naugural ‘Border War’ Ends 2010 SKUSA Mountain Region Season
Article by: Superkarts! USA
The first annual ‘Border War’ between the best in Colorado and Utah is now in the books following the October 16-17 event at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway (GJM). The event served as the 2010 finale for the Superkarts! USA Mountain Region series, closing out its inaugural season in what is projected to be a growing program in the years to come. The weather could not have been better both days, and the Cook family hosted one of the best BBQ dinners of the year on Saturday evening after the completion of the practice day. In the end however it was the state of Utah coming through with the victory and bragging rights.
Throughout the day on Saturday, practice showed early signs to all teams that the war was going to be tight right up to the end. As rubber started getting laid down, the times in all classes started dropping with the cool fall temps in the afternoon. Excitement was building throughout the day as well for the first annual ‘Codger Classic’ race hosted by local karter Butler Cox. Butler, at 72 years young, proved that there are no limits to age in karting as he took to the track with five of his newly found ‘geezer’ buddies. These guys were fast and three of them showed up on 250cc Vampire 4-Stroke beasts. Butler retired first unfortunately with a blown out exhaust baffle on lap one, while Robert Valentino checked out and became the Geezer to beat on his Tony Kart. No CPR was necessary as the rest of the field laid down 10 laps while several spectators stood at the fence and cheered them on. A traveling Geezer trophy was awarded to Robert on Sunday and he will also be given a permanent trophy for his efforts and bragging rights until next year. Expect this class to gain momentum next year at all the SKUSA MR races on Saturday afternoons.
Sunday morning brought some cool temps as all the teams showed up for morning practice. Afternoon showers were forecasted by the weather service so SKUSA MR Race Director Curt Kistler opted to get the schedule rolling at 8am. He also promised that everyone would be on the road home by 4:30. All classes received a 10 minute warm-up session before completing the qualifying, heat race and main events. The point structure for the Boarder War trophy was determined by the fast qualifier, heat winner and main event winner in three separate classes - TAG Cadet, TAG Senior and S2. A total of nine points were on the table and a tie was not in the future to decide the War. Like all wars, several battles took place and the racing could not have been closer thanks to the development of spec racing and great drivers.
In TAG Cadet, the racing all day was by far the most exciting with passing taking place among the lead draft on every lap. Colorado driver Tate Holloran laid down a pole with 1:02:600 and captured the day’s first point, followed by Utah shoe Austin Versteeg’s 1:02:879. In the heat race, Versteeg crossed the line by just 0.0751 in front of Holloran, giving a point to Utah. The main could not have been more exciting and the call by local SKUSA MR Announcer Tony Laporta really painted a picture with his microphone that pulled many drivers and tuners away from their duties to watch the final laps. In the end, Austin Versteeg finished just 0.184 in front of Holloran for Utah’s second point of the day.
TaG Senior was the second battle for the Cup and local Grand Junction driver Sabre Cook put her entry on pole with a 55:353, followed by Utah’s Johnny Lindquist with a 55:469. The heat race was all Lindquist as he showed his driving skills and checked out after 10 laps to a 2.382 win in front of Cook. Heading into the main event, it was again Lindquist and Cook going toe-to-toe, pulling away and battling for the TaG Senior victory. Lindquist once again shined as he was able to power away for a 4.791 victory after 20 laps.
In the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto battle, with all of the drivers tuning their skills and equipment for the SKUSA SuperNationals in November, it was local Grand Junction resident Christian Bird putting his entry on pole with a 52.618 during the qualifying session. Following Bird was fellow Colorado driver Matt Kistler with a 52.811. Not far behind Kistler was Utah’s Keenan Schmitke – who had not driven a kart since his impressive podium at last year’s SuperNationals. Schmitke qualified with a 52.875, setting the table for what was going to be an exciting battle for the Border War Trophy. The heat race started off to be a slug fest as several drivers made contact and sent front runners to the back of the field, including Schmitke and Bird. Kistler took full advantage and stayed clean as he was able to stay up front for a 0.936 gap in front of Anthony Giannone from Colorado Springs. When the green flag dropped for the main event, several Colorado karters were up front and it looked to be like the Cup would stay in Colorado. Schmitke threw down an impressive holeshot and started making his way to front of the field right from the start. Several Colorado karters led in the first few laps, including Jack Bradley, Giannone and Kistler. By lap five, Schmitke found his way to the point, eventually overtaking both Kistler and Giannone. The three stayed close for the remainder of the race but at the checkered flag it was Utah’s Schmitke by 0.410-seconds in front of Giannone.
Utah racers collect the Cup after clinching the first ever Border War title
(Photo: Howard Prince)
Thanks to the victory by Schmitke, the Utah contingent earned five points to Colorado’s four – giving them the first ever Border War Cup.
“You could not have had a closer outcome to a full day of racing. The Cup could have gone either way right up to the final lap,” stated SKUSA MR Race Director Curt Kistler. “We knew going in that Utah had some very fast teams and drivers, and they came here to remind us just how fast they really are. It was very exciting to watch the individual battles throughout the day, and the camaraderie between the states was something special to witness and be a part of. The entire SKUSA MR team will be working very closely with Utah over the winter months to develop what should become a very exciting second annual Border War in their backyard next season.”
Five other categories competed as part of the SKUSA Mountain Region program as they completed their championship chases. In the S5 Junior Stock Moto division, Christian Schureman and Austin Schimmel continued their season long battle. Schimmel was best in qualifying and the heat race but Schureman took advantage in the main event, scoring the victory. Ron Reed walked away with the victory in the TaG Masters category that witnessed the largest field of the season. Rodney Ebersole crossed the line second but was removed following tech, moving Justin Wells up to second and Roger Miller on the third step of the podium. Jet Davis won a close battle in S4 Master Stock Moto over Mike McDonough with Gary Davis placing third. Ted Diapolis took the win in G1 over Ted Harper while Giovanni Velasquez earned the victory in TaG Junior over Mianna Wick and Ryan McFarland.
The SKUSA Mountain Region class champions will be announced in the near future once the final points have been tabulated. “It was certainly a very challenging year on many fronts here in Colorado,” continued Kistler. “We will remain committed to build this region to what it once was moving forward. For now, many Colorado and Utah drivers are preparing to ascend on Vegas next month for what is promising to be the largest kart race ever promoted in the US. This is what it’s all about, and you cannot end a race season on a better stage.”
Looking ahead to 2011, SKUSA MR is planning for a three weekend series in 2011. Currently the program is looking at opening the year at a location to be determined, followed by a race at Grand Junction and ending the year in Utah with the second annual Border War. For those who would like to find out more information about the SKUSA Mountain Region program, visit www.skusamr.com and www.superkartsusa.com