nternational winter west coast series shifts to world championship brand
The 2024 season for Challenge of the Americas marks a new era for the international winter west coast series. The 17th season for the Challenge will expand to a more open format moving forward, welcoming a new tire manufacturer into the series.
The Challenge of the Americas has signed on with Vega Tires for the 2024 season and beyond. The Vega Green XH4 tire will be utilized in all categories except for Cadet, which will compete on the Red VAH compound. Rain racing will utilize the Vega W6 rain tire. Full Throttle Karting, owned by FTK Promotions’ Andy Seesemann, has been named the Western United States Distributor for Vega Tires.
“To say this is an exciting time for the Challenge would be an understatement,” stated Andy Seesemann of FTK Promotions and Challenge of the Americas. “Over the last 17 years, we’ve had to adjust and move forward with the Challenge based on the current status of the sport. 2024 is one of those transition years as we move to welcome multiple engine formats and bring on Vega Tires as our spec tire. Bringing Vega to the Challenge puts the program on par with elite events around the globe and provides our racers with amazing products. Now with Vega under the Full Throttle Karting operation, it opens the door for us to work with many tracks, clubs and series here in the western half of the country to expand the Vega brand, including the best 4-cycle tire on the market with the Red VAH, now available to those on the west coast.”
Vega was established in 1980 and was among the most coveted tire manufacture during its first two decades, earning multiple world and European titles. The Vega compounds have been utilized in the spec-tire programs for FIA Karting and selected European championships over the last decade. The brand is imported in the United States by TS Racing and Vega Tires USA, with tire compounds utilized in sprint, road race and oval karting.
“We look forward to our new partnership with Andy and his successful Challenge of the Americas series along with bringing Vega Tires to the west coast,” said Tod Spaude of TS Racing and Vega Tires USA.
Challenge of the Americas has been working with many of the teams and companies that continue to support the series in this transition for the program. GFC Karting owner Gary Carlton has been fielding drivers at the Challenge since launching his own chassis brand and race team over the last five seasons. Carlton is among those in favor of the transition to the Vega tire brand.
“Vega has been a staple in international karting for a very long time and their reputation in quality and consistency is second to none. During my time as a driver in international karting the Vega tire was always a favorite of the teams and drivers with myself included.”
Nash Motorsportz has been among the longest tenured sponsors and race teams to support Challenge of the Americas. Based in southern California, team owner Seth Nash has confirmed their continued participation at the Challenge.
“We are happy to continue supporting Challenge of the Americas in 2024 and excited to be moving to the Vega Tire.”
Despite the transition of Vega Tires at Challenge of the Americas, the basic class structure for 2024 remains similar as last year with changes made focused on welcoming more competitors. The TaG Cadet – for drivers 8-12 years old – will now allow both the Mini ROK and IAME Mini Swift powerplants. Shifter Senior and Shifter Masters welcome in the KZ engines alongside the ROK Shifter engine, with a weight difference to offset the two engine platforms. Full details surrounding the updated class structures will be announced soon.
The 100cc categories will remain unchanged, including both IAME and Vortex powerplants as done over the last several seasons. Senior 100cc, Junior 100cc and Masters 100cc at the Challenge were the most successful classes in the western half of North America – averaging over 35 in both Junior and Senior categories with the multi-engine format. New in 2023 was the OK-N division, which will remain unchanged and welcome Vega Tires for the 2024 season.
“We will continue with the basic structure for the Challenge in terms of classes offered,” added Seesemann. “Much like we have done with the 100cc divisions, we’ve opened the other categories to multiple engines. The western half of the USA for karting is in a different spot than where it was just five years ago. It’s best to wrap my arms around as many racers as possible and offer them a place to race. Bringing in Vega Tires has allowed us to become an independent race series moving forward.”
The opening weekend of the Challenge is set for February 2-4, beginning at the Musselman Honda Circuit. The second location will be a new facility to the Challenge program, as the new K1 Circuit is scheduled to host the March 1-3 weekend. Closing out the 2024 Challenge of the Americas schedule is the Sonoma Raceway on April 12-14.
“Lastly, I need to thank OTK/Vortex and ROK Cup USA for their friendship and partnership over the past six years,” ended Seesemann. “Together, we took a regional program that had zero reach beyond Florida to a national program with a strong west coast presence. I am proud to have developed the ROK program into what it has become in the West, but it’s time to pivot to meet the needs of the changing western USA market.”
Registration is set to open in December with host hotel and other details surrounding the 2024 Challenge of the Americas opener now available on the series website. Vega Tires will be available for purchase through Full Throttle Karting in late November.
2024 Challenge of the Americas Schedule
February 2-4, 2024: Musselman Honda Circuit – Tucson, Arizona
March 1-3, 2024: K1 Circuit – Winchester, California
April 12-14, 2024: Sonoma Raceway – Sonoma, California