Dallas, Or June 26, 2011- Several Of the best race teams in the Northwest headed Southeast to Toole, Utah home of Miller Motorsports Park to compete in the “Daddy of all Daddy’s”, the 2011 U.S. Rotax GrandNationals July 19th -23rd. For Karting competitors this is the “Big One” the one that all serious drivers and teams want to win….In relative terms this is the Indy or Daytona 500 of Karting…the only thing bigger would be the Rotax “Worlds”….and you have to conquer the U.S, Grands and I do mean conquer before you can even think about have a shot at the worlds. Several of Oregon, Washington, and Canada’s best race teams gave the Northwest some solid representation letting it be known that we can “Turn the wheel” here in the North…
Unfortunately ProSoundAudioServices was unable to attend this years Grands, So my vision is off of my laps and putting a couple of 2’s together… So here goes….For those of you who follow one of the Northwest’s premier regional traveling Karting series the Northwest Gold Cup/RotaxMax Challenge Series, you know the kind of effort & sacrifice that the “Little Rocket” Conner Robustelli has been putting in tuning up for this event and has been a racing fiend logging in as many races in the first half of the season as most do in an entire season, the exception of course would be Boise, Idaho’s Sting Ray Robb who just might have Robustelli beat in that department & if so it’s not by much. In MicroMax qualifying 27 drivers line up to start the watches…Robustelli put his Little Rocket Racing Products WildKart in the 15th spot. However it was Oregonian Edward Portz besting the Northwest entries qualifying 14th quick, not a bad effort for the Corvallis, Oregon up and comer in his first National event…Auburn, Washington’s Conner Wick qualified his Wicked Fabracation WildKart entry 25th. In the Pre-Final Robustelli lead the way finishing 12th and Portz finishing one back from where he qualified in the 15th spot..Conner Wick picked up a couple spots finishing 23rd…In the MicroMax finale once again it was the hard charging Robustelli picking up 7 tough spots to finish in 8th…for Portz qualifying would be his best number as he once again finished in the 15th spot and Wick piloted his Wicked Fab machine to the 19th slot. Young gun Phil Varner took the checkers and the National Championship. MICROMAX: 1. Phil Varner. 2. Neil Verhagen 3.David Malukas 4. Anthony Gangi Jr. 5. Mathias Ramirez FT: Justin Sigany 66.616 (1:06.616)
40 was the number in MiniMax and it was Christian Brooks putting his MiniMaxer on the pole with a 61.905 lap. Devlin DeFrancesco Joined Brooks on the front row .197 off at a 62.102. You want competitive?…You got it…from 2nd quick to 20th it was a total .882 of a second!… are you kidding me right now?, that is hard to wrap your head around let alone try to drive around!…NW standout Sting Ray Robb was the best of the N.W. entries putting up a 62.643 in his Red Apple, BBR racing Wildkart which was good for 11th…Auburn, Washington’s “Wicked Quick Slick” Kyle WIck put his Wicked fabrication WildKart entry in the 20th spot going 62.984…Wick was the last of the entries in the 62 second bracket…and was “Slickity Quick” in the Pre-Final wheeling his way to a 10th place finish….there is no doubt Wick has what it takes…Robb on the other hand got into trouble on lap 2 and had to DRIVE his way back to a 32nd place finish..bent spindle, tie rod, “Toeliosis” and all…Tuner Blake Choquer has Robb and his wheels working like a well oiled machine…7 mph off the rest of the field was how far off pace Robb was and that was just SPEED, not track position…Please tell me how you run down the tail end of the field, catch and pass 2 and finish 32nd?…You can ROLL that’s how!…In the finale it was “Slickity Quick” Kyle Wick almost deja-vu’ing his Pre-Final missing it by one spot finishing an impressive 11th….Robb was still working on re-finding the handle in his Red Apple/BBR racing entry and salvaged a 20th place finish…Interesting note, the finishing order of the final for Wick and Robb was exactly the same as they qualified with the rolls reveresed…Good to see the two drivers back to form after the pair had an “Unplanned Meeting” on the last lap in a Northwest Gold Cup/RotaxMax Challenge Series event a couple of weeks earlier. Polesitter Christian Brooks went on to win the final to take home the GrandNational Championship. MINIMAX- 1. Christian Brooks 2. Kyle Kirkwood 3. Logan Sargeant 4. Austin Versteeg 5.Thomas Issa FT- Brooks 61.905 (1:01.905)
