CONCORD, N.C. – The WKA RLV Tuned Exhaust Products Gold Cup Series ended an 18-year hiatus this past weekend with the running of the Michigan Kart Supply Nationals at the historic Lamar County Speedway in Barnesville, Georgia, a track that hadn’t seen national racing since 1994.
The Georgia Sprint Karting Association did a wonderful job prepping the Barnesville track and facility for a national event. While a different experience for most who hadn’t been to the Atlanta-area venue, majority of the Gold Cup teams left delighted with the club’s efforts and satisfied with the venue as a national event host.
Approximately 250 entries filled the Barnesville pit area. The track, a tight quarter-mile, considered a “bullring” by most sprint circuit’s standards, provided a new challenge to Gold Cup racers. Some teams rose to the occasion and put together fantastic weekends on the blue-collar circuit, while others struggled and left the venue shaking their heads and wondering what should have been different on their mounts.
Two racing families that adapted to the Barnesville circuit very well were the Wisconsin-based Zellners and Jacksonville, Florida’s Smith family.
Young Gabriel Zellner won the pair of Sportsman 1 Animal main events to bring his 2012 total to three feature wins on the Gold Cup circuit.
Gabriel’s older brother, Jacob Zellner, won Saturday’s Sportsman 2 Lite main over Connor Tebbe and finished a strong second to Tebbe in Sunday’s Sportsman 2 Heavy. Jacob also tried his hand in the Sportsman 2 Box Stock divisions for the first time and came away with a pair of third-place runs in Sportsman 2 Box Stock Final 1 and 2.
Twin brothers Aren and Tyler Smith shined at Barnesville, a track they had more experience than most via their Southeast sprint racing efforts over the last couple years. Tyler bested his brother to win Saturday’s Jr Lite feature and added a second feature triumph in Sunday’s Jr Box Stock Final 2.
Aren Smith captured several top-five finishes, led by his big win over Jacob Heavlow in Saturday’s Jr Heavy feature. As mentioned, Aren also finished second in Jr Lite, third in both Jr Box Stock finals and fourth in Restricted Junior.
Here’s a rundown of each division from the Gold Cup’s long-awaited return to the Lamar County Speedway.
LO206 Kid Kart
Cale Hall and Tanner Carter split the LO206 Kid Kart features. The class, which was making its second-ever appearance on a national stage, saw a nice increase in kart counts from three entrants at the March Jacksonville opener to five youngsters at Barnesville.
Saturday’s race saw Hall win by a hefty 22-second margin over Dalton Smith. Riley Smith, Duquan Lane and Carter were third through fifth.
Sunday’s Kid Kart feature was much closer as Carter redeemed himself with a 2.6-second victory over Hall. Dalton Smith was six seconds back in third, Riley Smith fourth and Lane fifth.
As mentioned, Gabriel Zellner was the driver to beat in the Animal versions of Sportsman 1. The Arrow pilot bested Maryland’s Wyatt Frantz by a 4.7-second margin to score the win in Saturday’s Performance North-sponsored Sportsman 1 Lite. Jason Alder, Matthew Miller and Zachary Wells ran third through fifth in the nine-kart field.
Sunday’s weekend capper saw Alder sneak into second place and cross the stripe 1.4 seconds back of Gabriel. Frantz proved consistent with a third-place run with Coyote racers Joshua Stark and Nick Fauci fourth and fifth.
Maryland’s Matthew Miller scored his first Gold Cup triumph with the win in Jr Sportsman 1 Box Stock Final 1. Miller won by a cool three-second gap over Cody Hall. Jacksonville winner Zachary Wells was third, Jason Alder fourth and Nick Torres fifth.
Sunday’s Jr Sportsman 1 Box Stock Final 2 featured a close race for the win between Hall and Miller. Hall ended up crossing the stripe nearly a second ahead of Miller for the score. The pair were well ahead of third-place Wells, fourth-place Torres and fifth-place Alder.
Georgia’s Connor Tebbe captured a couple of Sportsman 2 mains as he continues his surge as one of the top young Gold Cup talents. Tebbe started the weekend off with a 4.4-second triumph over Dylan Murry in Jr Sportsman 2 Box Stock Final 1. Jacob Zellner was third and Evan Cowen fourth.
Tebbe’s second win came in Sportsman 2 Heavy, which saw him win a fierce battle over Jacob Zellner. The official margin of victory was just 0.199 seconds as the pair raced away from the rest of the field in a terrific race.
Murry was again 4.4 seconds back, this time finishing third. Maryland’s Trent Barnes was fourth and Ohio’s David Kalb Jr. fifth.
Saturday’s American Power Sports Sportsman 2 Lite hosted an impressive four-kart battle for the win among J. Zellner, Tebbe, Murry and T. Barnes. The four finished within 0.673 seconds of one another with Zellner earning the win by just a kart-length over Tebbe. Murry was third and Barnes fourth. Tyler Frantz lost touch with the lead pack but fended off several karts to round out the top five.
Murry denied Tebbe of a weekend hat trick in Jr Sportsman 2 Box Stock Final 2. Murry wheeled his Razor to a 0.501-second triumph over Tebbe in the 20-lapper. Jacob Zellner was third.
After Jacob Heavlow dominated in Jacksonville, the Maryland racer couldn’t work the same success in Barnesville.
The closest Heavlow came to a win was in Saturday’s Jr Heavy, which saw his MGM finish a close second to Aren Smith’s Razor chassis. C.J. Leturneau was third on a Coyote; Douglas Barnes Jr. and Ryan Bavineau rounded out the top five.
Tyler Smith won the other Jr Animal main on Saturday with a triumph over Aren in Barnes Paving Jr Lite. Sarah Luoma was third, Heavlow fourth and Dustin Demattia fifth.
