|October 12, 2012 News
|EKN Trackside: 2012 RoboPong 200 Set for This Weekend
Racing is always about speed and endurance - and like the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, or the 24 Hours of Le Mans - both are needed to reach the finish line. The only event that can reach that can test man and equipment in United States karting is the RoboPong 200. The ninth running of the event will take place this weekend at the popular New Castle Motorsports Park, just 45 minutes east of Indianapolis, Indiana. Roughly 50 teams of 2 to 4 drivers from across the country will battle for 200 laps around the challenging 1-mile circuit aboard TaG powered karts, all fighting for a piece of the record $22,000 purse and to etch their names into the side of the Dan Wheldon Cup.
Mark Dismore - owner of the New Castle Motorsports Park and promoter of the RoboPong 200 - is a former 24 Hours of Daytona winner and a karting legend. When the facility was built in 2003, he had always hoped to host an endurance-type event. The opening event was a three-hour fixed timed event, held in October 2004. From there, the event continued to grow, welcoming a number of IndyCar, NASCAR and other professional motorsports drivers over the years. This year’s event has reached a record mark for the purse to be awarded, as Dismore will hand out $22,000 in cash along with numerous prizes throughout the weekend.
| 2011 RoboPong 200 winners Mark Dismore and Josef Newgarden|
Along with the RoboPong 200 main event, Dismore has added two Yamaha support races to the weekend. Yamaha Junior and Yamaha Sportsman racers will compete in a Qualifying, Prefinal, Final format at extended lap counts compared to normal karting events (15-lap Prefinal, 30-lap Final). Another $20,000 in cash will be awarded to the Yamaha categories with $5,000 handed out to the winner of each class.
Aside from the cash and prizes on the weekend, the RoboPong 200 competitors will be racing for a piece of history, to place their name on the coveted Dan Wheldon Cup. The British driver lost his life in a horrific crash at the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championships in Las Vegas on October 16, 2011. Weldon was a favorite in the karting community, getting his start in racing through karting and continued to race in the sport just a few weeks prior to his death. He was often quoted as saying that ‘karting is the purest form of motorsports'. Wheldon was a competitor at the RoboPong 200 since 2005, winning the event that year and always a fan favorite each year he returned. A very close friend to the Dismore family, there was no greater way to remember Dan’s life then renaming the event trophy in his honor.
While last year’s event was run with heavy hearts, it was another memorable 200 laps with Mark Dismore Sr. and now IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden scoring the victory. Newgarden and Dismore remained in the hunt for much of the race until pit strategy and keeping Newgarden in the kart for a third stint to complete the race put them out front, where they stayed until the checkered flag waved. It was the first win for both drivers, a great accomplishment for Newgarden who began racing the event as a kid years back (listen to the interview from last year’s event HERE). For Dismore, he announced privately it was his final time driving in the event. He’s stuck to his guns as Mark Dismore Jr. will make a return to the event he’s won twice before, partnering up with the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver.
This year’s field is another stout list of talented drivers, all with the ability and speed to reach the 200-lap mark first. The big question is, who will it be? Returning from last year’s podium are the same KartSport North America/American Medical Response entries. Sam Beasley and Brandon Jones finished second with Eric Jones and Jacob Donald in third, both teams the only remaining karts on the lead lap.
| Sam Beasley - teamed with Brandon Jones - drove to second last year, and are back for the 10k check this time around|
Along with Newgarden and Dismore, five of the last six drivers to win will also be returning. 2010 co-winner Jay Howard is returning, this year with his new Motorsports Driver Development (MDD) operation. Howard will partner with 2012 USF2000 Winterfest Champion Spencer Pigot. The Florida driver nearly won the RoboPong event back in 2008 until a mechanical issue sidelined his entry with 18 laps remaining. Howard’s co-winner in ’10 was MKP driver Bill McLaughlin Jr. - who is competing with a duo of talented young guns. The two entries for Hytroc of Texas/Top Kart/MKP will be driven by McLaughlin, current EKN TaG Driver Rankings #1 driver Mason Chelootz and the 2011 Rotax Grand Nationals champion Nick Neri. The three drivers will rotate in the two karts, giving them a better percentage of reaching the 200-lap mark first.
