|July 14, 2010 News
|EKN Trackside: US Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals - Preview
Indiana is home to Rotax Week with the running of the US Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals from July 13-17 at the New Castle Motorsports Park. 200 racers from across the country will convene at the famed 1-mile course with a chance to become one of seven Rotax National Champions and earn a spot on Team USA to compete at the Rotax Grand Finals in Italy later this year.
The New Castle Motorsports Park is a new facility for Rotax competition. In its first year hosting a US Rotax Max Challenge Series, the circuit is sure to provide great racing for the Pan American Challenge event. The six-year old facility is 1-mile long with 15-turns. The key for many will be to have the power to get out of the tight corners in the first half of the track while geared enough to not run out of power down the long straights.
This year’s race staff will see a new race director overseeing the action on the track. A native Canadian now living in the UK - Ian ‘Fred’ Causer - who has an unprecedented resume, will be the top man on the track. Karting veteran official Terry Riggins will join Causer as Assistant Race Director along with Rick Hall. In the tech barn, Scrutineering will be done by Rotax Tech Director Don Moormeister with the assistance of Rick Miller and Josh Smith.
| New Castle Motorsports Park|
The event began Tuesday with the Welcome Party and scrutineering throughout the day following three days of unofficial practice. Wednesday will be a full day of official practice with all 200 competitors on the track. Thursday begins the action with qualifying and the first round of heat races. Friday is the continuation of the heats - rounds two and three - followed by Last Chance Qualifiers for Senior and Junior. Saturday is pay day with the Prefinal and Finals to decide this year’s national champions. The entry list is stacked in the Senior and Junior categories with some top talent included in the remaining five classes - DD2, DD2 Masters, Masters, Mini Max and Micro Max.
Returning to defend his title from last year is Philip Arscott (Tony Kart). The Pacific Northwest driver showed his talents in Oklahoma in 2009, both in the wet and the dry, to claim his first ever title. He will now look to become the first driver to repeat since Jordon Musser accomplished that feat in 2003 and 2004, becoming a national champion for three straight years. Behind him in the odds at winning are the same two drivers joining him on the podium last year. 2009 runner-up Victor Pedrosa returns to the Grand Nationals vying for his first national crown. This time, Pedrosa makes the switch from a Tony Kart to an Arrow under the BTK Motorsports tent, where he has shown no transition issues, coming off a win in Rotax at the WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Series. Also moving to another chassis this year is third place finisher Joey Wimsett. Running with SSC East racing in 2010, Wimsett has shown speed on the CRG brand during the winter months and in KF competition in the WSK North American Series.
| Phillip Arscott will look to defend his Senior title against a strong 43-driver field|
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
Chasing those three are a number of young-guns, many of which will be making their Senior debut at the Grand Nationals. The 2008 and 2009 Junior champions - Daniel Formal and Nick Neri - will move to the Senior ranks this year. Formal has been running in Senior categories in Florida for two years now but will make his official debut this weekend with J3 Competition aboard a Kosmic. Ocala Gran Prix’s Neri, who already earned a ticket to the Grand Finals through the Florida Winter Tour in Junior, will try his hand aboard his Tony Kart against the best in the Senior ranks this week.
Other young guns include WKA Triple Crown Club member Sam Beasley and Jesus Rios Jr. - both winners at the Rotax Pan American Challenge Series event at New Castle last month. Beasley has worked up the ranks and will make his first Rotax Grand Nationals start while Rios was a contender last year in Junior until falling off the pace in the feature, missing out on a chance at the title and part of Team USA.
