CHESTERTOWN, MD - With a Discovery Channel film crew focused on the action at Nicholson Speedway in Chestertown, MD 138 racers competed for the final Maryland Sprint Divisional Series race of the 2003 season October 12-13. That Saturday a five-member crew filmed the competition between racers in several divisions focusing on their families, the rivalry and their interaction.
According to Mike Marinucci, who arranged the taping, he challenged a friend who works for the Discovery Channel, "I told him that if they could feature female water polo they could cover a kart race. After getting approval they began shooting a program on karting during the WKA/Horstman Gold Cup Series national at BeaveRun Raceway in Wampum, PA featuring the competition between the Hoppers of Florida and the Fauci's from Rochester, NY. It was a story about how the families interacted among themselves and how karting is a family sport in a three-hour program. I think this will bring karting to mainstream America and it's really cool. The Discovery Channel was so impressed with the sport that they will have full crews on three families at Charlotte during the Grand Nationals."
The program from Nicholson Speedway is scheduled to air in January he added.
Tyler Sandmeyer, Zachary Cornelius, Justin Cassity and Sergio Pena were double winners that weekend and Cassity, Zachary Taylor and Kenny Burke locked up double class championships on the 1/4-mile asphalt road course that weekend as well.
Saturday 12-year-old Sandmeyer beat Toby Parese to Junior Sportsman 2 Lite's stripe, then Sunday, after a dicey lead swapping Junior Sportsman 2 Heavy battle with Tony Marinucci, he captured his second win.
"It was a real close race," Sandmeyer said of his second win. "Me and Tony Marinucci were battling back-and-forth then Tony gave me such a struggle. The GT Machine engine was working real good and the Coyote Wide Track kart was working good, everything was working just the best it could."
Trailing Parese in Lite's top five were Zachary Linsell, Conner Newsome and Steven Moore. Linsell finished third again in Heavy and was followed in the top five by Moore and Newsome.
Cornelius, of Still Pond, MD, captured Saturday's Junior Lite with Keith Jackson, Jessie Morrison, Jeffery Oleen and Matthew Amos chasing him across the stripe for the top half of the field. Sunday he ran away with Junior Restricted where he earned the heat race for the pole and shared the Feature front row with Oleen. Oleen shot into the early lead as they entered turn one. Next time around Cornelius powered past him at the end of the front straight and never looked back.
"It wasn't that hard passing Jeffery Oleen. I got a bad jump on the start and then I got by him," said Cornelius, "The Bandit kart handled perfect and the Burke's Racing engine ran good. I'd also like to thank Dave and Mike Osborn for their help."
Russ Marinucci, Morrison and Jackson completed Junior Restricted's top five.
That Sunday Clinton, MD competitor Paul Kennedy completed a Maryland Sprint Series ICA record that would be hard to beat in any class in any division. His win capped not only his sweep of this season, but made it his third straight undefeated season as well. It started with the heat race won by Pennsylvania pilot Charles Pistorio.
"The heat race wasn't looking quite as good we had some good competition today and we got some things dialed in for the final and it seemed to be a missile," Kennedy explained.
Kennedy captured the Feature's early led and never let go on his way to building a comfortable cushion over Pistorio. "The DAP chassis and Ital engine worked like a charm and everything came together at the end right when it counted," Kennedy said. Gunnar Van Der Steur, William McKeen and Virgil Gross grabbed the remaining top five positions.
Zachary Taylor capped a stellar season with a final win in Junior Sportsman 1 Heavy. That win clinched the title for the 10-year-old GT Machine powered Coyote kart pilot. A third place finish in Junior Sportsman 1 Lite earned him that title as well.
Taylor topped the heavy heat with a wire-to-wire run, but the feature proved to be more of a challenge as Zachary De Shaies kept the pressure on for 15 laps. "It was really hard and he (DeShaies) was really bumping me," Taylor described. "It was a little slippery, but the kart was great and the GT Machine motor was powerful. I want to thank my dad, my friend Seth Coreman and my mechanic Buddy. It's really fun to win, but it's really hard too, I had to work hard for both of these championships."
