|WKA Sprint Grands – Excellent Races and Unique Wins at Badger Raceway
|by Rhonda Mims-Brown
Photos by Clare Weaver and Sean Buur, Go Racing Magazine
Story Note: Special thanks go to Sean Buur with Go Racing Magazine, Clare Weaver, Mike Weaver, Marc Zartarian, Keith Freber and Sissy Howard for their assistance in compiling this report.
Although many of the challenge types always seek a win regardless of the prestigious Grand National Champion title, this event is extremely important in the overall outcome of the George Kugler Manufacturer’s cup series championship with bonus points assigned at this one prestigious race held July 25-27 at Badger Raceway in Dousman, Wisc.
None-the-less, 155 drivers totaling 345 entries also went for the gold - - WKA’s Grand National event title. Just how hard is it to dominate at an event such as this? Extremely. With only 20 classes up for grabs and 155 drivers, the odds are difficult. Many realize this going in and are there to give it their best shot and join in on the camaraderie of the annual special event. With the record books now in place, 16 drivers managed to divvy up wins in the 20 classes.
Michael Giessen of Deer Park, NY was one driver who achieved greatly, giving him ample reason for celebration of his 16th birthday a few days after the event. Giessen steered his way to three wins and overcame enormous odds in achievement in his first year of senior competition. Giessen scored wins in ICA, Yamaha Senior Sportsman and Spec 100 on the half mile, 10 turn circuit and added to his Grand National win collection from his junior achievements totaling six over the past two years.
| Mike Giessen had good luck with a last minute run for Margay|
(Photo by Sean Buur)
Two other drivers scored double wins - Brian Jacobsen of Wheaton, Ill. and Daniel Morad of Markham, Ontario. Jacobsen grabbed both wins in ICC competition as Morad notched both 80cc Jr. Shifter wins. Thirteen other drivers walked away with single wins, some of which were a first time thrill. Drivers getting that first time high were Chris Keller, Arie Ouimet, Carlos Munoz, Christian Pahud, Chris Larson, Corey Reeves, David Cox, Evan Kalogiannis, Kent Laukaitis, Kevin Nelson, Tony Jump and Zach Emmons.
As for entry count, it was a bit off from last year, 61 shy at 345 entries among 20 classes was the lowest seen in the past three years. The millennium year was best with 442 among 23 classes as the following year supported 400 among 20 classes and last year was 406 with 21 classes. Perhaps this should be another item attributed to the sagging economy as it certainly appeared to be no reflection on either WKA or Badger Raceway’s ability. Both have consistently improved their system, structure and facility. Recent improvements to the facility included paved access from all pit access points in addition to nice stone walls and landscaping done at the track’s entry helping in the allure and charm department. In addition, many were happy to see Gary Schneider back in charge of race tech and enjoyed Al Emmons singing the national anthem with his Wisconsin accent. Lastly, this event was also round four of the five race championship series with numerous drivers close in the point’s contention. No one in particular was missing from this event.
Three classes tied in as the largest classes; Yamaha Jr. Sportsman for 8-12 year olds, Yamaha Jr. Super Can for 12-15 year olds and Yamaha Senior Sportsman all had 24 entries each. ICC 1 and 2, Cadet Jr. Sportsman and HPV Jr. Sportsman all tied as well for second highest with 20 entries each and Yamaha Lite was third highest with 19.
And last of the trivia stats, this was the first Manufacturer’s Cup race in 2003 that lacked rain which made many drivers happy. However, it might have helped top points contender Robert Bunker who's managed very well in the rain this season but didn't experience his typical up front performance at the Badger race.
Yamaha Senior Sportsman – Winner Mike Giessen, Deer Park, NY
Giessen’s first win at the event came in Yamaha Senior Sportsman after a close battle with Corey Reeves and in a new kart. Giessen was struggling with his current set up and Margay offered them a loan of an extra Brava. With the assistance of Brian Hannon, they thrashed to get things together and got in one practice on Friday. Saturday it all came together for Giessen in the main. He beat Reeves to the line by one tenth of a second in the 20 lap feature. Reeves qualified on pole with a 39.435 but outside pole, Matt Johnson of Las Vegas snatched the win in the pre-final ahead of Reeves and multi-time WKA champ, Travis Firing. The talented Johnson continued his streak of bad luck in the illustrious search for a Grand National win in IKF or WKA competition. Unfortunately, the KRT/HRE driver’s run ended before the completion of the first lap after being booted off the track. Firing was black flagged for the incident.
