JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Photos by Double Vision Photography; mouse over photos for captions
The RLV Tuned Exhaust Products Gold Cup – WKA’s premier 4-cycle series – kicked off its 2014 campaign this past weekend at Jacksonville, Florida’s 103rd Street Sports Complex, where the Ionic Edge Chassis Nationals was held at the very popular urban-area kart track.
The Gold Cup opener drew 240 point-class entrants and 290 overall entries including Friday evening’s pro races, a fine rebound from the 2013 Jacksonville opener, which drew 175 point-class entrants.
Senior racers were posed with plenty of competition with an encouraging sophomore season debut for the Pro Gas Animal. Thirty racers took the green flag in Saturday and Sunday’s $500-To-Win Pro Gas Animal main events, and 21 started Friday night’s Pro Gas Animal Money Race.
The four Sportsman Pro Gas Animal divisions – now split to a Lite and Heavy – all boasted more than 15 entrants, and the pair of Junior Pro Gas divisions each started a dozen 12- to 15-year-old racers. Even the LO206 Kid Kart class, which had never seen more than four youngsters start a Gold Cup national, featured six young racers on Sunday afternoon.
Several racers earned their fair share of the over $5,000 in awards that was presented among Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s racing. Cooksville, Maryland’s Jason Alder raced his Bandit chassis to four wins on the weekend in the Junior Sportsman divisions. Alder won two of the four Sportsman Pro Gas main events – Lite on Saturday and Heavy on Sunday – and swept the Miller Welders Sportsman Methanol mains.
Jax Walker raced his Razor chassis to a sweep of the LO206 Kid Kart features.
Zach Wells did something few have ever done at a Gold Cup national – win five races in a weekend. The Maryland racer rode his new MGM Hybrid Jr chassis to wins in five of the six Junior features. Wells swept the most competitive Junior mains – Van-K Wheels Junior Pro Gas Animal – while doing the same in Thor Oil Junior Medium. His only non-win came in Saturday’s Junior Heavy Mix 1 feature to Jason Yarbrough. Wells returned Sunday to dominate the Junior Heavy weekend capper over Yarbrough.
Gary Lawson continued to surge in the Senior classes. The Ohio veteran opened the weekend with a runner-up finish to young hot shoe Corey Towles in Friday ‘s Pro race. Lawson was denied of victory again Saturday, battling hard for the win but settling for a close third-place finish to Tyler Sandmeyer and Sean Meier in Senior Pro Gas Animal.
But when Sunday rolled around Lawson did nothing but get faster, posting the fastest lap of the weekend – a 38.1 – in Pro Gas Animal qualifying and backing it up with wins in Pro Gas Animal and Animal Heavy Mix. Lawson’s efforts earned him $1,500 in prize money on the weekend.
Here’s a quick rundown of the weekend’s racing at Jacksonville. A full report and Double Vision’s photography will be found in the March issue of WKA’s Karting Scene online magazine.
Friday Night Shootouts / Money Race
Maryland’s Jason Alder, Georgia’s Connor Tebbe and Jacksonville local Corey Towles raced to wins in Friday night’s special Shootouts and Senior Money Race.
Alder opened his big weekend on a high note with a pole qualifying effort and win over Nash Duyn and Cody Hall in the 10-lap Sportsman Pro Gas Shootout. Nick Fauci raced his Coyote to a fourth-place finish, just ahead of No. 6 Alex Vrabel.
Connor Tebbe scored the Junior Pro Gas Shootout triumph in another close contest over Jacksonville’s Jason Yarbrough. Zach Wells, who would go on to win five of the weekend’s next six Junior mains, settled for third in this one with Georgia’s Dylan Murry and Rafael Leon fifth.
