Pennsylvania Dirt Karter's Association honors Pennsylvania State Champion 2002 Karters.
Harrisburg _ Eighteen Pennsylvania State Champion Kart riders and the top finishers in each class shared more than $20,000 in awards and prizes at the Fourth Annual PDKA (Pennsylvania Dirt Karters Association) Awards Banquet Saturday night, Jan. 18, at the Harrisburg Marriott.
PDKA President Butch Diller announced that the organization will participate in both the Burris National Speedway Series that sponsored 2002 racing and the World Karting Association (WKA) in 2003.
Mike Burris, President of Burris Racing, told the nearly 200 racers, sponsors and parents assembled that the BNSS technical rules are now available on the Internet at http://www.speedway-karting.com and that the F200 concept engine is growing in popularity, particularly in the mid-west. He noted, "The Tecumseh Star is out of production and the Briggs 5hp is close behind. As the Tecumseh Star and 5hp Briggs classes dwindle and are phased out, they will be replaced by the F200 engines."
F200 engines are manufactured by Briggs, Honda, Kohler, Tecumseh, and Yamaha, and according to Burris, one major advantage is the ease of a thorough technical inspection of F200 engines. The PDKA has maintained credibility as the top racing series in the Mid-Atlantic states in part because of exacting technical inspections that require winning teams to take their engines home "in a box" after the races.
Both Diller and Burris agreed that the two sanctioning organizations are compatible. While the BNSS sanction targets regional and state championships, the WKA affiliation provides for national championship points and races. In past seasons the PDKA has produced legitimate national kart champions.
To accommodate both WKA and BNSS sanctions, Diller told the race teams, "The WKA is getting tougher on rules. At national races in Florida this winter we found inspectors checking tire temperatures on the grid, and this year everyone must attend drivers meetings and there will be no rough driving. We saw drivers sent to the rear for not lining up as instructed!"
The PDKA will drop the Star Champ and Junior Stock classes and add the Briggs Animal 375 class and the Stock 2 Cycle class with the weight in the latter depending on the motor. Champ kart riders must wear a WKA approved fire suit. As of July 1, all weights must be painted white. Tape or paint to hide tire brand and spec information will not be allowed, and new weights for 2003 are 325 for Briggs Lite, 350 for Briggs Medium, and 375 for Briggs Heavy.
The PDKA is currently registering 2003 riders and information is available on the website at http://www.padirtkart.com/ or from secretary and general business manager Dian Diller at 717-691-5994. A few of the 50 reserved pits spots remain available.
The 2003 season opens with a two-day show May 3-4 at the Path Valley Speedway Park. Following the format of the successful 2002 season, the races will alternate between Path Valley and the Selinsgrove Speedway, with races at Selinsgrove May 18, July 27, and August 24. The additional two Path Valley races are June 22 and Sept. 14 and a rain date is set for Sept. 21. Reserved pit spots are held until 8 a.m.
In addition to recognizing the champions and top riders, special awards went to Treasurer Ira Kerns for his years of dedication to the organization and to Tracy Brenneman for his hard work ranging from parking to announcing the races.
Craig Wetzel won the Best Appearing Kart award. Eddie Rice Jr. took home the Hard Luck trophy. The annual Sportsmanship award was presented to Todd Shellenberger, and Markus Woodring won the Most Improved Driver award. The Gobrecht Family of the Year Award went to the Ciucci Family of Greencastle and Diller noted, "Even when they have a complaint, they do it politely, and Missy and her family are a fine example for all of us."
In addition to series sponsor Burris Racing, the PDKA recognized and thanked each of the Race Sponsors and Class Sponsors. The Race Sponsors for 2002 are All-Pro Products, JC Specialty, JJ's Autobody, Cumberland Valley Land Clearing, and Al's Kart Supply.
The 2002 Class Sponsors included JJ's Autobody, Trims Automotive/K-E Motorsports, Ensor's Speed Shop, Selinsgrove Raceway Park, York County Kart Supply, Kirby's Speed Secret, Paul E. Power, Little's Kart Shop, JC Specialty, Quality Cleaning, Path Valley Speedway Park, Frank Sears Sanitation, American Carpentry/Frame to Finish, Silver Spring Speedway, Awards and Beyond, Locke's Automotive/Viper Engines, and In Memory of Kevin Gobrecht.