Staying with the IndyCar and former winners theme, Ed Carpenter will return for another RoboPong event. The IndyCar series finale winner, driving for his own team, took the checkered flag in the 2009 event with current Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing chief engineer Nathan O’Rourke. The duo returns in the same Arrow machine, looking for their second victory. The 2008 event could be considered the most dramatic finish in the event’s history. With Pigot retiring, the finish came down to the wire and a penalty with Billy Lewis and Jeremy Warren scoring the victory. Lewis is back once again, missing out on the victory nearly every year since due to mechanical issues. This time, he’s partnering up with Colton Aldridge, piloting the Ultimate chassis manufactured by Warren.
| Bill McLaughlin Jr. and Jay Howard scored the 2010 RoboPong 200 victory|
There are a number of teams to watch throughout the event that has a chance at being the team to beat after 200 laps. Local knowledge is always good, with a handful of teams that could emerge. Jimmy Simpson and Robbie Seward, both former podium finishers on other teams, will partner up for the first time to pilot a DR Kart under the DRT Racing banner. Jacob Knueven was Seward’s former partner, but found another talented driver to replace him in the form of 2012 WKA TaG champion Tommy Andersen. They will pilot Knueven’s Arrow machine on the weekend. Also watch for Masters drivers John Dixon and Jeff Jewell. The two former WKA champions always show the speed to compete with the young guns, and will try to make the 200 laps aboard their Top Kart entry.
The event also brings in national drivers from across the country. Current Rotax Grand Nationals champion Daniel Formal is teaming up with Jose Zanella, another talented driver from Florida, to pilot a Tony Kart this weekend. Jesus Rios Jr., another stout driver from the Sunshine state, will partner with 2008 pole winner Zach Beard aboard an MRP Motorsport Birel. Recent WKA Manufacturers Cup Series New Castle winner Colton Ramsey will partner with Merlin USA top dog Jamie Sieracki. Returning from an international event in Italy, Russell Karting Specialties Jim Russell Jr. returns to the event after running in contention last year with Nick Neri. This year, he will bring another young gun - Joel Jens - to help pilot the Parolin entry. Adding to the IndyCar drivers, former IndyLights driver James Davison and 2012 Star Mazda vice champion Gabby Chaves will compete in the event aboard a Kosmic chassis.
The Yamaha categories will be full of WKA champions from 2012. Mike McAndrews (Birel) and Kyle Kalish (Merlin) were this year’s title winners in the Junior ranks. 2011 Triple Crown winner Joel Jens (Tony Kart) will pull double duty, as will Ashley Rogero (Tony Kart), Derek Dignan (Arrow) and Californian Jake Craig (Kosmic). Dignan and Rogero were winners at the series finale at New Castle while Jens was top-three in the Lite and Heavy categories this season. Craig was the 2011 SKUSA Pro Tour TaG Junior champion and competed at Daytona and Norway with the WKA series with mixed results. Gresham Wagner (Birel), Skylar Robinson (Tony Kart) and Camden Speth (Arrow) are other drivers to watch. The Sportsman category includes a number of eager young drivers including the two new champions - Brandon Lemke (Merlin) and Zach Holden (Arrow). David Malukas (Birel), Leonardo Stoia (PCR), and Neil Verhagen (Haase) were championship contenders throughout the year and should be in the hunt this weekend as well.
| Mike McAndrews scored a WKA championship and victory at New Castle this season in Yamaha competition|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
Friday will be practice throughout the day for all three events with practice continuing into Saturday morning. Qualifying is set for 3pm with Yamaha Junior and Yamaha Sportsman taking the track first before the RoboPong teams hit the track at 4pm. All categories will be split up into groups, with each driver given three timed laps to submit their fastest lap. Following qualifying, the Yamaha categories will compete in their 15 Prefinal events to complete the day. Each categories will be given a warm-up Sunday with 30-lap Yamaha Junior main event set for 9:45am and Yamaha Sportsman for 10:45am. RoboPong 200 teams will hit the grid around noon with opening ceremonies starting at 12:45pm and the green flag waving around 1pm.
eKartingNews.com will have trackside coverage throughout the weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Updates will be published in the Official Discussion Thread throughout the two days, along with the Facebook and Twitter accounts. Daily reports, photos, and results will be published along with the photo grid of the field Saturday evening. Thos wishing to hear and watch the action live are asked to tune into the track’s website - http://www.newcastlemotorsportspark.com - along with live timing provided by RaceMonitor.