It didn’t get any easier or less competitive moving on to DD2/DD2 Masters..It was Washingtonian Derek Wang nabbing the pole and Bronson Eggart along side….Female Phenom Kristina Vorndran was on the inside of row 2 her counterpart was TJ Fisher…rounding out the top 5 in qualifying was Andrew Louge….Give Heat one to Polesitter Wang…Vorndran gets by Eggert and finishes 2nd…Who’s in third?…Oh yeah, it’s 6th quick Nathaniel Mauel, TJ Fischer 4th and former front row seat holder Bronson Eggert 5th…..Heat two…give it again to Wang…Eggert decides he didn’t like the view from back there in 5th and drives up and takes his seat back…TJ Fischer moved up a seat to 3rd, Now just who is the fourth seat?…It’s 7th quick qualifier Mitch Carey who could see anything and wanted to take a peek…now who’s 5th?..Oh that’s who’s in third Nathaniel Mauel…it was just too crowded…Hey!…where’s Vorndron?…she was just here a heat ago?….ohhhhh rules infraction…lemme guess…ah a no-go infraction on the tire width?..Hopping the seat?…Heat 3…and the Hat Trick goes to polesitter D.W…do you spell sweep with 1 or 2 e’s……Eggert liked the view and decided to stay put….guess who’s back in 3rd?…Vorndron….Dang, this gal can really roll….Tj Fischer thought the view was a little better in fourth…plus your supposed to open the door for the ladies….Mauel 5th……Pre-Final goes toooo??? Ahhhhhh, Derek Wang?…I think you spell it with 2 e’s….TJ Fischer decides no more mister nice guy and rolls to second and lets Vorndron open her own door…door 3…..Mauel 4th…Mitch Carey 5th…. Eggert has issues finishes 13th…Get the brooms out…that’s correct two o’s in broom…..It’s Final time….it was starting to look like Wang was getting ready to sweep…with Vorndron and Fischer in pursuit as he led laps 1 thru 9…On lap 10 the female phenom get’s by Wang and leads laps 10 thru 20….and takes checkers and the National Championship, hands Wang the broom and it’s spelled with 2 e’s and no s…”Weep”..So close yet so far for Derek Wang…why wasn’t racing spelled LUCK?…another fantastic NW performance…Eggert again with issues finishes 14th…..DD2- 1. Kristina Vorndron 2. Derek Wang 3.T.J.Fisher 4. Nathaniel Mauel 5. Mitch Carey FT- Wang – 57.707
In MasterMax John Crow captured the point with a 60.157…Joining Crow on the front row was Jerry Henderson with .278..WOW!…once again the blink of an eye separates the top two spots…Oregonians Scott Holmboe, Mike Daniels, Alex Harrold, and Dan Thayer who by the way had former TAG Masters veteran Mike McMain along coaching and tuning, pretty good guy to have in your camp attending your first National event qualified 4th, 8th, 17th and 23rd respectively…Heat one goes to Polesitter crow Henderson number two…Scott Holmboe finishes 6th, Mike Daniel 8th, Alex Harrold 12th and Dan Thayer 23rd…Give Heat Two to Polesitter Crow…once again followed by Henderson….Holmboe switched spots with Scott Falcone to take 3rd, Falcone 4th, Brent Harper 5th….Mike Daniel creeps up one to 7th, Thayer starts to get the butterflies out and crosses the strip 19th…Alex Harrold has some issues and follows Thayer across 20th….Runner up qualifier Jerry Henderson takes Heat Three as he and polesitter John Crow switch spots….Falcone finishes 4th, Mike Daniel creeps up yet another spot to 6th…Holmboe falls back to 9th, Thayer stays in 19th, and Hard Luck Alex Harrold did not start…..Pre-Final stays the same as Heat Three…Henderson and Crow one-two…Falcone three, Jason Bell four, and Brent Harper biding his time five. Thayer again finishes 19th but that earns him best of the Northwest in the pre-final as colleagues Daniel has problems and is 25th, Harrold regrouped but manages only 29th and Scott Holmboe has some legality issues and is DQ’d….The Finale…After biding his time and surveying the situation, Brent Harper roars on to take the win, Falcone is 2nd Polesitter John Crow 3rd, Jason Bell 4th, Larry Hyashigawa rounds out the top five….Mike Daniel recovers from his early problems and salvaged 11th, Dan Thayer moves up a notch and takes 18th, Holmboe once again has issues and is 27th and the best bad luck guy ever Alex Harrold does not start. I am convinced Harrold is a top caliber driver…he just has that unbelievable luck…stuff you don’t even dream of happening happens to Alex Harrold….I like him as a driver…he’s got what it takes….it’s that takes thing…..lady luck keeps taking it. Jerry Henderson encountered some infraction issues and was not qualified. MASTERSMAX- 1. Brent Henderson 2.Scott Falcone 3. John Crow 4. Jason Bell 5.Larry Hyashigawa FT- John Crow 60.157 (1:00.157)
Jr.Max next to Sr. Max has to be one of the if not thee toughest classes in karting…and this would be different as 42 drivers tried to get in on time during qualifying…Dalton Sargeant took the pole with Jake Craig right beside…Qualifying 9th in the 42 kart field was Renton, Washington native Jake Preston….This really shouldn’t surprise those of us that really watch…Preston is usually fast everywhere he goes….Preston has skills I’d for sure have him on my team any day, I like this kid and think he will go as far as he wants…Outstanding effort by one of the nicest kids you ever want to meet…Canby , Oregon’s Dalton Egger who happens to have a pretty famous PaPa as far as karting Circles go, Egger is the son of Chris Egger owner/operator of one of the most historic and awesome karting facilities anywhere in nation the Pat’s Acres Racing Complex…Anybody