The Machismo. Over the past 9 years this endurance karting event has attracted drivers from all walks of life to enter this test of endurance, challenging both their own boundaries, as well as the talents of the other teams. Here in 2016, 24 teams are set to take the start for the Machismo 12 Hour Karting Race, divided across three different classes hosting both newcomers and veterans alike. It is also the debut of the new LO206 package at this annual endurance race, providing a brand new platform for the Pro Class to do battle on.
With a quick glance at the rules and format for the 2016 Machismo 12 Hour, not much seems to have changed from previous iterations, but this year’s event will lay the foundation for many events to come. In this preview, we’ll take a closer look at not only what is different for this year’s edition, but also the track itself, and what makes the Machismo configuration both a driver favorite, and a daunting challenge. We’ll also highlight a trio of teams in each class that could be big players in their respective divisions, knowing full well that we could see a breakthrough performance outside of the group, or see someone capitalize on others’ misfortunes. It is endurance racing after all…
The Machismo configuration is arguably the busiest of the CalSpeed layouts, rarely giving drivers a chance to rest with its very short straights, and sweeping lines. It is .7 miles and 17 corners of mental and physical challenge, made even more so when working traffic. First installed in 2013 when the event came home after 5 years in Vegas, the track has only had one change to it since, with addition on the final complex leading on to the finish straight. Still, even with its many twists and turns, the track flows quite nicely, and provides several passing opportunities regardless of class.
While the Le-Mans styled start will take place on the pit straight between turns 4 and 5, the start of the lap begins on the other side of the track on the front, or finish straight. The Pro Class will just touch the limiter before diving into “The Esses” for the first corner on the track, followed immediately by “Contino Carousel”. Exiting Contino, drivers will see the entrance to pit lane on their right while continuing down to one of the most popular corners on the track, “Silk Hairpin”. Located adjacent to pit lane, this corner has eyeballs on it all night as spectators and team members alike watch the action closely. Once through Silk, drivers will be on the lookout for karts making their way back onto the track via the pit exit, while setting up left for what will be one of the toughest corners on the layout, especially for fatigued drivers late in the race. A real neck-stretcher of a corner, the triple-apex “Turn Eight” sees drivers continuously turn to the right, before cutting back left at the end into the the “Center Hairpin”. From there you climb up the hill through “Nuovo”, then a soft bend left past turns 11 and 12 before entering the decreasing radius corner “Kornakurva”. Then perhaps is the trickiest complex on the track, as just after the double apex right hander of 14 and 15 you have to set up for the final braking zone on the track, “Sunset”. Aptly named, this corner not only will see drivers fight vision as the day transitions to night, but it has also seen the sun set on many Machismo hopes in the past. Once around Sunset there is the final right hand bend of 17 before it dumps you back onto the front straight, passing the penalty box on the left just before the finish line.
While both types of karts will be seen taking similar lines around this track when cutting fast times, the approach to racing here differs between the classes. Certainly there will be more wheel to wheel amongst the Sport and Super Sport classes, their tire guards allowing for a bit more ‘fender rubbing’. For the Pro Class, it will be more of a typical ‘prototype’ style race, where patience and consistency will win out over risky maneuvers and bent up equipment. Primary passing zones will be Silk and Kornakurva for most drivers, but we’ll see plenty of attempts heading into the Esses, especially from the faster Pro Class. And while the Center Hairpin and Sunset have also been seen as passing opportunities, they come with a bit more risk, especially the latter. That risk is heightened all the way around the track as the race progresses and the marbles and debris build up off the race line, especially on the outside portions of the track. To take a closer look at what this track looks like from the perspective of the Sport Kart, take a look at these 2015 videos: Luis Calderon’s Sport Class start and first pit; and a driver exchange fuel stop and night driving from the King Missile Super Sport team.
This year’s Pro Class will have a different look for the first time since it’s inception in 2009, as the Stratos karts have been retired, replaced with brand new LO206 packages astride the VLR chassis. Where the Stratos was an arrive and drive kart through and through, the VLR is a proper competition kart, and drives as such. With the new ability to change the setup of the karts in testing, CalSpeed was able to better cater to the harder Decuzzi tire fitted to the machines, and have a setup that will be balanced over the course of the 12 hours. Certainly more fragile than the Stratos, the new VLR’s will require their drivers to be sure not to hit anything stationary, but have shown to be robust in terms of wheel to wheel racing.
