Rick, it was a pleasure to meet you at the Route 66 finale last weekend. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in karting?
Good Morning John, it was a pleasure to meet you as well. I have been involved in karting since I was a little kid. My father (Reggie) and brother (Randy),both in the World Karting Hall of Fame, were racing before I was even born. I was finally able to talk my dad into letting me race when I was 12. By that time, they were mostly road racing, so I actually started in road racing and got into sprint and street racing a few years later. I still race whenever I can, and I also do a little tuning/driver coaching when asked.
You’ve been the race director for the Route 66 Sprint Series for the past three years. How did this season go for you guys compared to last season?
The Route 66 team of Officials and Staff did an outstanding job again this year putting on some of the best kart races in the country. Besides owner and promoter Mark Coats, we have Jason Ludwig (Assistant Race Director), Mike Everson (Tech Director), Lisa Guess (Chief Scorer) and Kris Tapocik (Registration)…THAT’S IT!! It’s amazing to me how this small group of people can effectively organize and carry out all that is necessary to successfully produce a series of this caliber. We are able to do this because everybody involved is good at what they do, they are willing to wear many hats before and during event weekends, and we all genuinely love karting.
Route 66 is growing every year, and this year was no exception. What can you attribute that success to?
Three things: 1. Knowledge and Respect 2. Format 3. Our Competitors.
Our officials all have extensive kart racing knowledge and have been successful racers for many many years. We also make a conscious effort to treat all of our competitors with respect. We know that the decisions we make and the actions we take, whether big or small, are ultimately how our organization will be judged.
Less classes, larger fields and more track time…pretty simple
And when I say “competitors” I mean everyone that comes to the track to race and the people who come to support those drivers. The competitors who run this series have become our (the staff’s) family. And the family is quickly growing. We joke around and laugh with them, we root for them and yes, sometimes we argue with them. Sounds like family to me…haha! We have some of the best kart racers in the country running in our series. More importantly, some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet race with us. A Route 66 race weekend is really more of an event than just a kart race. We always have a free cookout, usually the track promoters try to put together some type of entertainment, and we race on the best kart tracks the Midwest has to offer.
You’ve assisted with directing races at Rock Island, Route 66, WKA Manufacturer’s Cup, and now you’re involved with the new kid on the block “Texas Lone Star Grand Prix.” Can you tell us more about this new event, now in its second year?
LSGP is about bringing more people to kart racing. It will be in Lockhart, Texas this year (March 2-3, 2013). Lockhart is the official BBQ Capital of Texas and just 19 miles from Austin. Lockhart and its Chambers of Commerce have been working with LSGP for over a year to put together a karting event that will be unique and exciting to racers and thousands of spectators as well. Live streaming video will be provided by Kart Racing Network on the internet and around the track on large jumbo screens, and a festival is being planned around the race. Projections indicate that the entry numbers will exceed those of the 2012 race in Dallas which hosted racers from 18 states and 5 countries.
Other than the Texas Lone Star Grand Prix, what else will we see you doing in 2013?
In addition to my full time job, I work as a Driving Instructor on a program with Ford while trying to continue to race when the opportunities present themselves, all of this takes up a lot of my time. Right now I plan to return to the Route 66 Sprint Series, the Rock Island Grand Prix, and Bill McLaughlin and Shannon Park’s Indy Karting Classic, however, nothing has been finalized. I’m also involved in several conversations about other opportunities, but we’ll just have to see. I definitely won’t be on next season’s Dancing With The Stars…I just don’t have the time!