Corey Towles lined up deep in the field for the Senior Pro Gas Money Race standing start. Towles had the lead from Gary Lawson by lap 8 of the first 10-lap segment, and went on the score the win by a convincing one-second margin over Lawson in the second 10-lapper. Lawson needed a last-turn pass to take second from Matthew Horst. Ohio’s Dustin Demattia rode an Ionic Edge chassis to fourth with MGM racer Tyler Sandmeyer fifth. Towles, who rode a Coyote to the win, earned $500 for his efforts.
Saturday’s 11 National Features
Georgia youngster Jax Walker opened a picture-perfect 70-plus-degree Saturday afternoon with the win in the LO206 Kid Kart class. Jax dominated the race, winning by over 16 seconds over New York’s Blake Boon. Owen Lloyd was third, Brently Miller fourth and Asher Johnson fifth.
Coyote Motorsports team owner Jim Lipari wheeled his Baker Racing Engines-powered XP Chassis to the Performance North Animal Medium feature win. Lipari won by a 1.6-second margin over Tanner Lee. Paul Headley took third, Sandmeyer fourth and Cayla Chapman fifth.
Alder scored his second win of the weekend with a hotly contested victory in the Razor Chassis Sportsman Pro Gas Animal Lite feature. Alder won by a slim 0.123-second gap over Hall. Fauci was third, Matthew Miller fourth and Vrabel netted another top five.
Zach Wells won his first race of the weekend with his victory in Van-K Wheels Junior Pro Gas Animal 1. Wells edged Friday night Junior victor Connor Tebbe in the 12-lapper. Joshua Stark was third, Dylan Murry fourth and David Kalb Jr. fifth on his Margay.
The season-opening Coyote Motorsports Senior Pro Gas Animal main event saw an exciting three-kart battle among Sandmeyer, Lawson and Sean Meier. The trio battled it out over the last laps, trading the lead numerous times, with Sandmeyer’s GT Machine-powered MGM edging Meier’s Baker-powered Coyote. Lawson would settle for third in this one, over three seconds ahead of Friday night winner Towles. Last year’s Senior Pro Gas Animal national champion – Dylan Zobkiw – rounded out the top five of 30.
Sandmeyer earned $500 for the win.
Alder won his second main of the day in Miller Welders Sportsman Methanol 1. Alder won a close contest over fellow Maryland racer Matthew Miller. Brian Van Cleve Jr. and Riley Kelley finished third and fourth.
Wells scored win No. 2 on the day over Joshua Stark in Thor Oil Junior Medium 1. Wells’ MGM and Stark’s Coyote finished ahead of David Kalb Jr. and Adam Cornell.
Jacksonville’s Jordan Mincey wheeled his Coyote to the Briggs & Stratton Racing LO206 Heavy 1 main over Chase Moore and Mike Greiner.
Georgia’s Cody Hall broke the Alder winning streak in Baker Racing Engines Sportsman Pro Gas Animal Heavy. Hall edged Alder for the win by only 0.225 seconds. Nash Duyn continued a solid weekend with a fine third-place effort. Vrabel and Fauci finished fourth and fifth to each net their third top-five results of the weekend.
Paul Headley rode his GT-powered Bandit to a big win in Power Plus Lubricants Animal Heavy Mix 1. Headley, who ran a methanol Animal, bested Towles, on a Pro Gas Animal by about 10 kart-lengths at the stripe. Sandmeyer was third, Patrick O’Neal fourth and Brad Farmer fifth in the 13-kart field.
Jason Yarbrough scored the victory in Saturday’s last race – Brad’s Heating & Cooling Junior Heavy Mix 1. Yarbrough, out of the Jacksonville area, wheeled his Coyote to the victory over New York’s Stark. Wells was third, Kalb fourth and Hunter Fox completed the top five.
Sunday’s 11 National Features
Jax Walker made it a sweep of the LO206 Kid Kart finals with his Sunday afternoon win in the division’s weekend capper. Six youngsters took the green flag in the best Kid Kart field Gold Cup has ever seen in three years of offering the class. Owen Lloyd was second, Brently Miller third, Blake Boon fourth and Asher Johnson fifth.