While there are no ‘option tires’ here in 2016, there is still plenty of strategy to be handled by the Pro teams this year. Able to go 2.5+ hours on a single tank of fuel will make the strategy side of things interesting, with long runs and a focus on mistake-free pit stops becoming more important than ever at the Machismo. Further, that strategy work will begin with the hour long qualifying session on Friday, as new tires will be fitted to the fronts of these Machines, and the fuel remaining in the tank will be what they start with on Saturday. Lastly, results from qualifying will determine the order in which teams selected their two mandatory mechanical stops, which will also play a factor in each team’s strategy. So between needing to work their tires in, manage their fuel consumption, and plan for how the mechanical stop will affect their strategy, the Pro teams will have a full plate starting Friday.
Like last year, six teams have entered into the event, this group acting as the guinea pigs for the new 206 rides, and some of the best in the business lined up ready to do battle. Of the entries, perhaps the highest profile team is that of MindFX, as all save one on the team have seen victory lane before in this class. The one without the Machismo win? He’s a bit of an endurance specialist in his own right. It feels like it is a bit of a “let’s get the band back together” from this squad, as the last time they entered it was a Machsimo win in 2011. While the group hasn’t been seen in arrive and drive karting circles in quite some time, their prowess in these endurance events is well known, and they could be the ones to beat starting with qualifying on Friday night.
Another team expected to be at the front is the Team Asylum entry, returning with a lineup bolstered after last year’s 2nd place performance. The core roster remains largely unchanged from 2015, and with the addition of former Machismo winner Jon Kimbrell, and 2015 3rd place finisher Bill Kreig, they have improved upon an already talented group. A couple of these guys have 206 experience as well, which adds another feather in their cap heading into this weekend. One of the teams to beat in the last year’s event, they will certainly look to make the most of lessons learned and experience gained as a team last year.
The last team I will focus in on is the Logan Calvin led squad, Logan’s Heroes. Unlike the other two teams I have talked about, every member of this group has LO206 time in. They should have the pace right out of the gate with that experience in hand, and it will be interesting to see if this advantage holds up past Friday’s practice and qualifying. This group has regularly shown to do well in this next level of kart, and of these three teams, they have one extra driver (6 instead of 5). We will see if this turns out to be an advantage or not when the strategy starts to unfold, but they should certainly be the freshest of the class.
Pro Class Entry List and Rosters:
- Team Asylum (Mark Connell, Charles Eichlin, Wes Dent, Jon Kimbrell, Bill Kreig)
- MindFX (Kerry Lynch, Efrain Olivares, Mike Kai, Clement Ng, Patrick Long)
- Logan’s Heroes (Logan Calvin, Jose da Silva, Steve Jasinski, Alexander Bermudez, Diego Morales, Kyle Hayner)
- T4.1 / Race Academy (Chris Carter, Jeff Carson, Ryan Curtin)
- No Eye Deer (Dennis Kimbrell, Patrick Britain, Emon Fazlollahi, Jeremy Aldridge, Aaron Downs, Michael Floerchinger)
Super Sport (S1)-
Like the Pro Class, long runs and fuel strategy will be an important part of the Super Sport class, especially with each kart going 2+ hours on a tank. Unlike the other two classes however, the S1 class will be getting a new kart with every fuel stop, and new for this year, will get this kart after a ‘coin flip’. Upon every trip for fuel, a chip will be flipped, with the result selecting which of the first two karts the driver will receive; heads for the first, tails for the second. This will keep the strategy focus centered on smart driving and pit stop programs, not on kart selection for the 2016 event. With these limited changes in the class structure, here are three teams that could be the favorites coming into this contest:
Returning to defend their impressive win from 2015 is the T4 squad of Taylor Hays and Adam Nagao, the duo looking to go back to back as a two-driver squad. This will be an even bigger challenge than it was last year with the karts going longer per tank of gas, but if there is a pair that could do it, it is these two. IronMan champions from the past two years, and reigning Machismo Super Sport champs says they can handle the long run, and they have the target squarely on their back for 2016.
And perhaps the primary challenger to that back-to-back attempt will be ‘The New Day’ team entry, with Sean Fite joining 2014 Super Sport winners Logan Calvin and Mark Connell for 12 hours. On paper this is a proven squad, but there is a catch; both of the former winners are also on Pro teams, and will be balancing their duties between the two efforts. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, this will effect their Super Sport effort towards the win.
Last year it was a T4 1-2 in Super Sport, and the team that came second may have what they need to make it one step higher this year. Team T4/CS sees Chris Huerta reconnected with Darren Mercer once again, a last minute replacement for an injured Luis Calderon, with Steve Spring taking the third spot on the team. With 2/3’s of the squad the same from last year’s second place team, they will only need to fine tune the program to take the fight to the top step.
