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.

Sebastian Montoya 2018 ROK The Rio
2018 ROK Cup Promotions ROK the RIO – Saturday Report

The 2018 ROK Cup Promotions event calendar culminates at the RIO All-Suites Hotel and Casino with the 2018 ROK the RIO race.

Crowd gathers at 2018 ROK Cup International Final
Johnny Johnson
What we learned: 2018 ROK Cup International Final

Americans stood out in nearly every category, proving our abilities on the international stage.

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.

Johnny Johnson
Florida Winter Tour Round 3 Championship Report

Incredibly close points championship races highlight the final day of competition.

Diego Ramos
Johnny Johnson
Florida Winter Tour Round 3 Pre-Finals Report

Ramirez, Ramos, Arsenau, Sorensen, and more prove to be the best on a long but important Saturday of racing in Ocala.

Johnny Johnson
Florida Winter Tour Round 3 Qualifying Report

Grids set for final weekend in 2019 Championship from Ocala, Florida.

Christian Brooks
Johnny Johnson
FWT Round 2 Miami: Sunday Report

Many crucial points were obtained in the last chance drivers had to positions themselves for the final round in March.

Johnny Johnson
FWT Miami Round 2: Heat Race Report

A full day of heat racing capped off by Ramos earning $1,500 in dash for cash event.

Diego Contecha
Johnny Johnson
FWT Round 2 Miami: Qualifying Report

Under perfect conditions, fields are set for a full day of heat racing on Saturday.