Report & photos by Keith Shampine (Mouse over photos to read caption)
CONCORD, N.C. – The 2013 WKA VEGA / TS Racing Road Racing Series driven by Mazda Grand Nationals went off this past weekend at the beautiful VIRginia International Raceway near Danville, Va., marking round six of this year’s national series and the third round of the Woodbridge Kart Club’s regional road racing series.
A strong turnout of 390 entries made the event a success for WKC and WKA, and it marked the second consecutive national road race that attracted an entry count around 400. The Mid-Ohio Nationals in June surpassed the 400-entry plateau.
Road Racing teams from around the country – including Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Massachusetts, the all parts of the Midwest and up and down the Mid-Atlantic region – moved into the VIR paddock Thursday evening and embarked on a full day of practice Friday.
A handful of local-option races took place Friday evening, the headliner being the Yamaha Sportsman Special money race that paid $300 to Chris Larson of Oklahoma, who overtook Ryan Hatcher late in the race for the top prize.
Mother Nature had officials and competitors concerned Saturday morning with dark clouds showing their face and reports of steady rain in Martinsville, Va., about 35 miles from VIR. People around the pit area predicted only one or two races would get in before the rain hit, however, while dark clouds loomed throughout the day, the rain didn’t hit until the end of race group No. 6.
The sixth race was able to run the full 45-minute distance, but while retired karts and drivers were getting picked up before the start of race No. 7 – the day’s final event – rain picked up and dampened the entire VIR facility. Unfortunately for the shifter karts and TaG racers set to run the day’s final race, it had to be cancelled because of the steady rain falling.
Cloud cover and some intimidating clouds greeted racers Sunday morning but the skies cleared late morning and approximate 90-degree temperatures made it the hottest condition for a road race thus far in 2013.
Sunday’s six race groups were completed in their entirety, and most teams were loaded up and set to embark on their journey home by 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
Here’s a rundown of the weekend’s race at the Road Race Grand Nationals.
Saturday Race 1
Randy Fulks scored the weekend’s first Grand National win in Sleeper Racing Team 100cc Controlled Spec 1. Fulks, who’s won a number of races in the Spec division in recent years, bested former WKA Triple Crown champion Adam Myers for the win. Ageless veteran Jim Fry was third, Rick Fulks fourth and Sean O’Shea completed the top five of seven starters.
Matt Michel crossed the stripe first in Hoosier Racing Tire Yamaha Sportsman Lite but was disqualified in post-race tech. Michel’s misfortune gave the win to CKI racer Zack Clark, who recently competed in his first WKA Gold Cup event at G&J Kartway in Camden, Ohio. Tim Linthicum was second, Brian Ellis third and Massachusetts’ Fran Mazzucotelli fourth.
Ryan Hatcher traveled to VIR from his Oklahoma home and won Dart Kart Club 100cc Pipe Heavy. Ohio’s Mallory Davis finished second.
Saturday Race 2
Jeff Metter and his 250cc-powered super kart had the fast Formula 125 racers covered in Unlimited Final 2. Metter scored the big win over Arkansas’ Brian Wilhelm. Michael Lattos was third, Mitch White fourth and Derek Cuthbertson fifth.
The largest class of the day belonged to Stock Honda 1, which started 24 Honda-powered shifter karts. Veteran Byron “Bear” Rothenhoefer dominated the race, pulling away for the Grand National triumph over Sam Bocchino. John Sullivan was third, Philip Davis fourth and Bill Pyles fifth. Stephen Flatt had a terrific run to cross the stripe second but was DQ’ed in post-race tech. Rothenhoefer won a set of VEGA XH tires for his win, which was posted by series sponsor TS Racing.
Saturday Race 3
This race was red-flagger and called complete just after halfway due to an accident involving Toni Alexander. Toni was sore but otherwise OK.
Keith Buffo added another national triumph to his collection with the win in TaG Final 1. The Massachusetts racer won over Gabriel Robleto. Justin Rodriguez was third, Joseph Brizzolara fourth and Clark A Gaynor fifth.
Adam Myers dominated the WKA Sprint Final 1 race with a big win over New Englander Ted Carbonaro. WKC regular Derek Somers was third, Eric Stockford fourth and Jim Sorrentino fifth.
MGM Chassis racer Zachary Linsell continued to prove he’s the top 4-cycle road racer in the country with his win in Hoosier Racing Tire Animal Sprint 335. Linsell scored the win over fellow MGM racer Sam Sheckells. Austyn Flurer was third, Blake Beattie fourth and Georgia’s Brent Hadden fifth in the 13-kart field.
Jonathan Tedder continued his fine 2013 season with a convincing win in Animal Sprint 385. Tedder pulled away for an easy win over Andrew Boyer. Robert Garland was third, William Lewis fourth and Alexander credited with fifth.
