It's a pivotal year for Rotax karting in the United States. I imagine if we're a few years down the road and Rotax has made strides in gaining market share it had lost, we're likely going to look to 2019 as the year things turned for the historic karting platform.
As most of you know by now, BRP-Rotax was compelled in 2018 to find a new distributor for the United States market after a year of having the position unfilled. The Austrian company elected to go with two groups: RTX USA Group (Southern USA) and J3 Competition (Northern USA). Both outfits are bringing back ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“national levelÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Rotax karting events to the United States with the former having already finished their's back in April in the form of the All Star Final in Houston, Texas. The latter begins their new role as event organizer this week in Utah at the premiere Utah Motorsports Campus just outside of Salt Lake City.
J3 is a long-time karting distributor, having officially been in business since 2004, but their roots go back long before that. Since that first official year, the Pennsylvania-based company led by Jim, John, and Justin has been known for their attention to detail and organized environments both at the track and at their warehouse headquarters. While being on this side of the fence is entirely new for them, I expect we'll see the same level of detail that's helped shape the professional team environments we see throughout the paddock in the States today.
With the aforementioned decline in Rotax participation over the past two years, both RTX USA Group and J3 Competition are starting from ground zero. This weekend the entry list is short, but solid, much like the Houston event.
One very bright spot is the Senior MAX category, boasting names we see on the national and international stages. This group is led by current pace setters Ryan Norberg (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) and Dante Yu (Compkart). The two drivers residing on separate ends of the country will meet in Utah for what should be a showcase battle.
Storied Rotax competitor and all around single speed hotshoe, Luke Selliken, jumps back into the seat with Rolison Performance Group. The two names are synonymous at the kart track and the Oregon driver should have no issues getting back up to speed on familiar equipment. Hannah Greenemeier will form the triple threat for RPG as she also looks to punch her ticket to Italy later in the year for the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals.
Others I'll have my eye on will be the sneaky-quick David Illavia (Compkart), up and comer Joey Brienza, and former Challenge of the America's Champion, Jimmy McKinney.
The standouts to watch in other categories will be John Burke (Supertune / Tony Kart) in Junior, Enzo Deligny (Supertune / Tony Kart) in Mini, Davide Greco (PSL Karting/ Birel ART) in DD2, and Christophe Adams and Billy Cleavelin in Masters.
The event officially begins on Thursday, May 16 when the engine raffle and tire pickup are set to begin.
Friday, May 17 will be a full day of free practice, including six 15-minute sessions with the always exciting hot grid for those looking to make adjustments in the middle of a session.
Saturday, May 18 will officially kick off wheel-to-wheel racing with qualifying in the morning and heat racing in the afternoon.
Sunday, May 19 will be finals day, beginning with pre-finals in the morning and main events in the afternoon.