On all accounts, the inaugural Superkarts! USA Pro Tour is being considering a great success by the organization, thanks to solid participation and incredibly exciting competition. SKUSA’s return to national series competition in 2010 materialized thanks to the passionate requests by many of their racers for more ‘big races’ – which fueled the development of the SpringNationals and SummerNationals. These two new events were then partnered with the famed SuperNationals to present a three-weekend (five-race) Pro Tour circuit for this year. With a limited number of classes, loads of track time and a focus on family fun and enjoyment, the inaugural Pro Tour has been extremely well received. Fast-forwarding to 2011, discussion regarding next year’s program began earlier in the season using feedback from racers, and SKUSA expects a significant increase in participation next year if the recent confirmations by new drivers, shops and teams are any indication. As a result, it is with excitement and high expectations that Superkarts! USA releases their schedule for the 2011 Pro Tour.
The season will begin with the second annual SpringNationals, set for the April 29 – May 1 weekend, which will be held once again at the Jim Russell International Karting Center at Infineon Raceway. The wine country region’s location just north of the beautiful city of San Francisco makes it a popular destination for racers and their families alike, and the facility is one of the most picturesque in the country. The fact that it’s simply one of the finest racetracks in the country makes it the perfect choice for the Pro Tour opener.
After kicking things off in northern California, the next round of the program – the second running of the SummerNationals – will be held on July 15-17 at a venue that will be announced before the end of this year. The inaugural SummerNationals was held at USA International Raceway this past July, drawing the likes of NASCAR stars Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger during their only open weekend of the summer. Next year’s race promises to be even bigger, thanks to the growing support of the Pro Tour. The continuing expansion of SKUSA’s regional platform will certainly provide a larger pool of karters from which to attract Pro Tour competitors.
The 15th annual SuperNationals will once again anchor the Pro Tour schedule next fall, bringing SKUSA’s finest racers to the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the biggest race in North American karting on November 16-20, 2011. This race has exploded over the past two years, and SKUSA’s constant focus on improvement has made each event a new benchmark for American kart racing competition.
The following is the official schedule for the 2011 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour:
April 29-May 1: SpringNationals – Infineon Raceway – Sonoma, CA
July 15-17: SummerNationals – TBA
Nov. 16-20: SuperNationals – Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas, NV
“I’m really satisfied with the results of our first season of Pro Tour racing, and the best part has been the feedback of the drivers and teams,” offers Tom Kutscher, Superkarts! USA president. “We’ve been able to bring together the finest drivers from our regional series, plus we’ve enjoyed the participation of many racers from other organizations, which is excellent. We wanted to focus on a select number of classes – and then make sure that each weekend was an enjoyable experience for our customers. We offered lots of track time and a relaxed atmosphere, and tried to take care of our racers with complimentary post-race BBQs and immediate payouts of the purse. Our goal is always to have our racers leave with a smile, all wanting to come to our next event. I think we did that with this year’s Pro Tour, and I can’t wait to start it all again with the SpringNationals next April!”
One of the priorities for the 2011 schedule was to avoid conflicts with other series, and after many phone calls and meetings, “I’m happy to say that we are looking good for next year,” added Kutscher. “All of these races are good for the industry, and if we keep putting them on top of each other, we’re mostly hurting the shops and teams by forcing them to make a choice – instead of allowing them to attend as many events as they can support. I’d like to thank my fellow promoters for discussing their programs with us so that we could lock in our dates, free of conflict.”
As was the case in 2010, the Spring and Summer Pro Tour events will feature a three-day format, with practice on Friday and complete race days on Saturday and Sunday – with qualifying, heat races and a main. The SuperNationals will have an extra day each of practice and racing competition. SKUSA remains focused on cost control, and will again be restricting the pre-race usage of the official track layout, both Infineon Raceway and the facility that will eventually be confirmed for the SummerNationals in July.
SKUSA is excited by the prospects for the 2011 Pro Tour, in light of the tremendous support being shown towards many of the racing categories for this year’s SuperNationals. The staggering explosion of the S4 Stock Moto Master class is surely a positive precursor of the numbers that SKUSA will see on the Pro Tour in 2011. As well, the continuing development of the S1 Pro and S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto classes will likely result in more than 20 drivers in S1 and likely over 30 in S2, all vying for the national #1 plate in each of the classes. With the TaG Senior category already strong and expected to build, it is also the growth of the S5 Junior Stock Moto and TaG Cadet classes that have Kutscher particularly optimistic.
“We’ve brought three new Junior classes to the SKUSA program over the past couple of years, and I’m really pleased with how they have developed – the S5 and TaG Cadet categories in particular,” Kutscher continued. “These drivers will be the future stars of Superkarts! USA, similar to how guys like Alex Speed developed from the 80cc Junior class. We already have more than 25 entries in the TaG Cadet class for the SuperNationals, which is just another sign that these classes have taken root and will grow to be the foundation of our program.”
SKUSA will run four Stock Moto classes on the Pro Tour in 2011, as it did this year, and will also run at least three of the TaG classes in TaG Senior, Junior and Cadet. The TaG Master category did not receive much support in 2010, but the SuperNationals grid is expected to be filled for Las Vegas, so Kutscher will give the TaG Master drivers the opportunity to pledge their support during the off-season. If they step up with a minimum of 20 pre-entries for the SpringNationals, Kutscher confirms that they will be kept on the class line-up. The following list is the tentative class structure for the 2011 SKUSA Pro Tour:
S1 – Pro Stock Moto – 15 years of age and older – 385 lbs – A License only
S2 – Semi-Pro Amateur Stock Moto – 15 years of age and older – 395 lbs – B License only
S4 – Stock Moto Master – 30 years of age and older – 405 lbs – B or C License
S5 – Junior Stock Moto – 12-15 years of age – 340 lbs – D License
TaG Senior – 15 years of age and older – B or C License
TaG Junior – 12-15 years of age – 320 lbs – D License
TaG Cadet – 9-12 – 242 lbs – D License
*TaG Master – 30 years or older - B or C License (minimum pre-entry required)
“These classes represent the immediate future of Superkarts! USA, and we are committed to supporting their growth,” Kutscher confirmed. “I believe in the importance of the TaG Cadet and S5 classes in building a platform of growth and steady driver graduation, and we’ll be running both of these classes on our flagship ProKart Challenge North and South series in 2011. These classes are here to stay. I am looking forward to seeing them grow over the coming years.”
SKUSA is now working to confirm the venue for the SummerNationals, and will be releasing this information before the end of the year. The title sponsorship of the 2011 Pro Tour is still available; any interested parties are asked to contact the SKUSA head office.