The 7th annual Machismo Endurance Race is the longest and most grueling event at CalSpeed each year; it takes something special to win. Perfect planning and execution of strategy paired with flawless driving and absolutely zero mistakes is what it takes to even have a shot in this event. Everything has to come together in a perfect way in order for a team to stand on the top step after 12 long hours of racing.
In the weeks and months leading up to the event, drivers have aligned themselves with not only the best possible driving partners, but in many cases, the organization that they feel will give them the best possible shot at victory. No longer is this event only about who can put the fastest drivers together on a team, it is now equally important to have an experienced and proven infrastructure around each team to ensure that a driver only has to worry about driving.
Now more than ever, the Machismo is a total team event.
The glory and prestige of coming across the line first overall; that’s the basis for what makes the Pro Class so important. Many well decorated Sport Karting drivers have taken a shot at it over the years, but only a select handful have been able to bring home the victory. The favorites this year read like a who’s who in Sport Karting.
The Performance Racing team consists of most of the defending winners from last year’s event, so they have to be considered the favorite right from the get go. Fresh off of his third Super Series overall championship, Jon Kimbrell will be looking to go back-to-back at the Machismo. Alongside him are his teammates from last year, former Super Series champion Logan Calvin, perennial front runner Jerott King and current National Champion Aaron Downs. Joining them will be Colombian standout Andres Prieto, who many might remember as this years winner in the Super Final at the Grand Nationals. This team has everything they need to win this race once again, if they don’t make any mistakes another team will have to step up in order to take it.
The team to step up and take it from Performance Racing could be T4 / R@ndom Manufacturing. Bryan Armbrust has won this race before and has become something of an endurance racing specialist. He’s picked up some fantastic talent in the paddock to help him this year, with Super Series runner-up Darren Mercer alongside.
Their third driver, in what might be considered a surprise by some is relative newcomer Aaron Scott. Anyone who doesn’t know the name just needs to look back at last year’s Machismo to find out why he was tapped for this team. Consistently one of the fastest drivers in the Sport Class, Aaron ran some of the longest stints all day and made a big statement about his talent in the process. This team could surprise last year’s champions.
The two team effort of Victory Lane Karting has to be mentioned when talking about potential winners. VLK won this event two years ago, and certainly know their way to the top step. Led by Fred Ogrim, the VLK teams have put together some of the best talent on the East coast. The first VLK team consists of Ogrim along with either John Luzzi or Hans Soneson, both of which will be a big asset to their respective team. Their third driver, however, is a name that many newer drivers may not be familiar with, but may strike fear into the hearts of competitors who know him; Jordan Pembleton.
Jordan is one of the most successful American drivers in international Sport Karting history having finished 5th in the 2009 Indoor Karting World Championship and was part of the winning team at the 2012 24 Hours of Charlotte. Jordan has been away from the spotlight for a few years, but will likely have no trouble shaking any rust off. Alongside the VLK team that includes Ogrim and Pembleton will be the team of Mike Birkle, Andrew Von Fange and either Luzzi or Soneson. This team may not have the name recognition of some others, but Birkle and Von Fange have competed in various CalSpeed events in the past and are typically extremely consistent. Consistency wins races, so don’t count out the 2nd VLK team from being towards the top when the race begins to wind down.
Historically, drivers transitioning from competition karting to sport karting have a tough road. Slower speeds produce closer racing, which in turn creates an extremely unique racing environment that can’t be well prepared for without jumping into an event. However, Scuderia BAMF might have struck the perfect balance of competition karting excellence and sport karting experience. Eric Molinatti leads the team with several years of competition karting experience, and recently won the 2014 LAKC TaG Senior Championship. Alongside Molinatti will be Jake Craig who has won multiple championships and recently made his open wheel debut with the Ferrari Driver Academy. Alex Gutierrez also has plenty of competition karting experience, primarily racing in LAKC. However, Gutierrez also ran the entire 2014 Super Series season as well and will be a great asset to the team in regards to Sport Karting specifics. Robby Stanovich returns to the Machismo after another year in LAKC in the PRD Senior class.
