MYERS ENDS '08 SEASON AS ROTAX NATIONAL CHAMPION Young Floridian earns MiniMax title in fourth year of karting SHAWANO, WI (September 15, 2008) -- The 2008 season ended on a high note for 12 year-old driver AJ Myers as he earned national ...
MYERS ENDS '08 SEASON AS ROTAX NATIONAL CHAMPION
Young Floridian earns MiniMax title in fourth year of karting
SHAWANO, WI (September 15, 2008) -- The 2008 season ended on a high note for 12 year-old driver AJ Myers as he earned national championship honors at the Rotax Max Challenge USA Grand Nationals at the USA International Raceway in Shawano, WI on September 13. The North Florida Rotax Series MiniMax champion made the long journey north from his home in Oldsmar, Florida to Wisconsin for the meeting of the top Rotax drivers from across the country and came away from the shootout honored as the best in the nation.
Beginning his karting career thanks in part to interest from watching his father Michael race both in karts and with the SCCA, Myers started in the Mini Max and Yamaha Junior Sportsman divisions in 2005. In that span of time, he has garnered valuable experience at the club, regional, and national level, all of which he was able to turn into a national title in just four short years.
Heading into this year's Rotax Grand Nationals, Myers and his father elected to try a new event strategy, starting from scratch in regards to both equipment and the driver. Myers chose to change over from the Wild Kart chassis he had been running all season to a Tony Kart in order to receive additional support from the Ocala Gran Prix team at the event. Myers was also visiting the Shawano circuit for the first time, and at just over a mile with challenging elevation changes, this track presents a major challenge for young drivers.
Following the first day of official practice on Wednesday and the final non-qualifying practice session, Myers sat sixth overall, surrounded by many of his fellow competitors from Florida who joined him in the top-half of the time sheets. Conditions were much different for qualifying the next morning and Myers improved his time, yet so did the rest of the field, as he ended the session in eighth which put him second in Group D for the heat races.
The first session of wheel-to-wheel action for Myers did not go as planned as contact on lap four put him on the sidelines with a disappointing 12th place finish in the opening heat race. Heats two and three showed that Myers had the pace to compete as he placed third in both races, earning the fast lap honor in heat two. With the results, Myers was placed ninth on the Prefinal grid, the inside of row five.
Come Championship Saturday, the rains came and put even more challenges to the drivers with the wet track conditions. Up to the task, Myers welcomed the rain and put in a stellar performance to get up to third in the 11-lap Prefinal, once again recording the fastest lap of the race. Starting right behind teammate and Prefinal winner Jack West, the duo was able to work together and pull away at the start of the 12-lap Feature. Once out front with a comfortable lead, the two battled for the top spot with Myers taking the lead for good on lap seven. AJ would beat West to the line by nine-tenths of a second to score the national championship.
Myers was able to achieve his results throughout the year with support from his sponsors, including NAI Tampa Bay Commercial Real Estate Services, Sunset Enterprises, and Ocala Gran Prix. The young talent now looks forward to the Florida Winter Tour, where he will once again fight it out against many of the best in his class. This time around, however, they will need to step up to challenge the reigning national champion.