Johnny Johnson

ROK The Rio: What we learned

By all accounts the ROK takeover of Vegas was a success and should be even better in 2019.

A look down the front straight away at 2018 ROK The Rio
Never a shortage of action from the OMP observation deck over the start finish line. Photo: Johnny Johnson / Kart360

With everyone now back home and recharging after a week in Vegas, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the many happenings that took place. Many drivers are still wondering what could have been had they done this or that; the nine drivers who drove their tails off to become the inaugural set of ROK The Rio Champions are still waiting for the elation to wear off.

The prizes won were nothing short of extraordinary. To kick off the week, Bridgestone Tires hosted the Tire Changing Challenge, pitting a dozen contestants against one another in a tournament of sorts. Brian Bettencourt prevailed, picking up a really slick set of Fittipaldi Wheels, valued at $2,800. Later, Mario Ioffredo and Wesley Boswell, two pairs of the best tire changing hands this side of the Atlantic, dueled for $400 cash in total. Ioffredo won the preliminary contest with Boswell lighting the stage on fire in the main event. In the drivers meeting the following morning, Lucas Szabo won entry to all ROK Cup USA affiliated series in 2019, a value of over $7,000. And lastly, $45,000 in cash was distributed out among the nine categories, including $2,500 to each victor.

On track, nearly all of the finals were thrilling races, including multiple last lap takeovers, including 100cc Senior, Mini ROK, Senior ROK, and Shifter ROK Senior. The grandstands, placed right on top of the penultimate corner, got to witness fearless pass after fearless pass, bringing them to cheers more than a few times. I think credit for this many heated competitions on Saturday had a little to do with the layout, allowing for drag races down the long straight and deep-braking passes in the tight stuff. Although the track was a repeat from 2015/2016, it once again stood out as a well designed course. With that said, I do hope we get to see a new circuit in 2019; that’s what these temporary courses are all about, afterall.

From all accounts, the Vortex and OTK officials in attendance from the factories in Italy were very pleased and excited about the event from start to finish. They were also able to bring aboard their factory partner, OMP, who had branding throughout the paddock. I bring this up because it’s a pleasant sight to see from a company that extends beyond karting, which we don’t see nearly enough of here in the States. The 2019 version of ROK The Rio should bring many enhancements knowing that the factory will be in full support of this event going forward.

And lastly, at the end of the week the schedule for the 21st season of the Florida Winter Tour was finalized and announced. It will be the second year ROK Cup Promotions will put on the popular winter series and they’ve upped the ante big time. The opening two rounds will take place in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, home to the NFL team Miami Dolphins. Each round at the stadium will include a different layout and I can’t be more excited to see what they come up with. The third and final round will be at the Ocala Gran Prix facility, a staple in the Florida karting scene.

 If you missed any of the action, I detailed each Final on Saturday, linked below.

Arthur Leist celebrates
Johnny Johnson
2019 ROK Fest Biloxi: Finals Report

Many charges to the front highlight the final day in Biloxi.

Dale Curran
Johnny Johnson
2019 ROK Fest Biloxi: Heat Race Report

Heat, humidity, and rain gave competitors all they could handle on Saturday.

Johnny Johnson
2019 ROK Fest Biloxi: Qualifying report

Drivers find their spots on grid in the Mississippi heat.

Johnny Johnson
ROK Festival Biloxi: What to watch for

New facility brings new energy to karting event yards from the beach.

Shifter Pro Podium 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
Johnny Johnson
Musgrave makes it two in a row in Shifter Pro

Race video, report, and results for Shifter Pro at SuperNationals XXII.

Kip Foster X30 Master 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
Johnny Johnson
Flawless week for Foster in X30 Master

Race video, report, and results of X30 Master Final at SuperNationals XXII.

Steven Barros KA100 Senior 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
Johnny Johnson
Bold move for Barros secures the win in KA100 Senior Final

New 100cc category unsurprisingly comes down to the final corners.

Johnny Johnson
Lorandi capitalizes on red flag in KZ Final

It was a tale of two races with Lorandi getting the better end over Kremers.

Rob Logan 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
Johnny Johnson
Logan’s launch critical in Shifter Master Final

A decisive opening lap lead gave Logan all the cushion he needed to cruise to the victory.

Johnny Johnson
Wharton outduels Zilisch in KA100 Junior

Two drivers well out front had themselves a duel on the final lap.

Johnny Johnson
Cooper emerges on final lap in X30 Senior

Brooks collides with Travisanutto, opening the door for Cooper.

Micro Swift podium 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
Johnny Johnson
Maier moves to first on final lap in Micro Swift

Micro Swift Final report.