played out and who had the best race craft, but at the end of the contest the winner was clear. The celebrity race raised $25,000 for the new Antelope Valley Medical Clinic.


PRD winner Devin Lindsey
(Photo: Go Racing Magazine)

Forest River, an event and class sponsor manufactures motor homes, trailers, and toy haulers. They had two on display at the street festival. They put up $1000 in gift cards for the winners ($200 each shifter class; $100 each other class, except PRD). They also provided hats for all participants. The class sponsors for the event were: Burris Racing - HPV Classes, RLV - PRD Class, Courtney Concepts - Rotax Classes, Forest River, Inc. - Shifter Classes.

HPV 4 Plus got the event in motion with Rob Logan scoring the pole with a time of 42.774. The heat race saw Logan overcome early attacks from Brian Phillipsen and Michael Graham, eventually taking the checkered flag by three seconds. The main event went in similar fashion with Logan on the run and being chased by Phillipsen, Graham and Paul Hohlbein. Logan drew away once again, but he slowed way down for a yellow flag and was caught with two laps to go. The white flag was awesome with them going three wide into turn one. Logan managed to regain his lead and take a hard fought win. It was a great way to get the onlookers into the action right out of the gate. Logan was presented the first place helmet trophy encased in plastic and painted by Tri-C’s very own Taylor Jocelyn. I must say these were some of the coolest first place trophies ever. The glass with the wood bases for second and third were also cool, but the helmets stole the show.

In HPV 1, Brenden Baker was the pole sitter with a 44.836. The heat race saw Baker pull out a three second advantage over Cole Davis, and finish well ahead of the Wesolowski brothers of Troy and Ian. The final was in the bag for Baker from the drop of the green, but alas it was not to be on this beautiful Lancaster weekend. A little brain fade on Baker’s part cost him the lead. He then spent the next 19 laps chasing back into contention. Even with a few more collisions on track he managed to salvage a second place finish after tech. Once Baker was out of the way it came down to the #24 of Davis and the #88 of Tyler Burk. The lead duo changed positions a few times but mostly Burk chased Davis. In the end Davis had a small gap at the line for the race win. Burk suffered in tech, elevating Baker up to second place and Henry Falls-Hand onto the podium in third.


PP Mastro leds 30 shifter karts into turn one, en route to the Open Shifter victory
(Photo: Go Racing Magazine)

Joey Barros set the pace in Rotax International qualifying with a 40.348. Apparently sporting the classic Kodak driving suit his dad wore “back in the day” was a good luck charm for the guy who hasn’t raced a kart in nearly two years. Race Liberante stepped up his game in the prefinal to cross the line first and set up a doozy of a final. Liberante grabbed the hole-shot and sped off into the lead followed by Barros and Ariel Jimenez. Liberante’s day didn’t go as planned, as his day ended abruptly on lap 5. Barros assumed the lead and never looked back. Jimenez wasn’t quite able to turn laps quick enough to keep pace with Barros, but she was fast enough to hold onto that coveted second place and make a trip to the podium. Lloyd Mack clawed his way up into third place, joining Jimenez and Barros in front of the fans to receive their trophies and get interviewed by Chappy.

In the Masters Rotax class FTK’s own Andy Seesemann blew the field away in qualifying besting teammate Frank Powell by nearly half a second. His dominance continued through the 10-lap prefinal where he clearly won his class and ran top five in the overall. Seesemann improved by finishing an impressive fourth overall and waxing the field of Masters drivers. With a 15 second advantage at the finish it is no wonder Seesemann is a past Rotax National Champion. Paul Hohlbein did a great job to finish in second place, keeping an International driver between himself and Powell for the majority of the race. Hohlbein also had the distinct honor of ruining the Masters podium sweep by FTK drivers. Powell was the first driver to exploit the fact that we had a stage and trophy girls and got a kiss for his third place finish.

HPV 2 and HPV 4 shared the track, but ran split starts in the final. The split start was a joke as drivers from each class were once again intermixed within three laps. Jared Torres was primed for the HPV 2 win from qualifying. His 42.325 was good enough for the pole over Nicholas Silva and Adrian Starrantino. Torres put his foot down in the prefinal as Haley Jenni and Michael Graves finished four seconds back. The final was a slugfest as Torres led the opening circuits and Starrantino worked his way through traffic and into send place. By halfway, Torres was under pressure and had to give way to the charging Starrantino. The continued the battle lap after lap with Starrantino eventually getting the win. Jenni held strong and battled her way onto the podium as the only other driver not finishing a lap down.


