ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- A championship at the Rock Island Grand Prix professional kart races has become one of the most coveted titles a kart racer can achieve. Additional attention is again focused on Rock Island this year as it hosts Superkarts! ...
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- A championship at the Rock Island Grand Prix professional kart races has become one of the most coveted titles a kart racer can achieve. Additional attention is again focused on Rock Island this year as it hosts Superkarts! USA's King of the Streets for the second consecutive year and the inaugural running of the Omega Max Street Challenge.
Top shifterkart drivers from across the country will gather in Rock Island on Labor Day Weekend to fight for the coveted King of the Streets title, the second jewel in the SKUSA Triple Crown of Shifter Kart racing, sponsored by the Bob Bondurant Super Kart School in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Rock Island Grand Prix will also host one of the only professional national Rotax Max race events in the United States -- the Omega Max Street Challenge, sponsored by Omega Kart USA. The water-cooled 125cc Rotax Max motor is the basis for one of the more popular classes world- wide, but the engine package has only been introduced in the United States this year. Twelve other classes will also be run through the downtown streets of Rock Island, Ill. on Labor Day Weekend, September 1-2.
Several key sponsors have also been added this year, assuring the continued financial stability of the event. Ameritech, which has been a Presenting Sponsor all seven years of the event, is joined this year by Bi-State Home Improvement Corp. of Moline. Iowa Wireless has also joined as a race sponsor and sponsor of Hospitality Park. Jumer's Casino Rock Island remains the sponsor of the race's $25,000 purse.
Other sponsors include Budweiser, Zimmerman Pontiac, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Honda; The Dispatch, The Rock Island Argus and The Leader newspapers; J.W. Koehler Electric; WHBF-TV; radios stations 97X, B100 and 93 Rock; the Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District, Iowa Illinois Taylor Insulation, Illinois Oil Products; Four Points Hotel by Sheraton; Sprint Kart Speedway in Davenport, Iowa; Briggs & Stratton Motorsports; Rieken Racing; Shifter Kart Illustrated magazine; Key Auto Mall; Jetter Disposal; J&J Camper Sales; JR's Nightclub; DeSalvo's Portraits; Rexie's Gourmet House; and The Filling Station.
``Without the support of these sponsors we would not be able to produce this great event and keep the entry costs to the racers low and the admission for spectators free,'' said Roger Ruthhart, president of the Grand Prix. ``Their support makes this event possible.''
The international flavor of the Grand Prix will continue this year with race commitments in hand from Canada, Bermuda and Australia. The Rock Island Grand Prix has previously attracted racers from 26 states, Canada, Italy, Mexico and Bermuda and attracts more than 30,000 spectators.
This year's race will again feature 4-cycle junior racing for drivers ages 12-15. An HPV-100 Heavy class has also been added for 2001, along with a full lineup of 2- cycle, 4-cycle and gearbox classes.
Rock Island Grand Prix organizers are making a special effort this year to promote the popularity of racing with women, both as spectators and racers. A large number of female kart racers will be spotlighted during this year's races.
Also new this year is the Zimmerman Meet The Karters Party, free and open to the public from 5-7 p.m., Friday, August 31, at Zimmerman Pontiac, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Honda in Rock Island.
``The Meet The Karters Party was designed to help the spectators learn more about the sport and better identify with the racers and pick individuals they might want to cheer for during the weekend of racing,'' said Ruthhart.
As usual there will also be many vendors offering food, drink and merchandise. A Pancake Breakfast will be held both Saturday and Sunday mornings at The Masonic Temple located just inside the pit gate.
Last year's Grand Prix saw Alan Rudolph of Mesa, Arizona, claim his second straight King of the Streets crown. Rob Thurman of California claimed the Formula S2 gearbox title. Bermuda's Jason North and New Jersey's Justin Gumley also took home winning paychecks.
Otherwise, Midwest drivers dominated with local hotshoe Michael Welsh of Davenport, Iowa winning three classes for the day. Another Davenport driver, Michael Dittmer, won the Junior 4- cycle class. Todd Bolton, Rod Stewart, Ryan Cassity and Jason Birdsell of Illinois, and Dan Roe of Minnesota, added their names to the list of Rock Island Grand Prix winners.
``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,'' said veteran kart racer Alan Rudolph after being crowned King of the Streets.
``The turnout was great. I really wasn't expecting so many people stacked up around the track watching us. This town is awesome. There's so much to do here for the fans and the drivers and their crews. It's a fantastic event and we'll definately be back,'' said New Jersey's Justin Gumley after last year's race.
Practice and timed qualifying will be held on Saturday, September 1. Additional practice, consolation races, and the feature events will be Sunday, September 2. Feature races will begin around 12:30 p.m. with the King of the Streets race. Young race fans will be allowed on the track for an autograph session with drivers prior to the race.
There is live outdoor entertainment each night of the Rock Island Grand Prix, provided by the Rock Island Brewing Co. The Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District also features Jumers' Casino Rock Island, restaurants, comedy clubs, a dinner theater, and live entertainment clubs -- all within walking distance of the pits and the race headquarters and host hotel at Four Points Hotel by Sheraton.
2001 Rock Island Grand Prix Festival Schedule of Events
FRIDAY, AUGUST 31 4-10 p.m.: Sign-in open at Four Points by Sheraton. 5 p.m.: Streets close. 5-7 p.m.: Meet The Drivers Party. Free and open to the public at Zimmerman Pontiac, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Honda 6-11 p.m.: Pits open. 7-10 p.m.: Pre-race Tech open. 9 p.m.: Outdoor music on East Plaza Stage sponsored by the Rock Island Brewing Co. featuring featuring Chicago R&B funk grove band Fat Time. $5 cover charge. All ages show.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 7 a.m.: Pits open. 7 a.m.-noon: Sign-in open at Four Points by Sheraton. 7 a.m.: Pre-Race Tech Opens. 7:15-8:15 a.m.: Driver's meeting at pre-grid area. 7 a.m.-Noon: Pancake Breakfast at Masonic Temple 8:30-10:30 a.m.: Practice rounds. Five minute sesions. 11:45-12:15 a.m.: Driver's meeting at pre-grid. 12:30-5:30 p.m.: Timed qualifying (5 laps) 6-9 p.m.: Karter Hospitality Party at Four Points by Sheraton. 5:30 p.m.: Track Closes at conclusion of qualifying. 9 p.m.: Outdoor music on the East Plaza Stage sponsored by the Rock Island Brewing Co. featuring The Travoltas from Canada with special guest Voodoo Sun. $5 cover charge. All ages show.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 7 a.m.: Pre-Race Tech Opens. 7:30-8:15 a.m.: Driver's Meeting at pre-grid area. 7 a.m.-Noon: Pancake Breakfast at Masonic Temple. 8:30-10:30 a.m.: Practice. Sunday practice time may be limited and vary depending on number of class entries and Consolation races required. Sunday practice rounds will be run in race order. 10:30-noon: Consolation Races (10 laps) Noon: Opening Ceremonies. 12:30 p.m. Racing begins with Superkarts! USA's King of the Streets, preceded by kids' on-track autograph session. 6 p.m.: Racing Ends. 9 p.m.: Outdoor music on the East Plaza Stage sponsored by the Rock Island Brewing Co. featuring Canadian band The Travoltas. $5 cover charge. All ages show.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 3 9:30 a.m.: Annual Rock Island Labor Day Parade. 18th Ave. and 24th Street..