Sarah Luoma beat all the boys in Sunday’s Thor Oil Jr Medium main event. Luoma, an Ohio racer, wheeled her No. 5 Coyote to her first Gold Cup win of the season by a half-second margin over fellow Coyote racers Ryan Bavineau and C.J. Leturneau. Barnes was fourth and Heavlow fifth in the 10-kart field.
Tanner Lee raced his Razor to the Razor Chassis / Roberts Kart Shop Restricted Junior victory. Bavineau was second on his Coyote, Luoma third, Aren Smith fourth and Leturneau fifth.
Lee’s Restricted Junior triumph came a day after he scored the win in a close race with Tyler Smith in Jr Box Stock Final 1. Lee crossed the line just 0.132 seconds ahead of T. Smith in the 20-lapper. The pair was about 2.5 seconds ahead of third-place A. Smith. Haley Kummer was fourth and Michigan’s Tyler Woods fifth.
T. Smith denied Lee of a Jr Box Stock sweep with a 0.796-second win in Sunday’s version of the class. Lee was second, A. Smith third, Woods fourth and Kummer fifth.
Derek Sobel swept the Franklinkart.com X30 Junior mains. The finish was identical both days with Sobel taking the wins over Dustin Stross and Justin Kreiner.
Tony Wimmer bested a good field of Margay Racing Products Animal Amateur Medium racers Sunday afternoon. Wimmer pulled away from Harry Smith for a 4.5-second score in the 20-lap main. Jacksonville winner Ryan Bennett was third, Matthew Wimmer fourth and Case Hall fifth.
After missing Jacksonville, Maryland’s Chris Wells returned to the Gold Cup at Barnesville and immediately returned to Victory Lane with a big win in Friday night’s Animal Heavy Money Race.
Aboard his No. 00 MGM chassis, Wells won the 20-lapper over Michigan Kart Supply Coyote racer Dakota Bell, MGM house driver Tyler Sandmeyer, Matt Wimmer and Jacksonville Money Race victor Sean Meier. The top four finished within 0.682 seconds of one another. On par with most Money Race fields over the last couple years, 18 karts started the popular event.
Wells wasn’t done Friday night; he returned Saturday to claim the Coyote Motorsports Stock Lite main over Matt Wimmer and Bell, who qualified best and won the heat race. Tony Wimmer and Joshua Stiefel rounded out the top five in the 10-kart field.
Saturday’s other senior Animal main saw 17 karts start MGM Stock Heavy. Veteran Gary Lawson, who didn’t run the Money Race, wasted no time figuring out Barnesville’s tight quarter-mile and swept the day in Stock Heavy. Lawson qualified over three-tenths better than anyone before dominating the heat and main on his faithful No. 10 Arrow.
Lawson finished nearly three seconds ahead of Jacksonville Stock Heavy winner Sandmeyer in the main. Richie Kuhn took third, Dylan Zobkiw fourth and Meier fifth.
Sunday’s anticipated Stock Medium saw Lawson retire on lap 12 while running second to Meier. Lawson’s misfortune allowed Meier to cruise to his first national victory of the season aboard his Coyote Motorsports-owned No. 30. Bell and Billy Fraser made it a Coyote sweep of the top-three positions. Wells’ MGM was fourth and New York’s Ben Wagenhals fifth on an Arrow.
Kyle Flores was the only entrant in Super Heavy. Flores made a qualifying run to gain credit for the win.
Steve Roberts and Tim Stiefel split the Masters features. Racing at his home track, Roberts wheeled his Razor to the victory in Saturday’s Masters Medium. Stiefel, Michael Chapman and David Barry finished second through fourth.
Roberts had problems in Sunday’s Target Distributing Masters Heavy feature, handing the lead and eventual victory to Stiefel. Roberts was credited with second and Barry third.
Barry was the only entrant in Animal Modified Heavy and scored his second Gold Cup win of the season.
Senior Box Stock / X30
Followers of the Gold Cup were predicting over two-dozen entrants in the Sr Box Stock classes at Barnesville, where the Clone group is a strong one. Surprisingly, only 16 racers made the call for Saturday’s Sr Box Stock Final 1 and 14 for Sunday’s Final 2 program.
Local racer and ageless veteran Bob Barthelemy raced his No. 3 to the weekend’s first Sr Box Stock main by nearly a second advantage over Steve Frank. However, Frank was disqualified in post-race tech, handing the runner-up position to Ohio’s Eric Fagan, who scored the Sr Box Stock Final 2 victory at Jacksonville. Patrick O’Neal was third, Carter Schlenke fourth and Tyler Bell fifth.
Dicky Wilson, another tried and true karting veteran, scored the victory in the Sr Box Stock Final 2 weekend capper. Wilson pulled out to a 1.3-second advantage over Fagan by the time the checkers waved. Bell captured his second top-five finish of the weekend with a third-place effort. Barthelemy couldn’t match his Saturday success and came home fourth. Matthew Horst rounded out the top five.
Jacob Duvall made it four-for-four on the Gold Cup season in the X30 Senior division. Duvall, who swept Jacksonville, wheeled his DR Kart to a pair of convincing victories at Barnesville.
Cale Rogers was second in Saturday’s Final 1; Allen Maxwell third and Jay Vormwald fourth. On Sunday, Vormwald ran second to Duvall with Rogers crossing the stripe third.
With a successful round two at Barnesville in the books, competitors now turn their attention to round three, the Baker Racing Engines Nationals July 13-15 at South Bend, Indiana’s Michiana Raceway Park.
The Baker Racing Engines Nationals entry form is now available. Competitors have until May 20 to get pre-entries to WKA and pay the cheapest prices. Pre-registration is open until June 27.
Click here to view and print the Baker Racing Engines Nationals entry blank.