Combining the two Southern California Rotax Max Challenge programs – the Gatorz Karting Cup and Los Angeles Kart Club – into a single August event produced large fields and rave reviews from drivers in both organizations. While all of the Rotax classes were run as part of the LAKC’s schedule of events, the Rotax racers would benefit from additional track time in the form of two eight-lap heat races and a twenty-lap final.
Spread over two days, the race included a fifteen-minute hot pit qualifying session on Saturday afternoon before a catered dinner by Blue Agave was provided for all of the LAKC racers. Sunday would kick off with morning warmup and the first of two heat races.
Gatorz, the title sponsor of the Gatorz Karting Cup, was represented by owner Kerry Lynch who was on hand to provide all the class winners with gift certificates for Gatorz Eyewear, as well as hats featuring the new Gatorz logo for the top five in each class. MLP Imaging also provided free photos the top five in each class, while trophies were also given to the top five in each class.
The lone Micromax entrant was a third-generation driver, Jimmy Busby III, entering his first race. He shared the podium with his father, Jim Busby Jr, his grandfather, former IMSA GTP racer Jim Busby, his uncle David Busby, and sister Sadye Busby.
Things had gone well for Adam Iavelli throughout qualifying, where he qualified second, and in the two heat races, which he had won. Top qualifier Nicky Hays was right on his bumper at the checkered in each heat, and the grid for the final would be Iavelli leading Hays, Blaine Rocha, Nick Ramirez, and Gatorz championship leader Royal McKee.
Iavelli maintained his lead at the start of the final while Hays was shuffled from his off-pole spot back to sixth as Rocha, McKee, Ramirez and Michael Womack all got by him. Iavelli, Rocha and McKee all ran in a line, while Ramirez and Womack battled for fourth until Womack spun and fell to the back. Rocha latched onto Iavelli’s bumper and waited until the final lap to make his move for the lead, while behind, Noah Grey, who had started in seventh, similarly waited until the final lap to make a pass on McKee for third. It was a frantic last lap, with Rocha pulling off a very strong pass in turn four to take the lead and hold it until the checkered. Iavelli had to settle for second, with Grey getting past McKee for third and fourth and Ramirez crossing the line in fifth.
Dakota Dickerson had run the table on this day at Calspeed, qualifying on pole and easily winning the two heat races. Jake Craig, Carlee Taylor, Jonathan May and Breanna Miscione would line up behind Dickerson for the main, and had battled throughout the day for the final two podium spots.
Dickerson held his lead at the start while Miscione was the victim of contact and fell down the order and out of contention. Taylor jumped around Craig to move into second, but it was short-lived as Craig retook second position a lap later. After that, all the excitement was over as Dickerson slowly but steadily opened a gap over the rest of the field to take the win and sweep the day, with Craig second, Taylor third, May in fourth and Miscione working her way back through the field to fifth.
Miscione, however, was given LAKC’s Driver of the Day award after recovering from her first lap contact.
Senior Max was stacked for the Gatorz / LAKC shootout, with former Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler taking pole position ahead of Louie Pagano, John Crow, Matt Ostiguy and Scott Saunders. It would be Crow, however, that would take both heat race wins in what were two very exciting eight-lap races.
The main, however, would take a different turn as Giebler forced his way past Crow on the opening lap, with their karts coming together a couple of times before Giebler got ahead and began to pull away. Crow kept Adam Zeen, Louie Pagano and David Thompson behind him for nine laps until Zeen got underneath and past Crow, with Pagano and Thompson coming through as well. Thompson would lose third to Pagano a couple of laps later before he retired, putting Crow into fourth.
Behind the leaders, the field broke into several groups that battled for position throughout the race. Most of those drivers, however, fell victim to a charging Chandler Campbell, who started last after a spin in the second heat race. She charged her way up to seventh at the end of the 20 lap final, setting fast lap of the race in the process.
At the checkered, Giebler won with a gap over Zeen, who had a similar advantage over third-placed Pagano. Crow finished fourth, holding off a charging Jeremy Kane who was fifth.
Put a bunch of 405 lb karts on track together in a Gatorz or LAKC race and the racing is going to be entertaining. Combine the two and it was no surprise that the Masters final, which closed out the day’s racing on Sunday, had more spectators than any other. Scott Falcone, making the trip from Colorado, qualified on pole ahead of Jim Busby, Jr., Steve Dzurilla, Ron Rossetti and Larry Hayashigawa.
Dzurilla, however, would win the first heat, while David Busby would win the second, with Jim Busby Jr. second and Falcone third in both of those races. Anticipation was high for the final.
Things got off to an exciting start with plenty of contact on the opening lap, which sent fifth-starting Hayashigawa to the back of the field and out of contention. David Busby also lost several positions, falling from pole position to fifth, while his brother Jim Busby Jr. took the lead and began to pull away from Rossetti and Jarrod Bradley. David Busby quickly passed Falcone and Bradley to move up to third, while Falcone took another lap to pass Bradley and begin to work on catching the leaders.
Halfway through the race, David Busby and Falcone both passed Rossetti, as Busby, Jr.’s lead began to shrink. With two laps remaining, David passed Jim in the infield hairpin, the two karts coming together as both battled for the lead before David pulled ahead. The battle allowed Falcone to get close but he was unable to make an attempt on Busby, Jr.’s second place, and David Busby took the checkered flag ahead of Jim Busby, Jr. and Falcone.
The nineteen-kart field also had several battles throughout the final, and more than a little bit of contact, causing the race to be finished under waving checkered-and-black flags. The official results are still pending.
Matt Ostiguy and Kelson Penn, the lone entrants in the DD-2 class, finished in that order in the heats and final which were combined with the 125 shifter classes. Impressively, despite starting on the last row, Ostiguy and Penn drove up to eleventh and twelfth overall in their two-speed Rotax karts.
The Gatorz Karting Cup has two events remaining in the 2010 season; October 2 at Calspeed as part of the Pan-Am weekend, and the finale on October 9-10 at the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix.
For more information, visit www.gatorzkarting.com.