Honda Racing/HPD SpringNationals kicks off second season of tour
TUCSON, AZ (April 28, 2011) – The Superkarts! USA organization is ready to launch its much-anticipated 2011 SKUSA Pro Tour season with this weekend’s Honda Racing/HPD SpringNationals. Over 160 racers from across the United States, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand will all converge at the Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson, AZ for three days of action that includes two full rounds of racing counting towards the season championship point chase. With the support of Honda and the many karting operations that have committed to the season, the eight categories competing are sure to see the largest fields assembled of any shifterkart and TaG event over the course of the year, other than the SuperNationals this fall.
“Since we wrapped our 2010 season last November, we have spent many hours preparing for this weekend in Tucson and the entire Pro Tour,” stated Superkarts! USA President Tom Kutscher. “We feel the program we’ve assembled is among the best programs in the country, if not North America. If you have a shifterkart or TaG, you need to be part of this deal. Our numbers are showing that and we are happy to welcome all these racers and teams. I’d also like to thank the Musselman Honda Circuit for their efforts to welcome us this weekend.”
The Musselman Honda Circuit, formerly known as the P1 Kart Circuit, is a replica of the famous Suzuka Kart Track in Japan, matching its length at 1.264km (0.7986-miles) with the same 13 corners. At 34’ wide, the track provides plenty of room for large fields and ample passing opportunities. For the SpringNationals, the track will be used in the counter-clockwise configuration, where the current track record stands at 48.964 seconds.
Aside from the positive atmosphere throughout the paddock at the SKUSA Pro Tour events, an increased prize fund and expansion of the SKUSA ‘Circle of Champions’ support package have helped to bring in the higher entry numbers as many competitors seek a piece of this year’s series prize package. SKUSA will dish out roughly $30,000 in event prize money and points fund distribution throughout 2011, in addition to $25,000 in racer support for the 2012 Pro Tour through the ‘Circle of Champions’ program. SKUSA will be providing all their 2011 Pro Tour champions with complimentary entries, race tires, fuel, and oil for the following season. In Tucson, the two pro classes - S1 and TaG Senior - will battle for the $1,000 to be awarded to the event winner (cumulative point leader on the weekend), with second and third earning $500 and $250, respectively.
Other perks for those competing at the Pro Tour include guaranteed SuperSunday starting positions for the classes that will be open to 80 entries at the Pro Tour finale - the SKUSA SuperNationals, which will likely include S2, S4, TaG Senior, TaG Junior and TaG Cadet. The top three drivers in Pro Tour points in those categories after the SKUSA SummerNationals will be rewarded with guaranteed starting positions in the main event should they not make the main following the heat races or the Last Chance Qualifier. In addition, as was the case for the inaugural TaG Cadet Pro Tour champion (Colton Herta), the 2011 class champion will be awarded a partially supported trip to the 2012 Rok Cup International Final in Italy. Support includes the event entry fee, a new OTK chassis with engine to use for the race, tires for the race, one set of practice tires, race fuel and a hotel stay for the driver (four nights). Airfare is not included. SKUSA will also provide the driver with a race suit to wear, as the driver will be representing the organization on the world stage.
Thanks to the ‘Circle of Champions’ program, all eight title winners from 2010 will be back to contest the Pro Tour in 2011. Six of the eight will attempt to defend their coveted #1 SKUSA plate, with the other two moving up the organization’s internal ladder system. Californian Fritz Leesmann will defend his title in the S1 Pro Stock Moto category. A host of talented drivers will be looking to steal the crown from Leesmann, including last year’s S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto champ Derek Crockett. With Crockett advancing up to the pro level, leading the S2 championship contender list is 2010 runner-up Matt Alcorn. With 30 drivers having entered the S2 class prior to hitting Tucson, the SpringNationals could still be anyone’s for the taking. Among those entered include last year’s S5 Junior Stock Moto champion Daniel Langon, as well as several other current and former S5 graduates.
Defending S4 Master Stock Moto champion Phil Conte will begin his title defense in Tucson against a deep field as 31 other drivers have thrown their names into the mix as contenders. On paper, a long list of drivers look to have the goods to challenge for the title, however, it won’t be until Saturday morning qualifying when the real contenders will step up. The growing S5 Junior Stock Moto division has witnessed two strong graduating classes that have depleted the current numbers, but there is still a group of young and talented drivers looking to step into the spotlight in 2011. Last year’s championship runner-up Austin Schimmel and third place finisher Alex Tartaglia lead the charge for the title heading into Tucson.
TaG Senior holds the largest entry total prior to trackside registration with 33 drivers filling the competitor list. Defending class champion Phil Giebler elected to return to defend his title, rather than transfer to the S1 category as previously stated. Another noteworthy entry to the TaG Senior roster is defending SKUSA SuperNationals winner - Brazilian Andre Nicastro. TaG Master has seen a large growth to the entry numbers already with nearly 20 drivers registered to contest the opening round of the Pro Tour. The top three from last year’s championship chase all return to battle once again with Ethan Wilson carrying the #1 plate, while Steve Wiener and Brian McHattie will don the #2 and #3 plates, respectively. Behind them is a hungry group of competitors looking to claim those positions come November.
NorCal pilot Luis Tyrrell has elected to return for his final year in the Junior ranks and will defend his TaG Junior title in 2011. A number of returning drivers will keep Tyrrell honest as the season goes on, as will the addition of some very quick TaG Cadet graduates. One driver with the target on his back in the TaG Cadet division is Colton Herta, as he made the category his own in 2010. Herta will proudly run the #1 plate in his title defense. National #3 driver Noah Grey and a handful of others will look to dethrone the young second-generation pilot.
Teams and competitors will begin moving into the Musselman Honda Circuit on Thursday (April 28) to set up camp for the weekend and complete their registration. SKUSA will be hosting a Pro Tour Kick-off Party at the host hotel - JW Marriott Starr Pass - at 7:00 pm that evening. Drivers hit the track on Friday morning to begin the on-track action with six sessions per class. Saturday will fire up round one of the Pro Tour with qualifying set to begin at 9:20am. Two heat races will follow and the main events are scheduled to begin at 2:50pm. The same format will follow on Sunday, as the results will count as round two for the point chase. For complete details on the event, be sure to visit the event page on the SKUSA website (www.superkartsusa.com/national/skusa-pro-tour/spring-nationals.html). A reminder to all competitors and those that wish to attend as the Tucson area does not observe Daylight Savings and is at Mountain Standard Time.
Superkarts! USA has partnered with eKartingNews.com once again, as they will be providing their ‘EKN Trackside Live’ coverage throughout the weekend. Highlighting their coverage will be the live play-by-play audio from qualifying to the final main event. EKN Publisher and long-time voice of Superkarts! USA Rob Howden will emcee the audio coverage via their webpage (www.ekartingnews.com/live), in addition to their unmatched written coverage and forum updates throughout the weekend.
For any questions or inquires regarding the SKUSA Pro Tour are encouraged to visit their website - www.superkartsusa.com - or contact the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.
About Superkarts! USA:
Established in 1995, Superkarts! USA is dedicated to shifterkart and TaG racing and is the leader in the field, currently promoting five regional racing series. Racing programs are currently running in Southern California, Northern California, Hawaii, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa, in cooperation and support from official tire supplier MG Tires. In 2011, the organization is promoting the second edition of the SKUSA Pro Tour, which features a pair of major events in Arizona and Colorado, all leading up to the annual SKUSA SuperNationals, the biggest shifter kart race in the world, held every November in Las Vegas, NV. For more information on SKUSA, please visit www.superkartsusa.com