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.

Tymoteusz Kucharczyk
Johnny Johnson
Polander Kucharczyk fastest in X30 Junior Qualifying

Kucharczyk and Burke surprise at the top of Junior category qualifying.

Aerial Biloxi Finishline John Vlog
Johnny Johnson
ROK Festival Biloxi: What to watch for

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

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Johnny Johnson
ROK The Rio: What to watch for

Vortex and ROK Cup USA bring their show to Vegas.

Crowd watches at 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
Johnny Johnson
2018 SuperNationals: Friday Afternoon Takeaways

Kremers and Brooks lead headline categories into Saturday.

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Johnny Johnson
On Location: ROK Festival New York Day 2

Drivers have been greeted by rain and a wet track on the final day of competition.

Billy Musgrave
Johnny Johnson
Musgrave on top of shortened Pro Shifter Qualifying

Water barriers punctured, ending the session short.

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.

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Johnny Johnson
Powell comes up inches short in Mini ROK at ROK Cup International Final

Jamaican Alex Powell and American Borah Akshay put two North Americans inside the top three.

On track fire after gas spilled onto the surface
Johnny Johnson
2018 SuperNationals: Friday Morning Recap

Morning mayhem gave way to great racing with the first set of heats now in the books.

ROK Cup Festival Banner
Johnny Johnson
On Location: ROK Festival New York Day 1

Results and photos from a full day of qualifying and heat racing.

Photo Nov 21 12 56 54 Pm
Johnny Johnson
2018 SuperNationals: Live Timing, Audio, and Results

Free Practice set to conclude and give way to the crucial Timed Qualifying.

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.