Eight drivers join lucrative ‘SKUSA Circle of Champions’ for 2016 season.
Last November’s Fikse Wheels Pro Tour SuperNationals not only highlighted the accomplishments of nine deserving winners on SuperSunday, but it also crowned Superkarts! USA’s eight national champions following five races held over three weekend events. SKUSA is proud to acknowledge and honor this year’s Fikse Wheels Pro Tour champions, who will be supported by the organization in their Pro Tour efforts in 2016 as part of the lucrative ‘Circle of Champions.’ These drivers will also be identified by their use of the prestigious yellow-on-black #1 plate. Competitors graduating up SKUSA’s internal ladder system will still have the honor of running the #1, but will use the yellow-on-white design that signals their rise up the ranks.
Superkarts! USA was able to award over $160,000 in cash and prizes for the 2015 Fikse Wheels Pro Tour program. The SpringNationals and SummerNationals shelled out roughly $12,000 each in prize money, along with over $5,000 each weekend in product from Traxxas. The SuperNationals boasted a whopping $67,000 itself in cash and prizes. Mothers Polish handed out $9,000 in product to the five podium finishers in each class. BRM provided two unique timepieces for SuperNationals race winners once again, and the rest was the cash portion which was divided among the nine categories. Another $12,000 went toward the championship prize package for the two headline categories, S1 and TaG Senior, with the champion in each earning $3,000. Honda Racing/HPD added $9,000 in contingency money for the top-three drivers in the four Stock Moto divisions, along with a brand new Honda CR125 engine for the S2 Semi-Pro champion. IAME USA provided a new engine for the four championship drivers in the TaG divisions; a Mini Swift for TaG Cadet, and X30 powerplants for the Senior, Master and Junior title winners, an incredible product total that added up to $12,000.
The final portion of the large prize package for 2015 is the lucrative SKUSA Circle of Champions. Each of the eight title winners earn a free entry into the 2016 SKUSA Pro Tour program, including entry fees, tires, fuel and oil. The top-three drivers in the championship standings in the eight classes receive the honor of carrying the Superkarts! USA championship number plates in 2016. The yellow-on-black numbers 1, 2 and 3 are reserved for the top-three finishers in the eight categories from 2015. They will either carry them in the upcoming season, or place them on the mantel if they graduate to another category, moving to the yellow-on-white plates.
Belgian driver Rick Dreezen became the third different international driver in the six-year history of the SKUSA Pro Tour to earn the S1 Pro Stock Moto championship. The 25-year-old driver with PSL Karting made his S1 debut at the SpringNationals in Phoenix, sweeping the entire weekend in Arizona to establish himself as the primary championship contender. Making the move from the BirelART chassis to the Ricciardo for the SummerNationals in Indiana, a runner-up finish in Round Three helped to make him the driver to beat entering the SuperNationals. Dreezen placed second in all three of the heat races leading up to the main event on SuperSunday, which gave him the provisional championship. Much like we witnessed last year in TaG Senior, Dreezen was involved in an opening corner wreck that ended his chance at a SuperSunday victory, but despite the DNF, the crown was in his hands and he left Las Vegas to take the championship back to Belgium. American driver Billy Musgrave locked up the vice-champion position, recording his best finish in the standings after three years at the S1 level. The Musgrave Racing Company Praga pilot won his first Pro Tour feature at Round Four and placed in the top-four in all five main events in 2015, including a fourth at the SuperNationals. Two-time champion Fritz Leesmann finished the year third in the championship chase, thanks to three runner-up finishes in the first four main events.
The chase for the TaG Senior championship went down to the wire, beginning with a possible six drivers in the hunt, with it all coming down to the SuperNationals winner Louie Pagano earning the triumph. 2 Wild Karting’s Pagano began the season with a victory at the SpringNationals opening round, earning his first major victory as a Senior driver since moving up in 2011. Missing out on the podium the remainder of the series leading up to the SuperNationals, Pagano left the door open for a number of drivers to take the crown as he sat third in the chase entering the finale. The Tony Kart driver quietly put himself in contention throughout the Las Vegas spectacular, earning valuable points toward the standings through the heat races. The wild main event on SuperSunday showed that there was no stopping the SoCal native, as Pagano scored his first-ever SuperNationals victory to clinch his first Pro Tour championship. Last year’s champ Jake Craig was among the contenders all season, thanks to his runner-up finish behind Pagano in Round One. The Formula K driver was among those in contention for the victory on SuperSunday, crossing the line third to earn the vice-champion position in the championship standings. Round Two winner Oliver Askew finished out the season third in his BirelART debut season.
S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto came down to a duel of drivers making their way up the SKUSA Stock Moto ladder system. Both Phil Giebler Racing’s Carter Williams and GP USA’s Miguel Lopez entered the SKUSA program through the S5 Junior ranks, and after a few years in S2 competition, they arrived at the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour finale as the title contenders. Williams, a double winner at the SpringNationals racing an FA Kart, held a 92-point advantage over Lopez, a GP driver who bagged two wins at the SummerNationals. The gap remained similar after the heat races in Vegas, with Lopez making a run in the main event in an attempt to leap over Williams in the standings. Lopez finished a strong seventh, but Williams battled to finish 14th and hold onto the lead position by just 17 points to secure his first Pro Tour championship. Bermuda pilot Brandon Frank used a solid SuperNationals campaign to advance himself onto the championship podium with his Leading Edge Motorsports Praga, finishing the year in third overall.
