SuperNats XXII

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SuperNats XXII

Supernationals

SuperNationals X - 2006
The tenth running of the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals put the perfect cap on a full decade of Las Vegas competition. The SKUSA organization had been sold to California businessman and race promoter Tom Kutscher earlier in the year and this major league event ushered in a new era for the organization and the SuperNationals itself.

The build-up for the event was awesome, as the University of Las Vegas-Nevada’s Sam Boyd Stadium would once again play host to the biggest shifterkart race in North America. Surrounded by newly-signed marketing partners - including clothing manufacturer BC Ethic as the presenting sponsor - outrageous purses, and prizes for every class, the SuperNats closed out its first decade with a bang. Absent from the event for the first time were the Junior categories, which certainly affected the atmosphere of the race. Following the class format used in Kutscher’s popular California-based ProKart Challenge, the Junior classes were excluded as the organization develops its own internal ladder system that will include the younger drivers in the future. With the Hooter’s Hotel playing host to the drivers, the emphasis was put on the fun and the new SKUSA regime delivered in a big way.

 

The purse was staggering, with a massive $10,000 check going to the SuperPro winner, the largest cash payout in the history of shifterkarting, with another $10k going to the rest of the SuperPro top-five. Another $5,000 was offered up for the victor in the Formula G1 class as well. Product prizes, trips to the Granja 500 and tests with open wheel car teams Hearn Motorsports and Michael Crawford Motorsports were also included on the packed prize table.

In the headline SuperPro class, with a whopping $10k up for grabs, the potent team of Gary Carlton and Alex Speed were on their game come race time. Running CRGs with SwedeTech Maxter power for Randy Neal’s PCH Motorsports operation, Carlton and Speed stung the SuperPro establishment, cruising to a 1-2 finish on SuperSunday.

The head games began early in Qualifying as Carlton put his machine atop the standings followed by Italian Motors’ Michael Valiante (Italkart), who made his return to karting after a two-year absence. A leading race winner on the national circuit with six Stars of Karting wins on the year, Jordy Vorrath was in the hunt early in Vegas, posting the third best time in his Leading Edge Motorsports Intrepid. David Jurca made his return to Italian Motors with a fourth in qualifying, while multi-time Star Mazda race winner Ron White (GP) was fifth in his bid for a second SuperNats victory.

 

In the multiple heat format, Carlton swept all three of his heat races while Speed - who struggled early with qualifying - bounced back in the heat runs to score one win, securing the outside pole starting spot for the main event alongside his teammate.

When the lights turned green for the main event, it was all Carlton and Speed. Behind them, it was a great battle for third until Gian Cavaciuti (GP) - one of the quickest drivers during the 25-lap main event - came from the sixth spot to secure the position after contact between Vorrath and White took them out of contention. Tad Funakoshi ended a strong year with Italian Motors squad with a fourth place finish while Matt Jaskol (Top Kart) rounded out the podium.

In the end, Carlton put the cap on an amazing year that featured four national race wins, the Stars of Karting ICC national championship, and eventually, the EKN Driver of the Year award.

With $5k going to the winner, the Formula G1 category brought some of the best veterans in karting together at one event, including former SuperNats winner Darren Elliott. After retiring from karting just before the ‘05 SuperNationals, Elliott had stayed away from the sport for a whole year until PSL Karting offered up a ride for Vegas, and it was too good to pass on. Along with Collin Lynn, Bonnier Moulton and Shayne Shipley, Elliott made it a four-driver battle all weekend. Though Elliott missed one of the heats with engine trouble, he stormed through the field in the main event to take home the big win, his second at the historic event, followed by Lynn, Shipley, and Moulton.



The shifter debut of Sodikart’s James Kennedy was all good, as the young pilot was the driver to beat in the semi-pro Formula S1 category. Kennedy bagged a pair of heat race wins to secure the pole for the main and would then outrun Slava Prikhodko (GP) for the win after dropping to third at the green flag.

The Spec Moto category made its entrance onto the main stage in 2006, exploding in the Southern California SKUSA-sanctioned Pro Kart Challenge to the point where it deserved a position on the SuperNationals dance card. SKUSA offered up both Light (Formula S3) and Heavy (Formula S4) categories in Vegas, and the racing was awesome. Coming off a pair of Junior wins in ’06 (JICA and 80cc Junior), Connor DePhillippi (KRT) battled through the heat races with Bobby Legate and Curtis Cooksey, eventually stepping up in the SuperSunday final to take the S3 win. Interestingly, Cooksey did not take part in the final, having left on Saturday evening bound for Portugal and the Rotax Grand Finals. In the S4 Heavy category, Jeff Littrell was ‘the man’ after grabbing the holeshot and never looking back to take the big win. Paul Russell had second all wrapped up until a broken j-arm broke with three to go, moving Kelly Baker to second and John Espinor



SKUSA once again offered up a pair of TaG class at the SuperNats, and the TaG Senior class attracted a stacked field of the sport’s finest non-shifter drivers. After securing the pole with three heat wins, ICA national champion Joel Miller looked to be the favorite in the Final until a first-lap incident took him, along with many others, out of contention, leaving the win up for grabs. Formula BMW USA Rookie of the Year Daniel Morad stepped up to the plate and scored the big win after an epic battle with FirstKart.com teammate Brendan Langlois, ICA stud Colby Jenn and IKF Region 7 hotshoe Matt Johnson.



In the TaG Masters category, the 200lb driver weight minimum for drivers under 35 allowed many additional drivers to run the class, including race winner Travis Irving. The former SKUSA ProMoto Tour standout made his SuperNats return with his first-ever event win. After a DNF in heat three, the 2000 SKI Rising Star bounced back in the main, charging to the front and taking the victory ahead of Mark Drennan and ’05 winner John Crow.



The first event under the new SKUSA era was a complete success, closing out a stellar decade filled with fond memories of great racing, stacked fields, and long Sunday night celebrations. As the new force behind the organization, Kutscher and his team will look to move the SuperNationals into another decade of excellence, pushing the bar to new heights.