Giessen finished sixth in the pre final setting him on the third row of the main and quickly made his way up front to battle Reeves. These two inched away leaving Ryan Stewart, Scott Rettich, Chuck Tate, Jayson Eschrich and Mark Dismore to battle it out for third through fifth. By the final lap, Giessen drove his lead defensively leaving no holes for Reeves to make his move as Reeves reluctantly settled for second. Dismore, Jr. grabbed third but six seconds back of Giessen and Reeves; however, he had a narrow margin with Eschrich, Rettich, Tate and Stewart. The four were separated by only five-tenths of a second total gap. Reeves earned fast lap honors with a 39.705.
ICA – Winner Mike Giessen, Deer Park, NY
Giessen’s margin of victory for the main in ICA was another close dual where he beat out Douglas Boyer (KRT/HRE) to the line by 0.105 seconds and Robbie Pecorari’s J&J Racing Biesse by 0.323. These three and Federico Montoya were raring to go at the start of the main with three attempts to get the race officially underway. Pecorari took the lead at the green and after a few laps, these three began to out horsepower Montoya and pull away. Pecorari quickly went from first to third as Giessen maneuvered into the lead with Boyer tagging along into second. The trio battled for numerous laps after that and finished in that order and Boyer earned fast race lap at 36.117. Giessen’s win this time came in a Birel chassis with Woltjer power. The heat race was note worthy as the three gave spectators a main event preview. In the preview, Pecorari managed the win as Boyer earned best race lap in the main with a 36.117.
Spec 100 – Winner Mike Giessen, Deer Park, NY
Shortly after ICA, Giessen earned his third win back in the Margay for Spec 100 with 11 entries marking his attempt for his 11th WKA Grand National win. Giessen scored previous wins in several junior classes in addition to prior IKF GN wins. This class is a combination structure allowing Comer and Yamaha engines with the RLV SBX pipe at 340 pounds. Firing grabbed the hole shot at the start but Giessen recovered before the end of the first lap and drove off into the sunset to the surprise of many. For Giessen, this class was a clean sweep with pole, heat race win and best lap honors in both races. Firing repeated his second from the pre-final and Scott Rettich finished third.
ICC #1 – Winner Brian Jacobsen, Wheaton, Ill.
| Brian Jacobson took dual wins in ICC for BRM Team Profile|
Dual class winner, Brian Jacobsen concentrated on the ICC class and scored double wins on Saturday and Sunday. The BRM Team Profile driver marked his first victory in Saturday’s ICC by a rather dominant fashion with almost an eight second lead over pole sitter, Robbie Pecorari in the 20 lap feature. Pecorari set a super quick pole time of 34.935 but suffered from a bad start in the heat race where he finished second at 0.7 tenths back as Nicholas Wagner (HRE-Pavesi) finished out in third. Pecorari’s start in the main was poor as well where he fell as far back as 10th as Giessen pulled away. Wagner, Alan Adams, Troy Hottman and former GN champ, Jamie Sieracki battled. Wagner broke a chain and fell out of second just shy of the half-way point handing Adams second. All eyes were on Pecorari as he began to pick the field off and eventually took over from Adams. Adams, Hottman and Sieracki rounded out third through fifth. Jacobsen locked in fast lap honors with 35.399. Incidentally, Adams, recently qualified for the Red Bull Semi-Finals and will be on his way to Florida next month to see how he fares for the final selection in the Red Bull field.
ICC # 2 – Winner Brian Jacobsen, Wheaton, Ill.
Jacobsen repeated in Sunday’s ICC action, this time in a more dominant fashion. He won the main by 2.64 seconds over Hottman. His starts were exceptional in both where he jumped out to an early lead for his Sunday drive while others struggled to keep up the pace. Hottman, who had an extremely close match with Pecorari in the heat had an easier time in the main and finished second almost 1.5 seconds ahead of Pecorari. Sieracki, Adams and Jason Fredericks had a good match for fourth and finished in that order.
