Written by Jennifer Henry of Fade to Black Photography
With many not able to spend the holidays with family, go kart racers were ready to make their annual trip down to Daytona to spend time with their racing family. Even with Covid still lingering in the air, karters were eager to feel some normalcy by gathering and supporting their favorite pastime. One karter in particular was feeling the spirit by putting out a call to all Yamaha racers and racers in general. John Brown decided to try and get the numbers back out on the track like in the good ole days of the 80’s and 90’s. So, in mid-November he put together what he called the 50 Kart Challenge.
According to John, “this was something that he had thought about for the last couple of years and finally decided to try and make it happen. I don’t think that there’s any question that most racers want to be a part of something like this. We just needed something to unite the group, hence the 50 Kart Challenge. Now we just need to make it a traveling road show at tracks like Charlotte, Mid-Ohio and Pittsburgh.”
Not only did John succeed in his mission of 50 karts but topped that number with 64 karts on the grid on race day 1. Along with an impressive number of drivers signed up to take on the challenge, John also received a remarkable amount of sponsors that not only donated cash but a ton of prizes for varies positions and accomplishments throughout the race.
The first race of the weekend is a class that has been bringing big numbers to various tracks across the country. The CIK LO206 Sprint class brought 54 racers to the grid on Tuesday ready to battle for the checkered flag. Coming around the 1st lap Kevin Colburn was leading the pack, but would he have what it takes to hang on to the lead. Unfortunately, he would not as karter Zach Linsell would make his way thru the group finding himself a few drafting partners which put him in a position to make his way to the front. Zach was then able to find his way to Paul Rice, who was able to work the strategy with him to fend off a 3-4 kart pack that kept getting to them on the backstretch. In the end Zach was able to take the lead and win the race with less than 1 second between him and Paul Rice.
“Overall, it was an awesome win, as is any win at Daytona. I can’t thank Paul and April Rice at MGM Chassis enough for the great kart, equipment, and support. You need a really good program to win there. Also have to thank my parents and fiancée, Bridget, for the support they give me on and off the track.”
Wednesday’s CIK LO206 Sprint race again brought out over 40+ drivers looking for the win. With Kevin Colburn starting on the pole, would he be able to hang onto the lead in this race? Coming onto the front straightaway on the lap 1, Kyle Banovetz was in 1st while, Kevin Colburn along with teammate Zach Linsell held the 2nd and 3rd positions. This pace continued for the majority of the race until there were only 2 laps left, when Kevin and Zach made their move over Kyle to take the lead and also the checkered flag.
“We love Daytona and have been going there since 1984… the track is still in great shape and WKA always does a wonderful job! We are grateful every year to make it back down for kart week,” says Kevin Colburn.
The second race of the day was the IAME Sprint class which brought 25 karts to the grid with many seasoned veterans looking for the win. By the end of the 1st lap driver Jamey Brown had made his was from 31st to leading followed by Jason Lorang, Scott Cherry and Tim Linthicum. Jamey continued to increase his lead over his fellow drivers coming away with the win and an 11 second lead over brother John Brown.
“Once out front I was able to maintain the same gap from the 2nd place group and held on for the win. Thank you to Brian Fisher and DR karts for the speed,” says Jamey.
Wednesday’s IAME race also brought out the same 25 karters looking for that elusive win at Daytona International Speedway. Right from the drop of the green flag brothers, Jamey, and John Brown along with Scott Cherry broke free from the group and continued with this pace for most of the race. With about 5 laps to go Jason Lorang made a surprise pass on the back straightway with the help of Brad Adams. Even after losing the draft John was able to hook up with Hunter Macomber to regain the lead on the last lap. As the checkered flagged waved Jason Lorang and Jamey Brown went high while Scott Cherry tucked in behind John Brown. The two-kart draft with John and Scott was just enough to hold off Jamey and Jason.
The Unlimited class always brings out quite a few racers and some of the fastest karts out there and this year’s Daytona did not disappoint nor did Brian Wilhelm, who swept the class this year with both wins. Tuesday’s race brought 10+ karts to the grid ready to battle for the checkered flag and bragging rights on some of the fastest lap times for the weekend. Right from the start a group was able to get out ahead of Brian, but he was able to chase them down in the infield before Turn 1. The rest of the race was just being consistent and not doing anything that could jeopardize his chances of winning. Brian Wilhelm took the checkered flag over Paul Gatto by more than a minute with a lap time of 1:56.078. Wednesday’s Unlimited race brought almost 20 karts ready to fight it out for the big W here at Daytona. At the drop of the green flag Paul Gatto got a killer start and had a huge lead over most of the field. By the time most drivers got to Nascar turn 2 he was almost out of sight. At this point Brian just tried to get settled in and get his lap times down to see if he could close the gap. A few laps in Brian was able to pass him coming to the line, but Paul passed Brian back before the first horseshoe. They continue this dance for several laps until Brian was able to gap him enough so that he could not regain position in the infield. Brian once again took the 1st place finish with over a minute between him and 2nd place Paul Gatto.
“So many people are involved in my program and I’d first like to thank Ian Harrison at Viper Racing UK for his motor, the Viper SK250S. This motor has been super reliable and crazy fast, and Ian’s support is absolutely second to none! The next thank you is to the crew at Hegar 4 Products for their sprag hub and years of support. I have ran a sprag EVERY race since 1999 and I can’t imagine going racing without one. Another constant is the Rev-Clean Racing Castor I’ve been using since 1993. I’d also like to thank Steve McGuire for the great handling Owl chassis. A big thank you Allen and Jennifer Hollinger for all their help at the track, and putting up with me,” comments Brian!