2012 RoboPong 200 - Provisional Entry List
|Kart #||Team Name||Chassis||Engine||Driver One||Driver Two||Driver Three||Driver Four|
|0||J. Howard's MDD||Praga||X30||Jay Howard||Spencer Pigot|
|00||Hytroc of Texas/Topkart/MKP||Top Kart||Leopard||Mason Chelootz||Nick Neri||Bill McLaughlin Jr.|
|000||Hytroc of Texas/Topkart/MKP 2||Top Kart||Leopard||Mason Chelootz||Nick Neri||Bill McLaughlin Jr.|
|1||MRP Motorsport||Birel||Rotax||Jesus Rios||Zach Beard|
|04||TBA||Leopard||Jimmy Tennill III|
|4||Average Joe's Racing||Leopard||Margay||Derrick Barnes||Maddisen Padden||Luke Edwards|
|5||J. Howard's MDD||Praga||Leopard||Evan Mehan||Ashley Rogero|
|6||National Karting Alliance||FA Kart||Leopard||Mike Burrell||Joe Janowski|
|7||Chastain Motorsports||Kosmic||Leopard||Sam Chastain||Jake Craig||Andrick Zeen|
|08||FKS/MCR||Merlin||Leopard||Colton Ramsey||Jamie Sieracki|
|9||Neal Racing Team||Arrow||Leopard||Henry Neal||Scott Keith||Stephen Simpson|
|10||Three Samurais||Birel||Leopard||Ryo Fukuda||Shinya Michimi||Kurt Schanie|
|11||Lewis/CKS Racing||Ultimate||Leopard||Billy Lewis||Colton Aldridge|
|14||Stafford Racing Products||Birel||Leopard||Joel Stafford||Dylan Cradlebaugh|
|15||Team MacAllister||Margay||Leopard||Alex MacAllister||Matt Codalata||Stephen Simpson|
|16||Racing For Tourettes||Tony Kart||Leopard||Tyson Catron||Trey Shannon|
|17||Team Spalding||Arrow||Leopard||Tony Spalding||Adam Berning||John Ewing|
|19||Speedcast||Arrow||Leopard||Clark Cambern||Steven Arens|
|20||Ed Carpenter Racing||Arrow||Leopard||Ed Carpenter||Nathan O'Rourke|
|21||Seward Simpson Racing||DR Kart||Leopard||Jimmy Simpson||Robbie Seward|
|23||HAAS||Eagle||Leopard||Brandon Cross||Troy Pew||Michael Busse||Austin Queen|
|25||FIGJAM||Tony Kart||Leopard||Jon Laski||Simon Short|
|27||Team Goodyear||Birel||Leopard||Michael Goodyear||Sam Cate|
|30||Knueven/Anderson Racing||Arrow||Leopard||Jacob Knueven||Tommy Andersen|
|33||P.O.C||Arrow||Leopard||Stephen Davis||Tim Bannon||Michael Lewis|
|37||Ninja Mike||Merlin||Leopard||Adam Crepin||Mike Nesbitt|
|39||HZ Motorsports Special||Tony Kart||Leopard||Davey Hamilton Jr.||Hanna Zellers|
|44||Pitt Race Karting||Birel||Rotax||Andy Schlosser||Michael Burton|
|45||Pitt Race Karting 2||Birel||Rotax||Ayrton Mutagaana||Derek White|
|46||APPCO Racing||Tony Kart||X30||Cody Gardner||Dan Stempfley|
|48||Leeds||Margay||Leopard||Daniel Leeds||Jim Leeds|
|60||Stoopsbuickgmc.com||Arrow||Tyler Meyers||Ryan Wilson|
|67||CometKartSales.com||Arrow||Leopard||Mark Dismore Jr.||Josef Newgarden|
|69||Davo Chaves Racing||Kosmic||Rotax||Gabby Chaves||James Davison|
|77||2J's Engineering||Top Kart||IAME||John Dixon||Jeff Jewell|
|93||Speed, Hot Nasty Speed||Parolin||Leopard||Ethan Wilson||Chris Koster|
|97||Chastain Motorsports||Nick Chastain|
|109||AB Racing||Kosmic||Rotax||Andy Dunne||Brennan Harrington|
|133||Team Arrow/AMR 1||Arrow||Rotax||William Owen||Derek Dignan|
|137||ZF Racing||Tony Kart||Rotax||Daniel Formal||Jose Naka Zanella|
|177||CTX Speed||RK||Rotax||Thomas Bernacki||Mason Madej|
|199||Rapid Racing||Top Kart||Leopard||Kevin Martz||Tim Hollowell|
|311||Revolution Racing||Arrow||Leopard||Steve Knight||Dan Clarke|
|390||LFS Racing||Top Kart||Leopard||Cameron Smock||Luis Soberal|
|421||Russell Karting||Parolin||Leopard||Jim Russell Jr.||Joel Jens|
|472||TKOD||Tony Kart||Leopard||Eli Salamie||Adam Jennerjahn|
|654||Bobby Wilson Racing||Kosmic||Rotax||Bobby Wilson||Jason Bell|
|Team Arrow/AMR 2||Arrow||Rotax||Sam Beasley||Brandon Jones|
|Team Arrow/AMR 3||Arrow||Rotax||Eric Jones||Jacob Donald|
Yamaha Junior - Provisional Entry List
|6||Skylar Robinson||Tony Kart|
|17||Ashley Rogero||Tony Kart|
|35||Joel Jens||Tony Kart|
|88||Sam Cate||Tony Kart|
Yamaha Jr. Sportsman - Provisional Entry List
|5||Kaden Harter||Tony Kart|
|07||Anthony Gangi Jr.||Tony Kart|
|20||John Paul Southern Jr.||PCR|
|26||Makala Marks||Top Kart|