The 2022 Machismo: CalSpeed Karting’s Grand Finale

The 15th annual Machismo 12 Hour Endurance Karting Race took over the twists and turns of CalSpeed Karting last weekend, in what was a bittersweet couple of days. The once-around-the-clock contest would mark the final competitive laps ever turned at the Fontana, California facility, with the track closing down permanently once the checkers flew. For the 49 teams and well over 200 drivers in attendance, the fact that it was the last dance at CalSpeed just added to the drive to win.

But before you can race in the longest running Endurance kart race in North America, first you must qualify, with a one hour session under the lights taking place Friday evening to set the grid. Three classes would take to the track: a pair of categories utilizing CalSpeed’s rental sport kart fleet -S1 and S2- while the Pro category was made up of 206 powered competition karting chassis’ owned by the teams themselves. Both sport kart categories would count 15 teams each, while the Pro class saw 19 total entries making for the largest field ever assembled for the Machismo at 49.

While the starting position for a 12 hour race is not paramount to find victory at the end, having the fewest obstacles between yourself and the first corner is always advantageous, never mind the ego-driven desire to score top time amongst your peers. For the 15th time the track came alive at the start of the one hour session, with nearly the entire set of teams taking to the track at once, with only a few holdouts from both Pro and the top tier sport category waiting for a moment. It would take a few laps for the tires to come up to temp, but with the top categories also starting on the fuel the finish the session with, not staying out for the entire session was the plan for most of the S1 and Pro classes.

This was the case for eventual pole sitters in each, as the NASH Motorsportz team only spent 6 laps out on course with Blake Nash behind the wheel to secure top time, while Team Arkham’s Jerott King circulated for just 5 laps. For the S2 category, they would get a full tank of gas at end of qualifying, so cutting as much laps as needed -especially since the session doubled as additional practice- was absolutely a boon. This is exactly what Team DHS did with Mike Gonzales behind the wheel, utilizing the entire session to put up 48 laps in total, clocking top time for their class, and 2nd overall of the sport categories. On Saturday, the start of race itself would be bumped up two hours, as the threat of weather loomed in the forecast at the end of the day; a chilly morning welcomed all teams for an 8am drop of the green. The opening circuit is always one of the more hectic, as the Pro Class deals with cold tires and low grip, while the 30 sport karts funnel in from 5 and 6 wide to eventually come out single file at the end of the first lap. With just a few spins, the race was on as Blake Nash (NASH Motorsportz) led the field in Pro, KC Cook (Team Has-Beens) in S1 and Mike Gonzales (Team DHS) in S2…

In the two sport categories, the strategies differ, as the S1 class -filled with the most experienced of the arrive and drive racers- sticked to long fuel runs ending in new karts at each stop, and very few pit stops. Meanwhile the S2 category is built around up and coming talent or ‘gentleman racers’ and see shorter stints and a lot more trips down pit lane, keeping their same kart all the while. In S2, Team DHS would prove to be the ones to beat, staying unchallenged at the start after qualifying 2nd overall of the arrive and drive classes, a full seven spots better than the next in class. Clean air allowed them to retain their advantage throughout the race, staying mistake free while choosing long stints early to be up by 3+ laps at halfway. Their closest rivals would be Red Mist Activated OG, Ultimo Racing, and Team Full Send for the duration, with the margins coming down later when the pit stops started coming for DHS. As darkness fell and the lights turned on around 5pm, DHS was still out front, but the lead had been closed to only about a half a lap to Red Mist OG, albeit both groups were behind on stints to their other rivals Ultimo and Full Send. As the race closed in on the finish and the leaders started making more of their required stops, the gaps shortened, but when the checkers flew it was still DHS out front to claim the victory with Brandon Boone behind the wheel. Ultimo Racing would cross the line 2nd -running only about 22 seconds behind- while Full Send round out the podium just 1 more lap astern.

The S2 category also has a sub-category for the ‘weekend warrior’ types of drivers, those that do not come out to the track on a regular basis, but still take on the challenge that is The Machismo. This year, seven of the 15 teams in S2 were eligible, and it would be a very close one for the winner-take-all category, with Team Karlspeed bringing home the win by less than a lap.

The S1 class would see one of the closest finishes across the top 5 in in Machismo history, with six teams all having a moment at the front as the race rolled on. Team Arkham scored the pole, but it was Has-Beens taking over the top spot by the time the cross the line for the first time. As the two hour mark hit and fuel strategies started to take hold, Team Le Plan SS saw themselves out front followed by Pink Laces Racing, Only Racers, Arkham, Domination Karting, and Has-Beens. Those six teams would all stay in the conversation, albeit mixing it up in the running order, with Pink Laces and Domination running together 1-2 at the halfway point, and Only Races in third just 10 seconds behind. Fast forward to when the lights came on and the final quarter of the race started, and it was Only Racers in the lead, Has-Beens 2nd, and Domination third; but more pit stops were needed for those out front. The final two hours would see 14 trips down pit lane across the top six teams, with 5 of those belonging to the class leader – there final one coming with just over 15 minutes remaining. The result would be the top three teams separated by just 22 seconds at the end, with Alyssa Yauney bring home Only Racers for the win, Arkham in 2nd and Has-Beens in third.

In the Pro Class, it is not just a class win, but the coveted overall victory that is up for grabs. These teams bring their own equipment, and not only need to find enough speed to run up front, they must find a balance in the equipment to also last the full 12 hours. Coming from as far North as Washington State, and as far east as Pennsylvania, drivers from all levels come to compete in one of the toughest challenges in karting. From the drop of the green NASH Motorsportz was the team to beat, backing up their pole position in qualifying with blistering fast laps to kick things off, seeing the #14 sit about 13 seconds ahead of then second place team of Drop Two Teeth before fuel stops began. Required to change drivers before each stop for fuel -which is roughly 1 hour at a time- Pro teams also were required to start and finish on the harder ‘prime tire’ while utilizing the softer ‘option tire’ in the middle of the race. Throw in an oil change, and it wasn’t just the drivers who were busy during the event. In fact, pit lane was a very busy place; reliability issues and mistakes saw teams head to their team tents to make repairs throughout the event, while pit lane infractions saw others make unscheduled stops in pit lane to serve penalties. Winning endurance races is typically more about limiting time lost versus being the fastest on track, but for the 2022 Machismo, both of those things could be said for the eventual winners. Proving their pace in qualifying, and then again during the race with the second-fast lap of the race, team NASH Motorsportz kept the mistakes to a minimum -only a few penalties- but more importantly had perfect reliability to claim the 15th annual Machismo 12 Hour Overall win. The two-lap advantage would be over the only other team to go without any reliability issues, pushing their option tires to the cords to secure their own 3 lap gap over third place, and that was Pink Laces Racing. While not having as much raw pace as the other two teams on the podium, consistency and a trouble AND mistake free race saw them secure the second step. The third and final step would go to the overall fastest team in the field, as the Has-Beens made it 2 for 2 on the night for podiums, also scoring hardware in S1. For them it was a bit of what might have been, as they had lost about 5 laps due to a mechanical issue just 2.5 hours from the end…

The 2022 Machismo is in the books, capping off nearly 20 years at CalSpeed, and 15 years of endurance karting on the west coast -having started in Vegas at the SKUSA Supernationals in 2008, to finishing under fireworks in Fontana. All of us at CalSpeed would again like to thank everyone for coming out for the biggest endurance race in the country, and for making it the best possible send off for the home of karting in So-Cal!

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