Although it is the region’s top destination for a variety of recreational motorsports enthusiasts, PGP Motorsports Park is also a championship-caliber venue built with events like this Sunday’s Eventbuilder.com NIKA Championship Finals in mind.
Marking the end of the National Indoor Karting Association’s inaugural season, Sunday’s event will feature many of the top kart pilots from Washington, Oregon and Canada vying for a ticket to the United States Indoor Karting Championships held in Phoenix this November.
Many of these drivers including current point leader Daryle McNulty have been competing in the series since the green flag flew this past spring, but some racers like Formula 2000 regular David Cheng will be making a spot start in what is sure to be one of the biggest karting events of the year in the Pacific Northwest.
Racing at PGP is always rain-or-shine, with gates opening at 8 a.m. on Sunday followed by a mandatory drivers meeting, qualifying promptly at 9 a.m., and racing at 10 a.m. Most drivers are guaranteed to get more than 40 minutes of seat time throughout the day and some will be on track more than an hour. New drivers are welcome, racers must be 15 and up. The cost is just $125.
All previous NIKA events this season have been contested at indoor venues, so PGP will be a change of scenery for many drivers. Utilizing PGP’s rarely-used North Concourse layout this weekend, drivers will be faced with a challenging and twisty circuit that features many different lines and passing opportunities throughout.
The event will be “big guy friendly” as each of the 45+mph Birel karts will be ballasted to a minimum of 200 pounds; mandatory pit stops throughout the event mean strategy will be as important as driver skill to a successful run.
With six drivers bunched at the top of the standings, a successful run on Sunday will determine which driver hoists the champion’s trophy and earns the automatic berth to nationals.
Riding the momentum of winning the Grand Prix of Portland last month and finishing second twice before that, McNulty, who is from Olympia, Wash., holds a 17-point advantage over Adam Kellerman of Clackamas, Ore., with Gary Smith of Victoria, B.C., just one more point back in third. Although winless this season, Kellerman has padded his total with bonus points while Smith has made the trek down from Canada for each of the NIKA events, with a podium finish (third) in Round 2.
Just two points back from Smith is late-model stock car driver Joey Tanner, riding a pair of top 5’s so far this season, including a second in Portland. Apex Karting’s Ben Wallace rounds out the top five in points, having finished strongly at the first two rounds, putting in solid performances to make the final at both events, while Scott Little of Renton, Wash., is No. 6 thanks to his win at the Grand Prix of Seattle earlier this summer.
For many however, Sunday won’t be about the championship but about reaching the podium in what is arguably the biggest gathering of regional karting talent this season. Cheng will give up his F2000 for a Birel kart and I-5 Corridor Series winner Jessica Dana and PGP regular Cameron Hess will give up their Rotax packages for Honda 9 hp power plants. Other local drivers including Maurice Shawver, Jerry Peterson, Eric Franzen, Stephen Greene will be looking to capitalize on their track knowledge, with each having found success in PGP’s local series and endurance events.
Thanks to a new video system installed at PGP, Sunday’s race can be followed live on the web via Eventbuilder.com. Those fans attending the event will find every seat at PGP is the best in the house, as the track is set within a valley where 1.8 million cubic yards of earth were removed, dropping 20 acres by 50 feet and creating a true velodrome where spectators look down on every corner.
After the NIKA event until closing at 5:30 p.m., PGP will offer TaG kart rentals.
On the Web
Visit www.pacificgp.com, become a fan of “Pacific Grand Prix” on Facebook or follow @pacificgp on Twitter.
NIKA media coverage can be found at www.indoorkartingnews.com, with full series information and coverage at the official NIKA website, www.nikakarting.com.
About PGP Motorsports Park
PGP Motorsports Park is the Northwest’s premier multi-purpose racing facility and is located in close proximity to the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Named “Best Guys Weekend Destination” for 2010 in the KING 5 Evening Magazine Best of Western Washington contest, the track is easy to get to and inexpensive to utilize, making PGP a rare combination of top-level racing excitement and affordability. For more information on PGP events and services, visit www.pacificgp.com or call (253) 639-7223.