80cc Junior #1 – Winner Daniel Morad, Markham, Ontario
Daniel Morad, 13, of Markham, Ontario has been traveling quite a bit this summer contesting in Stars of Tomorrow, WKA Manufacturer’s Cup and in the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship series in Canada. The Taos Technology Birel driver has been a major contender in all and garnered two wins in both the 80c Junior Shifter classes. In Saturday’s action, Kyle Rahal of Glen-Ellyn, Ill., was strong in the heat race and took pole plus the win by 0.025 over Morad. Rahal took the lead at the green for the main with Morad, Timmy “The Terror” Megenbier and Matthew Pritiko following in pursuit. After five laps, Rahal and Megenbier collided putting both out of contention. Morad stretched out his lead as Ronny Graham ran second while Pritiko and Winninger were glued to each other. The situation turned sour and Graham’s day ended with three laps to go.
Morad took the win overall win by four seconds over Winninger (Tony/Woltjer) who qualified seventh and finished in fifth in the heat race. Fourth place across the stripe was Arthur Lake, III; however, he was penalized and scored in last place. Winninger finished four seconds up on Pritiko and Michael Meier bumped up to round out the top five
80cc Junior #2 – Winner Daniel Morad, Markham, Ontario
In Sunday’s 80cc class action, Winninger grabbed the lead in the beginning with Rahal and Morad in hot pursuit. Rahal moved to the front but pressured so by Morad for the top spot and the two traded lead on occasion. Winninger battled with Bussell and with about six laps to go Rahal went sour securing a 2.3 seconds win margin. Bussell succeeded over pre-final winner, Winninger for the second place battle by inches and also scored the race’s best lap at 36.215 on lap eight of the 20 lap final. Fourth and fifth place finishers were Graham and Zachary Schiff.
HPV Senior Heavy – Winner Corey Reeves – Franklin, Wisc.
Franklin, Wisc. driver Corey Reeves has been strong all year in several classes with 10 wins, five seconds and five top fives to his credit from participation in three classes going into the Badger Race. At the grand national, he scored one win, two seconds and a third. The Margay/Switch powered driver finally delivered his win in his last class effort of four total classes entered. In HPV Senior Heavy, he qualified on outside pole to David Cox. Reeves grabbed the lead and was contested strongly by Cox and Kevin Nelson and soon Chuck Tate and 2002 champ, Jacques Dresang were also breathing down his neck. Nelson took over second from Cox allowing Reeves some room for growth where he stretched out to a 2.3 second win margin. The battle for second continued with Nelson winning out over Cox, Tate and Dresang. Nelson earned fast race lap at 38.842.
Masters – Winner Kent Laukaitis, Decatur, Ill.
| Kent Laukaitis won Masters after a hearty battle and managed 5th in Yamaha Heavy|
Kent Laukaitis (Margay/Laukaitis Engines) had a stellar run with a win in Masters and a fifth in Yamaha Heavy. He continues to lead the points battle in Masters, but Scot Carapellatti, Christopher Rock and Steve Rumsey are making Laukaitis work hard for every bit he gets. Rumsey qualified on pole with a 40.731 and Rock nabbed the lead at the start. Laukaitis took over heading into turn three with Scott Carapellatti close behind and six karts fought for third. Laukaitis handled the win by 0.451 over Carapellatti as James Perkins, Rock and Evans rounded out the top five.
Formula Yamaha Jr. – Winner Chris Keller, Greenbrook, NJ
Chris Keller was elated with his first Grand National win with a clean sweep of pole, heat and feature race win in Formula Yamaha Junior on the first day of racing. Keller took the lead early on with Rahal, Tony Jump and Casey Neal behind. Both Jump and King fell out with problems on lap four. At halfway, he’d built up a sizable lead over Rahal who was well ahead of the third place battle between Matt Lee and JN Racing’s Thomas Hartensveld. Keller was considered an under dog going into this event, but managed to beat out points leader Rahal by 1.64 seconds. Lee, sporting HRE power, brought home third five second back. Hartensveld, who qualified outside pole, earned fourth followed by PKP Yellowfin driver, Casey Neal in fifth.
