While the 2016 season opener for the Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup season is less than 6 weeks away in Daytona, there is just enough time to pause and relive the 2015 season that led to a pair of multiple champions, in what turned out to be one of the most enjoyable seasons for competitors in recent history. Heading the list of champions this season was Ohio driver Jason Welage, taking home 3 titles, one of those in the all new, and most popular IAME sponsored Swift Cup class. Unfortunately, the designation of the Swift Cup class as Local Option prevents Welage from claiming one of the most prestigious awards in karting, the Triple Crown. However, many were pleasantly surprised that the Swift Cup class not only came out of the gate quickly at the second event at Go Pro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina, but eventually turned into one of the Must See events each weekend on the Mfg Cup Series. So while 2 national titles and a Local Option title went into Welage’s record book this year, the popularity and strength of the Swift Cup class clearly allows Welage to be safe in the knowledge that 3 very tough titles were indeed earned.
In addition to Welage’s Swift Cup championship, the Ohioan also claimed the Comet Kart Sales Yamaha Sportsman and DRT Racing Pro TaG Sportsman titles as well.
Joining Welage as a multiple champion was Alexander Kardashian, taking the Tillotson Pro X30 and HYTORC of Texas Pro Leopard Senior titles, making these 2 drivers the only multiple champions in 2015. Other champions included:
Dakota Pesek: Zero Error Racing Yamaha Senior Pipe
Brandon Lemke: KARTSPORT North America Pro IAME Junior
John Paul Southern Jr: Woltjer Racing Engines Yamaha Junior
Donald Whorton II: New Jersey Sprint Series Yamaha Rookie
Benjamin Maier: CRP Racing Kid Karts
With the Swift Cup class not cranking up until the series second event at Go Pro Motorplex, the battle for the title was even harder to claim, with Pauly Massimino and Welage splitting the wins down the middle at 2 apiece. However, consistency would play a key role in this class, with Welage able to maintain solid runs throughout the season, netting him the title. Connor Ferris was also able to maintain a consistent season, coming home second in the standings, pinned in between the 2 winners, with Massimino third, followed by Tyler Ferris and Luca Mars. Rounding out the top 10 were Owen Mahle, Eli Trull, Annie Rhule, Robert Noaker III, and Caleb Bacon.
Massimino would return as a threat in several more classes, including the Comet Kart Sales Yamaha Sportsman Class, being 1 of 4 different winners in this class for the year. And once again, consistency would play the key role, as Welage took the title, all without aid of a win. With Massimino, Aiden Harrington, and Gage Rodgers scoring wins in this class, Robert Noaker III would become the only repeat winner, taking wins at New Castle and Pittsburgh. However, with Noaker missing the series third event in Wisconsin, his title hopes were dashed. So again, a steady and most consistent Welage took another title. Noaker came home second in the standings, with Massimino, Rogers, and Tyler Ferris completing the top 5. Rounding out the top 10 were Madison Campeau, Joshua Warren, Thomas Schrage, Kaden Wharff, and Emil Schluz.
The third time was again the charm for Welage, securing the title in the DRT Racing Pro TaG Sportsman class, taking 2 of the 5 wins on the season. The steadiness of Luca Mars finally paid off at New Castle, as the young driver checked in for his lone win of the season, netting him the runnerup honors in the series standings. Noaker came home third, with Connor Ferris and Pauly Massimino completing the top 5. Rounding out the top 10 were Madison Campeau, Gage Rodgers, Kaden Wharff, Thomas Schrage, and Caleb Bacon.
Switching to Senior action, Kardashian took the first of his 2 titles in the HYTORC of Texas Pro Leopard Senior class. Kardashian remained patient and consistent throughout the season, as Dustin Stross, Jacob Donald, Andrick Zeen, and Derek Dignan all claimed wins. But Kardashian saved the best for last, taking the win, and subsequent title at Pittsburgh. Dignan came home second in the series final rundown with Zeen, Olivia Horn, and Austin Osborne rounding out the top 5.
While Kardashian went without a win in the Tillotson ProX30 Senior Class, consistency again paid off, as the young driver laid claim to his second title of the year, again besting Derek Dignan, with Dustin Stross, Andrick Zeen, Abby McLaughlin, and Olivia Horn completing the top 6.
