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Get To Know

Get to Know WKA Team Member: Jake Tretow

CONCORD, NC -  If you race in the Manufacturer's Cup or Winter Cup you definitely should be able to recognize Jake Tretow.  Jake flags the start/finish line and is probably one of the best flaggers let alone one of the biggest racing fans out there.  Jake grew up racing karts on the paved oval courses and now is a legends car racer.  He loves being at the races, watching all the battles and enjoys the jokes and camaraderie that comes with being apart of the WKA race staff. Read more about Jake, his racing and flagging life below in this interview:

How many years have you been in the racing world?

"18 years, since 1999."

Have you ever raced? If so, what and for how long?

"I raced WKA pavement oval from 2003-2007 and now I race legends cars."

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What made you want to work for the WKA?

"It was a great opportunity to learn more about karting and have a great time with some awesome people."

What does a day in the life look like at the WKA races?

"I'm at the start/finish line all weekend (Friday-Sunday) flagging and watching every race."

What is your favorite racing series to watch?

"Weekly short track racing is by far the best racing there is, whether it is on pavement or dirt."

What do you enjoy most about WKA races?

"The people are awesome and I enjoy watching large groups of karts battle for wins."

Which race has been your most memorable so far, and why?

"I have worked the races at Daytona for the past 3 years.  It's really cool having the Manufacturer's Cup, Road Race Series and Dirt Series all at the same place. "

 Is there anything else you’d like to share?

"Racing is the best addiction there is, but I'm a firm believer that if you are not having fun [at the races] you are in the wrong business."

Get to Know WKA Team Member: Xander Clements

WOODSTOCK, GA- If you have raced in or have come to watch a race in the WKA Manufacturer's Cup or Winter Cup, his face may not look familiar but his voice just might.  Xander Clements has been announcing in both of these WKA series for over the past year now and the race action has never been more exciting.  A fellow kart racer himself, Xander conveys the excitement of every move down the twists and turns of tracks all over the Eastern seaboard. He definitely has a voice beyond his years.  Not only does Xander announce, he is friends with many of the racers and often is a source of support and coaching.  Read more about Xander in his interview below:

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

"Woodstock, Georgia."

HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE RACING WORLD? 

"My earliest involvement in the sport takes me back to before I can really remember. When I was really young, my parents were both still working, so my grandmother on my dad's side babysat me often. She also did the same for many of my cousins, and my older cousin Mason stored his Power Wheels monster truck at her and my grandfather's house. I really wanted to drive it, but I was way too small to reach the pedals. After constant nagging, my grandmother finally gave in. She took her walking cane and used it to press the gas gently while I steered around her driveway, and I've been hooked on the sport ever since." 

HAVE YOU EVER RACED? IF NOT, WHAT SPORTS OR HOBBIES DO YOU ENJOY?

"My parents never could afford to buy a kart and a full time mechanic, so I never got started as young as I would have liked. I was always looking up brochures and websites online of every different discipline of entry level racing I could find, though. Mini cups, Bandoleros, Legend Cars, Baby Grands, 1/4 Midgets, 1/2 Midgets, and of course, go karts. But without any mechanical background (my dad is an English major and my mom works in IT) we were still scared of jumping in and running our budget out in a few weeks by not knowing what we were doing.

The summer I turned 9, the local indoor karting track began hosting weekly camps. $199 for five days from 9-5 of non-stop racing, arcade games, coaching, lunch, and hanging with other 8-12 year olds. We did a ton of these weekly sessions, and when I was able to convince the promoter of the track's adult league to open a junior division, I finally got my start. 

I ran three seasons, placing 2nd in Junior Semi-Pro the first season, winning 11 of 12 races and the championship in the season, and then winning the championship in Junior Pro in my final season. 

After that, we took a break from the indoor league as we had reached the top, and began to save up. About a year later, we took a trip down to Barnesville, GA, to watch the club races at Lamar County Speedway. We found a friend from the indoor league racing there, and that was the one connection my parents needed to get involved in the sport with confidence. We bought our first kart a few weeks later.

I eventually graduated from that club after a year and a half and raced my first few national races in 2014, beginning with WKA Daytona KartWeek. In 2015 and 2016, we couldn't afford to race as much and only made one national, but this year I am racing at least five events and possibly more."

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK FOR THE WKA? 

"Well, when I began racing at Barnesville, I asked one the club's board members if I could announce the races I wasn't driving in. Since we had no announcer at the time, he gave me a shot, and I announced every club race there ever since. When WKA Gold Cup returned to the track in 2015, Steve Roberts of Roberts Kart Shop referred Buddy to me to call the action. He even offered to cover my pay for the weekend because he believed that Buddy and everyone would like my announcing so much they'd pay him back in full.

Long story short, the weekend was a success, and when Buddy asked me if I was available for Daytona, I was over the moon. I ended up getting to announce the entire Winter Cup and Manufacturer's Cup seasons for 2016, and am getting to do it all over again this year!"

WHAT DOES A DAY WORKING FOR WKA LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

"While I don't work in the physical offices, my day normally begins with picking up my announcing binder that Buddy prepares for me for each race. I make a few announcements in the morning to let everyone know our plans for the day, and if we have a wireless mic at the track, wander through the paddock to say hi and welcome all of our racers. 