Yamaha Jr. Sportsman – Winner Christian Pahud, Dayton, Ohio
In the 8-12 year-old Yamaha Jr. Sportsman class, excitement abounded. Chad Finley took the pole but Anthony Llopiz took the heat race win. Three drivers swapped for the lead often in the fifteen lap final – Steve Arens, Llopiz and Christian Pahud. Evan Kalogiannis was there as well but fell back to battle Finley. Pahud snuck in for the win at the line over Llopiz for an amazing 0.092 win margin. Arens finished a close third 0.181 off the winner as well. Chad Finley was fourth less than one-second off the winner as Michael Diemo rounded out the top five 1.8 seconds off the win with Arie Ouimet on his back. Finley earned fast race lap at 41.812 seconds on lap eight.
Yamaha Junior Super Can – Winner Tony Jump, Maple Park, Ill.
Yamaha Jr. Super Can for 12-15 year-olds was another close match with Matt Lee taking the pole at 38.579 seconds on Sunday for the 24 entry class. Joey King won the heat race over Lee by 0.111 seconds. Disarray happened at the start of the main but King escaped was not affected. Dominic Scheer and Casey Neal followed in second early on. Things went terribly wrong for King as he fell back to 10th making the way for Scheer, Lee, Tim Goettsch and Tony Jump. Four karts battled for the win and as soon as Neal took the lead from Scheer, he lost it to Jump in turn two. Jump’s momentum continued and he eventually the Illinois-based driver stretched his lead and won by 0.436 seconds. Neal, Scheer and Lee and Keller rounded out the top five.
Cadet Jr. Sportsman #1 – Winner Carlos Munoz, Bogota, Columbia
Cadet Jr. Sportsman 1 & 2 were also high entry classes with 20 entries each. In Saturday’s run Carlos Munoz took pole with 41.416 but failed to produce a top spot in the heat race and finished in sixth as JN Racing driver, Robert Thorne won. Thorne took the lead in the main over Cody Robinson, Evan Kalogiannis, Sterling Shaw and team mate Anthony Llopiz. Shaw and Llopiz got together on lap two ending Llopiz’ run and moved Shaw out of contention. Steven Arens also moved up into the leader pack. Near race end it was a nose to tail battle with nine karts vying for the win. Munoz stole the lead from Thorne on the white flag lap and while Thorne attempted to re-take, about four karts attempted to cram into a one kart hole, crashed but managed to keep racing. Munoz won by a photo finish to Thorne by 0.009 seconds. Silva finished in third, Sergio Pena fifth and Kalogiannis in fifth. Nicholas Darinzo, who finished ninth, had the best race lap at 41.881 seconds.
Cadet Jr. Sportsman #2 – Winner Evan Kalogiannis, Sharon, Conn.
| Evan Kalogiannis wins Cadet Jr. Sportsman #2|
For Sunday’s version in Cadet Jr. Sportsman #2, Thorne again took the lead at race start. As the winner of heat one, Thorne’s Nevoso chassis was on his way when the red flag waved signaling an incident unknown as of this writing. When the race restarted, Thorne had a tougher time and was passed by Munoz early on. Thorne got the lead back but Evan Kalogiannis, Arens, Nick Novitsky and Llopiz all joined in again in pursuit of the win. Thorne got wide in the exit of turn three sending him back to eight as Munoz took over the lead. Both Llopiz and Novitisky made a pass for the lead; however, Kalogiannis snuck by on the outside at the line to take the win by 0.029 seconds over Llopiz! Llopiz was docked two positions for passing before the cone moving him back to fourth and giving second and third to Arens and Thorne. Christian Pahud crashed at the checkered where he was delivered to the hospital to check out leg injuries. Thorne earned fast race lap at 42.082 seconds.
Yamaha Heavy – Winner Kevin Nelson, Grafton, Wisc.
In Yamaha Heavy defending champ Kevin Nelson took the pole (38.816) with Mark Dismore, Jr. managing outside pole. Nelson won the heat with Jacques Dresang finishing out in second followed by Gary Lawson and Dismore. In the feature, Dresang challenged Nelson, but Nelson led from flag to flag with a 0.938 win margin. Dismore moved into second over Dresang and closed up the leader gap coming within a second of Nelson. This is Nelson’s third win in Yamaha Heavy for the season and a back-to-back Grand National title victory for the class. Dismore earned fast race lap honors with 38.909 seconds. Ryan Chrzan and Laukaitis rounded out the top five.
Yamaha Light – Winner Chris Larson, Trinity, Fla.
