August 29, 2020- SUMMIT POINT RACE RECAP
The month-long break in the racing season has reminded me of what it is like to be a normal teenager - sort of. I am back in school now (I’m a senior) and my hybrid, e-learning schedule is keeping me exceptionally busy but allowing me to continue to concentrate on my racing too. I am happy to report that I was able to return from the racing break and put up great results in rounds 10 through 12 of the FRP F1600 Championship at Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, West Virginia. READ MORE HERE
JULY 22, 2020- VIRginia International Race Racap (ANOTHER WIN!)
We’ve already hit the halfway point of the FRP F1600 championship season. After a rough opening weekend in Pittsburgh that had us barely inside the top 10 in points, the #52 Tnemec/Caldwell Subways RiceRace entry is now 4th and effectively 2nd with drops factored in. And, we’ve got momentum with 2 wins and a pair of runner-ups in the last 4 races. It was nearly 3 wins after missing out by a couple of inches in what had to be one of the closest finishes in any pro race in history! READ MORE HERE.
JULY 17, 2020 MID-OHIO RACE RECAP (A WIN!!!)
My streak of improving my finishing position is up to 6 races, but it will have to stop there - I won at Mid Ohio!
While I had a great end to the weekend, I had some bad luck on the Friday test day. Practice time was limited due to a gearbox failure, but thanks to the hard work of my crew with RiceRace, I was able to take advantage of as much track time as possible and make big strides by the end of the test day. READ MORE HERE.
June 24, 2020- PITTSBURGH RACE RACAP
After a pair of podiums including 2nd in the feature race of the SCCA June Sprints at Road America, the first weekend of the FRP F1600 Championship is also in the books. My first trip to Pittsburgh International Race Complex had its ups and downs, but I was able to learn the new track and show the #52 Tnemec/Caldwell Subway car had quick pace and gain the experience of battling with the lead pack (often 3-wide with 2 more right behind heading into a corner). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the start to the season we wanted, but we have a strong car and we are in a good position to be competitive moving forwards. READ MORE HERE.
June 15th, 2020: SCCA June Sprints at Road America recap
The 2020 season finally began last weekend with a late entry into the prestigious June Sprints and resulted in a 2nd place finish overall in Formula F! We have a new format for sharing info on the race team and our season. Click here for my latest blog and details on the weekend and the FRP F1600 season opener next weekend in Pittsburgh, click here.
June 1st, 2020: 2020 season set to begin with June Sprints at Road America
The long offseason has once again found a way to extend itself. A test planned for this week has been canceled because of weather concerns on top of the already delayed start. But, we can finally see an end to this drought of racing.
The canceled test has created a new and even better opportunity. My team, Rice Race, had a late opening for the prestigious June Sprints at Road America. And, thanks to our partner Mike Land with Indiana Coating Specialists and Tnemec, we’ve added it to our schedule.
So, my new season opener event is going to be June 11-14 at Road America, for the WeatherTech Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints. This is a very large event with well over 20 cars in my class (Formula F) and over 100 for the event. The June Sprints has a long history, is attended by numerous fans and qualifies drivers for the SCCA Runoffs later this year.
While I hope and expect to be competitive and have a chance to win, the main purpose of participating in this event is to get used to working with my new team, the new car, and to learn to give better feedback to prepare me for the start of the FRP F1600 championship which kicks off at Pittsburgh International Raceway, June 19-21. I am more than excited to finally get back in a race car after being out of the seat for almost 8 months.
Although I haven’t been on track in the real world, I have been competing in the iRacing FRP Challenge on my simulator. It has been a lot of fun to compete in the virtual world with the other drivers that I will race against in the real world. I have also raced in Formula Regional Americas Invitational iRacing series with many F4 and FR Americas drivers, and Elite Racing Leagues event at Chicagoland, with many IndyCar drivers. The extended offseason and rise in internet racing have provided reasons to upgrade my home sim to a more realistic simulator with SimXperience’s Accuforce steering, and Heusinkveld sprint pedals all thanks to the support from Tnemec CO and Indy Simulations.
I’ve also had the opportunity to stay involved at the kart track and have been coaching a young driver. He won from pole in our first weekend together. It’s been fun to watch him improve and think about the process of racing.
