Racing is all about variables. Adapting to things that are unexpected and seizing the opportunity when something goes as planned is what leads to victories. This year’s Machismo had, without question, more variables than any race in CalSpeed Karting history.
Some of these variables were known from the get go, such as the new option tire in Pro and the wide-open rules in both Pro and Super Sport. Some of the variables were last minute wrinkles added to an already complex weekend, such as a complete rain out of practice on Friday. Once drivers and teams began to arrive at the track on Saturday for the race, it was clear that the consensus in the paddock was that any team who got onto the podium would have certainly earned it.
Qualifying began on a still slightly damp track on Saturday morning, after being postponed from Saturday night, and as a result was shortened from 60 minutes down to 20. As expected, teams in Pro and Super Sport would run minimal laps in order to conserve fuel for the start of the race. Victory Lane Karting would grab first and third by the end of qualifying, sandwiching Vladimir Putin in between. Other pre-race favorites T4 / R@ndom Manufacturing, SPV and Scuderia BAMF would closely follow in the top 6. In Super Sport, it was an Arkham 1-2 with T4 Autosport a close third. Arkham would lead the Sport class as well with T4 Autosport closely following once again, and Relative Racing in 3rd. Qualifying proved that this was going to be a very close race in all three classes.
The race began just after 10am and it was Victory Lane Karting jumping out to the early lead with Jordan Pembleton at the wheel. Giving chase would be SPV’s Jon Kimbrell, Putin’s Diego Morales and BAMF’s Eric Molinatti. These four teams built a quick gap over the field, but would stay mostly in that order through the first few rounds of pit stops.
Over in the Super Sport class the race was beginning to develop into the five-team battle between two organizations that most of the paddock expected to see. Arkham Motorsports had entered three teams into this year’s event, while T4 Autosport had entered two. Each of the five teams went into the event with the only expectation being to win. At the halfway point, it was still anybody’s race.
The Sport class is always tough to predict right up until the end. Due to the required number of driver stints, but no requirement as to when these stops are made, the running order is very difficult to relate to the final finishing order. In this case, some favorites did begin go emerge as the race hit the halfway mark. All-In Racing, T4 Autosport, Hot Seat Racing and Le Mans Karting all had established themselves as contenders to take the win. Conspicuously missing from that list is pre-race favorite Arkham Motorsports. Arkham had started the race strong, but then were involved in an incident on track, which resulted in a broken tie-rod and effectively took them out of the race.
Back in the Pro Class, teams began to put on the brand new for this year option tires. Lap times immediately plummeted as teams across the board picked up 2 seconds per lap or more. As full nighttime darkness engulfed the track, all teams had run their required 3 hours on the option tire, and it would be Scuderia BAMF who would end up setting the fastest lap of the race.
As the race began to wind down, it became clear that for the Pro class it was going to be all Victory Lane Karting. The only chance that the other teams would have would be a rare mistake from the North Carolina based team. Over in Super Sport, Arkham had taken firm control of the lead with a great battle raging on between the 2nd Arkham team and the lead T4 team. In Sport, All-In Racing was in an extremely close battle with T4, Hot Seat Racing sat in a comfortable 3rd.
After 12 hours, 653 laps and nearly 500 miles, it would be Victory Lane Karting taking home the Pro and overall wins. The team of Fred Ogrim, Jordan Pembleton, Hans Soneson, John Luzzi, Andrew Von Fange and Mike Birkle dominated the event, only losing the lead during the required tire change stops. 6 laps behind them would be the team of Scuderia BAMF who were in their first Machismo as a team and put in a fantastic performance to get into P2. The team of competition karting experts, Eric Molinatti, Jake Craig, Robby Stanovich, Alex Gutierrez and Cody Ensign perhaps surprised some teams with their strong team performance, but will be a big favorite to win overall next year. Rounding out the podium was T4 / R@ndom Manufacturing, the only two man team on the podium. Darren Mercer and Bryan Armbrust put in a gutsy performance all day to bring the team home in the top 3.
(Photo Credit: Michael Wojdat)
The Super Sport podium would be led by a 1-2 finish by Arkham Motorsports., with the Scuderia Arkham team of Mark Connell, Andrew Lemons, Jordan Wallace, Logan Calvin and Michael Wojdat taking the win. Behind them would be their sister team, Arkham Motorsports; Bruce Allen, Justin Tolman, Derek Esquibel, Charles Eichlin and Jon Kimbrell. The final step of the Super Sport podium would be taken by the four man T4 Autosport team of Taylor Hays, David Kelmenson, Steve Spring and Adam Nagao.
(Photo Credit: Michael Wojdat)
Finally, All-In Racing would take the Sport class win. Notably, Mark Connell would be part of the winning team in Sport, making him the first driver in Machismo history to win two classes in the same event. Considering this is still Mark’s first year in sport karting, that is quite the accomplishment. Alongside Mark, were his teammates Duane Lawson, Kelly Bastian and Chris Lorentzen. In second in the Sport Class would be T4 Autosport, which matched their record from last year to have three teams on the podium, only this time it was one team in each class. Coming across the line in third would be Hot Seat Racing, however officials discovered a post race rules infraction immediately after the race, which resulted in an unfortunate disqualification. Moving up the order would be the Le Mans Karting team of Eric Sheible, Bruce Sunseri, Scott Thomas and Bruce Vitek.
This year’s Machismo was widely considered to be a huge success among teams and drivers as many raved about the option tires, the three class format and the wide open rules for Pro and Super Sport. What will next year bring? We will have to wait for December 12, 2015 to find out.