A couple drivers to keep on eye on once the timing clock becomes official - Neil Alberico, Mason Marotta, Louie Pagano. Alberico came to New Castle in May for the WSK North American Series event powered by a Rotax, sweeping the weekend with his Kartel Motorsports Wildkart entry. Marotta is also a former national winner at New Castle and will look to pilot his Leading Edge Motorsports Intrepid to the front. DPK/Birel driver Pagano is another driver who already locked in a spot for Team USA through the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas with the Junior title, moving to Senior similar to Neri.
| Cody Hodgson - the 2009 DD2 national champion - is the odds favorite to win again this year|
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
The DD2 category will also see its returning champion look to defend his title. Ocala Gran Prix’s Cody Hodgson (Tony Kart) is back and ready to become a two-time national champion, the first since Justin Melton (2004-2005). Unlike Arscott, Hodgson’s rivals will not be the same from last year. The 2008 Masters national champion Marc Miller is back behind the wheel of a kart. After spending the 2009 season in the Mazda MX-5 Cup series, Miller is up to the challenge in DD2 with MRP/Birel America. Miller however ran against a fierce competitor by the name of Derek Wang (CRG) at the Rotax Pan American Challenge. The current Pan Am series championship leader won the feature on Saturday and will look to do the same this Saturday in hopes to become the national champion. Others to watch include Nathan Mauel (CRG), a former Team USA member and James Carey (Arrow), last year’s fast driver in qualifying.
After making its debut at the Grand Nationals last year, this year’s DD2 Masters champion will earn a spot on the Team USA for the Rotax Grand Finals in Italy. At the Rotax Pan American Challenge event last month, Jim Busby Jr. (Tony Kart) and Todd Ulmen (CRG) were the contenders on the weekend. Busby earned one feature win while Ulmen stood on the podium twice. They will have local driver Steve Schiewer (Birel) and one of the original Rotaxians, Florida’s Nick Weil (Tony Kart) to watch for during the four days of competition.
As always, the Masters category is filled with old age and treachery…maybe not that old but certainly a number of solid drivers in the field with a few tricks up their sleeves. Included in the mix will be two former winners - last year’s champ Mike Daniel and ’04 titlist Andy Seesemann. Daniel (CRG) was solid in 2009 and continues to be the driver to beat in 2010 as he leads the Rotax Pan American Challenge point standings. Seesemann (Birel) has been searching for a second title the past five years and hopes this year will be the final straw.
| Mike Daniel is one of two former Masters champions in the field|
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
A number of new contenders will be challenging the two veterans. Eric Jones (Arrow) ran to two podiums in the Senior category at the Summer Shootout last month and will look to move that momentum over to the Masters category. Brent Harper (Swiss Hutless) was a solid contender at the Florida Winter Tour and will make his first Grand Nationals start. Also making his first Grand Nationals start is Indiana’s John Dixon (Tony Kart). The TaG Masters WKA champion calls New Castle home and will look to use his home-track to his advantage. Other veterans to watch include Texan DJ Ortiz (Alonzo), Russ Hamel (CRG), Keith Karr (Birel) and Scott Falcone (Birel). A final driver to see progress during the weekend is Sean Scott (Birel), an 18-year old looking to become the first Grand National champ under the age of 32 since Alex Raine in 2007.
With Neri moved up in Junior along with a couple others, that leaves six of the top-10 finishing drivers returning in 2010, including three that represented Team USA. Ethan Ringel, Jake French and Alec Udell will lead the field entering the weekend. Ringel (Tony Kart) put in a stellar performance last year, coming from 11th to second and recording the fast lap and is currently fourth in the Rotax Pan American Challenge. Udell (Top Kart) currently sits fifth behind Ringel in the Pan Am, also picking up a podium at the Summer Shootout. French (Birel) has been focusing on regional and club action, yet to make a national start. This weekend at New Castle will be his first but the 2007 Mini Max national champion is up to the challenge.
Leading the Pan Am standings after two events, Sebastian Ordonez (Kart Mini) is the top challenger not on the podium last year. The RDD Motorsports driver swept the Texas round and was among the quickest at New Castle, capturing one podium finish and qualifying on the pole both days. Kosmic drivers Alessandra Madrigal (J3 Competition) and Nicholas Silva (Reaction Karting) each finished in the top-10 last year. Madrigal won the CKI Florida Cup Rotax Junior category while Silva was a contender at the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas. Other notables who could be seen up front include Mason Chelootz (Top Kart), Dore Chaponick Jr. (Alonso), Andrew Palmer (Kosmic), Austin Self (Birel) Shawn Sharkey (Merlin) and Kiel Spaulding (Top Kart).