As I said earlier, I am very excited to get the #52 Tnemec Honda Mygale F1600 for RiceRace back on track. I can’t thank Tnemec, Indiana Coating Specialists, and Mike Land enough for the support, and helping me get back on track and ready for the season. Also, Rising Star Racing and our long-time partners Don and Jennifer Caldwell (Caldwell Subways of Hobart and Valparaiso/Jackson Hewitt/Caldwell Realty) have been a huge help in making our F1600 season a possibility. Big thanks also to Moeller Printing, Lake Cable Consulting of Canton, OH, BSA Life Structures, Hinchman Racewear, Bell Helmets, Performance Tire Service Company, and Cabin Coffee Company of Avon.
And, thanks to Greg Rice and Rice Race Prep for the opportunity. After spending a weekend with Rice Race last year, I know Greg and his team will give me the best opportunity to win this season. I can't wait to get started!
March 19th, 2020: Pre-Season Update
So, since we all have a lot of extra time on our hands right now, I thought it would be a good opportunity for a blog and offer an update on the upcoming season and our preparations.
First off, I want to thank everyone who has made our upcoming season possible: Tnemec, Indiana Coating Specialists, Rising Star Racing, BSA Life Structures, Hinchman Racing Uniforms, Moeller Printing, Caldwell Subways of Hobart and Valpo, Caldwell Realty, Jackson Hewitt of Hobart, Lake Cable Consulting of Canton, Ohio, Cabin Coffee Company of Avon, Indiana, Performance Tire Service Company, Bell Helmets and Fastimes Indoor Karting. We enjoyed the opportunity to spend an evening with many of our partners at our Partner Appreciation Night at PitFit/Indy Simulation.
For the 2020 season, I have signed with RiceRace to run the #52 car in the Formula Race Promotions (FRP) F1600 Championship. I am very excited to be back with Greg Rice and Rice Race Prep for the season. They are a very strong team. We worked well together in our one-off weekend together last year at Summit Point and showed we could be fast. We almost won race 3, missing out by a tenth of a second!
I have also spent the offseason preparing with Pitfit Training, and Indy Simulation. Pitfit has helped me stay in shape, and Indy Simulation has gained me countless hours of sim time in the Sim Xperience Stage 5 professional level racing simulator to help me prepare for the upcoming season. And, I’ve had the opportunity to earn some extra money by coaching drivers making the transition to car racing. On top of that, I have been working on my home simulator to also better prepare me for the season in every way possible.
The original plan was to enter in an event from March 20th through the 23rd at Road Atlanta with the Hoosier Super Tour to prepare for the first FRP event also at Road Atlanta in early April. Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans. As of now, both the Hoosier Super tour event, and the first event for the FRP championship has been postponed. The season is set to begin on May 15th at Barber Motorsports park.
I am still doing everything I can to prepare for a strong start to the season, whenever it may be. I am continuing to train on my home simulator, and I have implemented a home workout plan so that I will be ready at the first event in May. Thanks again to all who have supported me and made this season possible. I look forward to the next time I am in a race car.
October 20th, 2019 Season finale/Season recap
The 2019 season has come to a close. With a short time to look back, it’s clearly been the biggest season for my racing career! I had showed I had the pace to be competitive during a test and the Cooper Tires Shootout at Sebring International Raceway late last last year, which convinced us to run the full season this year in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series. I was then able to confirm it with a very rewarding first season racing cars. I was able to drastically improve my car control, win multiple races and almost always run with the lead pack and finish near the front. I also made great connections including through the Team USA Scholarship process to benefit my racing career in the future.
The final race event of the season was at Sebring International Raceway October 9th-11th. Three other drivers and I remained in contention for the championship. Despite solid results in all 3 races, I was not able to improve my position finishing 4th - only 22 points behind the leader (454-432). All three races were very close, but the large draft of Sebring didn’t play in our favor. Often going 3 to 5 wide down both straights, it was difficult to strategize the last lap. Race one and two ended with getting passed for position on the last straight (finishing 5th & 4th), and race three ended in a 4 wide drag race to the line (finishing 3rd) after leading the most laps. But, the experience of racing wheel-to-wheel and side-by-side at over 90 mph through the corners without a mistake, is hard to find and greatly beneficial. I gained similar experience with drafting and multiple overtakes for the lead at Road America in September (2nd and 3rd place finishes separated by .05).
Big thanks to my cousin, Mike Ogren. with Protech Racing, for driving over to Sebring from the Tampa area. He has many, many laps driving and coaching at Sebring. He (along with the other Lucas Oil School of Racing coaches) definitely helped me improve throughout the weekend. Also, thank you to Cary Bettenhausen of Indy Simulation for the time on his high level simulators. And, Kelly Jones and everyone at RaceCraft1 and Darren Manning and iAdvance Motorsports for the coaching on the sims.
