Zalusky-led Team Wins Inaugural Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals Superstars Kart Enduro Challenge at VIR Alton, Va. (August 26) -- Former extreme snowboarding champion-turned-motorcycle racer Jessica Zalusky anchored the winning team in the inaugural...
Zalusky-led Team Wins Inaugural Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals Superstars Kart Enduro Challenge at VIR
Alton, Va. (August 26) -- Former extreme snowboarding champion-turned-motorcycle racer Jessica Zalusky anchored the winning team in the inaugural Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals Superstars Kart Enduro Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway on Thursday.
The race was a promotional event in advance of this weekend's Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals at VIR featuring the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, and gave 10 race fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race with some of the world's top motorcycle races. Ten teams, each comprised of a Superbike racer, a media celebrity, a staff member from VIR, AMA or race promoters Race Promotion Management (RPM) and a fan, raced in an enduro format on VIR's Plantation Valley Kart Track. Each driver got eight laps of the 5/8-mile circuit in identically-prepared 200cc Zip karts, and the fastest laps of each team's four drivers were added together to create cumulative scores.
The winning team consisted of Kawasaki Formula Xtreme competitor Zalusky, speedtv.com director Mark Mitchell, AMA Superbike Championship series manager Ron Barrick and fan Matt Boike of Charlotte, N.C. Their combined total time was 208.38sec, with Zalusky turning the fastest lap of the race at 48.10.
"What an awesome event," Zalusky said. "VIR's Plantation Valley Kart Track is almost as much fun as the regular racetrack, and we had a ball. It was great to beat all the big guys, and I'm looking forward to defending my title next year. My teammates all did a great job, and the other teams put up a fierce battle. They may argue the point, but we are confident that the best team won. Plus, we have the trophies!"
The second-place team consisted of Ducati Superbike star Neil Hodgson, Speed TV personality Greg White, RPM staff announcer Danny Walker and fan Paul Thorpe of Sicklerville, N.J. Their total cumulative time was 210.13sec.
Hodgson was not pleased with the outcome.
"I was completely robbed!" he said, with just the slightest hint of a smile. "I'm still waiting for a steward's inquiry about Miguel Duhamel's pass on me into the first corner. It was clearly a crazy and dangerous move. Someone could have been injured, so I'm really disappointed. You know, from an experienced, really old guy like him, you would expect a lot more maturity."
Hodgson also took exception to Zalusky's claim of victory.
"It's still debatable," he noted. "You know, our kart was not the fastest out there, but I think, based on driving performance, we far outshone the rest of the field. Next year, I'll be tuning the kart like everybody else did. You learn from your mistakes, so I'll be faster next year."
Finishing third was the team of Honda Superbike and Formula Xtreme veteran Duhamel, former Superbike champ Jamie James (serving as temporary correspondent for Cycle News), Speed TV event marketing supervisor Donato Bonaquisto and fan Mike Hummel of Greensboro, N.C. The team's total cumulative time was 210.97sec.
Duhamel took particular exception to Hodgson's characterization of him.
"Well, I might be old," he said with mock indignation, "but the No. 2 plate is in my truck, so I don't know where he finished! You know, I'm an old guy, and I don't have time to go for the long lines like he does. I go for the short, tight lines.
"And he ran into me! He was trying to turn into me. I was clearly in the right. I'm very pleased for the team. I just don't understand what happened. I think, for sure, though, with Ron Barrick being in the picture there, something must have been done. There's no way that guy could be part of any winning team in kart racing. Actually, he should have been docked 10 second for taking Josh Hayes out and bragging about it! That just doesn't seem right to me.
"In my heart, though, I know that I won. Not the team, me! You know, that's the way I keep myself happy when I wake up. It's always a beautiful day.
"But it was a fun, fun event. I really liked it. The racing was great. I did bump Neil, and I'll do it again if it's for the win. So we'll be back next year for the rematch."
Fourth place went to the team of Kawasaki Supersport star Roger Hayden, Speed TV announcer Brian Drebber, AMA tech official Kevin Crowther and fan Paul Guiomor of Long Branch, N.J., with a cumulative time of 211.16sec.
Taking fifth place was the team of Suzuki Superbike title contender Ben Spies, Road Racer X editor Chris Jonnum, VIR staffer Burt Howerton and fan Dale McFaddin of Callands, Va., posting a time of 211.48sec.
The sixth-place team of Ducati Superbike star Eric Bostrom, AMA Superbike media director Donnie Clark, RPM staffer Isan Hung and fan Lincoln Hurd of Knoxville, Tenn., would have finished second, but Bostrom was penalized three seconds for taking what the race stewards deemed a "creative" line through one of the corners that included much curb and grass, not to mention about .4sec less lap time than everybody else.
A semi-recalcitrant Bostrom said later, " I wasn't really up front where I wanted to be, so, you know, a little cuttin' the track,.. We deserved every bit of the penalty we got. I apologize to my team for cheating. I feel like I let them down, but I had more fun that way, and that was what the race was all about. I'll be back next year, and hopefully I can do it legit!"
The lucky fans got to compete with the racing superstars by purchasing advance tickets by August 12 and being entered into a lottery from which 10 names were drawn to compete in the Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals Superstars Kart Enduro Challenge. Following the race trophies were presented to the drivers of the top three teams, and fan participants received a CD of photographs taken during the race.
RPM vice president Cameron Gray said the event was a huge success.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the way the inaugural Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals Superstars Kart Enduro Challenge turned out," he said, "Except, of course, for the fact that the kart I was driving was a dog and I was completely cheated out of what was certain victory. Other than that, though, we were thrilled with the way everything went. Speed Channel even showed up to tape the race for their '2 Wheel Tuesday' show, and everybody is already talking about next year. I can guarantee you that I'll be driving a faster kart next time around, and then we'll see who's bragging about a first-place trophy!"
Gray also said that Matt Boike, the fan participant on the winning team, will be given a three-day pass to next year's Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals so that he can come back to defend his title.
Tickets for this weekend's Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals can be purchased at the gate, with availability limited to three-day passes for $60 and pit walk passes for $40.
The event schedule for the Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals includes two feature races for the headlining AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited as well as feature races for the supporting classes including the Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei, AMA Repsol Lubricants Superstock Series and Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, which is a sales showroom for high-end collector and racing cars; the VIR Safety and Security Institute, which provides specialized training for U.S. Government and military groups; The Lodge at VIR, a 27-room hotel overlooking the track; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.
VIR made history from 1957 to 1974 and is doing so again. The 2.25-mile VIR North Course circuit on which the Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals will take place has 17 challenging turns and 130 feet of elevation change. In addition to spectator events, the track is also available to rent for testing, driving schools and club days.
For more information on VIRginia International Raceway, visit the track's website at www.virclub.com or contact VIR at 434-822-7700. For more information on Race Promotion Management, visit their website at www.rpmcolorado.com or contact them via telephone at 303-377-3278. For more information on the AMA Superbike Championship Presented by Parts Unlimited, visit their website at www.amasuperbike.com.