At the end of every hard-fought racing season is an off-season, but for some, the call of the driver’s seat is just too strong, and for them the CalSpeed Karting December 4-Hour beckons. Every year this end-of-season classic sees drivers from all walks of life take to the course, some regulars to the track, and others making their debut at the Fontana, CA venue. For all however, it is a chance to go out and compete in a one-off event where bragging rights over their co-workers, friends, or peers sometimes marks a higher achievement than an outright overall win. And for the 2013 installment of this event we have a great mix of talent between the aforementioned ‘weekend warriors’, and some of the best karting talent CalSpeed has to offer…

A look back at 2012…

15 teams would take to the grid for the 6th annual December 4-Hour in 2012, racing on the well-known Grande configuration, albeit in fairly cool temperatures, only reaching the mid 50’s all day. In addition to the cool temps, the overcast skies threatened to spill rain at any moment over the four-hour contest, keeping every team strategist on their toes. In qualifying it was team Space Park Racing taking the pole position by about a quarter second over T4 Autosport, and Team in third. Several different teams shared a spot at the front with the top three qualifiers throughout the race, including Team NightShift, Team Fel, Nor-Cal’s Finest and Team HLC.

While all of these teams took their turn at the lead, the differing pit strategies had many of the contenders spread across the circuit, and as the race wore on, it was hard to tell who truly held the advantage over the others. The team that found the right strategy however was T4 Autosport, leading for a while before knocking out several pitstops at about the quarter distance mark, re-emerging as the strongest contender later in the race as other teams made their stops. At the end of the race only a handful of teams still had a shot at the podium, but one team would come up just short on fuel, and miss a podium by two laps. Running inside the top three at the end, Nor-Cals finest dropped off the podium after running out of fuel, promoting NightShift into the top three, while Team HLC finished 2nd via an ironman-like run by Cameron Jocelyn. But none of them could match the pace and strategy of T4 AutoSport, winning their 2nd December 4-Hour in a row.

The 7th Annual 2013 December 4-Hour:

The race itself combines strategy with endurance, with 11 driver changes, and at least 1 fuel stop required for all teams. Traffic is always a factor, so sheer speed isn’t everything; if you can’t work your pace and strategy around the on track variables, the positions and time is quickly lost. As with all endurance races, it will be a team’s ability to go the full distance with the least amount of mistakes, that typically sees them on the top step of the podium, champagne and trophy in hand.

The Track…

In use this weekend will be CalSpeed’s Classico configuration, which is the circuit’s original configuration, however it will be run in the reverse direction. This is only the second time it has been run counter-clockwise, making its debut during the Super Series season finale just a few short weeks ago. Combining the technicality of the infamous ‘esses’ section, as well as decreasing radius corners and hard braking zones, the Classico Reverse layout has a little of everything, providing ample room to pass, while still requiring the right timing not to get stuck in traffic…

The Teams…

This year sees a near sold out field heading into the contest, and for the first time in recent memory a few of these teams will be of the ‘IronMan’ variety, with only a single driver looking to go the distance. For these teams it may be more about making it to the finish than about going for the win, but we’ll be keeping an eye on their progress in relation to each other all race long. Again this year is a large contingent of ‘Weekend Warrior’ teams this year, made up of drivers that don’t frequent CalSpeed, but are still in it for bragging rights against many of the other once-a-year squads in attendance. There is the team from GT Channel, who will be documenting their 4-Hour experience, and posting on YouTube for all to see. And then there is a host of teams built from several of CalSpeed’s best, both from the Arrive and Drive side, and the Competitive Karting side of karting here in So-Cal:

Back to back winners of the 4-Hour, T4 Autosport, have entered this years event with two teams, and with to completely different looks. Team DP (T4) is made up of vetrans David Kelmenson and Patrick Britain, while Team SA (T4) has 2013 Super Series Rookie of the Year Steve Spring, and another rookie standout Aaron Scott at the helm. Both these teams will have the same strategic minds that took T4 to victory lane the past two years behind them, and definitely will have targets painted on them right from the get go.

T4’s friendly “Arch-Rivals”, Team Arkham Motorsports have entered with a single entry, but it is a stout one. Taking a pair of its best drivers in Charles Eichlin and Justin Tolman, they have bolstered the squad by adding in one of the best sport karting pilots around, and that’s Darren Mercer. Arkaham was a regular at the front during the Machismo 12 Hour, and there is no reason why they won’t again be in the hunt Saturday.

Looking to erase the painful memory of 2012 from their minds, Nor-Cals Finest team leaders Alex Herndon and Michael Shawhan have brought another squad that looks to be just as strong as in years past. These two are always lightning fast, and are regulars at the front of these endurance races, and look to be getting better at them every time they run.

One can’t count out any team that has the name ‘Kimbrell’ in it either… While unconfirmed, it sounds like senior Kimbrell himself headlines this team, and along with Dennis Kimbrell are his sons Jon and Aaron, two of the very best at CalSpeed. Rumor also had it that they were looking for a 4th driver, which could put this very strong team over the top…

And then there is the double-barreled assault from the competitive karting ranks with the pair of TruTech teams, each with very stout team lineups. At the time of this writing, TruTech had assembled several of the best in So-Cal karting, including past and present champions, all of which are very fast drivers, and who have even dabbled in Sport Karting from time to time. These TruTech squads could end up being the dark horses of the event…

2013 December 4-Hour Entry List:
Team DP (T4 Autosport)
Team SA (T4 Autosport)
Team NorCal’s Finest
Arkham Motorsports
Team Kimbrell
TruTech 1
TruTech 2
GT Channel
The High 5 Racing Team
Team Orlov
Team Bai
Team Honda
Team Goodrich
Becker 1
Becker 2
Toyota 1
Toyota 2
Toyota 3

All-in-all, this is one of the deepest fields in terms of talent ever assembled for a December 4-Hour event, and it is a great way to finish out the year. The excitement begins with the 1-hour Practice / Qualifying session at 10am this Saturday, and then the Le Mans-Styled start of the 4-Hour race following at 11:30am. Regular updates will be on Facebook throughout the event, with Live Timing available for viewing for everyone following along at home. This is going to be a fun one to race or watch, so don’t miss it!