PROKART CHALLENGE PROGRAMS COMPLETE SEASON WITH YEAR-END AWARD BANQUETS South and North programs honor class champions, award two drivers with trips to Brazil TEMECULA, CA (October 27, 2009) -- Following 13 events from January to September,...
PROKART CHALLENGE PROGRAMS COMPLETE SEASON WITH YEAR-END AWARD BANQUETS
South and North programs honor class champions, award two drivers with trips to Brazil
TEMECULA, CA (October 27, 2009) -- Following 13 events from January to September, the ProKart Challenge franchise honored its class champions in the last few weeks during the year-end award banquets. The ProKart Challenge South program held their awards ceremony at the Grand Event Center in Long Beach, California on October 3, while two weeks later the Tuscan Car Barn in Larkspur, California hosted the ProKart Challenge North extravaganza.
Nine different classes recognized the 2009 PKC South champions, with only one driver able to score two titles. Young Jacob Neal was honored as the S1 and S3 champion, where he won a total of nine feature races between the two divisions to clinch both titles by a solid margin. Neal was also honored as the PKC North champion in S3 -- and was presented with a three-time championship jacket during the awards presentation.
"At the beginning of the year, I would have never thought I would have won three championships, let alone be racing Stock Moto," commented Neal following the awards banquets. "This past year a lot has changed for me. My main class, S1, became a secondary class for me and S3 became our primary concern. S3 has done more for my career thus far than any other class I have ever raced, and I have not had this much fun racing since my days in Junior 1 Cadet. But the year was long and tiring running two classes; it took a lot out of me physically and mentally. We went on quite a winning spree from the beginning to the middle of the year but at the end we found ourselves still fighting for the championships. I am glad we were able to win the three championships, but I am disappointed to lose the fourth championship (PKC North S1) to Cody (Hodgson) -- but congratulations to him."
Another big winner of the night with the PKC South crowd was the S4 champion Jeff Smith. After receiving his champion's jacket following a solid year -- consisting of six podium finishes in seven races -- Smith was drawn at random to receive the all-expense paid trip to the Granja Viana 500 event in Brazil (a $13,000+ value). Thanks to MG Tires, Smith will travel to Brazil to be part of the MG Tires/SKUSA team to race in the endurance event against worldwide stars in motorsports.
"My feet have still not hit the ground," said Smith following the PKC South banquet. "I am blown away by receiving the opportunity to go to Brazil. I was sitting there, just over the moon about winning the ProKart Challenge championship in S4 when Tom said I was the one that won the trip to Brazil for the Granja 500. It was like waking up from a dream...the ones where you are not quite sure where you are, or what's happening around you. I feel Tom and Patti (Kutscher) put on the best racing in the U.S. Winning the ProKart Championship was incredible. Winning the Granja 500 trip is unbelievable. Now I am focusing on doing my part to represent the U.S. in Brazil. Gotta' be fast, respectful of my opportunity, and ready for anything in Brazil!"
One of the most decorated competitors in ProKart Challenge history added to his trophy case at home, as PP Mastro claimed his fourth G1 championship in the South program's five years. Winning the title three year's straight (2005, 2006, 2007), Mastro missed events in 2008 which cost him a shot at the crown. This past season, Mastro entered the program finale with a chance to steal back the title -- and did so by sweeping the event.
Despite some late charges by his rivals, Steve Wiener was crowned the TaG Master champion for his first title in his PKC career. After finishing fourth in last year's heated program, Wiener was the most consistent driver in the field this time around as he ran near the front all season long. Howie Idelson returned to the PKC South program in 2009, and scored gold with the TaG Senior championship. Max Zacky became the first TaG Junior champion for the PKC South program, while Alex Speed and Luke Bianco were crowned champions in KF2 and S4 Magnum -- new in 2009.
As an added bonus, the top five drivers in each class (who also had competed at six of the seven races of the season) were eligible for a drawing to win a free entry to the SKUSA SuperNationals. Roy Montgomery (G1) Patrick Cushenberry (S3), Howie Idelson (TaG Senior), Mike Kelley (TaG Master) and Jeff Smith (S4) were all awarded tickets to the November 18-22 race.
Two weeks following the proceedings for the PKC South program, the eight class champions were honored for the PKC North series at their own celebratory banquet. Competitors were invited inside the Tuscan Car Barn, home of the Tom Price Car Collection, who provided vintage cars each PKC weekend for bonus victory laps. Completing its second season, two drivers were able to repeat their inaugural championships.
Cody Hodgson made a late season charge to claim his second straight S1 title in the PKC North program. After swapping feature wins with rival Jacob Neal, Hodgson ripped off three straight feature wins to complete the season and lock in the title at the finale.
"The back to back titles really mean a lot to me, especially since it is in the S1 category," stated Hodgson. "My goal in karting has always been to compete against the best in the ICC rankings and succeed. It is too bad that S1 has started to fall off the charts due to the economy, because I enjoy racing the class so much and it truly is a challenge. It takes a tremendous amount of skill in driving technique, chassis setup, engine tuning, and even physical fitness. If you're missing any of those factors, it's almost impossible to compete."
The second repeat champion came in the Junior category, as Kiel Spaulding defended his #1 plate in the HPV-2 Junior division. Spaulding went near perfect on the year, recording seven podium finishes with four feature wins to score a solid second title.
"I had a lot of fun running a full second season with ProKart and winning my second straight championship," spoke Spaulding. "I enjoy the competition and watching the Senior classes when not on the track. I'm looking forward to doing some shifting in S5 next year in ProKart Challenge."
Joining Smith from the South program in Brazil for the Granja Viana 500 event is S3 driver Tommy Thompson. His name was drawn randomly and with the help of MG Tires, will represent the official tire partner of the ProKart Challenge and Superkarts! USA at the famous endurance race.
"It's difficult to talk about it really, due to the fact that I am truly speechless about the whole situation at this point in time," stated Thompson. "First off, I would like to thank Tom and Patti Kutscher, the entire SKUSA staff, and everyone at MG Tires for making this possible for me and my other Brazil teammates. Also I'd like to thank to my parents for making the flight arrangements as well as traveling with me. It is a great honor and opportunity to be chosen to race in an event of this stature. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what to expect down there as this kind of racing will be a totally new thing for me. I'm just going to do my best down there, try not to get to worked up about it, and use this experience as an opportunity to learn some on and off track tips from some of the greats of this sport. It is also great being able to go to a country I've never been to."
One of the most exciting classes to watch through the year was the TaG Senior category. With a number of top contenders in the field each weekend, it was Brett Buckwalter that overcame early defeats with four straight feature wins at the end of the year to score the title. Four other drivers received their first ever PKC North championship honors: Jim Kidd (G1), Jamie Wilson (S4), Jeff Deehan (TaG Masters) and Dylan Lupton (TaG Junior). Kidd and Wilson were also drawn for free entries to the SuperNationals along with S3 champion Neal.
Superkarts! USA and the ProKart Challenge would like to thank all of their sponsors for their continued support throughout the 2009 season, especially: MG Tires, Mothers, Oakley, Axcel Fast Graphics, Classy Cars, Darcy DeCoste, SwedeTech and Aluminos, along with Tom Price and Shawn Thomas.
The 2010 ProKart Challenge regional schedules are currently in the final planning stages and will be released soon. To follow updates for the upcoming season or to find out how to be part of the ProKart Challenge, visit www.prokartchallenge or call the SKUSA office at 951-491-0808.