I really enjoy getting to connect with the drivers and their families at the track, and in most cases I get to do that. However, once qualifying gets under way, I am 100% focused on announcing everything on track until we throw the checkered flag on the last race of the day. After that, I normally wander around again to say hi with any racers I didn't get the chance to talk to yet in the weekend."

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RACING SERIES TO WATCH? 

"Karting is by far the most exciting form of motorsport. In karting, it's a rarity to watch a single driver pull away to an easy victory, but in car racing, it's a rarity to watch a pack of drivers battle for the win on the closing laps."

With that said, I'd have to say either Australian V8 Supercars or NASCAR when it goes to road courses. Both put on a fantastic show."

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WKA RACES?

"I really enjoy practice being able to spend time throughout the weekend meeting and speaking with all of our racers. Karting is an amazing community of people, and seeing the smiles on parents faces when they hear their kid's name over the PA system is simply priceless."

WHICH RACE HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE SO FAR?

"That would easily be the first Daytona KartWeek I announced, at the beginning of the 2016 season. Working out of a hot and humid trailer with the windows open let in the roar of nearly 250 entries every time they opened up the throttle down the front stretch. I wore my voice out that weekend by being so excited to be calling the action. 

I also got to meet and make friendships with some pretty amazing people! Rob Howden was working the EKN broadcast that weekend, and he has since become a great mentor of mine. Chris Wheeler has also helped me a ton as he is a great announcer in his own right, and I consider him a good friend as well. There are a ton of other amazing people I got to meet that weekend - far too many to name."

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

"I just want to thank everyone at my WKA home track in Barnesville, GA for always supporting me. Without all of them, I wouldn't have been able to get any of the opportunities I'm enjoying right now. Karting is filled up with great people, and I hope that I can make a quarter of an impact on someone that the GSKA group made on me."

Get To Know WKA Team Member: Erik Graham

JACKSON, NJ- If you race in the WKA Manufacturer's Cup but you have never had the joy of meeting one of our officials, Erik Graham, you are definitely missing out.  Erik is not only an official, but a racer who has experience in driving legends cars, factory stock cars and karts.  He has a great sense of humor and is not afraid to join in on jokes with our younger racers. More than anything, he enjoys being apart of developing the future race car drivers of the world. Read more about Erik in his interview below:

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

"I am from Jackson, NJ. If you draw a line between New York City and Philadelphia you will find Jackson in the middle."

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HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE RACING WORLD? 

"Pretty much my whole life. My first memories are of my home track (Wall Stadium) and racing. When I was a child my Uncle ran in the Demo Derbies that were a very big deal back then. So my Saturday's were spent with my Grandmother at the races and my Sunday's would involve my whole family supporting my Uncle." 

HAVE YOU EVER RACED? IF NOT, WHAT SPORTS OR HOBBIES DO YOU ENJOY?

"Yes! I actually started out in karts at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. After doing that for a few seasons I was able to accomplish a life long dream and race stock cars (Legends and Factory Stocks) at Wall Stadium. After racing for a while I became a Karting official, then a Stock Car official. I'll get more into how that came to be later. As far as other sports, growing up the son of a sports writer I love pretty much all stick and ball sports. My favorite sports team is the Philadelphia Eagles."

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK FOR THE WKA? 

"Once I left karting to race stock cars I found myself at the kart track on Sundays anyway. You meet so many amazing people in karting I couldn't stay away. One day on a whim I asked John Ferris (Race Director / Promoter at Englishtown) if he needed any help on the track. He gave me my first opportunity as a race official and I fell in love with it. Having many years in management under my belt after a season I was directing club races. Later on, I was asked to direct the New Jersey Sprint Series. I also became the Assistant Race Director at Wall Stadium after I retired from behind the wheel in 2013. In early 2016 I was given the honor of becoming a co-director for the WKA Manufacturers Cup. It's amazing how many great people I've met and places I have been thanks to the WKA. I couldn't ask for a better organization to work for."

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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RACING SERIES TO WATCH? 

"Working with NASCAR style modifieds, weekly of course I love the NASCAR Modified Tour. A few of our weekly competitors actually race on the tour so it's fun to watch them on TV. As far as road racing goes I love the Supercars Championship in Australia. Their races are amazing, if you have never watched I highly recommend it."

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WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WKA RACES?

"The people by far. Getting to see the country is great but the people you meet through the WKA are amazing. It's also a wonderful and humbling feeling to know I am a small part in developing the future race car drivers in the world." 

WHICH RACE HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE SO FAR?

"This has a two part answer. 

As a driver, my most memorable race was getting to race in front of my Grandmother. She wasn't doing too well when I started racing. Somehow she was up to coming to see me race one day and my Uncle was able to get her there. I was so emotional knowing she was there I actually got into a wreck. 

As an official, I think this is an easy one. By far getting to Officiate a race in Daytona was a life changing experience for me. Plus having my Cousin Sam (also a WKA official) there was the icing on the cake. It's crazy how far I've come after just asking John if he wanted some help at the track one day. I can't thank the WKA enough for the opportunity."