S3 winner Jacob Neal
(Photo: Go Racing Magazine)

HPV 4 was even more exciting as Brody Roa, Robby Harryman and Carl Modoff put on a show for the fans. Harryman was the guy on pole with a time of 42.112, but the heat race saw Roa slip by Harryman on lap 3 for the win. They were three seconds clear of the pack. Modoff joined the fight in the 24 lap final and the trio bashed off each other nearly every lap. I have never seen more contact in a race that didn’t result in karts not finishing. Roa led the final from the drop of the green until lap twenty-one when all hell busted loose. Harryman led lap 22 with Roa and Modoff in tow. Modoff took a flyer on lap 23 followed by Harryman and Roa. The race was decided on the last lap as all three drivers dove for the inside line in turn one. Harryman stepped onto the podium and asked the crowd if they liked the show. They did, and he liked his first place trophy too. Modoff held on for second and Roa had to settle for third after an amazing 24-lap race.

PRD was one of the most anticipated races of the weekend. With 20 drivers and the lions share of prize money fans lined the fences to watch what was surely going to be the best race of the weekend. Lloyd Mack Jr. kicked things off with the pole, running a 41.144. Kyle Kuntze, Joey Barros and Steven Clark were Mack’s nearest competitors but they were five tenths off his pace. The prefinal didn’t go too well for Mack or Clark, as they didn’t make it the full race distance. Barros took over the lead from Mack on lap 8 and carried it home for the prefinal win. Derek Zimmermann finished in second place with Devin Lindsey moving up from sixth to finish in third. The final got ugly from the drop of the green as Barros got assisted into turn one on the start. Completely sideways in front of the field is no way to start a main. After the contact subsided, Barros was well back in the pack as Lindsey had clear track in front and Kuntze glued to his rear bumper. It didn’t take long for Lindsey to put it into overdrive and sail off into the Lancaster sunset. Barros picked off drivers one by one and eventually made his way past everyone but Lindsey to finish in second place, only five seconds back of the winner. Shawn Cricca ran solidly all race long and was rewarded with a trip to the podium in third place. The purse for the PRD class saw $2200 divided up with Lindsey taking home $1k in cash while Barros and Cricca left $700 and $400 richer. A randomly selected driver was given $100 - going to Gene Pasquini. Thanks goes to RLV, Lloyd Mack, Performance Racing, Anonymous Donor, Fleming Racing Engines, Empire Karts and Jerry Henderson for donating to the cash purse.

I can’t even remember the last time that shifters were the headline class by sheer numbers alone. With enough karts for two classes it was no wonder the fans stuck around until later in the day to see these rocket ships blast down the street with average speeds above 63mph. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the SKUSA SuperNationals are just around the corner and this was a great test and tune for the temporary circuit at the Rio parking lot.


The podium celebrations took place on the festivals main stage with a number of fans and trophy girls
(Photo: Go Racing Magazine)

Open Shifter saw PP Mastro run a time 37.585 to sit on pole. Troy Butts was right in the hunt and started from the outside of row one for the prefinal. Mastro was the heat winner, but we saw Imran Husain move up to second place and start the final off pole. The final was filled with traffic as Mastro hit lap traffic only a few laps into the contest. Husain made a go of things, taking over the point for a few laps during the mid point of the race. Mastro may have been surprised once by Husain, but it didn’t last long for the driver of the #44 CRG. Once back out front Mastro gapped the field by four seconds. Husain finished an impressive second with Kyle Lewis third. Kyle Hathcox moved up from ninth to finish in third place overall to take the Spec Honda Shifter Heavy victory. I think Kyle might have been the most excited guy on the podium all day long. Casey Scherer was just under two-seconds back with Paul Russell completing the podium. Of the 30 overall drivers who took the green only 11 of them finished on the lead lap.

Spec Shifter saw Bobby Legate run the fastest qualifying lap of the event, 37.128. Jacob Neal was two tenths off but came alive in the prefinal to beat Jason Toft and Legate to the checkered flag. Toft came to the final ready for a fight. With a quick start and some fancy driving he managed to gain a small advantage on Neal. Legate maintained third but was involved in an early battle with Clinton Schoombee, Patrick Cushenberry, and Willy Musgrave. Neal gave chase to what seemed to be a lock in for Toft, but as the laps wound down Toft would disappear. One lap, Toft was up front on his way to the win and the next moment it was Neal on his way to victory. Finishing is always a big part of finishing first and today was Neal’s day. Neal has had plenty of good days this year, but not nearly as many as he has to come in his career. A solid performance landed him the first place helmet award. Legate eventually was able to gain a large advantage over the pursuing field of drivers led by fellow Arrow driver Cushenberry.

The event drew racers from all over California, Arizona, Nevada and even one from Iraq. Jeff Dyers was on a short leave from being an EOD Specialist (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) in Iraq used his time away from the war to hit the streets of Lancaster for some needed R & R. His day ended early in turn one, but you gotta figure the worst day karting is still better than a good day disarming bombs.

The event went off nearly flawless. Racers left with something rarely seen, a smile, and hats off to Tri-C for making that happen. The city of Lancaster officials seemed pleased, and looked like they were all ready to commit for next year’s event. Lets hope that happens and we have a new karting tradition for years to come in the Southland.

Article Credit: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine
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