CONCORD, NC - When the 2015 version of the RLV Tuned Exhaust Products Gold Cup season started back in March at 103rd Street Sports Complex in Jacksonville, Florida, many should have known then that the 4 victories snared by Aiden Baker Crouse would be just a small taste of the top shelf of the podium for the young Sportsman driver. In fact, it served as just one-fourth of the national event and Friday Night Shootout wins the North Carolina driver would attain in the 2015 season, as Crouse totalled16 victories in all for the year. Crouse’s path of multiple wins spread like fire throughout the pit area to other camps, as Senior driver Paul Headley, carrying the banner for the Animal ranks in 2015, notched 9 wins, while Junior Class competitors Jason Alder and Matthew Miller would take 8 and 6 wins respectively, with Alder matching Crouse at the season opener in Jacksonville with 4 wins.
The end result of all the success for Crouse led to titles in 3 classes, including the Razor Chassis Sportsman Pro Gas Lite and Heavy classes, as well as the Miller Welders Sportsman LO206 Class. In the LO206 class, Crouse topped Tanner Carter, a 3- time winner in his own right on the final weekend of racing alone in Barnesville, Georgia. Riley Kelley, who began to catch steam in Kershaw, South Carolina at the series second stop, and exploded for 4 wins in Camden, Ohio, finished third in the LO206 standings, with Cale Hall and Mark Steube completing the top 5. In the Sportsman Pro Gas Lite class, Kelley, Carter, Hall, and Macon Moore were the top 5 for the season, while Kelley, Moore, Steube, and Andrew Willis, a 2-time winner on opening day, completed the top 5.
While Crouse cleaned house in the Sportsman ranks, the battle between Jason Alder and Matt Miller kept fans on their toes. After Alder swept the Van K Wheels Junior Pro Gas Lite, as well as the Brads Heating and Cooling Junior Pro Gas Animal classes at Jacksonville, victories became a little tougher to come by with David Kalb Jr ripping off 3 wins in Kershaw, including the Friday night shootout win, while Miller and Hunter Johnson claimed the other wins that weekend. 2 more wins by Johnson in the season finale, coupled with wins by Alex Vrabel and Cody Hall kept things a little tighter than Alder wanted. But in the end, the Maryland driver took the Junior Pro Gas Lite title over Miller, with Joshua Stark, another most consistent finisher this year, taking third in the standings, while Hall and Brian Van Cleve completed the top 5.
Miller claimed the Junior Pro Gas Heavy title, as well as that of the Thor Oil Junior LO206 class, racking up six wins, and the Gas title over Vrabel, with Alder, Stark, and Jimmy Cole Jackson completing the top 5.
In the LO206 category, Miller topped Hall, Jackson, Alder, and Talia Moffett, one of the many up and coming top females in 4 Cycle Sprint competition.
The battle in the Tyler Sandmeyer LO206 Kid Kart Class turned out to be most competitive, despite Brently Millers sweep of the action in race 1 at Jacksonville. Owen Lloyd turned 2 runnerup finishes at his home track in Race #1 into a victory at Kershaw, while Bryce Sanders also began to gain some momentum with the other Kershaw win. But then the Jax Walker Show came to town, with the defending champion gaining 3 wins in the next 2 stops in Camden, Ohio, as well as Barnesville, Georgia. And despite issues early on the final day of competition, Walker was able to snare yet another title, as Peyton Bridges triumphed in the series finale, giving the young driver a huge lift going into next year, making it 5 national winners in 8 races for 2015. With the 3 wins, Walker claimed the title over Lloyd, with a very consistent Blake Boon, as well as Caleb Gafrarar, who also runs Kids Karts in the Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series, and 2 time winner Brently Miller completing the top 5.
While it would be hard for the Senior contingent of the Gold Cup Series to top the exploits of the Junior ranks, the return of strong fields in both the Briggs and Stratton Racing Senior LO206 class, as well as the Coyote Motorsports Senior Pro Gas Series, kept the fans on the fence.
For the LO206 Class, 6 winners in 8 races made for some great competition, with Eric Fagan and Tyler Smith the only 2 time winners. Other winners included Evan Cowen, Gary Lawson, Ben Wagenhals, and Dustin Demattia. But in the end, consistency won out, as Austin Queen laid claim to the championship over Wagenhals, with Haley Kummer, another top female runner placing third in the final standings, while Demattia and Fagan completed the top 5.
