Colorado karter steps up to SKUSA Pro Tour at annual SpringNationals
Photo By: On Track Promotions
GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO (April 22, 2013) – There’s nothing like jumping into the deep end of the pool to push yourself to new heights. This was certainly the case for 10 year-old Grand Junction, Colorado driver Tristin MacLeod, who made his national karting debut this past weekend (April 12-14) at the Superkarts! USA SpringNationals. MacLeod and his father Jim made the trek to the Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson, Arizona with the goal of getting acclimating to top-level competition and the SKUSA Pro Tour, which is the largest national series in the country. MacLeod showed very well, continually improving his pace throughout the weekend as he climbed a very steep learning curve.
After running a full season in the TaG Cadet class of the Rocky Mountain ProKart Challenge series in 2012, an effort that had Tristin finish third in the year-end points, MacLeod entered his first national race last weekend at the SpringNationals. MacLeod arrived at the track on Friday morning having never turned a wheel on the circuit, which presented yet another challenge. The learning curve was made much steeper when Tristin and his father spent half of the practice day on Friday assembling a new kart in the pits as a result of getting to the track late on Thursday evening. With the help of CRG-USA mechanic Brian Fletcher, MacLeod got his CRG built and on the track just in time for the fourth session of TaG Cadet practice on Friday afternoon.
Despite the lack of practice, MacLeod took to the seven-tenths of a mile, 12-turn circuit and steadily improved on both his smooth driving technique and overall consistency. Considering his limited experience, Tristin had no overzealous expectations of running at the front of the pack, so the focus was on improvement and driver development. This proved very successful, as from the last two timed sessions on Friday evening through to qualifying for the opening round of the event on Saturday morning, Tristin dropped a full second each time he hit the track.
In the Saturday heat races, MacLeod improved on his poor qualifying effort and showed poise in his first taste of national caliber race competition in order to pick up six spots and finish 26th. In the second heat, he continued to race smart as he broke into the top-25 for the first time all weekend. Unfortunately, MacLeod suffered a poor start in the main that pushed him back in the early going. Focus and consistency kept MacLeod in the race, as he managed to work his way past several drivers. MacLeod finished his first national race with a 27th place result.
Sunday’s events provided to be was an up-and-down day for MacLeod. In Qualifying, he displayed both increased confidence and speed. While the majority of the TaG Cadet field took advantage of the full 12-minute session, MacLeod ran a quick seven laps, laid down his fastest time of the weekend and subsequently pulled into pit lane. The heat races did not go as well, however. Despite racing up to 25th, MacLeod came back to the pits with a 28th place finish after contact with another driver in turn one of the final lap. The second heat ended about as quickly as it started after additional contact on the warm-up lap resulted in MacLeod’s carburetor falling off the kart, which forced him to miss the start of the race. Thankfully, the Sunday main event was just what the doctor ordered for MacLeod and his crew after the long and taxing weekend. Driving wisely and conservatively, and dodging a few minor incidents along the way, MacLeod advanced all the way up to 21st, narrowly missing out on a top-20 finishing spot.
“I had a great time at my first big race, and I’m happy with how I was able to improve all weekend,” Tristin commented, as he was aiding his team in packing the CRG-USA trailer for the long drive back to Grand Junction. “I was able to get faster and faster, and that was the plan. We had to deal with some stuff, but that’s racing. I can’t wait for the SummerNationals at my home track - Grand Junction Motor Speedway. At least I’ll get to start the weekend knowing which way to turn!”
“It was a rough weekend for sure, Saturday particularly, due to getting on the track so late Friday”, offered Tristin’s father Jim, following the event. “But Sunday was much better and I’ll take a 21st in our first national race any day.”
Tristin would like to thank Stacey Cook and all the mechanics at CRG-USA for the technical support this weekend, Brian Fletcher for stepping in to help with tuning and the Saturday night engine change, and Jet Davis and Sabre Cook for their on-track driver coaching.
About Tristin MacLeod:
Tristin is an energetic and excited young kart racer. Now in his fourth year of racing karts, the 10-year-old has relocated to Grand Junction, Colorado to be closer to CRG USA headquarters and their home track, Grand Junction Motor Speedway. In 2012, Tristin competed in the SKUSA Rocky Mountain ProKart Challenge series and finished third in the TaG Cadet point standings in his first season of regional competition. For 2013, he plans to campaign both the SKUSA Pro Tour and run in his sophomore season of the Rocky Mountain ProKart Challenge. In his off time, Tristin enjoys the outdoor life, camping, and fishing and is also an avid archer.