Sunday’s Yamaha Light at 310 pounds had 19 entries. Joseph Gynn set pole with 38.003 seconds. The heat race was exciting with five karts vying for the win. Jayson Eschrich won the battle for the win. In the final, Eschrich dropped back to sixth in the tight battle from his initial lead over Chris Larson, Chris Wehrheim, Gynn and Ryan Paul Miller. A lot of decal trades took place during the 20 laps and leaders (Dismore and Wehrheim) were unable to break away. With two laps to go, Wehrheim drove over the top of Dismore and this put the top two out of contention for the win. Larson (Margay/Cook Racing Engines) took the win with a three second margin over Miller and Reeves.
Formula Yamaha Senior – Winner Tim O’Brien, Lebanon, Ohio
Mike Giessen nabbed pole in Formula Yamaha Senior, but the heat race win went to Chris Giumarra. Giumarra jumped out to the lead quickly at the start followed by Matt Johnson (KRT/Hi-Rev), Giessen and Tim O’Brien. Johnson took over the lead in turn three leaving Giumarra and Giessen to battle. These two collided at turn four’s exit where Giumarra flipped and both drivers’ day was kaput. Boyer moved up to challenge Johnson where the two traded for the lead but O’Brien charged upward to challenge the two from his fifth place starting position. At the entrance to turn four, O’Brien took over followed by Boyer and then Johnson. With three laps to go, misery returned to Johnson when he stripped a gear, ending his potential for a GN win. O’Brien beat Boyer to the line by a mere 0.030 with Ryan Paul Miller finishing in third 2.37 seconds off the winner’s pace. Boyer locked in fast race lap at 38.688 seconds on lap 14 of the 20 lap main.
HPV Junior – Winner Joey King, Silvis, Ill.
The first of the HPV classes was HPV Junior with 14 entries. Joey King nabbed pole with 37.445 and Zach Emmons took the win as King went backward to finish in 11th position. In the main, Emmons (Creative Karting-Birel) led from flag to flag as Matt Lee, William Morgan, Paulie Harraka (KRT-HRE) and Neal (PKP/Yellowfin) dueled. King (Margay/SS Racing Engines) had a stellar performance driving his way through the pack making accurate passes lap after lap. Harraka (KRT) and Neal overtook Morgan for third and fourth spots as Lee trailed Emmons’ bumper. Emmons was thrilled with his GN win at his hometown track by a mere 0.29. King continued his move upward to finish a very impressive third at 1.2 seconds behind Emmons. Harraka, Neal and Morgan rounded out fourth through sixth.
HPV Senior Lite – Winner David Cox, Fisher, Ill.
| Arie Ouimet wins HPV Jr. Sportsman|
Next up on Saturday was HPV Senior Lite with 16 entries. Joseph Gynn took pole with a 38.029 and David Cox won the heat race. In the main, Cox got set back at the start with Jayson Eschrich and Caleb Loniewski taking on the lead positions. Cox moved into second by the end of the first lap and a few drivers tangled at the back. Cox moved up one more to take the lead on lap four as the Loniewski and Eschrich battle was joined by Chris Wehrheim and Corey Reeves joined in for the second place battle. At half way, Wehrheim was second followed by Loniewski and Reeves in fourth. Reeves squeezed into a hole to take third and secured second on the following lap. Cox’s margin of victory was comfortable with 8.029 seconds over Reeves. Third though fifth (Wehrheim, Eschrich and Loniewski) were tight at the line and separated by only 0.539 seconds. Cox earned best race lap by running a 38.138 on lap 16.
HPV Jr. Sportsman – Winner Arie Ouimet, South Lion, Mich.
The final HPV class was HPV Jr. Sportsman held as the second race on Sunday with 20 entries. Christian Pahud earned pole with 40.305 and Arie Ouimet (KRT/Hi-Rev) took the heat race win. Ouimet gained an early lead in the main followed by Derick Griffin, Pahud, Robert Thorne and Chad Finley. With one lap to go, Ouimet continued his lead and the victorious win by a very close 0.423 over Griffin. Third through fifth were Pahud, Finley and Anthony Llopiz. Pahud earned fast lap honors with a 40.194 on the final lap of the 15 lap main.
An event photo gallery of both Sean Buur and Clare Weaver's shots can be found in our Ribtect Photo Gallery. Complete event results for the main can be found at My Laps by visiting http://www.mylaps.com/index.jsp