Written by Jennifer Henry of Fade to Black Photography
With the pandemic still looming in the air across many sporting events were nonexistent across the country, but racing is not one of them. With karting events happening all over many were excited to return to Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas, the 5th stop on the WKA schedule. This year there would a little extra excitement added to the 2.5-mile road course in the form of a chicane on the back straightway. For some this addition was nothing new to them as it had been ran in past years but for many this was definitely something different. With this addition to the track would it be a deal breaker between winning or losing is anyone’s guess.
In recent years, the LO206 class has grown tremendously and has become a favorite among many racers. Just last month at Hallett Motorsports Park there were more than 50 entries in this class. While Heartland Park did not quite get to those numbers it was still an awesome class to watch. In Friday’s LO206 class there were 20 racers ready to battle it out for the checkered flag. At the drop of the green flag they were off but unfortunately a few did not make it around on the 1st lap due to a mishap after the big sweeper. Drivers scrambled to find other drivers to partner up with to help with the draft and advanced to the front. Many were teammates while others were just drivers helping others. By lap 3 or 4 the lead pack had been formed consisting of Kristi Lorang, Alex Norris, Jason Lorang, Austin Henry, and Doug Kittleson. Around the halfway mark the group was whittled down to only 3 with Jason Lorang and Austin Henry falling back. For the remainder of the race Kristi Lorang and Alex Norris battled for 1st place. As they both came around the corner to the front straightway the checkered flag was flying which meant that this was the moment one of them had to make a move. In the end Alex Norris took the P1 position for his 1st KART/MARRS win.
“Thank you to the Baldus racing team for the opportunity to get my first kart Mars win.”
Race 4 on Saturday was again the LO206 class which brought out 8 more drivers than on Friday bringing the total to 28 for the race. This would definitely be another fun race to watch. Coming around the 1st lap were the 3 boys from Nebraska followed by Kristi Lorang and Jacob Frese Sr. Unfortunately, due to a starting infraction one of the 3 boys from Nebraska had to take a drive thru penalty down pit road, but this did not deter the other 2 from keeping the momentum going for quite a few laps. Sadly, their lead would be overtaken by the likes of Kristi Lorang and Jacob Frese Sr. They powered past the boys from Nebraska and continued to increase their lead over the rest of the drivers. In the end Kristi was able to keep the lead and take the win with under a second separating her from 2nd place.
“The Scott’s Racing powered Compkart did not disappoint and the track was just as fun as it has always been! Can’t thank Stellor Racing and the MiSi crew enough for the support and good time!”
Sunday’s LO206 race again brought out almost 30 racers wanting to take home P1 but who would come out on top? Would it be Friday’s winner Alex Norris, Saturday’s winner, Kristi Lorang or would another driver with the determination to battle their way to the front? Right from the start Alex Norris took the lead with Jacob Frese Sr. hot on his trail. These 2 continued on their reign of terror for most of the race holding off numerous attacks for the lead. Somewhere around the halfway mark another group hooked up with the lead pack of Norris and Frese. At one-point Luke Kannady took the lead for a few laps but it was short lived as Alex Norris regained the lead with only a few laps to go. With Jacob Frese Sr. still hungry from his 2nd place finish on Saturday, Alex knew that he was going to have to give it his all to take home P1. On the last lap coming down the front straightway Alex Norris pulled off the win by 0.071 seconds over Jacob Frese Sr.
Saturday’s Sprint 125cc Shifter race was another class that brought out an impressive number of racers. With 20 drivers battling for the win it was bound to be a great race. Coming around the 1st lap leading the way was Derek Proctor representing Formula K and his teammate Pierce Baldus. Sadly, their lead was overtaken as Jeremy Lightwine, Jeff Mills, and Jared Langenfeld working together to pass the Formula K teammates. Not long after, Pierce Baldus experienced some mechanical failure and dropped out of the race. These three continued to keep the top three positions for the majority of the race. In the end Jeff Mills was able to pass Jeremy Lightwine and secure the win in the Sprint 125cc Shifter F1 race.
“Heartland Park is one of the best in the country, super smooth great for a racing,” according to Jeff Mills.
Sunday’s Sprint 125cc Shifter race had a few less competitors but the desire to win was very much apparent out on the track. Coming off the mechanical failure from Saturday, Pierce Baldus was gunning for the checkered flag. Right from the drop of the green flag Pierce Baldus took the lead and never looked back. Jeff Mills and Derek Proctor were about 3-4 seconds behind Pierce hoping to catch the him before too much space was created between them. Halfway through the race, Jared Landenfeld was able to sneak past Derek Proctor for 3rd place but that was short lived. Derek was able to regain his 3rd position and ended up passing 2nd place of Jeff Mills. With a 21 second lead over 2nd place and teammate Derek Proctor, Pierce Baldus was able to take home the checkered flag.
“I can’t thank everyone enough, the Galiffa Tuning/TM engine and Formula K were on point all weekend.”
The Sprint TaG Sr. class was the 3rd biggest class of the weekend with 13 drivers. Even though the numbers were not as impressive as the LO206 class or Shifter class, but these drivers came to put on a show. Right from the start Derek Proctor took the lead as everyone scrabbled to catch up with him. Alex Norris and Jason Lorang teamed up to try and reduce the gap that Derek Proctor had established. These two worked hard exchanging position throughout the race as Derek worked to keep the lead over the pack. With just a few laps to go Jason Lorang and Alex Norris were able to pass Derek on the back side of the track but that would be short lived as Derek would once again be in the lead coming onto the front straightaway. Sadly, on the very last lap of the race the 3 racers got caught in lap traffic and tried to go 4 wide and Derek suffered the consequences of that. Jason and Alex were able to break free and had a race to the death at the finish line. In the end Alex Norris took the win over Jason Lorang by only 0.032 seconds.
“I am extremely happy to come away with 3 wins this weekend, but still felt like that race deserved to end with a three wide photo finish. Thanks again to Pierce Baldus for the power.”
Sunday’s Sprint Tag Sr. race may not have been a photo finish, but it had some serious power and speed brought to you by Austin Henry. With only 2 laps of practice and a race on Saturday that did not bring the results that he wanted, Austin Henry was determined to take the checkered flag with this race. Leading the first few laps was Saturday’s winner Alex Norris, but he did not have the power to keep the lead. By lap 4 Austin Henry had overtaken the first-place position and never looked back. Derek Proctor was able to hang near the leader for a few laps, but he too did not have what it takes to keep up. Austin maintained the lead for the rest of the race, winning by almost 30 seconds over 2nd place Jason Lorang.