Lipari and Sandmeyer waged a good battle for the win in Performance North Animal Medium 2. The two veterans traded the lead a couple times in the final laps. Lipari was able to fend off Sandmeyer at the stripe for his second win of the weekend. Lee was third, Chapman fourth and Headley fifth.
Wells earned Jacksonville win No. 3 in Van-K Wheels Junior Pro Gas 2. The Maryland native pulled out to a 0.636-second gap on Tebbe to earn the hat trick. Murry was third, Yarbrough fourth and Stark rounded out the top five.
After a pair of top-three results but no wins, Lawson earned his first score of the weekend in Sunday’s Coyote Motorsports Senior Pro Gas Animal main. Lawson swept the day with the Mikim Motorsports Pole Award, pre-final and final win. Coyote pilot Meier was on Lawson’s back bumper throughout both the heat and feature, but didn’t have quite enough to draw even and challenge Lawson’s Arrow.
Jason Birdsell passed Sandmeyer on the last corner for third. Demattia rode his Ionic Edge to another top-five run with a fifth-place effort. Lawson pocketed $500 for the win.
Alder made it a sweep of Miller Welders Sportsman Methanol with another win over Miller. Riley Kelley finished third.
Wells earned yet another Ionic Edge Chassis Nationals win – his fourth – in Thor Oil Junior Medium 2. Wells won over Stark, Kalb and Cornell for the second day in a row.
Sunday’s Kart City Performance LO206 Heavy headliner paid $300 to win, posted by Briggs, and Mincey won an exciting contest over Matt Skaggs and Michael Clark. Moore and Greiner were in the mix and contact was made on the last lap, leaving them to finish fourth and fifth.
Sunday’s 15-kart Baker Racing Engines Sportsman Pro Gas Heavy main saw Alder best Duyn for his fourth triumph of the weekend. Hall was right there for third. The top three raced out to a big 6.7-second advantage over fourth-place Miller and fifth-place Van Cleve.
Lawson and Birdsell were the class of the field in the weekend’s final money race, Power Plus Lubricants Animal Heavy Mix. Birdsell hung with Lawson in the early stages until the Ohio driver crept out to a 0.723-second lead over the Illinois racer. Towles was third, nearly five seconds back of the top two. Saturday Heavy winner Headley settled for fourth with Lee rounding out the top five in an action-packed race that saw a couple of wrecks. Lawson won another $500 for the win.
Wells put an exclamation point on an awesome weekend with his victory in Brad’s Heating & Cooling Junior Heavy Mix 2. The last race of the weekend saw Wells win by a wide margin over Yarbrough. Stark capped a strong weekend to take third, Kalb fourth and Fox fifth.
Cody Hall and Zach Wells won the special Lap Leader Awards posted by Steve Baker and Gary Lawson. Hall led the most laps on the weekend in the five Sportsman Pro Gas mains while Wells did the same in the three Junior Pro Gas finals. Both drivers left Florida with a new Samsung Galaxy 3 tablet.
Nash Duyn won the new DeWalt Impact as the Up and Comer Award winner in the Sportsman Pro Gas mains. Duyn recorded a best finish of second, and was the top finishing racer who did not win a main event last year.
Connor Tebbe won a Baker Racing Engines Pro Gas Animal, posted by Steve Baker, for scoring the pole and going on to win Friday night's Junior Pro Gas Animal Shootout race. Baker posted the engine to any current BRE driver who could win the pole and the main event.
Joshua Stark won the $500 gift certificate to the Bondurant Driving School in Phoenix, Arizona, which was posted by Gary Lawson.
In Senior classes, 10 racers left 103rd Street with a check for purses posted in five main events.
The RLV Gold Cup Series now has a break until round two, the Michigan Kart Supply Nationals July 11-13 at Camden, Ohio’s G&J Kartway.