Kartplex Firing on All Cylinders for Start of Race Season - Gateway Kartplex
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Kartplex Firing on All Cylinders for Start of Race Season

Kartplex Firing on All Cylinders for Start of Race Season

 

The racing season has officially shifted into gear for 2021 at the Gateway Kartplex. The Ignite Series doubleheader season opener was April 3rd, with the following weekend featuring the SuperComp Series’ first two races and the iDrive Rental Racing League blasting off with a record-high 42 entries on April 14th.

Ignite Series

The Kartplex’s spec series was a strong opening to the track’s race schedule, with 73 competitors on track battling for early leads in the Ignite points championship. Those championships now include a new class – Ignite Legend – for drivers 50 and older.

2020 Ignite Heavy champion Craig Loddeke looks to be the driver to beat in the Legend field, taking home both wins over Greg Mefford (second) and Dennis Wilburn (third) in race one, and Wilburn (second) and Barry Taft (third) in race two. Loddeke’s also a perennial favorite in the Heavy class, with yet another pair of victories putting him 4-0 on finals so far. It looks like he’ll be getting a strong challenge in Ignite Heavy from last year’s iDrive Heavy champion, Rick Neal. Neal’s new iDrive Scholarship kart was practically glued to Loddeke’s bumper all day, leading the first half of the second race and finishing in second place on each of his first two Ignite starts. Doug Stroud and Wilburn completed the Heavy podiums with a single third place result each.

Kid Kart Honda, the track’s youngest drivers at 5-8 years old, had matching podiums, with Jack Mayer taking home first, Sloan Bettenhausen in second and new driver Rhett “Scooter” Johnson rounding out the podium in both 5-kart finals. Rookie looks to have a competitive field this season – Rhett’s older brother Tyler Johnson, who finished second overall in Rookie last year, took home both wins but there was a talented field battling for position every step of the way. Experienced drivers Race Beckman and Quinn Ahrens finished second and third respectively in the first round, but an on-track incident at the end of the second final pushed them well down the field and gave Aidan Liber (second) and Carter Riddle (third) their first podiums of 2021.

Reid Sweeney, Owen Elders and Isaac Wells finished 1-2-3 in each of the Junior finals – it’ll be interesting to see which drivers will pose the biggest threat to Sweeney, who handily took home last year’s Junior title over Wells with a clean sweep of wins. Over in Ignite Senior, Cory Osborn was ecstatic about his first-ever Ignite win in race one, beating polesitter Trevor Eggemeyer (second) and Adam Crepin (third). Crepin climbed those last two steps on the podium for race two, winning over Osborn (second) and Avery Schwalm (third).

Finishing out the day was the Master class, where a number of strong drivers proved this season’s championship should be just as hotly contested as ever. James Newbold featured on both podiums, with a first and a third, as did Blaine Finnegan, who took home two second place finishes for the day. Micah Floretta, last year’s iDrive Medium champion, rounded out the race one podium in third while Brandin Moore capped the weekend with a win in race two.

To see the full class and event results for Ignite Race 1 and 2, visit our 2021 Results and Point Standings webpage.

SuperComp Series

Just one short week after Ignite kicked off the 2021 Gateway Kartplex race season, SuperComp was out on track with drivers running a variety of chassis and engines, competing for spots on the Kartplex podium. Just as in Ignite, competitors had a brand new class to race in – Briggs Master for drivers 35 and older.

In a repeat of the week before, Jack Mayer, Sloan Bettenhausen and Rhett Johnson went 1-2-3 in both Kid Kart races. Small fields in 2-cycle karts had Shifters, TaG 60 Cadets and TaG Junior karts on track at the same time. In single kart fields, Jake Etter in TaG Junior and Race Beckman in TaG 60 Cadet took home easy victories. Adding some noise and hustle to the run group were Kyle Kennedy and Joe Mareschal in Shifter. Mareschal, the 2020 SuperComp Shifter champion, was no match for Kennedy, who won both races in record-setting pace on the Kartplex’s backwards configuration. Clocked at speeds upwards of 80mph, Kennedy set a new backwards track record – 28.537.