This season also included a successful debut weekend in the FRP F1600 Championship Series. We wanted to get an idea of where I stack up at the next level and it went very well! I ran with Rice Race Prep at Summit Point in late August. The practice day and qualifying were all in wet conditions, so my first time on slicks and at full speed was in race 1! I ran at the front at times in all 3 races (with the fastest la in race #2) and put it all together in race #3, finishing 2nd to the eventual champ by a tenth of a second.
So now, we are fully focused on solidifying our 2020 program with the possibility of some Winter testing. We’ve been talking with several teams and visited with some of them at the Chris Griffis Memorial Road To Indy test this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We’ve also had some very positive conversations with potential partners (and still need to find a few more 😉). I look forward to the 2020 season with my eyes on racing in F1600 and testing in USF2000 with the possibility of a one-off event in USF2000, depending on budget.
Thanks to all of my supporters, and a special thanks to Caldwell Realty in NW Indiana and the north side of Indy, Caldwell Subways in Hobart/Valpo, Hinchman Racewear, Bell Helmets, Quack Daddy Doughnuts in Pendleton, Cabin Coffee Company on US 36 W in Avon, Performance Tire Service Company and Art Wilmes and Rising Star Racing.
July 29th, 2019 Team USA Scholarship & F1600
I am proud to announce that I am a nominee for the Team USA Scholarship program http://teamusascholarship.org/. This is a prestigious scholarship that sends two young American drivers to England to race at Brands Hatch for the Formula Ford Festival and to Silverstone for the Walter Hayes Trophy. Previous winners include Josef Newgarden, Spencer Pigot, Conor Daly, A.J. Allmendinger, Bryan Herta, Jimmy Vasser and many more who have later found long, successful driving careers.
Team USA invited the selected drivers to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to participate in multiple opportunities this past weekend during the IndyCar and Road to Indy event. This included getting to watch IndyCar practice from the pit box of different teams. I would like to thank Dale Coyne Racing and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for hosting me during the practice sessions of the Honda Indy 200. We listened to the team communications on a headset, including the conversations not normally heard on a scanner when the team is stopped on pit road. This was a great chance to learn how a professional driver communicates with his engineers and learn how the top step operates.
The rest of the weekend was filled with meeting important people in the racing world who can help my career. We got the opportunity to talk with Jay Frye, the president of IndyCar and we had a dinner where we talked to drivers Josef Newgarden, Oliver Askew, Kyle Kirkwood, Spencer Pigot and Aaron Telitz. Plus, Mike Hull from Ganassi Racing, Jim Leo of PitFit Training, Kelly Jones of RaceCraft1, Jonny Baker of The Road To Indy, Steve Wittich of TracksideOnline.com and Dan Anderson, the owner and operator of The Road To Indy.
The weekend also included good experiences with media training, including public interviews at the Cooper Tire stage in the fan section. I also was interviewed for a future story by Brian Carroccio of Auto Racing 1.
I am honored to be involved in the program and I can’t wait for the next events in the selection process. I can’t thank Team USA and all of the people involved enough for the incredible opportunity.
I will be on track again in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series from August 16-18 at NCM Motorsports Park. I am excited to continue to learn and battle for a championship.
I am also excited to announce that I will be competing in my first F1600 event August 23rd-25th at Summit Point Motorsports Park with Rice Race Prep. It will be a great learning experience to be able to give feedback to an engineer and learn to improve the car.
We are now looking for a title sponsor for our F1600 event and remaining Lucas Oil Series events (as well as associates). If you are interested, please contact me at JacksonLeeRacing@gmail.com.
Thanks, as always, for the support!
July 15-17, Lucas Oil Formula Car Series- New Jersey Motorsports Park
Rounds 7-9 of the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series at New Jersey Motorsports Park was one of the most mentally challenging racing events of my career so far. It was a great relief to be able to fight through the adversity. When I first got out in practice, I could not get comfortable with this track. I was a second off pace during all four practice sessions. After studying the track and the on-board footage from the first four sessions, I finally learned the track and started running fast laps.
I found the pace I needed in race #1 to fight with the lead pack. Halfway through the race, the second half of the lead group started racing with each other and we fell out of striking distance of the leaders and I ended in 7th place.
Race #2 went much better. Starting in p7 meant that I had to fight at the start of the race with the mid-pack cars while the leaders took off. But I put my head down and fought to catch up (and claimed the fastest lap of the race). I was able to make a few passes and take advantage of a few mistakes along the way, and finished in 3rd place.
