SUPERKARTS! USA INAUGURAL SPRINGNATIONALS A HUGE SUCCESS
Beautiful weather and exciting last lap passes highlight big launch weekend
SONOMA, CA (April 18, 2010) – The Superkarts! USA brass couldn’t have asked for a better launch to their new Pro Tour in Sonoma, CA this past weekend, as their inaugural SpringNationals drew over 100 racers to the Jim Russell International Karting Center at Infineon Raceway. The racing was insanely good, running the popular circuit in the reverse national layout, and this elevated competition helped develop a great buzz throughout the paddock. Veterans were all talking about how this new series is bringing back the excitement of the famed ProMoto Tour of the late 90s and early 00s. In the headline classes, Fritz Leesmann and Clinton Schoombee split the S1 wins in thrilling fashion, while veteran karter and former Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler followed suit in his sweep of the TaG Senior events.
The action in the headline Pro classes was nothing less than incredible, featuring hardcore racing and some impressive come-from-the-back drives by the best in the sport. Aluminos’ Fritz Leesmann (CRG) dropped the gauntlet on his charge for the S1 national title right out of the box, sweeping Saturday’s action with the pole, two heat race wins and the main event victory. Select Shifter’s Clinton Schoombee (CRG) and STA Racing’s Jason Toft (GP) would fight it out for second, and both drivers would be ready to step up on Sunday. In the second main of the weekend, Leesmann would set the early pace, but Schoombee matched his speed this time out, eventually taking the lead midway through the 20-lapper. After Leesmann took back the point, Toft completed his drive from dead-last – following a heat race DNF – by passing Schoombee for second on the final lap. Schoombee would not be denied, however, passing both Toft and Leesmann under braking into the left-hand turn three, much to the crowd’s delight. The CRG driver would hold back his challengers for the remainder of the lap to score a very popular triumph. In the overall weekend points, Leesmann would earn the victory and the $1000 first place prize.
While the main events wins were split in S1, the S2 and S4 classes were swept by their respective leaders. Infinity Motorsports’ Matt Alcorn (Energy) bagged a pair of wins in the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto category, running away from the pack on Saturday before having to lay it all out for the win on Sunday. The ProKart Challenge North regular distanced himself from Cameron Karting’s Neil Joseph (Italkart) and Cameron Pringle (GP) to take the victory. On Sunday, the rise of Central States Challenge drivers Lukas Johnson (GP) and Derek Crockett (GP) made things more interesting, as both pilots took turns up front. Past the halfway point, Johnson looked to have control of the race before an electrical issue put the talented S5 graduate on the sidelines. Alcorn would take over the lead, which he held until the checker. Crockett would finish up second ahead of Pringle in the final tally.
In similar fashion to Alcorn’s sweep in S2, Aluminos’ Jeff Smith (CRG) was the man to beat all weekend in S4 Stock Motor. Although he was challenged in qualifying and occasionally nipped off the start line, Smith’s trademark consistency vaulted him back to the lead in every session, as he was never beaten to the checker. On Saturday, Smith won over Ray Zanotto (Tony Kart) and Phil Conte (CRG), while on Sunday, Conte matched his podium performance as he pressured Jim Inglebright (GP) for second throughout the entire race. The S4 class was the largest of the weekend and continues as one of SKUSA’s primary growth areas.
The G1 Masters category featured a great show, as the field did what it could to hang with Aluminos’ Fernando Diaz (GP). The veteran pilot put on a show, leading the way all weekend. He would come home with just a single victory however, as after winning decisively on Saturday, a blown motor on Sunday put him on the sidelines with just three laps to go. On Saturday, Kelly Baker (Italkart) put in a strong effort in leading early, but once Diaz’s kart came in, he would not be denied. When Baker went out late, Jim Kidd (Italkart) stepped up to take over second, having put in a strong effort that saw him get quicker and quicker throughout the main. Eduardo Martins (Tony Kart) rounded out the top-three to kick the weekend off in style. Sunday’s racing was more of the same, for 17 laps at least. Baker would lead early, but Diaz would take over in short order, pulling away with ease. But the win was not in the cards, as a lower end failure beginning lap 17 left him in the infield to watch Robert Marks (CRG) run to the checker. Marks had been incredibly quick all weekend, as his consistency paid off with a big win. Martins was back on the box in second, while Baker wrapped his weekend with a podium third.
The TaG Senior main event on Saturday was one of those performances that you just won’t forget. After encountering a mechanical issue in the final heat race, Phil Giebler (FA Kart) started dead last in a 20-kart field and proceeded to knife his way into second with just six laps remaining. Over the final circuits, Giebler reeled in leader Gregory Liefooghe (CRG) and eventually made a strong move to take the point and the dynamic victory. Liefooghe would finish a strong second ahead of Troy Deide (Intrepid). On Sunday, Giebler would steer clear of any issues to start on the pole for the main, running away to a two-second win over Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart) and Position One’s Bobby Kelley (Maddox). In TaG Master, Ethan Wilson (Tony Kart) scored both wins to take the overall point lead.
In the TaG Junior category, Luis Tyrrell (Wildkart) and Kathryn Cornell (Intrepid) each scored victories to kick off their national championship chase. Tyrrell was the powerhouse in the class, stretching out ahead of Emmanuel Mestre (Tony Kart) on Saturday to begin his Pro Tour season with a victory. Jonny Norris (PCR) stood on the final rung of the podium. On Sunday, Tyrrell and Mestre fought it out again, this time waging war until the final lap, when they made contact that allowed Cornell to slip through for the win. Tyrrell would recover to finish second ahead of Austin Dement (GP). The new TaG Cadet class made its debut with an amazing set of main events. Noah Grey (FA Kart) kicked things off with a big win on Saturday, chased all race by Colton Herta (BA-1) and Tate Holleran (BA-1). In the second race, Parker Thompson (Tony Kart) tried to run away for the win, but he was chased down by Herta, who made a spectacular move during the final lap to take over the top spot. Thompson went for the win in the final corner, but he and Herta pushed wide which allowed Holleran to duck back under for the drag-race to the line. As the lead duo came back to the left, they collected Holleran, who was pushed sideways, winning the race totally perpendicular to the finish line. In a wild turn of events, Grey also slipped through to take second, giving him the overall win and the prize of a new Vortex MiniRok engine package. Thompson would end up third while Herta had to settle for fourth after an amazing late-race drive.
NorCal pilot Daniel Langon (GP) topped the S5 Junior Stock Moto class on Saturday, but a mechanical issue put him on the sidelines during the Sunday warm-up lap. In the absence, Colorado driver Christian Schureman (GP) raised his game to battle for the victory with Alex Tartaglia (Intrepid) and Austin Schimmel (GP). Schureman would come out on top of a race-long battle to score his first Pro Tour win.
The SKUSA Pro Tour will continue on the July 16-18 weekend in Shawano, WI at the beautiful USA International Raceway. SKUSA officials are currently working to develop travel options for drivers who wish to attending the SummerNationals. Anyone interested in event or class sponsorship opportunities are asked to contact the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.
About Superkarts! USA:
Established in 1995, Superkarts! USA is dedicated to shifterkart and TaG racing and is the leader in the field, currently promoting five regional racing series. Racing programs are currently running in Southern California, Northern California, Hawaii, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa, in cooperation and support from official tire supplier MG Tires. In 2010, the organization is promoting its new SKUSA Pro Tour, which features a pair of major events in the Western and Central United States, all leading up to the annual SKUSA SuperNationals, the biggest shifter kart race in the world, held every November in Las Vegas, NV. For more information on SKUSA, please visit www.superkartsusa.com.