Vega Road Race Series: Kartweek Turns 48 at DIS

Written by Jennifer Henry of Fade to Black Photography


Go-kart racing is a fun and thrilling motorsport. Taking part in racing leagues and performing at the top level takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Karting is also a family sport and for many racers Kartweek takes their family to the mecca of all racing, Daytona International Speedway.  With this year being the 48th year that go karts have raced on the highbanks, WKA and Daytona International Speedway decided to collaborate together and honor one specific driver, Randy Fulks. Not only was his kart going to be displayed in the Motorsports Hall of Fame, he also was presented with a “Mr. Daytona” trophy, which would also be displayed with the kart in the museum.

According to WKA president Kevin Williams, “We wanted to display the accomplishments of the driver as well as the karts that are current now compared to what you’ve seen in history.  We wanted to applaud the efforts of a grassroots driver, who has done so good here at Daytona”.

In 1974 they held the very first go kart race in which Randy attended but it wasn’t until 1980 that he won his first 2 races there. That year he won both B Open and C Open.  Over the years he has won 59 races at the speedway, more than any other racer on record. 

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is an honor.  But without my family it wouldn’t be possible.   I also want to thank all the people over the years who have helped me and believed in me.   No way could this honor be possible without my family and the support of my friends.   I may be honored but everyone should feel this honor” states Randy.  

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

With almost 100 karts taking the grid for race 1 on Wednesday, we were bound to see some great racing from these drivers.  Unfortunately, after having 2 red flags on the 1st lap of each start, the officials made the call and decided to move the Animal Sprint 390 class to a different race, hoping this would help avoid another red flag.  On the 3rd start we finally had a green track and the race to the checkered flag began.  In the CIK LO206 Sprint group, Jonathan Miller, Kevin Darling, Bill Gerland and Doug Kittleson were able to get hooked and start a run through the field.  Within a couple of laps this group had made their way to the front of the pack and started their run for the checkered flag.  Sadly, they lost Doug Kittleson halfway through and with 2 laps to go they also lost Kevin Darling, which left Jonathan and Bill to fight it out on the last lap.  In the end Jonathan Miller took the checkered flag and secure the first of two wins here at KartWeek.

“This was my third year in WKA and my third-year racing altogether and it was one of my better experiences here with WKA”, stated Jonathan Miller.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

On day 2 in the CIK LO206 Sprint class, 33 drivers lined up to see who would take home the 1st place trophy.  With a better start than on day 1, the karters were able to keep the track green.  The whole race was a hammer down battle between a group of 4 karters, Tod Miller, Scott Heath, Daniel Armstrong, and Jonathan Miller.  This group of karters fought tooth and nail for the majority of the race. Swapping positions until it came down to the final lap.  On the last lap Tod Miller was riding third place going down the backstretch and with help Daniel Armstrong was finally able to pass Scott Heath coming off turn 4 of the big track to secure the win!

“It was the first time I ever drove a CIK LO206 kart! I want to thank Scott Heath for giving me the opportunity to drive his kart.  Daniel Armstrong and John Miller for the drafting help, it was definitely a team effort to win! Probably the most fun I had racing in a long time will probably do it again soon”, says Tod Miller!

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

With Animal Sprint 390 being moved from the 1st race to the 2nd race many of the 20+ drivers were anxious to hit the track.  At the drop of the green flag the pack of drivers kept the field tight on the first lap with 10 of them running together coming down the front straightaway with Joe Adler leading the way.  Eventually the front packed was thinned down to a group of 4, Joe Adler, Zach Linsell, Rob Garland and Jon Tedder.  With only 2 laps to go the new leader Zach Linsell blew an engine, then 2nd place Joe Adler dropped out with 1 to go. In the end Jonathan Tedder was able to hang on to take the checkered flag.

According to Jon, “I was just lucky my 4-cycle central powered Bandit kart was able to outlast the competition”.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

On day 2, the Animal Sprint 390 class also brought 20+ drivers to the grid.  With all the drivers hoping for a clean start their wish was granted and they were able to go green for the last race of the weekend.  Leading the way once again was driver, Zach Linsell with Marty McLaughlin, and Rob Garland close behind.  A second pack which consisted of Joe Adler, Chris Agena, Mike Odell, Hank Hefner, and Jon Tedder followed close behind. On the next lap Rob Garland had taken over the lead with Chris, Marty, Jon, and Joe hot on his trail. With only a few laps to go Chris Agena had overtaken the lead spot from Rob Garland with Joe Adler picking off a few karts in the infield eventually making his way back to the front. Joe Adler was able to take the lead position from Chris Agena and hold him off the last few laps to secure the checkered flag.

