|February 16, 2012 News
|eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month - Brent Harper - January 2012
| Defending Masters national champ Brent Harper starts out the year with a double win weekend at Gatorz COTA in Tucson|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
In a continued effort to highlight the many outstanding performances by drivers around the country, eKartingNews.com is proud to introduce the ‘Driver of the Month’ program. Each month, the staff at EKN will determine the one driver who stood out above the rest and give the viewers a chance to know exactly what they accomplished and who they are.
After winning a national championship, one of the hardest things to do is defend that very same crown the following year. History has shown that repeating as a champion in any sport is a difficult task, and motorsports is no different…unless you are Jimmy Johnson. For Brent Harper, 2012 will be a year of defense as he is out to prove that his Rotax Grand Nationals championship was no gift, rather rightly deserved. Thus far, he’s proven to be just as quick with a double win weekend to open up the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas program, earning him the honor of eKartingNews.com January 2012 Driver of the Month.
The weekend began for the CMC/Swiss Hutless/Engine Services driver pitting along with veteran Don Holmboe, the same combination that won him the national crown last July. Making his Gatorz COTA debut after previous starts at the Florida Winter Tour program, Harper fit right in and was near the top of the practice time charts. Qualifying for Saturday’s opening round saw Harper place second behind series frontrunner Paul Bonilla, only to see his time removed for an improper carburetor part. Sent to the back of the 13-kart field for the 17-lap Prefinal, Harper advanced his way forward into the second position by lap 12, unable to cut into the gap Bonilla had established through the checkered flag. Now on the front row, Harper was within reach early until navigating the opening corner. With not much grip on the outside, Harper fell back to fourth. Once settled in, Harper reassumed the second spot and set his sights on Bonilla. Taking the lead over on lap 13, the two ran near identical laps with Harper able to manage an eight-tenth gap for the victory.
Sunday began very similar to Saturday with Bonilla once again getting the better of Harper on fresh Mojo tires. Bonilla took the top spot in qualifying, but this time by only 0.042 seconds, showing just how close their lap times were throughout the weekend. Stuck out in the dirty side of the starting grid, Harper would lose a spot once again at the start of the Prefinal. Keeping pace with Bonilla, Harper worked around Curtis Ruth for second and took over the lead on lap five. Bonilla kept the pressure on, sizing up Harper for any weakness. Harper would be too strong, driving to the win and securing the inside row one position for the main event. Bonilla, one of the toughest competitors in the Masters category, never quit. Muscling by at the start of the feature, he once again showed Harper is bumper. Harper was quick to retake the lead and Scott Falcone joined the party to make it a three-kart battle. As the laps clicked off, Harper continued a consistent pace the other two was unable to keep lap after lap, emphasized by recording the fast lap of the race on his 21st circuit. At the checkered flag, Harper scored his second win of the weekend by nearly three-seconds to secure the championship lead in the series.
Harper will finish out the Gatorz COTA in hopes of scoring the championship. Come August, Brent will defend his title at the 2012 Rotax Grand Nationals, this year at the Michiana Raceway Park in South Bend, Indiana. Before then, he’ll contest events at his new local tracks in Lubbock and Dallas, along with competing in the Southeast Karting Challenge while also looking at competing at the SKUSA SuperNationals again.
January 2012 EKN Driver of the Month - Brent Harper
| Brent Harper - EKN Driver of the Month - January 2012|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
Hometown: Born in Macon, GA / Reside in Lubbock, TX
Marital Status: Married to Kristen Harper (Best wife ever)
Children: Bailey Harper (15)
Height/Weight: 6 1’/195
Education: Georgia Southern University
Occupation: Business Manager/ The Ranch at Dove Tree
Chassis: Swiss Hutless Swiss I
Engine/Engine Builder: FR125/CMC (Don Holmboe) / Engine Services (Jim Hanson)
Sponsors: CMC (Don Holmboe) / Swiss Hutless / Engine Services (Jim Hanson)
Series You Compete In: GATORZ Challenge of the Americas/Southeast Karting Challenge/Lubbock Karting Series
Years Karting: 21 Off and On
How did you get started in karting? Attended Elf Winfield in France, made it to the Semi-Finals and they told me I needed to race karts for experience.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals last year
What are your goals in racing? To improve with age, stay fast, and even help my competitors/friends and new racers.
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Good enough?? I accept that I will and do make mistakes and just work to minimize them. Try to be as smooth as possible.
Funniest moment at the race track? Any and all moments spent at the track with our friend Keith Karr.
Favorite Track: East (Homestead), Mid-Country (Dallas Karting Complex), West (Musselman Honda Circuit)
Favorite form of professional motorsports: Formula One
Favorite karting driver: I have two, my son Bailey is the first and the second is Gary Carlton. I am as impressed with him as a racer and a person. I wish I would have had the dedication and desire that Gary has at that age and the intelligence that he has displayed in going about furthering his racing career.
Favorite professional driver: Schumacher (Current) and Senna (Past)
Favorite website: eKartingNews.com
Favorite movie: Senna Documentary
Favorite actor/actress: Christopher Walken
Favorite music/group: Allman Brothers
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Bend, OR - mountain biking with Holmboe (Scott not Don)
Favorite food: Siam Chicken (Thai Hot!!)
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? Work, bike, and spend time with my wife and son
What are your goals outside of karting? To live by example, not theory
What type of street car do you drive? 2011 F250 (Just sold my 135i)
What type of street car would you like to drive? One with over 900hp
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Liars
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? If the different organizations/promoters agree to disagree but still work together for the sport as a whole.
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? That it is still possible to win at the National Level on a much smaller budget than some of the more fortunate karters. It requires experience, knowledge, and the understanding that if you really knew it all you would never loose. Haha
January 2012 Driver of the Month - Honorable Mention:
- Fritz Leesmann: Florida Winter Tour (Rotax Senior win) / Gatorz Challenge of the Americas (DD2 double winner)
- Chuck Gafrarar: Florida Winter Tour - TaG Masters double winner
- Kyle Kirkwood: Florida Winter Tour - TaG Junior double winner
- Micah Hendricks: Gatorz Challenge of the Americas - Rotax Junior (ninth after starting 35th, 11th after starting 35th)