For Three Quarters of the season, it appeared the Coyote Motorsports Senior Pro Gas Animal crown would travel back to Maryland, with 4 victories by Jacob Heavlow, 1 by his brother Jimmy, and another by fellow Marylander Chris Wells. But again, consistency, coupled with a sweep of the season ending events in Georgia led to Sean Meier taking the top honor in 2015. Jacob Heavlow ended up a solid second with Zachary Linsell, Tyler Smith, and Dustin Demattia completing the top 5.
While the stats didn’t show a title for Zachary Linsell on the national points side, Linsell more than made up for it on Friday night, taking 3 of the 4 Senior Shootout races in 2015, a pretty tough feat, considering the level of competition each race for that class. The only win that eluded Linsell was Camden, Ohio where Jacob Heavlow added to his impressive 2015 win total. Linsell also did quite a bit of racing on the WKA VEGA/TSRacing National Road Race Series this past year as well, spreading him pretty thin.
2015 marked a bittersweet season for Paul Headley. With the ever-changing landscape of karting, the run for the Animal Methanol classes came to an end this year, as the LO206 and Pro Gas Classes enjoy their time in the spotlight.
Headley reeled off an impressive 9 wins between the Animal Medium and Animal Heavy Mix classes, fending off the efforts most weekends of Jim Lipari, Cayla Chapman, and Josh Stiefel. Taking 3 of 4 wins at Jacksonville, Headley also scored wins at every other track on the tour this season, thus placing his name in the record books as the last Animal Methanol winner in the Gold Cup, as well as 2 titles. Headley topped Lipari, Chapman, Stevie Roberts, and Jacob Heavlow in Animal Medium, while besting Stiefel, Case Hall, Joey Miller, and Connor Tebbe in the Animal Heavy Mix class.
And with that, the 2015 season for the RLV Tuned Exhaust Products Gold Cup Series is in the books. Our thanks to Art and Rod Verliengre of RLV for their wonderful title sponsorship.
Special thanks to Kyle Luttrell and Ionic Edge Chassis for their sponsorship of the Jacksonville event, Rob Smith and Kart City Performance for sponsoring the June Kershaw nationals, Jerry Cole and Michigan Kart Supply for the top billing of the Camden event, and to Dave and Sue Koehler of GT Machine for once again sponsoring the Grand National event in Barnesville, Georgia.
Special thanks also to the entire North Florida Kart Club, David Watkins and the crew at Carolina Motorsports Park, Gary and Elaine Gregg at G and J Kartway in Camden, Ohio, and Bob Barthelemy and the entire GSKA crew at Lamar County Speedway in Barnesville, Georgia for their hospitality.
Thanks to Tyler Sandmeyer Racing, Razor Chassis, Coyote Motorsports, Van K Wheels, Miller Welders, Thor Oil, Briggs and Stratton Racing, and Brads Heating and Cooling for their Class Sponsorships this season. Thanks to Steve Baker of Baker Racing Engines for the Contingency Program for all the competitors this season, and to Brad Farmer of Brads Heating and Cooling for extending his sponsorship dollars out and funding the Friday Night Shootout Races for the Sportsman and Junior Pro Gas drivers, making it a great start to the weekend.
And congrats once again to Tommy Triplett and Bandit Racing Chassis for winning one of the tightest battle in Manufacturers Championship competition, edging Razor Chassis by 4 wins 26-22, for the winningest chassis in the Gold Cup this season. The balance of the standings were:
Ionic Edge: 5
Tommy, along with the rest of the champions, top ten drivers, and many other special recipients of awards will be honored for their 2015 efforts at the annual awards presentation, which is currently being finalized at this moment.
While the awards and merchandise package is currently being assembled, one of the many special offers comes from Kyle Luttrell and Ionic Edge Chassis, as any and all class champions, no matter what chassis they were on this season, will receive a $500 certificate towards a new Ionic Edge Chassis.
As part of the Contingency program this past season, Ionic Edge offered a $250 certificate for the purchase of a new Ionic Edge Chassis, or $75 for the race winners this year, as well as a $150 certificate to the 2nd place finisher, or $50, provided they displayed 3 sponsor stickers on their karts this year.
Plans for the 2016 season are shaping up nicely, with the first 2 events slated for April and June respectively at 103rd Street Sports Complex in Florida and Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina. The third date is getting the finishing touches placed on it, with the fourth and final venue and date right behind it. Announcements on the complete 2016 Schedule will be out soon.
On behalf of the World Karting Association, our sincerest thanks to everyone for an incredibly enjoyable and successful season. We wish you all the safest and happiest of holiday seasons!!!!