Jeff Futch won the Open Sprint 1 local option and Rick Gilmore won the WKC Vintage Limited local option over Dwain Parks and Dick Charest.
Saturday Race 4
One of the most competitive races of the day was AM Motorsports Yamaha Sportsman Heavy, which started 15 karts and many of the best enduro road racers in the country. Woodbridge Kart Club regular Jermie Bolt, racing in his home state, fended off the outsiders for a big Grand National triumph.
Matt Michel was second but was disqualified in post-race tech. Oklahoma’s Chris Larson crossed the stripe just behind Bolt for the runner-up position. Ryan Hatcher was third, Evan Bolt fourth and Wild Bill Holder fifth.
Wisconsin’s Don Chrzan had a terrific weekend and scored the win in The Agile Group, Inc. 100cc Controlled Final 1. Chrzan won over Sean O’Shea and Michael Tracy.
Saturday Race 5
WKC hosted road races always feature a good field of Streeter Super Stands Stock Leopard competitors and VIR was no exception. WKC regular Rebecca Taylor earned the big win over fellow club racer Clark A Gaynor. New Jersey’s Bryan Danieli was third, Don Guilbeault fourth and Aamir Hyder fifth. Fourteen karts took the green.
Michael Holman earned a big win in Heiser Trailer Leasing Yamaha Sportsman Sprint Final 1. Holman took advantage of Zack Clark spinning early in the race. Clark kept it going, however, but never could close within three seconds of Holman. Ohio’s Andy Leighininger followed Holman and Clark to take third. AJ Ellis was fourth and Stacey Holewski fifth.
Andrew Boyer won Yamaha Sprint Lite over Florida’s Jimmy Duguay. James Vandermuelen was third.
Jonathan Tedder won his second Grand National Eagle of the day with his triumph in Animal Limited Modified 385. Ben Morris was second, Charles Wilbur third and Toni Alexander fourth.
North Carolina’s Chris Kuley picked up another Animal Junior win, this time over Daniel Ring.
Alex Frazer bested JT Coupal and Kyle Cuthbertson in Junior Sprint Lite.
Desmond Lewis and Joe Cuslidge were Clone winners. Lewis took 335 and Cuslidge won 385 over Darren Greene.
Kamron Darling won LO206 385 and Bill Johnson won the Vintage USA 1 local option.
Saturday Race 6
Kelly Lawrence continues to run fast with his Komanche Formula 125 enduro. Lawrence had the speed again at VIR to best a competitive field. Michael Lattos was second, Mitch White third, Fran Mazzucotelli fourth on a 135cc open and Brian Wilhelm retired early and was credited with fifth.
Alabama’s Robby Harper earned another B Stock victory. Harper won the Grand National over Craig Keller. Ben Eberhardt was third and Scott Goodman fourth.
Don Chrzan scored win No. 2 on the day in KALL Racing Formula 100 Final 1. Chrzan dominated the race and won over North Carolina’s Paul Wyzga. Bill Miller was third, Michael Tracy fourth and Travis Miller fifth.
CKI racer Chris Larson scored the Dart Kart Club Yamaha Medium win over Brian Ellis, who’s been stationed in Germany recently with the US Air Force. Florida’s Lance Yunck, competing in his third class of the day, was third. James Rupert and Dan Stowell rounded out the top five.
Saturday Race 7
As noted earlier, rain hit just before the day’s final race was set to go green and unfortunately for the 15 racers who waited all day to race, the event was rained out and competitors were awarded rain points.
Sunday Race 1
Jeff Metter made it two for two in Unlimited competition at VIR with his win in the Sunday morning weekend capper. Metter won an eventful race that saw him and Robby Harper jump out to a big lead before Harper dropped out with mechanical issues around the 10-minute mark. Brian Wilhelm spent half the race to run down Metter only to spin in turn one as he looked low on the leader.
Then Scott Goodman ran down Metter and passed him for the lead. After leading several laps, Goodman retired from the race, handing the lead back to Metter, who went on to the victory. Michael Lattos was second, Mitch White third, Scott Hodges fourth and Harper was credited with fifth.
Brian Fisher and Stevie Young got a break in Stock Honda 2 when Saturday Stock Honda winner Bear Rothenhoefer threw a chain on the start. Fisher and Young pulled out to a big lead and crossed the finish stripe side by side with Fisher edging out the Virginia Tech student. Mark Nagy edged Greg Heberle for third. Dan Chalk rounded out the top five of 23 starters, the day’s largest class.
Sunday Race 2
A host of classes took the green after the Sunday mandatory quiet hour.
Mike Kavanaugh scored the win in TaG Final 2 over Justin Rodriguez. Joseph Brizzolara was third, Gabriel Robleto fourth and Timothy Ferraro fifth.
New York’s Adam Myers swept WKA Sprint with his win in Final 2. Myers won by a comfortable margin over Massachusetts’ Jim Sorrentino. Ted Carbonaro was third, Eric Stockford fourth and George Williams fifth in the eight-kart field.
