January 15, 2011 (Orange, Calif.) – Drivers from across the country and Canada have converged in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend for the first event of the 2011 Gatorz Challenge of the Americas. Rounds one and two of the Rotax winter championship will be held for the third straight year at PKRA’s Formula K Raceway, and sunny weather is expected for the duration of the weekend.
Attracted by the trips to the Rotax Grand Finals and Grand Nationals that is offered by the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas, the level of competition has been raised again. The Phoenix track lends itself to close racing and that can be expected in all seven classes of the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas.
Apollo Motorsports MicroMax
Look for six drivers to take the green flag in Phoenix – Griffin Dowler, Logan Keesling, Fowler Keesling, Preston Anderson, Connor Wick and Cody Dempster.
Holeshot Racing Products MiniMax
A very strong MiniMax field will no doubt be one of the highlights of the Phoenix weekend, as the absence of defending champion Blaine Rocha and last year’s runner up Parker Thompson will break this field wide open.
Returning to the series will be Royal McKee, Austin Versteeg, Sting Ray Robb, and Christian Brooks, while moving up to MiniMax from Micromax will be former race winner Nicky Hays, as well as Annie and Toni Breidinger. Making his debut in the series will be Colton Herta, who is new to the Challenge of the Americas but a known threat in Cadet karting ranks in Southern California.
Overdrive Karting Junior Max
The Junior Rotax races are never short on excitement and with defending champion Louie Pagano moving on to Rotax Senior the series will send a new driver to the Rotax Grand Finals this season.
Returning the series will be former Gatorz Karting Cup champion Dakota Dickerson, Jake Craig, Parker McKean and Brenden Baker. A rapidly improving Jonathan May should also be a factor, as will Canadian Parker Thompson, who will be making his debut in Junior Max after nearly winning the MiniMax championship in 2010.
Tony Kart West Senior Max
The largest field of the series will be stacked with talent from California. Having moved up from Junior to Senior Rotax at the end of 2010, Louie Pagano and Jeremy Kane finished sixth and seventh at the Rotax Grand Nationals, while Nor-Cal Rotax driver Carlos Calderon got onto the podium at his only Challenge of the Americas appearance in 2010 at Infineon Raceway.
From outside the Golden State, former series champion Stepanova Nekeel, Joey Whimset, Bryce Choquer, former Supernats winner Felipe Fraga, and Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix winner Ben Schermerhorn are all legitimate contenders in what will be a closely contested two days in Phoenix.
One Racewear Rotax Masters
Mike Daniel, a former Rotax Grand Nationals and Challenge of the Americas champion, won last year’s Rotax Masters championship by setting fast lap on the next to last lap of the last race at Infineon Raceway. He will return to defend his championship against Scott Falcone, Larry Hayashigawa, Brian Robson and a returning Ian Thomas. Former champion John Crow is slated to race but has not yet decided if he will compete in Rotax Masters or Senior Rotax.
Rollison Performance Group DD-2 / Arrow Karts DD-2 Masters
DD-2 should come down to a battle between Derek Wang and Jim Busby, Jr., while DD-2 Masters will be a shootout between January Grove and Jim Keesling.
The weekend will begin with open practice on Friday, with the afternoon sessions being timed. Live Timing and Scoring, as well as video and the series’ Live Blog will be available on Saturday and Sunday at www.gatorzkarting.com.