Grand Junction Motor Speedway hosting national-level kart race
A future NASCAR or IndyCar driver could be getting his or her start this weekend in Grand Junction.
Grand Junction Motor Speedway is hosting the Superkarts! USA (SKUSA) Pro Tour SummerNationals for the first time.
“This is by far the biggest event we’ve ever had here,” Speedway co-owner Stacey Cook said. “We appreciate (SKUSA owner) Tom (Kutscher) giving us the chance. It will show our track to everybody in the country.
“This is the only official professional (kart racing) series in the country.”
SummerNationals consists of two separate races, but both count toward the Pro Tour series point standings. The races will feature a live Internet broadcast (http://www.ekartingnews.com).
“I used to drive here myself,” Kutscher said. “This is one of my favorite tracks. Stacey and this track need a good event. They were promised this event last year and it didn’t happen.
“This place is a national-caliber track. There should be no reason there shouldn’t be another national event here. It’s one of the best tracks in the country. We all know about the incident (the death of 9-year-old Taybor Duncan in August 2010) here. We need positive feedback here.”
The event features four classes in the shifter karts, S1 (pro), S2 (semi-pro), S4 (masters 30-older), S5 (juniors).
Four more classes are in the Touch and Go (TAG) competition, cadet (ages 9-12), junior (ages 12-15), senior (age 15-older) and masters (age 30-older).
More than 150 drivers ages 9 to 65 are expected to compete in the event, including IndyCar League Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler, who will focus on working with his team.
Other IndyCar and NASCAR drivers who got their start racing karts include Graham Rahal, A.J. Allmendinger, Jamie McMurray, Michael McDowell, Buddy Rice and Bryan Herta, who owns a team with Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
SKUSA, which was founded in 1994, started a pro tour in 2010 with a SpringNationals and SummerNationals leading up to its major event, SuperNationals, in early November in Las Vegas.
The turnout for SpringNationals this year in Tucson, Ariz., was 70 percent more than the first year, Kutscher said.
“If you look at today’s economy, we’re seeing growth in hard times,” Kutscher said. “The hobbies are the first thing that goes.
“We’re seeing good growth. Next year, we should be at about 200.”
Kutscher has been president and owner of SKUSA since 2006.
“The memories were so good from the good days. I thought, ‘I’ve got to get this thing back. I can’t let it die,’ ” Kutscher said. “When this thing was belly-up in 2006, I got a phone call and decided I’ve got to go for it. We’re slowly getting it back on the charts.”