Another double winner could be found over in Briggs Rookie, where Race Beckman bested Quinn Ahrens (second) and Tyler Johnson (third) in race one. In race two, the young Beckman again beat Johnson (second) and Aidan Liber (third) to the checkered flag. Briggs Junior had two drivers doubling their podium pleasure, with Isaac Wells on the top step and Owen Elders in second for both races, while Rachel Fasching and Jaiden Beckman split third place finishes for the day.

SuperComp’s new class was also its biggest of the day, with 11 drivers racing in Briggs Master. Continuing the trend of double winners, Brandin Moore was the lucky guy, finishing race one ahead of 2020 Ignite Master champion Luke Webster (second) and James Newbold (third) who ended the 2020 Ignite season just 75 points behind Webster in Ignite Master. Race two found Moore besting Blaine Finnegan (second) and, once again, Webster (third).

Briggs Senior capped the day with a Kartplex first – Trevor Eggemeyer may have won both races, but twin drivers Dylan and Emily Ellsworth were the real story of race one. They made history as the first siblings to finish on the podium together, as Dylan took second and Emily finished third. Dylan was back on that second podium step for race two, with Luke Webster finishing third.

To see the full class and event results for SuperComp Race 1 and 2, visit our 2021 Results and Point Standings webpage.

iDrive Series

A late start to the season last year meant drivers only had one chance to qualify for the iDrive Shootout, but this year the Kartplex has returned to its usual Spring and Fall Series for iDrive. Large fields from last season seem to have only gotten bigger at the first event of this year, with 13 in Light class, 17 in Medium and 12 in Heavy. Plenty of familiar faces were around, including all three of last season’s iDrive champions, who showed their competitors that they may not be eligible to win another iDrive Scholarship kart but they weren’t going to let anyone have an easy cruise to an early lead in the 2021 Spring iDrive Series.

In Light class, Elijah Ward (first and third) and Seth Hanlon (third and first) split the podium in the first and second races, and landed in a tie at the top of the Spring leaderboard with 207 points each. Sandwiched between the two were a couple of 2020 iDrive champions – 2020 Medium champ Micah Floretta took second place in race one, while 2020 Light champ Adam Key found his way to second in race two.

With so many Medium drivers on hand, that class was split in half and raced in two groups for the evening. In Medium A, Jeff Kraatz moved from being a regular force in Heavy to showing he could be just as dominant in Medium, with a win in race one. Also on the race one podium were Josh Merklin (second) and newcomer Luke Thompson (third). Thompson found himself in third place again for race two, while Merklin jumped to first and Mikey Wagner finished second.

Over in Medium B, Dan Davis (first and second) and Christian Wiggins (second and first) became the second split podium finishers of the night, tied for second with 206 points overall and nipping at the heels of Merklin, just two points ahead of them with 208. Longtime iDrive fixture Lawrence Dunlap was also on the podium with a third in race one, while Jeremy Franko’s third place finish rounded out the final Medium B podium.

Last year’s iDrive Heavy runner-up, Matt Zigaitis, is determined to win this season and is already showing it. In what is quite possibly his personal best iDrive night, he took home second place in race one and had just his second-ever iDrive win in race two. 2020 Heavy champ Rick Neal made it three split finishes in four run groups, finishing first then second in Heavy that evening to tie Zigaitis at 214 points each. Zigaitis is wrenching for Neal in the Ignite Series, where Neal has shown some early skill on track, so this could be quite the duo to watch going forward. Craig Pyatt finished a solid third in both races to conclude the evening’s competition.

To see the full point standings for 2021 Spring iDrive, visit our iDrive webpage.

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With a full season ahead, there’s a lot of exciting racing yet to come at the Gateway Kartplex. The next iDrive will be on April 28th, SuperComp Race 3 and 4 will happen May 16th, and don’t forget about Ignite Mega Weekend on May 22nd and 23rd – Ignite Race 3 is on May 22nd followed by the 2020 Gateway Kartplex Awards Ceremony, then Ignite Challenge Round 1 and 2 are here on May 23rd!

Be sure to check out our full Ignite/SuperComp and iDrive schedules online, and we’ll see you at the track!

Recap by Rose vonHatten

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