Veteran driver Jimmy McNeil was another pilot to race his way to the championship via victory on SuperSunday, clinching the S4 Master Stock Moto title. McNeil capped a three-race win streak that included a double-victory run at the SummerNationals and his third career SuperNationals triumph in Las Vegas. The SoCal driver entered the SuperNationals trailing SpringNationals sweeper Darren Elliott, setting up for the championship to be decided between the two CRG pilots. McNeil recorded top-four results in the heat races to narrow his deficit to Elliott, and the victory leapfrogged him to the top of the championship podium. Elliott would take second overall and will run the #2 plate in 2016, while Italian driver and defending Pro Tour champion Gian Cavaciuti came out with the SKUSA #3 plate for the new year with a third-place finish in the standings.
TaG Master was another duel for the championship between drivers Nick Tucker and Chris Giumarra. Tucker struck first to start the season with a double-win weekend at the SpringNationals, while Giumarra fought back to score two wins of his own at the SummerNationals in New Castle. Neither could get on the right track in Las Vegas, as both struggled to get up to speed with the rest of the sold-out field. Kart Worx’ Tucker finally emerged on SuperSunday, fighting his way forward aboard his Tony Kart to fourth in the main event, which locked in his first Pro Tour title. Giumarra ended up second to put the SKUSA #2 plate on his PCR in 2016. Phil Giebler Racing’s Vatche Tatikian posted his highest finishing position at the Pro Tour level, putting his FA Kart third on the championship podium.
In the six-year history of the SKUSA Pro Tour, there has been no closer championship battle than the one that played out in the TaG Junior division this year. Brandon Lemke and defending champion David Malukas entered Las Vegas separated by 75 points. Malukas was able to record better results throughout the weekend at the SuperNationals, putting him into contention. On SuperSunday, Malukas continued moving forward and eventually reached the fourth position, putting things in the hands of the point leader. Lemke struggled through the week but came away with the 12th position in the final classification, securing the Merlin driver the championship by a mere single point. The CompKart of Malukas relinquished the SKUSA #1 plate he put on it after his title in 2014, giving him the vice-champion position in the standings. Koene USA Tony Kart driver Zach Holden won the battle for the third position, placing runner-up in the main event at the SuperNationals.
MRC’s Callum Smith led wire-to-wire in the S5 Junior Stock Moto championship. The Praga driver swept the SpringNationals before extending his win streak to four at the SummerNationals. The S5 field was able to keep Smith off the top step of the podium at the series finale, but not from the #1 position in the championship chase for his first Pro Tour title. Hunter Kelly’s victory at the SuperNationals promoted him to second on the championship podium, making it a Praga 1-2 finish. Canadian Evan White finished the season strong, ending up third in the championship chase.
TaG Cadet went down to the wire for all three positions on the championship podium. Benik’s Lachlan DeFrancesco entered the finale as the championship leader and managed to earn enough points through the SuperNationals to claim the Fikse Wheels Pro Tour championship. The battle went down to the wire as every position counted. DeFrancesco placed ninth on SuperSunday, claiming the title by 33 points over British pilot Jonny Edgar who scored the SuperNationals victory, giving Benik a 1-2 finish in the championship. Two drivers finished tied for the third position, as Jak Crawford and Ryan Schartau recorded the same point total. The tie was broken up by the number of times one driver had beaten the other in all main events. Crawford won that battle 3-2, handing him the third position on the championship podium and the #3 plate for 2016.
The race for the 2016 SKUSA Pro Tour championship begins in just under four months with the seventh running of the SpringNationals, set once again for the Phoenix Kart Racing Association in Glendale, Arizona on April 29-May 1. The SummerNationals is ready for a second-straight trip to the popular New Castle Motorsports Park in Indiana on July 22-24. On November 16-20, the 20th annual SuperNationals at the Las Vegas Convention Center will close out the series. Planning is already underway to make this year’s SuperNationals history-making, as a number of special programs are in the works to commemorate the anniversary of the biggest sprint karting event in the world.
For more info on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com and be sure to follow the Superkarts! USA Facebook page and Twitter account – or call the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.
About Superkarts! USA:
Established in 1995, Superkarts! USA is dedicated to shifterkart and TaG racing, and is the leader in the field, promoting four regional racing series. Racing programs are currently running in Arizona, California, Canada, Hawaii, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington, in cooperation and support from official tire supplier Evinco. In 2016, the organization will be promoting the seventh edition of the SKUSA Pro Tour, which features a pair of major events in Arizona and Indiana, all leading up to the annual SKUSA SuperNationals – the biggest kart race in the world – held every November in Las Vegas, NV. For more information on SKUSA, please visit www.superkartsusa.com.