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SuperNationals 27


Supernationals 27 November 13-17, 2024
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
7000 Las Vegas Blvd N
Las Vegas, NV 89115
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SuperNationals V - 2001
In the millennium version of the SKUSA SuperNationals, the shifterkart community saw the outright arrival of Scott Speed to the forefront with his dominant victory of the SuperPro proceedings at the Las Vegas Karting Center. During the off-season between the 2000 and 2001 racing seasons, a powerhouse team was formed as Speed joined forces with JM Racing’s Jean Marchioni and Tony Kart, a union that included Speed’s on-going relationship with Reine Persson and SwedeTech Racing Engines. The result was a massacre of SKUSA headline class during the ’01 ProMoto Tour, which would see Speed win four of the five race, in addition to a pair of Stars of Tomorrow events. With the SuperNats heading back to the LVKC for what would be their final visit, Speed was certainly the man to beat. The Manteca, CA driver would also be acknowledged as the SKI Driver of the Year for his efforts in the days leading up to the race, letting everyone know that they would need to beat the best to take home the big trophy in 2001.

In qualifying, however, veteran hotshoe Michael Valiante again stole the show on his Italkart, posting a new track record time of 43.162 seconds to win the pole for the heat race rotation. With both drivers running in the second qualifying group, Valiante’s Italian Motors teammate Jordy Vorrath was second quick in the order, running ahead of Paul Tracy Karting’s Matt Jaskol. Texan Kyle Martin (Trackmagic) was the fastest driver in the first group but would drop to fourth following the second timed session while Canadian star Ward Imrie (Birel) was fifth overall. Other notables included Ron White (Trackmagic) and Darren Elliott (CRG) in sixth and seventh, respectively, while Speed found himself down in eighth to begin the fight, after struggling with carb issues to sit second behind Martin after the first group’s time limit. Current Champ Car star AJ Allmendinger (PTK) was back in 16th, ready to charge from row four in the heats.

With the 43-kart SuperPro grid separated in four groups for the heat races, PTK’s Benny Moon drew first blood with a win in the opening heat, outrunning Vorrath and Colin Fleming (PTK). Valiante slipped to sixth in the order. Allmendinger would begin his charge with a win the second Round #1 heat, besting Speed and Martin to the checker. In round two, Jaskol took advantage of Speed and Allmendinger’s position in the second heat to win over Elliott and Valiante. Speed would continue his improvement by defeating AJ to complete the round. The final two heats would finalize the first 12 rows for the SuperSunday final and Speed continued to lay down the line, topping Allmendinger again in the next heat to secure the pole. Allmendinger would join him on the front row, while row two featured Jaskol and Moon.

In the last chance race, CTS factory driver Tom Woods outran Tommy Contino (MBA) and Berek McEwen (Interkart) to start 25th in the final.

In the race, it was all Speed, although he did need to work through a mid-corner bog in one of the track’s fast left-handers which allowed Jaskol to remain close for the entire 30-lap duration. Allmendinger had bogged on the line to drop to sixth, but he was a man on a mission and powered through the field, eventually slipping passed Jaskol to take over the challenge position. While he was not able to take a shot at the lead, he still brought home and impression second ahead of Jaskol. Vorrath and Elliott completed the star-studded top five. If shifterkarting is get its true credit as the ultimate development program, one need look no further that the SuperPro podium at the 2001 SKUSA SuperNationals, which featured a pair of future Formula 1 and Champ Car stars.

In the support classes, Alex Speed (Tony Kart) completed his rookie senior year with his second straight SuperNats victory, taking the win in the Formula S1 semi-pro class over Michael Abbate (Birel) and Tim Maddux (Tony Kart). In the 80cc Senior Formula K1 category, current Euro Formula 3 star Charlie Kimball (TopKart) came out on top over Todd DeGrand (Fox) and present-day ICC stud Tad Funakoshi (Birel). The Formula G1 class for drivers 35 years of age and older made its second SuperNats appearance with Eduardo Martins (Fittipaldi) taking an emotional victory over Southwest regional frontrunner Bill Fleming (Trackmagic). John Gore, a 51 year-old Floridian, impressed the paddock with a strong drive to third.

Young Wade Van Hooser (TopKart) took his place at the head of the 80cc Junior table with his first SuperNationals triumph. Van Hooser would become a major player on the circuit for the next three years. Dominique Claessens (Birel) carried the #1 plate following his ProMoto Tour championship to second ahead of Michael Giessen (Fullerton). Some Canadian kid named Lorenzo Mandarino, who would find success in the event later in life, was eighth in ’01 aboard a Falcon chassis.

In Formula S2, Brandon Scarberry (DFM) took the big win over Jason Berry (MBA) and Rob Gore (Hammer) while RJ McGahey (Trackmagic) won in 60cc Novice ahead of Kayd Straley (Margay) and Adrian Carrio (Invader). If Speed and Allmendinger proved the most successful event alumni from 2001 with their F1 and Champ Car duties, young Carrio has shown the way from the other end of the class structure, this year leading the Star Mazda Championship heading into finale at Laguna Seca on the October 20-22 weekend. From 60cc Novice podium to Star Mazda racewinner in just five years…very impressive.

The 2001 SuperNationals would mark the end of an era for this great race, as the organizers said goodbye to the ‘Rock Pile’ before heading to the Rio Hotel for two amazing year’s in the heart of Las Vegas.