In the first year of the Sport Kart Grands, we were treated to a fantastic four team battle for supremacy, with newcomers T4 Autosport taking on the then goliath of SPV Racing. Each entering the event with a pair of teams, SPV entered as the known favorite, employing the services of some of the best regular and upcoming talent in the local Super Series. New to the team game, T4 was a bit of an unknown going in, with its founder Taylor Hays leading the charge for the outfit. When it was all said and done however, it was realized that while SPV was indeed the top program in town, T4 was here to stay.
Amassing 3 wins (one by each team member), 8 T3’s, and 14 T5’s, Team SPV/Chatterbox’s Patrick Britain, Miles Calvin, and Darren Mercer scored the overall Team Championship, finishing 3rd, 4th, and 12th respectively. Only 19 points astern was the lead T4 outfit of T4 Autosport ‘Tanto’, whose drivers Taylor Hays, Dave Messimer, and Matt Widner brought home 2 wins (both by Hays), 8 T3’s, and 13 T5’s en route to 7th, 8th, and 15th place finishes respectively.
Right on the heels of the top two teams was SPV / AV Metrics with Logan Calvin, Diego Morales and Jon Kimbrell, and T4’s second entry of T4 Autosport ‘Trickle’ and Bryan Armbrust, Robby Stanovich, and Tyler Bryant. While eventually finishing 3rd and 4th respectively, both teams put up very respectable numbers, setting the bar for teams of the future. SPV / AV Metrics would bring home the overall National championship with Logan Calvin, scoring 5 wins (each driver had at least 1), 8 T3’s, 12 T5’s as well as a 9th and 27th overall showing from Morales and Kimbrell respectively. Just outside the top 3, T4 Autosport Trickle had the highest finishing out of towner in Bryan Armbrust, and scored 5 wins(1 at least per driver), 9 T3’s, and 11 T5’s en route to 5th, 15th and 18th place finishes for its drivers.
2013 saw only a minor change to the returning championship team, as defending national champion Logan Calvin joined the returning team champs of Miles Calvin and Darren Mercer, filling the spot evacuated by Patrick Britain. In the end this team was too much for the competition over the increased number of races, and scored a much more comfortable Team Title than the year prior, much to do with the near championship winning performance from Darren Mercer. With Darren coming up just shy of the overall title and in second, coupled with a 7th and 20th from the brothers Calvin, their 5 wins, 15 T3’s, and 21 T5’s has set the new mark for all other teams to reach for when scoring a National Team Championship.
The fight for ‘best of the rest’ however was far from cut and dried, as the new Pink Laces Racing / 111 Ink outfit lead by Tony Severson challenged Diego Morales’ Slipstreem Aero West Sales trio right down to the end. Separated by only 14.5 points in the end, Pink Laces took the second spot bragging rights in the end, riding high on the 3rd overall performance form KC Cook. While Severson’s 33rd was admittedly not as strong as the year prior (10th in 2012), Matt Widner’s 13th helpt the team secure the runner up spot. Their 3 wins (all by Cook) 10 T3’s, and 16 T5’s bode well for the outfits Sophomore effort in 2014.
While having to settle for third, Slipstreem’s Jon Kimbrell, Jay Schreiber, and Diego Morales still put up impressive numbers, the highlight of which was the Master’s Title clinched by Schreiber enroute to a 9th overall finish. Kimbrell put up an 8th overall to go along with Morales’ 28th, and the team’s stat of 5 wins, 9 T3’s, and 15 T5’s is nothing to hang your head on.
In 2014 we say a shakeup of nearly every big team in the paddock, with at least one of the three required spots in the lineup swapped out for a new face. Below we take a look at the top returning teams, as well as a couple others that look like they could be stepping things up for a run at the title, here in the third installment of the championship…
T4 Autosport / R@ndom Manufacturing
Darren Mercer- 2nd overall in 2013, Co- team Champion twice
Patrick Britain- 3rd overall in 2012, Co-Team Champion
Taylor Hays- 6th overall in 2013, 2nd in team championship in 2012
Arguably the #1 contender for the Team Championship has to be the T4 Autosport / Random Manufacturing squad of Darren Mercer, Taylor Hays, and Patrick Britain. Mercer and Britain have teamed before, winning the Team Championship in the inaugural year, while Hays’ squad took second that year. With the best combined ranking of any other team, this trio will have the target square on their backs right from the get go.