“The week was great as this was my first time at Daytona. It was great weather and a nice break from the Wisconsin cold. The rush of running such a monumental track was the best part along with making the week a great family and friend vacation, which is what karting is really all about”.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

The IAME Sprint class was definitely a family affair during Daytona Kartweek this year.  With the class bringing 25 karts to the fight the Brown brothers were going to have their hands full trying to secure the win. Leading the 1st lap was Jason Lorang setting the pace followed by John Brown, Keith Scharf, Dennis Whittaker, and Jamey Brown.  After a few laps in Jason, John and Jamey were able to break away from the group and hold steady for most of the race.  With Jason Lorang holding the lead John and Jamey battled back and forth between 2nd and 3rd just buying their time hoping Jason would make a mistake.  Unfortunately, Jason got stuck behind a kart from another class and John was able to pull alongside him for the pass and the win with brother Jamey taking second. 

“It’s one of the best race weeks I can remember in the last 5 or so years. Great weather, big entry #’s, and Robby’s crew really ran a smooth/racer friendly operation all week. Love Daytona every year. It’s a “can’t miss” event” says John Brown!

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

IAME Sprint brought a few less karts on Thursday but nonetheless these drivers gave it their all to try and bring home the 1st place trophy.  Right out of the gate the lead lap was led by Blane Aarup with Wednesday’s leaders bringing up the rear of the lead pack.  After some good drafting Jason Lorang, Jamey and John Brown along with Keith Scharf, were able to get through the traffic and to the front of the pack. As the laps wound down Jason Lorang and Jamey Brown would swap the lead position a few times.  Coming down the front straightaway Jamey Brown was able to pull off a pass around leader Jason Lorang to take the checkered flag.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

With this year’s Yamaha Sr. class bringing 30 karts to the grid, many were looking to the newly named “Mr. Daytona” aka Randy Fulks, who was looking to bring home his 60th win here at Daytona.  Would he be the one to take the checkered flag or would another one of the other many drivers in this class beat him to the finish line.  Coming around to the green flag Mr. Daytona led the charge with brother Rick Fulks, Patrick Olsen and Jason Lorang close behind.  After the first few laps the lead pack consisted of Collin Jedrzejek, Jason Lorang, Patrick Olsen, Randy and Rick Fulks. The racing continued to be very close but with everyone respecting each other’s space.  As each lap passed everyone in the lead pack took turns leading as well as falling to the back of the pack. As time wound down, Randy Fulks ended up having a belt-drive issue that caused him to pull in with 2 laps to go. On the last lap Rick Fulks exited the road course in second place, as they came out of Nascar 2 Rick Fulks was able to get by Jason Lorang and hold onto the lead to take the checkered flag.

“Our team, our supporters and everyone who has helped us along the way know how much they contribute to our success. But I want to take a moment to thank WKA. Without their commitment to the sport, racing karts on the high banks at Daytona International Speedway would just be a dream instead of a reality for thousands of racers over the past 48 years. Thank you WKA”, states Rick.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

With Randy Fulks not able to secure his 60th win on day 1 in Yamaha Sr, many were wondering if day 2 would be the race that secured that win.  Coming around on the opening lap it was once again Patrick Olsen, Collin Jedrezjek, Rick Fulks, Jason Lorang, and Randy Fulks leading the charge.  After a few laps in, the lead pack slimmed down to only 3 drivers, Colin, Patrick and Rick Fulks with Randy and Jason falling behind.  With Patrick and Colin both a little faster than the day before would Rick Fulks have enough power to take the win? With this race looking very similar to the previous race, positions changed with every turn. On the last lap, Rick Fulks found himself in the lead on the backstretch.  He stayed low and decided that if Patrick and Colin didn’t draft by him in Nascar 3, he was going to drop to the apron in 3 & 4. Nobody came by so…apron it was. He left room on the inside and in which Patrick to full advantage and made the pass. Rick jumped in his draft and was able to get enough of a tow to make a run and beat him to the bottom coming to the tri-oval. They crossed the line side-by-side but Rick was able to take the win with 0.076 seconds between them.

According to Rick, “The highlight of the week was Randy being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. As racers its cool to be recognized by the organization, but when the World Center of Speed – The Daytona International Speedway recognizes you as the winningest driver in the history of this hallowed ground, and to top it off they officially nickname you after the place…. well, that’s an honor that is yours (Randy’s) forever. Much deserved., proud of you Mr. Daytona”.