Super Sport Class Entry List and Rosters:
- The New Day (Sean Fite, Mark Connell, Logan Calvin)
- King Missile Racing (Brett Miller, Chris Hannan, Bob Hyde, Connor Pyle)
- Team MoWToG (Michael Tekstra, Brain Guevara, Chuck Weeks, Miles McKenna)
- 3 Mild (Cameron Jocelyn, Michael Risley, Jean-Paul Benvenist)
- Baguette Racing (Max Bui, Prescott Cambell, Jason Zide, Nicolas Bel)
- NLM Racing (Ryan Oleksy, Dmitry Korotkov, Nathan Pope)
- Formula Corsa (Simon Wong, Calvin Ku, Jin Gellegos, Ken Visbeck)
- T4/CS (Chris Huerta, Steve Spring, Darren Mercer, Luis Calderon)
- Off Road Racers (Ronnie Anderson, Christian Brooks, Travis Pecoy, Myles Cheek)
- T4 Autosport Powered by PBR (Taylor Hays, Adam Nagao)
While the Super Sport Class was the new one introduced a couple years back, it is really the Sport Class that has seen its foundation change; while still requiring mandatory stints and/or driver changes, the move to being a more entry level, or “gentleman’s” class allows for the broadest range of karting experience to be competitive. This isn’t to say that Sport teams aren’t talented; far from it as we have seen in recent years. The strategy game in the class is pretty straight forward as well, but delve a little deeper, and its subtle nuances allow creative teams a lot of options. And like the other Sport Kart class, this one has seen virtually no change in its structure for 2016, so let’s preview the three teams that seem to have the advantage going in.
There is no question where the target lies in this class, and that is on the back-to-back winners in the class, All-In Racing. Going for the hat trick in 2016, the squad has maintained three of the same drivers for all three years, with Duane Lawson, Kelly Bastian, and Chris Lorentzen making up the core of the team. This year they have recruited the talents of Paul Juarez to the team, arguably the fastest ‘heavy’ driver from the CalSpeed Super Series. Will this team make Machismo history and be the first to 3-peat?
The next team on the list is that of T4 Autosport, the group that has been in the runner-up spot the past two years. Tom Zevin and Paul Ciralli from the 2014 squad join Andrew Brown and Caden Thure from last years’ effort, with young TJ Blackledge rounding out the 5-man entry for 2016. This is arguably the strongest lineup for the group in the past 3 years, and they look to have their best shot at moving up one step this Saturday.
The last team I will hone in on in this preview is that of Team Red Mist Activated. Last year they started off promising with the top time in qualifying for their class, but were out of the running extremely early after crash damage in the opening hour. This year the core of Michael Chen, Frank Hsu and Don Diego Veloria return, with Sheng Wu joining the squad for the 2016 effort. As a whole, this group has improved a lot over 2016 individually, and could be ones to watch for in this year’s race.
Sport Class Entry List and Rosters:
- Obama Rules (Miles Mooneyham, Fred Mooneyham, Chad Mooneyham, Adam Mooneyham, Mark Henley)
- All in Racing (Duane Lawson, Kelly Bastian, Chris Lorentzen, Paul Juarez)
- Blue Label Racing (John Cherniack, Mike Skinner, Kevin Ferrara, Tyler Redman, Tyson Schmidt)
- Equipo Seis Colegas (Ryan Kuhl, Randy Kopf, Steve Makuch, Josef Busch, Trevor Incerti, Kris Neuharth)
- MaLeadfoote (Bexter Yang, Colin Au, Calvin Ku, Jin Gallegos, Simon Wong)
- Red Mist Activated (Michael Chen, Frank Hsu, Don Diego Veloria, Sheng Wu)
- Racers For Christ (Steve Hanson, Christopher Polvoorde, Ricky Gutierrez Jr, Darren Hardesty Jr, Myan Spaccarelli, Cole Keats)
- T4 Autosport Powered by TEG (Tom Zevin, Caden Thure, TJ Blackledge, Andrew Brown, Paul Ciralli)
The 9th Annual 2016 Machismo 12 Hour Karting Race event coverage begins with this preview, and will continue tomorrow night at 7pm with “Under The Lights” qualifying via Facebook Live. Live timing will also be available all day Friday and Saturday as well, albeit only with kart numbers until qualifying begins. On Saturday the race is set to go green at about 10am, so stay tuned to Facebook for hourly updates, pictures, as well as interviews throughout the race. Below is a general schedule of events, and be sure to keep the Machismo Facebook page open to follow the event. Bring on Machismo! Follow our Machismo page on Facebook if you aren’t already!
- 12:00p: Gates/Registration Opens
- 12:30p: Race Clinic Begins
- 3:00p: Clinic Ends; Optional Practice Begins
- 6:00p: Option Practice Ends
- 6:15p: Qualifying Briefing
- 7:00p: 1 Hour “Under The Lights” Qualifying
- 7:30a: Gates Open
- 8:15a: Drivers Meeting
- 10:00a: Race Start
- 10:00p: Race Finish
- 10:30p: Podium Presentation