The 2019 season begins for many in the western half of North America with the annual journey to compete at Challenge of the Americas. The premier winter series on the left coast is set to host the 12th year of the three-event championship program, now focused on its second season utilizing the ROK Cup USA engine platform with Bridgestone tires. The 2019 campaign will continue that momentum, along with welcoming a new shift in the dates for the three events.
“I am excited for the future of ROK on the West Coast and the United States in general,” commented Andy Seesemann, Challenge of the Americas promoter. “2018 was a watershed year, in which we completely switched engine platforms and actually grew our entry numbers over the previous year. I watch the numbers of all of the major programs in the US and ours was one of few that had growth in 2018. For whatever the reasons, many West Coast programs are shrinking and I am very proud to say that ours was not one of them.”
The opening weekend for the 2019 Challenge of the Americas will not be held in January for the first time in series history. Instead, the program kicks off the west coast and SoCal racing season on the February 8-10, 2019 weekend at the CalSpeed Karting Center in Fontana, California. The popular facility in the Los Angeles metro-area rejoined the COTA program last year after being off the schedule since 2013. The program travels east to the Copper State and a return to the Musselman Honda Circuit on March 8-10, 2019. The Tucson, Arizona facility is among the most challenging tracks that provides some of the best racing, returning to the COTA schedule after a year off in 2018. The series finale returns to the Simraceway Performance Karting Center for the sixth straight year. Racers will venture to wine country on April 5-7 to take on the popular Sonoma, California circuit.
“I apologize for the delay in releasing the dates,” added Seesemann. “I sat down with SKUSA management in late August to discuss dates among other topics and realized that there were some date conflicts. I have spent the last few weeks adjusting the schedule to avoid those conflicts and have been assured that there will be no conflict with the April date as an announcement is forthcoming from them.”
Seesemann continued, “Starting the season at CalSpeed will be something new to all of us. It is a shorter travel time for those north of us, and still provides those east the ability to get away from the colder weather and enjoy the California sunshine. I am excited to return to Musselman Honda Circuit, one of the best tracks in the United States. They have always been a great host and the track produces some of the best racing around. We need to support these great tracks if we want them to survive. Our March event in Tucson should be incredible. The ROK Sonoma Karting Championship continued to grow after our event in April at Simraceway. Those numbers increasing means are finale could be our biggest event of the season, as it was in 2018 for our ROK categories.”
The 2019 Challenge of the Americas class structure will be similar to last season, based around the ROK Cup USA powerplants. The ROK GP engine is the flagship powerplant, utilized in the Senior ROK, Masters ROK and Junior ROK divisions. The youngest classes at the Challenge are Mini ROK and Micro ROK, with the popular 60cc Mini ROK engine (exhaust restrictor and spec gear for the Micro class). The ROK Shifter powerplant is reserved for ROK Shifter Senior and ROK Shifter Masters categories. The 125cc six-speed engine produces over 40 horsepower, developed from years of experience by the Vortex engineers and designers.
“The ROK shifter is such a solid platform and almost every kart racer that has driven one has said that it is the best shifter engine they have ever driven. With shifter numbers in the US in a perilous decline, the ROK Shifter kart engine has the potential to revitalize US shifter kart racing. The engine has been around for several years, with no further testing or updates required and has a very attractive price point as well.”
For 2019, Challenge of the Americas is replacing the Briggs & Stratton 206 categories with Senior 100cc and Masters 100c. These two categories will be a mixed TaG engine category for the 100cc models, including the Vortex ROK VLR and the IAME KA100 powerplants.
“I recognize that there is value to allowing both 100cc TaG engines to run together. These packages are so close in performance and competitive with one another, that including them both in the same class simply makes sense.”
Complete information for the 2019 Challenge of the Americas will be published at the challengekarting.com. More information, videos and photos can also be found on the Facebook page.
2019 Challenge of the Americas Schedule
February 8-10: CalSpeed Karting Center - Fontana, California
March 8-10: Musselman Honda Circuit - Tucson, Arizona
April 5-7: Simraceway Performance Karting Center - Sonoma, California
2019 Challenge of the Americas Class Structure
ROK Shifter Senior
ROK Shifter Masters