Tuesday’s race 4 was the highly anticipated race of the weekend, which was the Yamaha Senior/50 Kart Challenge. With 64 karts lined up on the grid, the action was bound to keep everyone on the pit wall waiting to see who would be leading the pack on each lap. This race not only brought out the season regulars, but it also brought many out of retirement while calling to a few of the younger generation. Jason Lorang and Chad Dokken hooked up early to take the lead on the 1st lap and held that pace for the next couple of laps. Eventually another group that consisted of Randy Fulks, Adam Trumbley, Brian Ellis, and Jamey Brown had worked to together to close the gap to get within striking distance. Sadly, Dokken ended up bailing early due to mechanical issues as did Lorang a few laps later. The battle continued between Randy Fulks and Adam Trumbley with the lead being swapped several times. While Randy secured the lead, Jamey Brown made his way to 2nd in the final few laps of the race. But in the end, it was veteran driver Randy Fulks who took home the win over Jamey making this his 59Th win at Daytona.
Wednesday’s Yamaha Senior race was just as packed with 62 drivers gridded waiting for the green flag to drop. This too was bound to be a nail biter as to see who would come out on top after Randy Fulks pulled out the win on Tuesday’s race. Right from the start Randy Fulks came around leading the pack with Chad Dokken, Rick Fulks and Nate Grindell hot on his tail. Unfortunately, 10 minutes into the race a red flag was thrown due to rain on the track. After a 15-minute delay, the track was inspected, and the green light was given to restart the race. With the jitters out of the way many of the racers seem to settle in and find their partners that could possibly help take them to the checkered flag. Leading the way again was Chad Dokken and Nate Grindell, followed by Rick and Randy Fulks and closing the gap was Jason Lorang, Keith Freber, Patrick Olsen, and Adam Trumbley. As the racers started the last lap of the race, Rick Fulks had made his way into 2nd place behind Chad Dokken but was then passed by Patrick Olsen right before the oval. Coming out of Nascar turn 2 Rick Fulks got the jump on Patrick with the help of Randy Fulks and Nate Grindell. But with his brothers help Rick Fulks secured the other Yamaha Senior race making it a family affair.
The Tag Heavy class is always an exciting race to watch and this year 25+ drivers came out to battle to see who would come out on top. Hitting the front straightaway first was fast cat Jason Lorang followed by Paige Evans, John Brown, and Scott Cherry. Jason Lorang and Paige continued to battle for first part of the race until lap 6 when he started having motor troubles and had to retire early, by that time there was a sizable gap between Paige Evans and 2nd place, Brandon Rodriguez. Paige Evans crossed the finish line in 1st place making it the third year in a row to walk away with a win!
According to Paige Evans, “WKA puts on a great event and I’m always excited to travel to Daytona, huge thanks to my Dad and my Fiancé for wrenching on my karts and making sure nothing went wrong and thanks to Trei Smith for the super-fast Praga chassis’!”
Wednesday’s TaG Heavy race would again have a 20+ count on the grid but who would come out on top. Would it be Paige Evans, Tuesday’s Tag Heavy winner or would another racer be able to take the 1st place podium here at Daytona. Unfortunately, this race would be a fight between Jason Lorang and Paige Evans to see who would come out on top. These two battled back and forth for the whole 30-minute race with Jason Lorang keeping the lead over Paige Evans. In the end Jason Lorang was able to pull off the win with a difference of 0.013 over 2nd place.
Daytona was an overall great event, great weather and the perfect distraction from 2020,” says Jason!
This year the Margay Ignite Series was not only on the Sprint track, but many decided to try their hand on the big oval with the Road Race series. Even with a yellow flag coming out on the 1st lap, that did not stop the lead pack of Skitchy Barnes, Keith Freber, John Clark, and Tim Smith from continuing on their quest. Skitchy Barnes spent the first few laps working with Keith Freber keeping their lead from the rest of the group. Around the halfway mark Skitchy was able to link up with a couple other karts from a different class and draft away from the rest of the pack which landed him the win and a 3-minute lead over 2nd place Barry Taft.
The 2nd day of racing for the Ignite Masters class had an impressive 25 karts gridded and ready for the green flag. The whole race saw a huge pack of karts drafting together, whether it be from the Senior class or the Master’s class. For a lot of the race Tuesday’s winner Skitchy Barnes ran top 3 while Keith Freber held the lead in 1st place. Towards the end of the race there were a lot of moves and passes and coming around Nascar turn 3 with many karts gunning for the checkered flag. On the last lap Skitchy Barnes was able read the moves of the group and with the right drafting partner move to the front of the pack. He was able to secure the checkered flag over Barry Taft with only 0.2 seconds between them.
“Overall, the weekend was great, this is my 4th year in a row coming to Daytona kart week and I always enjoy it. Great racing and awesome overall event. Margay does a great job running their Ignite races and it is a great way for karters to race cheaply and easily. Daytona is such a legendary track with so much history it is awesome to get to race on it every year and it is a karters dream to get a win at a legendary place like Daytona. I’ve been lucky enough to now have 3 Daytona kart week wins,” says Barnes.
Thank you to all the karters that came out to support the event at Daytona International Speedway. Hope to see everyone at the next stop on the Vega Road Race series, which is at Roebling Road, March 5-7.
To purchase photos from the event please visit www.ftbphoto.com.