They say it only take 2 karts to make a race. And in the Zero Error Racing Yamaha Senior Pipe class, the statement was spot on, with Dakota Pesek and Derek Hughes enjoying some great battles this year, with Pesek claiming 4 of the 5 wins, the other going to TJ Koyen in Wisconsin. Hughes finished second in the standings with Tony Peterson coming home in third. The class will change over to a Yamaha Senior Can class in 2016, a move many view as most popular for the new year.
In Junior competition, Brandon Lemke was clearly on top of his game in the KARTSPORT North America Pro IAME Junior class. After Zach Holden reeled off wins at Daytona and Go Pro, Lemke slammed the door shut on victory lane, taking the remaining 3 events, as well as the title. Holden would finish second, followed by John Paul Southern Jr, Jack Miller, and Geo Bromante. Top ten were made up by Alex Bertagnoli, Leonardo Stoia, David Malukas, Michael Cruz, and Scott Beyer.
Southern would not be shut out of champions circle, as he claimed the Woltjer Racing Engines Yamaha Junior title, with Zach Holden and Brandon Lemke again the chief Rivals to Southern in the class. Lemke appeared headed for another title, after taking 3 of the 5 wins in the class at Daytona, New Castle, and Pittsburgh. Bromante took the win at Go Pro, while Southern claimed his loan win of the season in Dousman, Wisconsin. Holden’s consistency netted him second in the standings with Lemke, Marina Walters, and Drew Lindley the top 5. Bromante came home 6th overall, with Ariana Gnad, Austin Schulz, Brody Warren, and David Malukas completing the top 10.
In the New Jersey Sprint Series Yamaha Rookie Class, Donald Whorton II had a bookend season of victories, taking the wins at the season opener at Daytona, as well as the finale in Pittsburgh, good enough to claim a solid title over Nick Snell, while Owen Mahle, Lucas Smalec, and Eli Trull completed the top 5. Top ten were made up of J.Elliott Cox, Riley Erickson, Nicholas Terlecki, Annie Rhule, and Isaac Beekman.
Last, but certainly not least were the always exciting CRP Racing Kid Karts as Benjamin Maier came away with the title. While title chasers Adam Brickley and Caleb Gafrarar claimed the Daytona and Go Pro wins, Maier would reel off 3 straight to take the title in yet another most competitive class. Brickley and Gafrarar would make up the top 3, while Sofia D’Arrigo and Danny Dyszelski IV completed the top 5. Rounding out the top 10 were Sam Corry, Austin Olds, Ava Dutton, Aubrey Adams , and Hoyt Mohr.
The champions, as well as top 10 finishers, and many other most worthy recipients of special awards will be recognized at the series annual awards presentation December 27 at the Daytona Beach Resort and Spa, same location as last year. The Mfg Cup Banquet will be the only banquet this year at Daytona, as the Road Race Series awards banquet will be held later at another location. Be sure and make your reservations now for the season ending awards presentation. Information can be obtained by viewing the Daytona Mfg Cup Entry blank online, or by contacting Marie Borsuk at World Karting at (704) 455-1606, EXTENSION 111, or reaching her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2016 schedule is pretty well set with dates and venues for the series first 4 events in place. The final venue is New Castle, with the final date in September to be finalized shortly.
Here is a look at the 2016 National Schedule for Mfg Cup:
Dec 28-30: Daytona
April 1-3: Go Pro Motorplex, North Carolina
July 15-17: New Castle Motorsports Park
Aug 19-21: Pittsburgh International Race Complex
Sept: New Castle Motorsports Park. Date to be determined shortly.
On behalf of the World Karting Association, special thanks out to Kevin Hunley and Bridgestone for their title sponsorship of the series for another year. Thanks to all of our race sponsors, Margay Racing Products, IAME USA, McLaughlin Motorsports, and Top Kart USA. Thanks to all of our class sponsors mentioned earlier, including Streeter Super Stands, the sponsor of the Fast Time Awards this year.
And thanks to all the champions, drivers, sponsors, crewmembers, fans, Moms and Dads, Grandparents, and all the many fine people who helped make this years edition of the Bridgestone Manufacturers Cup Series most enjoyable.
We wish you the very best of the Holiday Season. And we will see you in Daytona!!!!!!