While race #3 was a frustrating result, we showed winning pace the entire race. I was racing in the lead pack for most of the race but had an unavoidable incident and was hit in the back. This resulted in a required drive-thru safety check that ended my chances for the win. Although I was running by myself the rest of the race, I still ran at the same pace as the lead pack (who had the draft) and I ran the fastest lap of the race by 3 tenths.
Unfortunately, the results weren’t able to show our pace towards the end of the event. But I had a great learning experience and I now know I can fight through adversity and find pace when we don’t have it out of the box. Thanks to Lucas Oil School of Racing for putting on a great event, and thanks to Caldwell Realty, Subway of Hobart/Valpo and Jackson Hewitt of Hobart for your continued support. I also have to thank Cary Bettenhausen of SimXperience and Bettenhausen Design & Simulation, Darren Manning of iAdvance Motorsports. Pitfit Training, Racecraft1, Bell Helmets, and Nancy Chumbley of Hinchman Racewear.
We are halfway through the championship and in 2nd place in a back and forth points race. Next event is at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky on August 16-18. I am also hoping to get some time in an f1600 or USF2000 car in the next few weeks. Thanks for your support! ~Jackson
June 30, 2019-New Castle Motorsports Park-KRA #6
Last weekend’s race at New Castle Motorsports Park was one of the hottest races I’ve ever been a part of. Track temperatures of up to 150 degrees meant we were working really hard to keep from melting the tires.
In race one, I was able to qualify in 5thposition but got moved up to fourth for the start of the race. A mistake on the start caused me to drop back to 5thbut I was quickly able to recover and make my way up to third. I was gaining on the leaders, but we ran out of laps to catch up, ending my race in third.
In race two, I spent most of the race running in 4th. With the extreme conditions causing the tires to overheat.
It was good to get back in the kart for the first time in a while. We will be back in the formula car with the Lucas Oil School of Racing July 15-17 at New Jersey Motorsports Park to defend my lead in the points.
Thanks to all of my supporters, including Caldwell Realty, Caldwell Subways, and Ron Funkhouser for the setup.
June 10-12, 2019- VIRginia International Raceway & Lucas Oil Formula Racing Series
After this weeks event at VIRginia International Raceway, I have decided I have a new favorite track! The combination of fast flowing corners filled with elevation changes makes VIR an exciting track and a great race.
Because of VIR’s long straights, finding a drafting partner is very important. Unfortunately, during qualifying for race one, we were unable to do so. This put us in p6 to start race one. While the race was very exciting, a mistake put me in the grass ending my chances at a good result, finishing P9. Although I wasn’t able to finish well in the first race it was still important that I push hard for a fast lap, as they decide the starting grid for race two on race one laps. I was able to run the second fastest lap time, putting me on the outside of the front row to start race two.
Race two went much better. I was able to break away from the rest of the field with one other driver, working with him to make sure to keep the gap between us and third place. We probably traded the lead back and forth 10-15 times but didn’t cost ourselves any time to the rest of the pack. After spending most of the race strategizing where I wanted to be on the last lap, I was able to put myself in a great position to contest for the win. Starting the last lap in P2 I had just the right gap between me and the leader to be able to make a move on the back straight for the lead. I was able to hold on to the position finishing the race in first place for my second win of the season!
Now, all I had to do was carry that momentum into day three to get a solid result in the third and final race of the week. In the morning qualifying session, I worked again to try and find a good draft for a quick time. I was able to get a small tow for about half a straight before the other car pulled off to the side. But this was enough to get me a solid starting position in P3. The first part of the race consisted of the top 6 all fighting for position eventually leading to the top 3 being able to break away from the group. I managed to catch back up and get into 3rd, but battling with the other three cars allowed the top two get a big of a gap. I ran in third for most of the race until a last lap incident resulting in near contact caused me to lose one more spot resulting in a 4th place finish.
Overall, it was a very successful week. I was able to improve a lot in my driving, and I got more experience in strategically setting up a win. After the first 6 races, I am currently leading in the points. I am excited for the next race weekend, which is July 15-17 at Thunderbolt Raceway, New Jersey Motorsports Park. We are also working on finding the budget for some F1600 testing and possibly a race weekend to begin working on car setup and USF2000 testing during the fall. I can’t wait for future opportunities, and I am excited for what’s next to come.
Thanks for stopping by! Check back soon!
5/27/19- The Indy 500
Yesterday, I attended my 9th Indy 500 with my Mom and my Sister. It's a tradition for my Mom and me, but this was my sister's first time. She had a great time.
