The SIMA Winter Series kicked off with a bang in Sumas, WA and set the bar high for future Winter Series races. The non-stop Pacific Northwest rain relented for the February 2nd event and gave way to sunshine and warm weather. The series continues to grow with 60 entrants in the season opener, the highest for any SIMA Winter event thus far. With this as a backdrop, competitors began the battle for a host of prizes and the chance to race in France with a ten minute qualifying session, followed by a pre-final and a final. Up for grabs were cans of VP Fuel, sets of MG tires, tickets to the Seattle Mariners, gift certificates to Le Crocodile Restaurant in Vancouver and AIM Multichron Stopwatches. All prizes were raffled off to all entrants!
The arrival of first time SIMA racers Bryce and Blake Choquer, as well as karting veterans Brody Goble and Stepanova Nekeel made the Tag Senior class one of the liveliest and most exciting to watch. First up to qualify, Tag drivers made the most of the semi-damp, drying racetrack but nearly all of them were plagued with mechanical or transponder issues. For the first heat, it was Brody Goble who started on pole. However, a host of fast drivers who started at the back of the pack were quick to charge through the field and challenge his lead. Stepanova Nekeel, Remo Ruscitti and Austen Debord rose to the front of the pack, with Nekeel and Ruscitti swapping the lead several times and Debord parked on Goble’s bumper for the duration of the race. The final played out just like the pre-final, and in the end it was Nekeel who came out on top. Followed by Ruscitti, Goble and Debord.
The IAME Senior race was spectacle as well. Scott Hargrove, David Jurca and Remo Ruscitti battled it out at the front for most of the day. Very close behind, Austen Debord, Adam Isman and Jamie McAllister challenged each other for track position throughout the race. Fresh off his race in a Daytona Prototype at the 24 hour, Michael Valiante missed qualifying but came back with a vengeance and won in the final – only to be disqualified due to weight. Ethan McDade made the step up and got his first taste of a senior kart, impressing everyone with his endurance and ability to muscle it around the track in two classes. At the end of the day, it was Scott Hargrove who came out on top, followed by Remo Ruscitti and David Jurca.
Shifter kart racing at SIMA continues to enjoy strong attendance and continual growth. A number of SIMA first-timers from all over Washington State showed up to do battle with the locals. Up front, David Jurca was untouchable in the first heat but was relegated to the sidelines after suffering gearbox issues. In the final, Michael Valiante put on a shifter kart master class – coming from the very back to chase down Scott Hargrove and Adam Isman. Eeking by Isman on the last corner of the last lap. Other notable battles include one between Derek Wang and Jamie McAllister, who raced nose-to-tail for much of the heat.
The Tag Masters and 4 Cycle classes enjoyed strong competition, close racing and unshakable camaraderie. Track owner Claudio Valiante dusted off his driving gloves to take on Stan Croker, and Ryan Knowlton in 4 cycle. The trio were crowd favorites and came off the track smiling every time. At the end of the day though, only Kyle Adams could challenge Scott Barlee, who qualified on pole and set the fastest time in the class. In Tag Masters, you could hardly predict who would be at the front. For the final, Jerry Pits took the win, followed by Jim Derrig ,Gary Roehl and Gerry Windsor. Chris Wilberg, and karting newcomers Scott Cole and Jeff slough rounded out the class.
Competitors ended the day in the warmth of the renowned SIMA Café, where a burgeoning prize package was awarded to top finishers and raffle winners. The next round of the SIMA winter series will take place on March 9th – see you there!