Article By: RMG Race Media Group
TJ Fischer made some big changes in the offseason to prepare for his 2011 season in Karting. With the move from Wild Kart to the winning RK Chassis by Birel, and flying under the Cambrian Go-Karts banner; Fischer’s early 2011 season has proven successful. The 17 year old Fischer's busy early season schedule culminated in a surprise victory at the Gatorz Challenge of The America’s Race located at the Jim Russell International Karting Center Sonoma, California. The Jim Russell International Karting Center is one of the country’s leading karting facilities. The Track layout offers a mix of 16 high, mid and low speed corners, sloping tic tac toe linked by 2 straightaway’s, challenging karters to the toughest track and longest track of .76 miles in Northern California.
Under the guidance of Donald Durbin Jr, TJ Fischer has been making great progress in the Gatorz Series leading into the Infineon Championship Race this past weekend. Finishing in the 7th position out of a stellar 40 kart field full of multi champions at the last Gatorz race in Fontana, was proof TJ was getting more comfortable with the new Rotax package, the newly developed RK chassis, the Cambrian Go-Kart team, and was steadily acclimating to the demands of a driver in the most competitive Rotax class and TaG program.
Making his way to the Jim Russell International Karting Center TJ Fischer knew he was going to be competing with the best of the best in the Sr. Rotax class. 35 competitors came from all over International map targeting North, Central and South America as well as Australia. While Fischer was one of only several drivers with spectacularly quick times in dry conditions on Thursday’s practice, the team knew the rain was coming. So Thursday’s practice turned into getting familiar with the track. As expected, Friday’s soggy practices led Cambrian to tune Fischer's RK Machine for very wet conditions. By the end of the day on Friday, the team felt the changes made to the kart for Saturday’s Race Day were in the right direction for the weekend weather conditions. Fischer ended Friday Practice standing at a frustrating 23rd quickest, but he also knew the team was more interested in gathering valuable data to package a well-tuned rain set-up for Saturday's race.
In Saturday qualifying Fischer began to improve dramatically as expected, landing the 15th position with a 103.510 fast time. Starting inside 8th row for the prefinal, TJ knew Cambrian had put together a fast package, that was getting faster every time it went on the track. To have success in the final, TJ knew he had to finish in the Top 10 in the pre-final. Unfortunately, with such a large field, the expected large incident happened in turn one shuffling TJ back to the 25th position. This didn’t discourage Fischer as he went to work quickly passing half a dozen karts on lap one. With the conditions deteriorating, and any missed braking points or misplaced wheels resulting in a spin, enormous pressure was felt by the drivers to execute mistake free while working through the field. Not to be deterred, by lap two Fischer was already in the 14th position and eager to keep picking off more positions. For the next 2 laps Fischer gained another 2 more positions each lap putting him in the 10th position. Fischer maintained a steady 10th place finish which put him outside on the 5th row for the final.
The most spectacular final battle to ever go down in Gatorz Sr Rotax history was about to happen and TJ Fischer was starting 10th out of 35 karts. On the start of the final Fischer gained an impressive 5 positions in turn one moving him to the 5th position. The next 19 laps were entertaining and nail biting, keeping everyone on their toes fearing what would happen next. The racing dynamic was further enhanced because the top 5 drivers brought an international flair bringing success from Australia, Canada, Mexico and USA (Fischer). Fischer battling for the fifth spot with another driver caused him to fall back to 6th by lap three. Lap four Fischer found himself in the 4th position knocking on the back of the driver in 3rd. Fischer found himself making multiple passes and position changes on almost every corner on every lap putting TJ as low as 5th position and a high of 3rd. As the race wound down, TJ moved up to 4th position with an incredible pass on the outside going into turn one, darting past the the Australian driver who was maintaining a protective inside line. Several laps later second and third place tangled in turn one, opening the door for TJ to slip past both. It almost worked. But as TJ was beginning to move past the opportunity disappeared, and Fischer found himself in a drag race with the former second place leading into the flooded tic tac toe. TJ won this critical dual and eased into P2, leaving him 2 laps to catch the leader before the checkered flag dropped. The crazy last lap began with Fischer gaining on the Leader, and 3rd place gaining on Fischer. It all changed when the leader placed a tire wrong, spinning off the track and handing the race lead over to Fischer. TJ roared to the race win, with 2nd place in hot pursuit, with a margin of just .3 seconds separating them. The Cambrian team roared with approval as the Gatorz series entered one more new race winner to the record books.
Day 2 of the Gatorz Challenge of The America’s Finale was the complete opposite for Fischer. Morning warmup showed TJ 5th fastest, even though he ran only 1 lap, and everyone knew in the pits that he was the driver to beat. Fischer Qualified 3rd fastest, barely missing pole by an impressive .138 seconds. In the Prefinal Fischer ran a steady 4th place finish leading him to start on the outside second row for the Final. In the Final on lap 10, TJ made the pass for third and cruised to an easy 3rd place finish. Thus, putting TJ on the podium for 2 consecutive days and the only American placed on the podium for the Sr Rotax class for both days.
TJ's next event is the SKUSA North Series at Prairie City, followed by the Norcal Rotax Max Challenge held at the Jim Russell International Karting Center April 10th, finally ending April at the Skusa Pro Tour Spring Nationals at Musselman Honda Circuit Tucson, Arizona. TJ Fischer would like to thank his current Sponsors & Partners: Cambrian Go-Karts, Rathbun Associates, Gregg Drilling, Spy Optics, Axcel Fast Graphics, and RMG Race Media Group for all of their continued support. More information about TJ Fischer can be found at his website www.TJFischerRacing.com