Rock Island Grand Prix sets class caps

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- The Rock Island Grand Prix has announced it will cap class entries in 2003 to maintain the quality of one of the world's premier kart races. The Rock Island Grand Prix is the largest professional karting street race in...

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- The Rock Island Grand Prix has announced it will cap class entries in 2003 to maintain the quality of one of the world's premier kart races.

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

The event, which features 15 separate races held on Labor Day Weekend through the streets of downtown Rock Island, Illinois, has registered significant increases in entries the past several years. Organizers do not want the event to grow so big that it cannot be run in the organized and professional manner which kart racers have grown to expect.

The caps, which have been approved by the host organization, will still provide for significant increases in entries for 2003. But they will assure that they do not come in such a way as to destroy the racing schedule, said Roger Ruthhart, president of the Rock Island Grand Prix.

Plans for 2003 call for 10 classes to be capped at 30 entries and five classes to be capped at 55 entries. If all classes were filled it would result in 575 entries. The Grand Prix registered its largest turnout in history last year at just under 400 race entries.

The Rock Island Grand Prix has always set 30 as the most karts it would allow to race at one time. If there are more than 30 in a class, the fastest 25 in timed qualifying advance to the Feature Race with the remainder running a Sunday morning last chance qualifier. The top five places in that race then advance to the back of the field for the Sunday afternoon feature.

Under the new plan, the opportunity for last chance qualifiers will be limited to five classes. Organizers rewarded those classes that have traditionally had the largest numbers of entries at "The Rock.''

The five classes that will be capped at 55 entries include 4-cycle heavy, 4-cycle medium, 2-cycle Super Sportsman, Intercontinental C, and 125cc Masters gearbox.

That leaves the following classes capped at 30 entries: 125cc SuperPro "King of the Streets,'' 250cc Biland, 125cc SemiPro gearbox, TAG U.S.A. Street Challenge, Intercontinental A, Yamaha medium and heavy, 2-cycle Senior Sportsman, 4-cycle Junior II, 4- cycle Light.

Registrations will be accepted in the order they are received. A waiting list in each class will be maintained until August 1. The Rock Island Grand Prix will also alter its policy of automatically offering refunds to drivers who must cancel or do not show up to race. Requests for refunds will now be considered on a case-by- case basis with no refunds granted after August 1.

"Our goal has always been to encourage as many as possible to race at The Rock and hopefully this policy will not change that. But as the race continues to grow, fewer and fewer competing races are held the same weekend. This year we also opened entries up to the world by seeking FIA/CIK licensing. Having the host hotel totally booked in early March is another indication of how the event has grown. Our organizaton reluctantly felt it had to take this action to maintain the event at a managable level," said Ruthhart.

"It has always been our goal to run as professional a race as possible, keeping it well organized and on schedule. We believe that has been important to the success of this event," Ruthhart said.

"If action was not taken to keep the event at a managable size, we would run the risk of attracting so many entries that we would not be able to effectively conduct the races. Having a world-class event is more important to us than the number of entries," Ruthhart added.

If the Grand Prix were to achieve 575 entries allowed under the caps, it would still rank as one of the larger karting events in the country, Ruthhart said.

The Rock Island Grand Prix expects to mail entry packets to previous competitors and others on its mailing list in late April. Ruthhart encourages racers to register as soon as possible. If you wait until the last minute, you might find the classs filled, he said. If you want to be added to the mailing list, please contact the Grand Prix office.

Rock Island is in an area known as the Quad-Cities, located 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.

For more information see www.rockislandgrandprix.com . Call (309) 292-8133 or email grandprix@qconline.com for additional information.

-ligp-

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