#2 – Pink Laces Racing
Matt Widner- 13th overall in 2013, twice a runner up in the team championship
Tony Severson- 33rd overall in 2013, finish 10th overall in 2012
Andres Prieto- making Grands debut, strong scorer at recent Super Series
Pick Laces’s strong foundation lies in Matt Widner, who has finished second in the team standings for the past two years. With Severson getting a chance to practice this year, he should be right back to his top 10 overall performing ways, complimenting Widner well. Needing to fill the high scoring role left via KC Cook’s exit, Pink Laces Racing scored big by picking up Colombia’s Andres Preito, and looks to be in a strong place to challenge for the Team Championship.
#3 – SPV Racing / K1 Speed
Logan Calvin- 7th overall in 2013, co-Team champion last year
Jon Kimbrell- 8th overall in 2013, has post throw out point lead in Super Series
Diego Morales- 28th overall in 2013, top Masters contender
Infused with the arrival of the 2012 National Champ Logan Calvin, SPV’s consolidation to a single team this year may not be a bad thing. A team that finished third in the team standings last year, the younger Calvin now replaces the departed Schreiber, complimenting an already stout squad of Jon Kimbrell and Diego Morales. Logan finished 2nd in his lone Super Series appearance this year, while both Morales and Kimbrell have won. This will be one of the best teams in the paddock this year.
#4 – Briars Racing
Sean Brierley- 11th overall in 2013, led team to 4th overall run
Michael Weddell- 32nd overall in 2013, but showed immense pace
Ed White- making Grands debut, Elite Karting League Champion
The lone out-of-country team for 2014, Briars Racing returns with 2 of the 3 members that earned a 4th place ranking in the team championship last year. Perennial leader of the British squad, Sean Brierley will once again captain this team, building off his 11th overall run last year. Michael Weddell returns, and if he improves like his teammate did his second go round, will be a strong runner this year. Lastly is Ed white, new to the stateside competition, but with a lot of potential to help this team to the next level.
Dark Horse – Team Deathproof
Chaz Baca- 5th overall in 2013, 6th overall in 2012
Kyler Repella- 16th overall in 2013, transferred to super final via LCQ win
Aaron Downs- 31st overall in 2013, 2nd overall in 2012
Entering the contest with perhaps the most ‘under the radar’ potential, Team Deathproof enters its third Sport Kart Grands with its best lineup yet. The foundation of the team has always been Chaz Baca Jr, and Kyler Repella, with the third member brought on for the Grands every year. This year that third diver is none other than 2012 overall runner up driver Aaron Downs. Combining Downs’ affinity for big events and the former duo’s strong performance from last year, and this team could surprise a lot of people here in 2014.
Dark Horse – Arkham Motorsports ‘Hannibal’
Bruce Allen- 36th overall in 2013, having a career best year so far
Jonathan Vitolo- 40th overall in 2013, improved over past year immensely
Justin Tolman- making Grands debut, 2nd in 2013 Super Series Rookie title
Much like T4 a couple of years ago, and Pink Laces last year, Arkham Motorsport is the ‘new kid on the block’, and one eager to impress on the National stage. While a new organization, they are led by a charismatic and determined Bruce Allen, who has enlisted some great talent to his umbrella of drivers. Leading that pack is shifter kart pilot Jonathan Vitolo, and with him 2nd year Super Series driver Justin Tolman. While young in experience, this squad is poised to do well, and could raise eyebrows by the end of the event.
2014 Team Championship Entry List
T4 Autosport / R@ndom Manufacturing
T4 Autosport / Partners Trust
T4 Autosport/ Graves Motorsports
T4 Autosport/ High Five Racing
T4 Autosport/ Park Place Motorsports
Arkham Motorsports ‘Face’
Arkham Motorsports ‘Murdock’
Arkham Motorsports ‘Baracus’
Andrew Von Fange
Pink Laces Racing 2