Rock Island Grand Prix sets 2003 class structure

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- With an eye to the future and encouraging expansion of the sport, the Rock Island Grand Prix has approved its class structure for 2003. The race will be held through the downtown streets on Labor Day Weekend, August 30-31,...

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- With an eye to the future and encouraging expansion of the sport, the Rock Island Grand Prix has approved its class structure for 2003. The race will be held through the downtown streets on Labor Day Weekend, August 30-31, 2003.

The Rock Island Grand Prix is the largest professional karting street race in the world. SBC, the regional communications corporation, and Bi-State Home Improvement of Moline, Ill., remain the Presenting Sponsors of the Rock Island Grand Prix. Casino Rock Island returns as sponsor of the more than $25,000 purse.

Superkarts! USA's King of the Streets race will be the showcase event of the Rock Island Grand Prix for the fourth year. A 125cc Masters and 125cc Semi Pro gearbox class will also be run.

Rock Island will again offer the Intercontinental C (ICC) class. In anticipation of being licensed by the Commission Internationale de Karting (CIK), and welcoming international competitors, Intercontinental A (ICA) has been added as a second international class.

Race officials have also endorsed the new touch-and-go (TAG) technology and for the first time will run the all-inclusive electric start class at Rock Island.

TAG is a newly-created class that incorporates a number of different water- cooled motors. All have electric starters, require less maintenance and have greater longevity. Internal motor modifications are not allowed. Power output of the various motors is equalized by running different motors at different weights.

Motors currently approved for TAG USA include Rotax Max FR 125, Sonik VX 125 and SL125, Biland 250, Parilla Leopard, Vortex Rok, Italsistem ML47H, BM Jaguar and Comer. Additional motors may be added as approved.

The Grand Prix also supports the concept of letting the class rules evolve as the race season progresses, said Roger Ruthhart, president of the Rock Island Grand Prix. The TAG USA rules and weights that are in place August 1 will be followed at the Rock Island Grand Prix. They will also be available through the Rock Island Grand Prix office and the web site, .

The top 10 finishers in the TAG race at the Rock Island Grand Prix will automatically qualify for next summer's TAG Nationals at Norman, Okla., according to Tom Argy Jr., head of TAG USA.

``We believe that the introduction of touch-and-go packages will play an instrumental role in the growth and expansion of karting. By featuring the race at the Rock Island Grand Prix we hope to encourage newcomers to enter the sport, help manufacturers and kart shops promote the new concept, while giving the best drivers in this new class a chance to compete at The Rock,'' Ruthhart said.

The 250cc 4-cycle Biland motor, and the Rotax Max motor package, both featured last year at the Rock Island Grand Prix, will now compete in the TAG class. The integrity of the Rotax motor seal program will be honored. For those drivers who also compete in Rotax-only races, sealed motors with documented passports will not be torn down during post-race tech. Unsealed Rotax motors will be allowed, but will face the same scrutiny as other TAG motors.

Most of the remaining class structure remains unchanged. Besides ICA, the four gearbox classes and TAG, other classes include 4-cycle light, medium and heavy; 2-cycle Senior and Super Sportsman; Yamaha Medium and Heavy; and 4-cycle Junior II.

In addition to Rotax and Biland being folded into the TAG USA class, the HPV class and 80cc shifter classes have been dropped this year after failing to produce adequate entries to remain on the schedule. That decision is final, Ruthhart said.

``While we have made the effort to allow foreign drivers to legally compete at Rock Island, the major focus of the Rock Island Grand Prix remains to provide a great competition venue for American kart racers,'' Ruthhart said.

Last year's Rock Island Grand Prix welcomed 390 race entries in 15 classes. The schedule has been reduced to 14 classes for 2003.

Rock Island is located in an area known as the Quad-Cities on the Mississippi River where it intersects with Interstate highways 74, 80 & 88. It is also served by the Quad City International Airport in Moline. 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.

The Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District, which hosts the race weekend, is a great spot to go after a day of racing. It features a casino, a number of top restaurants, night clubs, coffee houses, 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 on the Great River Plaza throughout race weekend.

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