With just a few days to go until the start of the 13th Annual Formula Kart Productions Florida Winter Tour season, all indications are this year will see the biggest and best FWT events ever.
Highlighting both series this year are bigger and better incentives and awards, more marquee names, and ground-breaking technical advances in safety and marshaling. We will also see more entries than ever as both series continue to grow. The ever-popular “FWT Live” is also back with more capability and an upgraded format.
This year’s schedule will comprise six weekends of competition contested by two tour championships, the FWT Rotax MAX Challenge and the FWT Formula Kart Championship.
The six championship weekends will take place at three popular Florida area race tracks over a 10-week period. Kicking off the season will be the FWT Formula Kart Championship at the Orlando Kart Center on January 14-16. The FWT Rotax MAX Challenge Series will get underway in Orlando the following weekend (Jan. 21-23).
Here’s a rundown of some of what to look for this year;
Doin’ the Double
For nine seasons, the Florida Winter Tour has enjoyed a very special partnership with the Skip Barber Racing. In 2011, the “Doin’ the Double” program will award almost $50,000 in Skip Barber Racing Schools and Skip Barber Regional Racing Series programs to Florida Winter Tour drivers who achieve exceptional results in the 2011 FWT Rotax Max Challenge and FWT Formula Kart points championships. While a driver does not actually have to win both a TaG and Rotax MAX championship to win, the real big question for all is, can anyone do the double? More information on this program can be found at www.floridawintertour.com/news/48-2010/258-2011-fwt-skip-barber-awards-program.html
Granja Viana 500
Formula Kart drivers in select classes will once again battle for seats on “Team FWT” at the Granja Viana 500, the famed karting endurance event held annually outside Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Rotax Grand Finals
Of course the Rotax drivers are chasing the chance to represent their country at “The Olympics of Karting”, the Rotax Grand Finals. Set to take place in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates in 2011. FWT will send one driver from the Rotax DD2, Rotax DD2 Masters, Max Senior and Max Junior categories. FWT currently has two world titles to its credit. Will 2011 see more?
Faces in the Crowd
Big names continue to come to the Florida Winter Tour. Some, like NASCAR’s A.J. Allmendinger, IZOD Indy Car Series star Alex Tagliani and GP2 star Robert Wickens are marquee names with strong karting roots. The FWT will also see a healthy share of heavy hitters like multi time Australian champion David Serra, British formula driver Jack Hawksworth, and defending FWT and 2010 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals DD2 world champion, Daniel Morad of Canada.
Joining Morad, and also sporting #1 plates as returning FWT class champions are Austin Self (Leopard Junior), Brian McHattie (TaG Masters) and Anthony Gangi (Micro MAX). Reigning Max Junior champion Nick Neri, fresh off a fifth at the RMC Grand Finals in Italy, will make his FWT debut in Senior MAX. In addition, some of karting’s history will be represented with names like Mark Dismore Jr and Jim Russell Jr. making their FWT debut.
Committed to advancing the sport
In 2011 the FWT steps up its commitment to safety and innovation by implementing a new wireless corner light system developed by Tracksa in Norway. This new system aims to add a new dimension of safety for both competitors and marshals alike.
Also in place for the 2011 season is a new video review system that will allow the FWT to improve their control of the racing action. More information on these enhancements can be found on the FWT website at www.floridawintertour.com/news/48-2010/263-new-safety-initiatives-for-fkp-events.html
Record Number of Pre-Entries
At the close of pre-registration the Formula Kart entries were up 124% over 2010 entries. A big part of that growth is due to a very strong field of TaG Cadets, many benefitting from the highly successful DeFrancesco Racing (DFR) FWT TaG Cadet Scholarship Program.
Pre-entries closed for the FWT Rotax MAX Challenge with 234 pre-entries on the books. That’s up 18% over last year almost assuring FWT will remain the world’s largest official Rotax MAX Challenge series four years in a row! Even more impressive is that, of the 234 FWT RMC pre-entries, only one driver is running multiple classes.
Can’t make it in person? Watch events unfold on FWT Live!
In 2010, over 100,000 viewers from 65 countries tuned in to watch the Florida Winter Tour on FWT LIVE! (www.floridawintertour.com/fwtlive/2011/). With live streaming broadcasts and timing of every lap of competition, this has become a cornerstone for FWT event coverage and remains free of charge to a global audience.
For 2011, FWT Live! is back with more cameras, a widescreen format, and it remains the only karting broadcast in the world with live streaming video, live timing and scoring and an audience interactive blog. Also back is renowned karting announcer Ken Walker. Ken has been the preferred announcer since 2004 for the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals. This year the CIK has officially designated Ken as their preferred announcer as well. Ken’s talent adds a lot to the Florida Winter Tour and we’re excited to have him back for 2011.
All the changes being implemented this year represent the tireless work of the entire Florida Winter Tour “F-Team” (F = FUN). They are dedicated to creating the best karting series possible and we hope all of you are looking forward to this year’s series as much as we are. The season kicks off this Friday, January 14th at Orlando Kart Center in Orlando Florida. We hope to see you there!
The Formula Kart Productions Florida Winter Tour is one of the longest running, largest and most geographically diverse kart racing series in the Americas. The 2010 FWT featured 482 unique competitors representing 23 countries, 25 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces, and for the third straight year was the world’s largest official RMC series.