JR Petrella was third in Heavy followed by Junior Sportsman 1 Lite winner Will Allen and Taylor Holden for the top five of seven. Petrella trailed Allen in Lite followed in the top five by Taylor, Holden and Jim Heavlow.
Cassity, of Urbana, MD, captured Saturday's Briggs Heavy and Sunday's Briggs Medium with Kevin Davison trailing across the stripe each time. The wins sealed both titles for the Rat Powered Coyote factory driver. Daniel Koehler, Robert Mitchell and Chris Braun completed the podium.
In Medium's Heat Cassity started dead last in an eight-racer field. Koehler started on the pole and lead wire-to-wire while Cassity climbed to a second place finish for the feature's outside pole. Davison grabbed the feature's early lead and opened it up over Cassity who was busy defending second from Braun. Cassity shook off Braun and set his sites on Davison. By lap seven Cassity was knocking on Davison's back door and as they crossed under the mid race signal Cassity captured the lead and began running away from Davison. At the stripe Steven Ward, Alan Whiting and Michael Shields trailed Davison.
"I got by Kevin (Davison) there at the end and it's another good win," Cassity said. "I'm real happy to win today. I'd like to thank my mom and dad, G-Man Kartworks, Coyote Products, Rat Power, and Douglas Wheel. Every thing worked real good again today and putting on a new set of tires before the heat race seemed to help out a lot and the engine ran great today, the kart ran good it was just another good win and now I've got Medium and Heavy locked up."
Pena posted wins that Sunday in Cadet Junior Sportsman and HPV Junior Sportsman.
Kenny Burke scored Animal Medium's win over Barry Hausman, Jr. on Saturday and then was beaten by Dover, DE driver James McKinney in Sunday's Animal Heavy. "The motor was strong and the Bandit kart was hooking up right," Burke said, "This is a good motor and Burke's Racing is building these motors. It's a good class and I hope we get a lot more people participating in it."
In Saturday's other features 14-year-old Jessie Morrison, of Lay hill, MD piloted her Zanderbuilt Racing Engines powered Shadow kart into Briggs Junior Heavy's victory lane, David Osborne dominated Senior Sportsman Medium, David Moon won Formula Yamaha Senior and Marco Bartoli was fastest in ICC Shifter. Charlotte, NC competitor Dan Koehler captured Limited Medium's win, Tom Fash finished first in Super Heavy and William Sload led the way in Briggs Lite.
Hyestown, MD based Robert Mitchell beat Senior Stock pole winner Fash to that finish. Mitchell blasted by Fash when they got the green flag and never looked back on his way to a big finish. According to Mitchell, an R&R Racing Technology powered Coyote kart pilot, "It was a draw on the start. We all thought we were going to have to check up a little bit cause we didn't think we'd get that start and he gave it to us so somehow I got the jump. I was geared up a little bit more for speed than taking off at the start. First place was going to lead me on the first lap, I thought, but we held it and I got my momentum up and did some good laps. The Coyote Wide Track handled real good, it's an old one and the motor was absolutely great like all the time, it's my favorite motor. I would have had the championship even if I didn't race today."
Harold LaVere handled Yamaha Lite's four-racer field. The Felton, DE Paul Kennedy Racing Engines powered Haase kart pilot rocketed off the pole and was never seriously challenged on his way to a perfect win.
"The heat race was a little harder win," LaVere, admitted, "I had to get a good start in the heat to get going. The kart handled excellent and the motor ran perfect."
With the 2003 season now in the record book champions in the series will be recognized during two dinner banquets, one for the racers whose home track is Sandy Hook Speedway in Sandy Hook, MD and the other for Nicholson Speedway racers.
-Bruce C. Walls, guest writer