Rock Island GP preview

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Rotax Max and HPV drivers can join the fun at this year's Rock Island Grand Prix, the largest karting street race in North America. As usual, the race will be held on Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1-2, 2001. Superkarts! USA's...

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Rotax Max and HPV drivers can join the fun at this year's Rock Island Grand Prix, the largest karting street race in North America. As usual, the race will be held on Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1-2, 2001.

Superkarts! USA's King of the Streets, the second stop in the Triple Crown of gearbox kart racing, will also return to Rock Island as part of this year's Grand Prix. Alan Rudolph of Mesa, Ariz. was crowned King at last year's Rock Island Grand Prix. The Rock Island Grand Prix has drawn top drivers from coast to coast as well as Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and Italy. Admission is free and the race has drawn as many as 50,000 spectators.

This year the Rock Island Grand Prix will host the Omega Max Street Challenge. This is one of the few professional races for Rotax Max drivers with a purse paying $1,250 to win with checks through sixth place. It will be run under national U.S. Rotax Max Challenge rules. A limited number of arrive and drive karts will be provided by Omega Kart USA. See for more information, or call Don Jones at (330) 940-2745 or email

Also new this year is an HPV Heavy class to run with a 3-pipe at 360 pounds. The Rock Island Grand Prix is also welcoming back junior racers, ages 13-15, with a 4-cycle Junior II Class sponsored by Rieken's Racing, Marion, Iowa.

There is always plenty of great racing action as karts race through the downtown streets of Rock Island, Illinois, at the Rock Island Grand Prix. Mishael Abbott (36F) of Florida leads a pack of S2 shifters at the 2000 race. Scott Hamble (96J) of Indianapolis follows with Sean Mossgrove (28J) of Michigan and Eric Jobe (23E) of Kansas City right behind. Photo: Courtesy of Rock Island Grand Prix

Ameritech returns as a Presenting Sponsor of this year's Rock Island Grand Prix. Jumer's Casino Rock Island is sponsor of the $25,000 purse -- one of the largest payouts in professional karting. This includes a $2,000 first prize for the King of the Streets, which is sponsored by the Bob Bondurant Super Kart School in Phoenix, Ariz. The Four Points Hotel by Sheraton in Rock Island is race headquarters. Joining as a race sponsor and host of Hospitality Park is Iowa Wireless.

Other sponsors include Zimmerman Pontiac Cadillac, Honda, Oldmobile and WHBF-TV, both in Rock Island, as race sponsors and The Dispatch, The Rock Island Argus and The Leader newspapers. Illinois Oil Products will sponsor the Karter Hospitality Party and J.W. Koehler Electric will sponsor the Registration, Media and Volunteer Center. Budweiser and Stern Beverage also return as a major event sponsor, along with Sprint Kart Speedway in Davenport, Jetter Disposal, Key Auto Mall in Moline, Ill., H&H Car Care and Towing, Davenport, the Quad City Radio Group and Iowa Illinois Taylor Insulation in Davenport.

Tom Argy Jr. of TCM Racing, Niagara Falls, N.Y. will return as race director. Electronic timing and scoring will be provided by Superkarts! USA with starting positions assigned based on qualifying times during practice.

Alan Rudolph of Mesa, Arizona, is crowned King of the Streets by Superkarts! USA's Jim Murley during last year's Rock Island Grand Prix. At left is second place winner Bobby Wilson of Wisconsin and finishing third, at right, is Joe Janowski of Indiana. The SKUSA King of the Streets will return to Rock Island this year. Photo: Courtesy of Rock Island Grand Prix

Classes to be run this year at Rock Island include: 125cc Pro and Semi-pro Shifter, 80cc Shifter; 2-cycle senior and super sportsman can classes; Yamaha Medium (335 lb.) and Heavy (360 lb.); 4-cycle Light (315 lb.), Medium (335 lb.) and Heavy (360 lb.); HPV- 100 Heavy (360 lbs.); 4-cycle Junior II (300 lb.); 2-cycle Controlled Super Stock for reed and rotary (360 lb.), piston port/HPV (330 lb.) and Yamaha (320 lb.) engines including direct drive. All classes pay through nine places. The Omega Max Street Challenge will run the same format as other classes.

Briggs & Stratton Motorsports will present new 5 HP motors to pole qualifiers in the 4-cycle Light, Medium and Heavy classes. Rieken's Racing will present a new Briggs motor to the winner of the 4-cycle Junior II class which will otherwise race for trophies. Shifter Kart Illustrated magazine will pay $100 to the fast-time qualifiers in the SuperPro, Semi Pro and 80cc shifter classes. Bandit Racing will pay bonuses to those who place on a Bandit Kart. Iowa Illinois Taylor Insulation will pay $50 to winning karts displaying its decal. Stickers will be available at registration.

The 2000 race provided some of the fastest and most competitive racing in the history of the event. Michael Welsh, of Davenport, Iowa, fulfilled every local dracer's dream by winning three classes last year, adding his name to those of Jason Birdesll and Eric Jones as the only competitors to win more than two classes in the same year at Rock Island.

``Joining those guys is like putting my name on Mt. Rushmore,'' Welsh said after last year's race. ``My dream ever since I started racing six years ago was to win just one race here, and now I've done it three times. What an awesome feeling.''

Rudolph headed a long list of other racers raving about the race.

``Of all the races in the country, this is still one of the best shows year-in and year-out. I still think it's the best course we run, and they made it even better by smoothing out that one big bump they used to have on the backstretch,'' Rudolph said after defending his King of the Streets title last year.

Another winner, California's Rob Thurman, agreed. ``I love it here. This place is awesome. The fans are five deep all the way around the track. This is the biggest race I've ever seen in my life and that also makes it my greatest win.''

Jason North came all the way from Bermuda to win last year's 100cc Controlled Super Stock event, and set the lap speed record for the class while doing it. ``Winning against a top-notch field, in a race that gets as much exposure as this, is the best thing I can do for my career,'' he said.

Rock Island is located in an area known as the Quad-Cities on the Mississippi River where it intersects with Interstate highways 80 and 74. The area has a population of 375,000 and welcomes karters with open arms. The Quad-Cities features three riverboat casinos and a great variety of entertainment and attractions.

Rock Island's Downtown Arts and Entertainment District, which hosts the race weekend, is a great spot to go after a day of racing. It features Jumer's Casino Rock Island, a number of top restaurants, coffee houses, night spots, comedy clubs, dinner theater and great live entertainment all within walking distance of race headquarters at the Four Points Hotel by Sheraton. Live outdoor entertainment is featured each night on the Great River Plaza.

Information on this exciting racing event is available on the internet at Call The Rock Island Grand Prix at (309) 292-8133 or email for race and entry information. Technical questions should be directed to Race Director Tom Argy Jr. at (716) 284-5792 or via email at .


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Series Kart
Drivers Bob Bondurant , Mishael Abbott , Eric Jones , Alan Rudolph , Joe Janowski , Bobby Wilson