Robby always ran towards the front, and also is a previous A Main winner in the Super Series. Robby knows what it takes to win in these events. Cody Ensign rounds out the team, and like his teammates is an avid LAKC competitor. Cody ran this season in TaG Senior, finishing 5th in points. The key to success for this team will be adaptation. If this team is able to adapt to the rules, the ins and outs, and the strategy, they will be a huge threat to take the win.
Multiple podium finishes, tons of laps led, plenty of fast laps; Le Mans Karting has done it all at the Machismo, except win. The Dave Decker led squad had been close on several occasions but has yet to pull off the overall win at the Machismo. Coming off of a strong 3rd place run last year, this could be LMKs best shot yet. Decker, Chris Lock, Michael Nguyen and Bill Capogeannis are among the most well rounded teams on the grid each year, rarely making mistakes and always working as a cohesive unit. Outright speed is never a problem for this team either, as they routinely qualify towards the front. There’s no clear weakness for this team, it is just a matter of putting it all together for 12 hours straight.
Strangely, “Vladimir Putin” is a team on this year’s entry list, and they’re a team that stands a very real chance to get on the podium. This team consists of the 2014 Super Series Rookie Of The Year Wes Dent, along with Rookie runner-up Roman Alekseenkov, who will both be teamed up with Nor Cal ace Ken Visbeck. Wes and Roman know their way around CalSpeed and Ken has entered many CalSpeed enduros in the past. Keep an eye on this team to have outright speed, and if they can get their strategy and consistency to match; watch out.
SUPER SPORT CLASS
The brand new for 2014, “Super Sport” class is a virtual unknown. For the first time in Machismo history, Sport karts have a class that has rules that are very wide open. No minimum stints is the biggest change from the norm in this class, which will put a true emphasis on the driver endurance aspect of this race, as teams that are switching drivers between fuel stops will be losing time.
The T4 Autosport vs. Arkham Motorsports battle is expected to rage on this year, with the new Super Sport class being the primary battleground. T4 has two teams entered in this class, while Arkham has three; nearly half the field between these two organizations. Much like Ferrari vs. Porsche in GT racing, this battle for supremacy has been ongoing for several years now, with neither team having a clear upper hand. Both teams will be extremely hungry to take the first ever Super Sport win.
The strongest T4 team this year, on paper, looks to be the team of Taylor Hays, Steve Spring, David Kelmenson and Adam Nagao. Each driver runs towards the front in the Super Series, with Hays and Kelmenson both inside the top 10 this season. Spring brings a top 5 in points from the IronMan season to the table, which shows his pace over a long race as well as his ability to be consistent and make few mistakes. Nagao is a relative newcomer, but fought for a top 10 spot in the Super Series and won various B Mains over the course of the 2014 season.
T4 works extremely well together and will waste no time getting on the same page. They also benefit from having a very diverse group of people to assist in things off track, this team will have nothing on their plate except for driving, which is a huge benefit when the hours wind down and a driver needs to have a clear head on track. This team will likely be T4s best shot at taking the win.
For Arkham, their “A team” is a grouping of regulars for the team, with a very big ringer. Bruce Allen, Justin Tolman, Derek Esquibel and Charles Eichlin have each run various races for Arkham in the past, however their 5th driver might just change the whole game; Jon Kimbrell. Bruce, Justin, Derek and Charles are each standout drivers in their own right, each being a regular A Main driver throughout the Super Series season. Each has also spent time at the front, Eichlin having multiple fast laps throughout the season and battling in the lead group in several A Mains. Allen ran strong all year in the Super Series, while Tolman was a force throughout the IronMan season.
Esquibel was part of the winning sport class team last year and is becoming one of the fastest and most diverse drivers on the grid, he also competed in two LAKC races this past year with strong runs in each. For Kimbrell, his stats go unmatched; three Super Series championships, nine A Main wins, two IronMan championships and three National Championships. There is no one better in Sport Karting than Jon Kimbrell. The major question mark is, how much time can Kimbrell spend with this team? Don’t forget, he is going for an overall win in the Pro Class as well.