| Sebastian Ordonez will be one of many drivers looking for their first Grand Nationals victory|
(Photo: Patrick Stevenson)
Like Junior, Mini Max has a strong return contingent from last year’s Grand Nationals. 2009 champion Ethan Low has graduated to the Junior division, leaving the top spot open for anyone’s taking. Patricio O’Ward (Alonso) stood on the podium last year after scoring the Micro Max title in 2008. Dalton Sargeant (Kart Mini) and Logan Sargeant (Kart Mini) are among the class of the field. Dalton was among the quickest last year while Logan dominated in Micro Max. Other returning contenders include Cole Glasson (Alonso), Thomas Issa (CRG), Kyle Kirkwood (Alonso), Trenton May (CRG), Derek Scott (Birel) and Derek Sobel (Alonso). Micro Max has only four drivers returning from last year’s top-10 - Juan David Buitrago (Tony Kart), Michael d’Orlando (Top Kart), David Malulas (Birel) and Matthew Thomas (CRG).
eKartingNews.com will be trackside all week long, providing full coverage of the event. Readers can watch updates throughout the weekend in the Official Discussion Thread, which will include the popular Top-10 from each on-track session starting Wednesday with the final session of practice through Saturday’s Finals. Daily reports along with photos and results will be posted each night following the racing action as well. US Rotax Max Challenge will also be providing live coverage through their website - http://www.rotaxmaxchallenge.com
US Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals - Entry Lists
As of July 12, 2010
|201||Phillip Arscott||Tony Kart||Portland||OR|
|203||Luca Forgeois||Arrow||New York||NY|
|205||Ben Schermerhorn||Birel||Highlands Ranch||CO|
|210||Roger Mack||Tony Kart||Flower Mound||TX|
|215||Lucas Manning Rego||Arrow||Village of Palmetto Bay||FL|
|217||Nick Neri||Tony Kart||Palmetto||FL|
|223||Guillermo Freile Jr.||CRG||Sunny Isles||FL|
|225||Lou Pagano||Birel||Ross Valley||CA|
|227||Brandon Salyer||Tony Kart||Naples||FL|
|229||Austin Herndon||CRG||Fort Worth||TX|
|231||Sabre Cook||CRG||Grand Junction||CO|
|237||Donald Formal||Kosmic||Palm Beach Gardens||FL|
|240||Josh Menting||CRG||South Bend||IN|
|242||Neil Alberico||Wildkart||Los Gatos||CA|
|247||Austin Tillery||Arrow||Owens Cross Roads||AL|
|255||Michael Pagano||Maranello||East Hampton||NY|
|271||Jesus Rios||CRG||Miami Beach||FL|
|279||John Patrick||Intrepid||San Antonio||TX|
|616||Nathan Mauel||CRG||Arrow ||OK|
|655||Cody Hodgson||Tony Kart||Escalon||CA|
|675||Riley Turk||Birel||South Bend||IN|
|506||Jim Busby Jr||Tony Kart||Rancho Sante Fe||CA|
|555||Nick Weil||Tony Kart||Orlando||FL|
|570||Henry Malukas||BIrel||Chicago Ridge||IL|
|402||Sean Scott||Birel||South Bend||IN|
|413||Brent Harper||Swiss Hutless||Statesboro||GA|
|414||Rob Maier||Tony Kart||Oakland||FL|
|416||Mike Wilhelm||Birel||New Paris||IN|
|454||Jason Bell||Tony Kart||Tampa||FL|
|455||Bruce McKean||Tony Kart||Gig Harbor||WA|