who’s anybody knows about Pat’s Acres…and for the record, you ain’t been karting till you been to Pat’s…Dalton qualified 17th ho-hum by some’s standards, but if you knew how much this wheelman DIDN’T drive, you’d see why this is not a bad qualifying effort….Canadian hot shoe Parker Mckean qualified his entry 18th, “Cool Hand” Luke Sellikin who was hotter than a pistol the last half of 2010 put his Rawlinson Performance Group, M Realty Kosmic in the 20th spot Heat one goes to Dalton Sargeant, Parker Mckean finishes a solid 10th, Egger brings his Kosmic machine in 15th, and Jake Preston has some obstacles and finishes 17th… Heat Two goes to A.J, Meyers…Cool Hand Luke Sellikin snags 13th…Heat Three is captured once again by “Commander” Dalton Sargeant, with Jake “the snake” Preston showing his wheeling skills taking home the 9th spot…Sellikin and Egger follow Preston across in 11th and 13th….Heat Four is taken by Oliver “Don’t make me Askew again” Askew with Parker McKean the lone Northwesterner taking a very respectable 5th….On to the Pre-Final..give you three guesses?….I’m betting you only need one….Commander Sargeant once again cross the stripe in P1, could this be the first “Sweep” of the weekend?……Preston finishes the Pre-Final 14th, McKean encounters issues and finishes 21st, Sellikin trying to find some handle somewhere finishes 26th and Egger two behind Sellikin 28th….The Final…for the Crown, and the ever elusive “Broom”….The Commander Commands from the gate and goes on to Sweep Jr. Max by taking the pole, both his heat races, the Pre-Final, and the FinaL…one word for that…”ROLLIN'” there is nothing left to be said about a performance like this…I don’t even know this kid, but I’ve seen Go-Racing and this is kid is no doubt the “Real Deal”…McKean is best in the NW finishing 13t, my sleeper driver of the year Jake Preston is 14th, Sellikin rough 22nd, and Egger a head scratching 33rd which is in no way indicative of this kids talents…believe me…… Jr. MAX – 1. Dalton Sargeant 2. Jake Craig 3.Logan Bearden 4. Brennan Harrington 5. Sebastian Coulson FT- Sargeant 58.499
So the book is closed on Junior only to be opened again for Sr.Max if anyone thinks that the Northwest does not have a talent pool…this should quit the critics…I say that we have talent here that is second to none…period…end of story. With that said, I get hushed by Nick Neri taking the Pole…ah but wait now…Phil Arscott joins him on the front row…NW, third quick…Stepanova Nekeel..just sounds like a driver don’t it?..this cat CAN wheel..and he’s from Seattle, Washington..7th quick is Joey Wimsett another NW wheelman, 15th is Kyle Byers, Auburn, Washington…his dad “PaPa” Byers is West Coast renowned for body and paint…has a induction into a Hall of Fame to prove it…Byers just moved up to Sr. at the end of 2010 so has an honest almost but not quite a year wheeling the “bigger boys”, 21st quick and very out of character for him and a guy that would be one MY first picks if I were establishing a team Geoffery Robertti, Oregonian, and his 47th quick qualifying effort doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Marc Draghicescu also from the Northwest, but sometimes there are just days….Enough of the soapbox, give Heat One to Nick Neri, give Arscott 2nd, Robertti 7th…Nascar star Jaime McMurray was 25th….Heat Two…give to Stepanova Nekeel, followed by Joey Wimsett, Kyle Byers 3rd…Marc Draghicescu finishes 20th….Heat Three goes to Tristian DeGrand, Robertti takes 6th….Heat four goes this time to Arscott, Wimsett is 3rd, Nekeel 6th, Byers 7th, Draghicescu 24th….21 start the Last Chance Qualifier…all the Northwest Teams are in…So on to the Pre-Final…..give to to Arscott…this dude knows how to operate under pressure and at big Events amazing…Wimsett is 6th, Nick Neri 7th, Robertti 10th, Byers 11th, Nekeel gets stopped for an infraction….Now for the ALL the marbles and bragging rights for a year….The Final….I wish I could have been there to see how all of this played out, but in the end it is Nick Neri who must be awful tough winning the title against some very amazing and some of the best talent you will find ANYWHERE….Sam Beasley takes home 2nd, Arscott in another impressive performance 3rd, Keil Spaulding 4th, Joey Wimsett rounds out the top five….Nekeel is 7th, Robertti 10th, Byers in a very respectable showing is 13th…
Another RotaxGrands in the books and HUGE shout out to all of the Northwest racers and race teams that went and represented Region 6 at 2011 RoataxMax GrandNationals it is truly an honor to be associated with each and every one of you. Those of you crowned Champions it is something that you will never forget, there have been many very good racers, that as excellent as they were, never captured a GrandNational title and all the well deserved accolades that go along with it…Congratualations to ALL the tuners, drivers, crew members, and race team investors that can now say that they are ROTAXMAX GrandNational Champions!