It could be argued that the 2nd Arkham team is actually the “A team.” With drivers like two time IronMan winner Mark Connell, former Machismo winner Andrew Lemons, Skip Barber Academy participant Jordan Wallace and Super Series front runner Michael Wodjat on the team, it isn’t hard to imagine this team taking the top step on the podium. Once you add ALMS, Grand Am and TUDOR veteran Craig Stanton to the lineup, you have a team that will be very tough for anyone to beat. Stanton is no newcomer to Sport Karting either, having participated and won in various CalSpeed events including the IronMan series, Super Series and previous Machismo 12 hours events. With his expertise and the raw speed of his teammates, “Scuderia Arkham will very clearly be one of the teams to beat.
T4 Doge could be considered by many to be a favorite to win this year’s Super Sport class. But, if you ask these drivers they’d probably prefer to be called a darkhorse pick, and perhaps fly under the radar a bit. Jeff Carson and Chris Carter are fresh off of a team championship, a title that few expected them to contend for at the beginning of the season. Hard work and persistence have paid off for both drivers, and they have become an asset to any team that they compete on. By their side for this year’s Machismo is the lightning quick Cameron Rose, Super Series Round 2 podium driver Rene Hourian and former IronMan winner Chris Huerta. This team comes off as something of a leftover team after T4 had their internal competition to earn a spot on the “A team,” a reward that was earned by Adam Nagao. T4 Doge is all of the drivers who did not earn that spot. Still, the talent level in this bunch is high, expect T4 Doge to aim for the moon.
Originally, Machismo was a one class event. The Sport class is a throwback to that original concept with tightly controlled yet simple to understand rules. Team weight is based on an average rather than an individual so that teams can set their weight and forget it. There are a minimum required amount of driver changes so that drivers don’t have to run for an hour straight if they aren’t able to. It all adds up to the core concept of Machismo; highly competitive and fair racing that is also equal parts fun.
The Arkham vs. T4 battle continues in the Sport Class, as each organization will enter a single team into the fight. However, there is the potential for a rather big spoiler in this class.
The Arkham Motorsports team of Riley Dugan, Jason Collins, Rodney Bryant, James Lieser and Jetson Lieser will certainly be a tough team to beat in the newly revised Sport Class. With the new rules encouraging teams to enter less experienced or still developing drivers into the class, everything is going to be up in the air all the way through the event. This Arkham team will be all about the unknowns, namely their two unknown drivers; James Lieser and Jetson Lieser. Little to nothing is known about these drivers, but if they can hold their own then Arkham stands a great chance to make it to the top step on the podium.
As expected, T4 Autosport has put together a team to try and beat them. All four drivers for T4 have tons of experience in both the Super Series and the Machismo. This year’s team is led by Greg Reinhardt who always provide a solid foundation for the team to build off of, alongside him will be the super quick Ian Enz, the always consistent Tom Zevin, and previous Machismo Sport Class winner Paul Ciralli. Any team that wants to win this race will have to find a way to beat T4.
One team that has all of the pieces in place to take the fight to T4 and Arkham is Hot Seat Racing. Kevin Taylor has put together a team that has some of the outright fastest drivers in the paddock, but the catch is, they’re all rookies. Nathan Hood, Jake Hood, Alyssa Yauney and Ariel Rubio will join Taylor. In order to win the Machismo, your entire team has to be mistake free, that’s a tall order for any team but an even bigger one for five rookies. If they can make no mistakes, and if they can make their stops at the best possible time; there should no stopping this team.
2013 – Slipstreem Aerodynamics
2012 – Team VLK
2011 – Gatorz / Shift Group
2010 – Magnus / Lifeyo
2009 – Russell Dunlop Karting
2013 – Pink Shoelaces Racing
2012 – T4 Autosport
2011 – SPV
2010 – B3RP
2009 – IKN All Stars
2008 – Sonoma Valley Racing