|458||Ron Rossetti||Arrow||Rancho Cucamonga||CA|
|464||Andre Eriksen||CRG||Silicon Valley||CA|
|477||John Dixon||Tony Kart||Evansville||IN|
|494||James Hunnell||Top Kart||Myers||FL|
|499||Scott Falcone||Birel||Lone Tree||CO|
|300||Mason Chelootz||Top Kart||Houston||TX|
|303||Keith Harris||Birel||Deerfield Beach||IL|
|305||Jack West||Tony Kart||Sarasota||FL|
|306||Raquel Martinez||Top Kart||Whittier||CA|
|307||Bristol Gunderson||Top Kart||Seabrook||TX|
|308||Kiel Spaulding||Top Kart||Elk Grove||CA|
|309||Brennan Harrington||Birel||Des Plaines||IL|
|310||Jeremy Doll||West Creek||NJ|
|312||Collin Daley Jr.||Ft Lauderdale||FL|
|313||Miguel Lopez||Tony Kart||Tyler||TX|
|316||Tristan Numez||Tony Kart||Boca Raton||FL|
|325||Nicholas Silva||Kosmic||Van Nuys||CA|
|326||Grant Copple||Sodi Kart||Golden||CO|
|327||Daley Pagano||Maranello||East Hampton||NY|
|328||AJ Myers||Tony Kart||Oldsmar||FL|
|330||Ashley Rogero||Tony Kart||Naples||FL|
|337||Evan Mehan||Kosmic||Deerfield Beach||FL|
|338||Oliver Askew||Tony Kart||Tequesta||FL|
|340||Ethan Low||Tony Kart||Hiawatha||IA|
|347||Clark Toope||Top Kart||The Woodlands||TX|
|351||Ryan Rupp||Tony Kart||Stuart||FL|
|361||Sebastian Ordonez||Kart Mini||Deerfield Beach||FL|
|371||Ethan Ringel||Tony Kart||Windermere||FL|
|372||Andrew Evans||Tony Kart||Miami||FL|
|373||Pietro Fittipaldi||Tony Kart||Miami||FL|
|374||Alec Udell||Top Kart||Spring ||TX|
|379||Dore Chaponick Jr||Alonso||Ft Lauderdale||FL|
|380||Dakota Dickerson||Birel||San Diego||CA|
|386||Christopher Tillery||Arrow||Owens Cross Roads||AL|
|390||Cameron Smock||Top Kart||Plainfield||IN|
|399||Brenden Johnson||Sodi Kart||Angier||NC|
|100||Devlin DeFrancesco ||Alonso||Ft Lauderdale||FL|
|101||Dalton Sargeant||Kart Mini||Deerfield Beach ||FL|
|106||Patrico O'Ward||Kosmic||San Antonio||TX|
|111||Derek Scott Jr||Birel||Franklin||TX|
|114||Colin Russell||Arrow||New Braundels||TX|
|117||Angus Hunt||Arrow||Powder Springs||GA|
|124||Logan Sargeant||Kart Mini||Deerfield Beach ||FL|
|134||Sebastian Coulson||Kart Mini||North Miami Beach||FL|
|140||Sebastian Sierra||Tony Kart||Parkland||FL|
|141||Christian Cole||Birel||Myakka City||FL|
|142||Davey Manthei, Jr.||Wild Kart||West Richland||WA|
|143||Ronnie Price||Birel||San Antonio||TX|
|145||Jon Giddens||Birel||North Vernon||IN|
|162||William Myers||CRG||Fort Lauderdale||FL|
|173||Justin Wood||Kosmic||West Palm Beach||FL|
|184||Michael De Quesada||Doral||FL|
|195||Thomas Issa||CRG||Ft Lauderdale||FL|
|9||Ryan Lewis||Birel||Cedar Park||TX|
|16||Chloe St. George||Tornado||Las Vegas||NV|
|19||Michael d'Orlando||Top Kart||Hartsdale||NY|
|55||Taybor Lee Duncan||Shockwave||Aurora||CO|
|73||Enzo Fittipaldi||Tony Kart||Miami||FL|
|77||Matthew Thomas||CRG||North Florida||FL|
|79||David Malulkas||Birel||Chicago Ridge||IL|
|88||Juan David Buitrago||Tony Kart||Miami||FL|
|95||Nicholas d'Orlando||Top Kart||Hartsdale||NY|
|99||Darren Keane||Kart Mini||Boca Raton||FL|