Among the many evening highlights, each of the state champions gave an acceptance speech, and all posed for photos with their bronze, glass and walnut trophies and plaques. Instead of entertainment, the presentation of Burris Racing supplied tires, wheels, duffel bags and jackets for the champions, along with hundreds of door prizes, filled the entire evening. Door prize sponsors in addition to Burris included York County Kart Supply, Victory Speedway, Viper Racing Engines, Stiffie Clutches, Simpson, Silver Spring Speedway, RLV, Powder Plus, Oval Track Concepts, Locke's Automotive, Little's Kart Shop, Kirby's Speed Secrets, K&E Motorsports, JC Specialty, Industrial Motor Supply, G-Man Kart Works, Fisher Auto Parts, Ensor's Speed Shop, Crissamore Machine Shop, Car Quest of Harrisburg, Al's Kart Supply, and All Pro Products.
For rules, past state champions, points per race and totals, and information on the PDKA, riders can consult the series website at www.padirtkart.com/.
State Champion Karters
In 2002 a total of 264 riders earned points in the 18 junior and senior classes, not counting the Kid Karts class for those under seven years old where every rider earns a trophy every race. In addition, each kart is electronically timed each lap and riders who set the fastest qualifying times are also honored with medals sponsored by Midnite Power.
Two young riders won championships in two classes. Elvin Diller III of Enola won both the Yamaha Lite and Yamaha Heavy state championships. In Yamaha Lite he won two of the six features and placed second three times and third once. In the Yamaha Heavy class he won four of six features. He also won fastest time awards in five of 12 races.
Past champion Jeff Rathfon of Waynesboro won the Sr. Heavy title with three wins and two seconds. Rathfon also set three of six fast time records in Sr. Heavy. His last championship was in 2000, also in the heavy class. Rathfon also won the Controlled Heavy state championship with three wins, one second and one third. Racing in three classes, he won six fast time medals overall.
In the closest contest of the series Jonathan Pillion of Lancaster won the state championship in the Jr. I Lite class by five points. Pillion had one win, one second place and four third place finishes to beat Tyler Bear of Elliotsburg. With four feature wins, Tyler Bear won the Jr. I Heavy championship with Pillion finishing second in points. Bear also won the fast time awards three times in the Heavy class and twice in the Lites. Riders frequently race in more than one class.
Austin Hogue of Manchester won the Jr. II Lite championship with two wins, two seconds and two thirds and also won three of the six fast time awards.
Keith Blumenstein Jr. of Mechanicsburg won four features for the state title in the Jr. II Heavy class, and he also set the fast time three times. Hogue finished second in the Jr. II Heavy class.
Craig Wetzel of Pittsburgh won the Jr. III Lite state championship. Wetzel had one win, two seconds, two thirds and a sixth to beat Matt Cooper by 17 points for the title.
Patrick Rineman of Hanover, who won two state championships in 2001, carried through to win the 2002 title in the Jr. Stock class with three wins and two second place finishes. Rineman also won three of the six fast time awards.
In the Jr. Sportsman Champ caged kart class Gerard McIntyre of New Oxford on his #16 won every feature and set every fast time.
Nathan Melton of Westminster MD won the PA championship in the Jr. Champ class. He won two features, finished second twice and won two fast time awards.
Veteran Tommy Beavers of Winchester VA, who won two PA titles last year, took the 2002 championship in the Sr. Lite karts. He had two wins, a second place and a fourth and fifth for his best five of six.
Rodney Sweger of East Waterford won the 2003 Pennsylvania championship in the Sr. Medium class riding his #88. With two wins and two second place finishes he beat past champion Beavers by only five points in the raw standings before the worst finish for each was dropped. Sweger also twice won the fast time award.
Markus Woodring with two feature wins took the title in Sr. Extra-Heavy karts as each of the four other races went to a different winner. Woodring Beat out Rathfon by 15 points, both before and after adjustment for the worst finish.
Missy Ciucci of Greencastle won the Controlled Medium championship with three wins and two seconds. This is her first state championship despite her national ranking and many local track championships in nine years of racing.
Brent Baumgartner of New Windsor MD won the title in the Sr. Champ class of caged karts with one win, a second place and two thirds. Last year, at 15 years old, he won the Jr. Champ PA championship.
John Westbrook of Dillsburg won the Star Champ state title with three wins and two seconds for his best five of six feature finishes. Westbrook also set the fast times in three of six races.
The best riders from Pennsylvania kart tracks and many from adjoining states competed in the PDKA State Championship Series for points in six races and the best five finishes were counted toward the season titles. Karters earn a 50 points bonus for competing in all six races. The 2002 series races were held alternately at Path Valley Speedway Park and Selinsgrove Raceway Park.