Eighteen karts started MGM / Moon Power Animal Sprint 360 to make it the weekend’s largest class other than Stock Honda 1 and 2. MGM racers Zachary Linsell and Sam Sheckells pulled away from the rest of the field and put on a good show for fans. Linsell led early before Sheckells took the lead and led most of the second half of the race.
Sheckells led Linsell down the roller coaster coming to the checkered but Linsell gained a draft off Sheckells and swung past him coming to the checkered. Blake Beattie was third, Joey Kuley fourth and Ben Thomason rounded out the top five. Austyn Flurer ran in the pack with Beattie, Kuley and Thomason but had to settle for sixth.
Darlington, South Carolina’s Rob Garland II scored the Grand National win in Animal Sprint 410. Garland won over Robert Garland and Steve Jeffers. Rich Dreher was fourth and Steve Johnson fifth.
Daniel Ring won Animal Jr Sprint Heavy when Chris Kuley retired with an exhaust problem on his Briggs Animal.
Jeff Futch won the Open Sprint 2 local option and Duane Eberhart won over Robert Anderson in the Vintage Euro local option.
Sunday Race 3
One of the weekend’s best races belonged to Sunday’s third group. Randy Fulks failed to get off the grid for 100cc Controlled Spec 2, leaving the race to Adam Myers, Sean O’Shea, Jim Fry and Rick Fulks.
Myers led early before dropping out. Rick Fulks was running with Jim Fry and O’Shea before spinning in turn one. Fulks continued and ran down Fry and O’Shea. The three battled hard throughout the second half of the race before Fry spun in turn three on the last lap. Fulks and O’Shea battled it out over the last lap with Fulks edging O’Shea at the line for the Grand National Eagle. O’Shea took second, Jim Fry third, Lance Fry fourth and Myers fifth.
Ian E Morgan won 100cc Controlled Final 2 over Michael Tracy and Don Chrzan.
Seventeen racers started Competition Karting Inc. Yamaha Sportsman Medium, which awarded a set of Hoosier tires to the victory. The early lead pack included Ryan Hatcher, Matt Michel, Chris Larson, Brian Ellis and Zack Clark until a spin in turn one only two laps into the race took out Michel and Clark and cost Larson and Ellis valuable time.
Hatcher was able to avoid the incident and run away for a 27-second dominating win. Larson recovered to pass a number of competitors to make it back to second place. Wild Bill Holder took third, Saturday Sportsman Heavy winner Jermie Bolt fourth and Ellis fifth.
Sunday Race 4
Sam Bocchino picked up the win in CIK 125 Shifter Final 2 over Birel racer Steven Rougeou. Donald Santini was third.
Dan Chalk won WKA 125 Shifter Final 2 over Philip Payne.
Chris Hines barely edged teammate Keith Buffo to win TaG Heavy Final 2. Adrian Dale was third and Michael Hines fourth.
Sunday Race 5
Clark A Gaynor won the Streeter Super Stands Stock Leopard Sprint Final 2 race and earned a set of VEGA XH tires posted by TS Racing. Gaynor won over Brandon Taylor, who recovered after getting off the grid late. Bernie Adamson was third, Walter Troup fourth and defending Stock Leopard national champion Jeff Wesell fifth in the 14-kart field.
Zack Clark and Michael Holman swapped positions from Saturday’s Yamaha Sportsman Sprint main event. Clark, who finished second to Holman on Saturday, won this one for his second victory of the weekend. Holman had to settle for second, Jeff Leighninger third, AJ Ellis fourth and Andy Leighninger fifth.
Florida’s Jimmy Duguay won Yamaha Sprint Heavy.
Ben Morris bested Charles Wilbur to win Animal Limited Modified 360.
New York’s JT Coupal earned a Grand National victory with his win over Alex Frazer in Team Finork Racing Junior Sprint Heavy. Kyle Cuthbertson was third.
Paul Smith won the Clone 360 race over Desmond Lewis and Darren Greene.
Sunday Race 6
The weekend’s final race saw fifteen laydown enduros take the green flag for a 45-minute contest.
Don Chrzan earned win No. 3 on the weekend in Formula 100 Final 2. Chrzan bested Adam Myers to score the hat trick. Mike Fischer was third, Travis Miller fourth and Michael Tracy fifth in the high-attrition race.
Chris Larson won his second race of the weekend and swept the Yamaha pipe laydown classes in the process. Larson won Yamaha Heavy over Brian Ellis. Dan Stowell was third, Don Johnson fourth and William Anderson fifth.
Ohio’s Mallory Davis bested Fran Mazzucotelli to win 100cc Pipe Medium.
The 2013 WKA National Road Racing Series will close its season September 6-8 with the Woodbridge Kart Club-hosted Summit Point Nationals at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. Pre-registration will be open next week.