CIK LO206 Medium brought in almost 20 drivers looking to take home the 1st place trophy on Wednesday.  Who would have what it takes to win here at Daytona International Speedway?  Bill Gerland, Jon Miller, and Doug Kittleson were able to get through the first couple turns free from all of the traffic and break away from the pack.  After a couple laps Jon Miller was able to dive under Bill Gerland in the infield and take the lead, all the while Doug Kittleson kept the draft and let those two duke it out. After a couple more laps Bill Gerland got loose in the infield which allowed Doug Kittleson to jump into second place and draft with Jon Miller.  During this time their spotter (Alan Darling) was keeping them updated on where the next pack of karts were, and how much time was left in the race. With two minutes left, Doug continued to draft behind Jon Miller.  As they got closer to the flag Doug pulled out and did a side draft which pulled Jon Miller back a bit and he was able to get past him.  Doug Kittleson held onto the lead for the last lap fending off Jon Miller at every turn.  Doug had just enough left to take the checkered flag and win his first Daytona race.

“The weather was perfect, and I was able to see a lot of friends from all across the country that came into race at this special place.  The WKA officials did a great job on keeping the event on schedule and working with everyone to still get some racing in when an unfortunate red flag occurred”. 

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

Thursday’s CIK LO206 Medium race brought the same players to grid with many hoping to take the win.  Right out of the gate a group of drivers that consisted of Scott Heath, Jon Miller, Daniel Armstrong, Bill Gerland and Doug Kittleson were able to hook up and work their way to the front.  Unfortunately, the pack lost Bill after a couple of laps in the infield and then Doug Kittleson dropped out.  Daniel Armstrong took the lead with Jon Miller and Scott Heath close behind.  This pace continued for the majority of the race.  Then on the last lap Jon Miller was able to set himself up and make a run for the lead, which led him to the checkered flag and the win at Daytona.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

The TaG Heavy class was another class that brought the numbers to Daytona.  With over 30+ racers on the grid it was anybody’s guess as to who would take home the win.  Coming around on the 1st lap veteran racer Jason Lorang led the charge with John Adams, Blane Aarup, and John Bryant close behind.  Jason definitely set the pace for this race as he pulled away from the lead pack and never looked back.  He continued his run which eventually led to him taking the checkered flag with more than a lap between him and 2nd place winner, Brandon Rodriguez. 

“My crew really nailed the setup and we set the pace for the win. Weather was amazing and Drew Hockenson, Austin Miles and Tipton Evans were instrumental in preparing karts and getting faster every session”, says Jason!

Day 2’s TaG Heavy race brought back most of the same players from the previous day.  Would Jason Lorang be able to pull off another win or would someone else be able to take home the win?  Heading down the front straightway on the 1st lap found Gary Sircy leading the pack with Arian Brady close behind.    Jason Lorang was in fast pursuit of the leaders even after starting in the back of the grid.  With 3 laps down Jason Lorang once again found himself in the lead hoping to secure that checkered flag. Not far behind a pack of 4 racers, Brandon Rodriguez, Blane Aarup, John Adams, and John Morris had hooked up hoping to catch the leader.  As time dwindled down Jason Lorang kept the lead position as the group behind him got held up in lap traffic. With only a few laps to go in the TaG Heavy race Jason was definitely feeling the pressure as the pack of 4 were in striking distance, but lucky for him it was not enough, and he was able to take the win once again.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

Race 6 on Wednesday brought an impressive number of racers to the grid. The CIK Lo206 Sprint Heavy class brought 15+ drivers, each hoping that this would be their day to take home the 1st place trophy.  Leading the way on the 1st lap was Kevin Darling and Jame Russell.  Not far behind were the boys in blue, Stephen Gibson, Craig McNeese, and Joel Negus.  But it didn’t take long for these boys to take over the lead pack and run away from the rest of the group.  They were able to keep the pace and take the podium positions of 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

“I want to thank Gary Lawson for awesome motors, & Legend racing chassis for a kart that can still win despite being 25 years old.  Road racing at Daytona is such a destination race for my teammates and I. We are all Midwestern guys who love the opportunity to race this exceptional event” states Stephen Gibson.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)

Thursday’s CIK Lo206 Sprint Heavy class brought even more racers to the grid with over 25 karts looking to take home the win.  Right out of the gate Scott Heath, Daniel Armstrong, Kevin Darling and Jon Miller took the lead coming onto the 1st lap.  After a couple of laps the lead group lost Daniel Armstrong but this did not hinder their pace and were able to keep going.  Not far behind the boys in blue, Stephen Gibson, Craig McNeese, and Joel Negus were slowly creeping up using the draft to close the gap.  With only a few laps to the go Scott Heath and Kevin Darling continued to hold onto the lead.  In the end Scott Heath was able to hold off Kevin Darling to take the win in CIK LO206 Sprint Heavy.

“Racetrack is awesome, and I thought WKA did a great job. CIK is a great class and racing dirt my whole life, the road race is just a step back and have fun type of environment. My team of Jon Miller, Tod Miller, Doug Kittleson including myself won every CIK 206 race the whole weekend”, states Scott.

(Photo: Jennifer Henry- Fade to Black photography)