It really was a great day and thankfully the rain stayed away. I enjoyed the battles between Pagenaud and Rossi and thought Simon Pagenaud's win was well deserved. And to see drivers like Conor Daly and Pippa Mann do well was awesome. As someone who is working my way up the ranks, I know how hard it can be to find supporters and sponsors. Seeing Conor and Pippa put rides together gives me inspiration to keep working for my dream. Their hard work sure paid off- especially for the little USAC team from Noblesville who made the show. I couldn't help but sit there and think about when it will be my turn. I am working hard every day to get there. If you're interested in helping, email me. I'd love to talk to you about how you can support the team and how I can help promote your company or product!
5/20- KRA Kart Racing (#3 and 4)
During our break from formula cars, we've been back at New Castle Motorsports Park racing go-karts. We've had some success, but we've also been on the wrong end of things too. KRA #3 on Mother's Day was a miserable and wet morning. And, while I would have loved to bring home a win for my Mom on that day, it didn't happen. After the rain stopped, we were the first to go to slicks. (Sometimes you gotta take risks. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't.) Unfortunatley, the rain came back right after the race started and we limped around till we couldn't anymore. I came home with a DNF in Senior. In TaG lite, things were better and we came home in 4th. It was a cold, wet day- but you know what they say- any day at the track is a good day!
At KRA #4, we really did much better, bringing home a pair of 2nd place finishes.
Formula Car racing is up next at VIRginia International Raceway in June. Can't wait! I am not sure when I'll be back in the kart because I am juggling some travel baseball commitments for the next two months. Keep checking back here on our schedule page to see when I'll be back at NCMP.
Thanks for checking in!
5/16- Lucas Oil Racing Series Racing- Mid-Ohio
I raced in my first three Lucas Oil Racing Series Races at Mid Ohio Sportscar Course. It was a fantastic debut. I ended up with the pole and a win in the first race! I also set the new track qualifying record. The second race went well too. I crossed the line in 2nd place but unfortuantely was given a 35 second penalty for slight contact which moved me back to 8th. In the third race, I battled for a podium spot for most of the race but fell back to 6th after a tight battle on the last lap. I ended up finishing 4th place after some other penalties were assessed. But, while I missed the podium by a step, I did set the fast lap of the race. So it was a great few days of racing against really fast competitors. You can check out my highlight video below. I can't wait to go to VIRginia Raceway in June to compete against these guys again. We are 2nd in points right now. I have my eye on the top step in Virginia. Check back here to see my results in Mid June!
2/4/19 - 2019 & Cooper Tires Karting Shootout
As we move into February, it’s getting fairly close to the beginning of race season! In 2019, I will continue karting as my schedule and budget allows. And, for the first time, I’ll race formula cars.
We decided to gamble on getting a head start on funding some of the transition to cars by entering the Cooper Tires Karting Scholarship Shootout with the Lucas Oil School of Racing. The top prize would be a fully-funded ride in the 2019 Lucas Oil Formula Car Series with awards also given through 5th place. The value of the scholarships ranged from $6,000 for 5th to $75,000 to the winner. Those outside of the top five would receive valuable training and experience, but no monetary value. With so much on the line, all of the drivers felt the pressure.
The shootout was last December at Sebring International Raceway with 30 drivers who had been selected after applying. Most of the drivers had significant national karting experience and success and many came from factory programs. Quite a few also had car racing experience. All had participated in at least one previous racing school, but the rules allowed race participation as long as it wasn’t with a level higher than the Lucas Oil series. So, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of realistic chance I would have.
Once I got in the car, I felt better and more confident. This was the most comfortable I have ever been in a race car. I’ve felt more confident each time, but had only spent one day in a car in the previous 15 months. I was able to push the car to its limit and avoid significant mistakes throughout.
On day one, we did the autocross (a small temporary track in the parking lot), simulator training with RaceCraft1, seminars with PitFit Training and earEverything and interviews with Brian Till (Broadcaster & former IndyCar driver). While there wasn’t a lot of on-track activity on day one, I still learned a lot. At the autocross, I was able to feel out the car and get a feeling to how it will react. In the simulators we did a similar car to the Lucas Oil Formula cars, but we ran on a different track. We were forced to adapt to a new track and try to go quick in a short amount of time.
On the second day, we got the most on track experience with a full day of track time. We ran on the radial (harder street tire). Times weren’t posted, but word got around with drivers sharing their times and I was able to stay between 3rd to 5th quick throughout the day. At the end of the day, the group of 30 was to be cut to 12 for the final day. Judging was based on more than lap times, so it was impossible to be certain who would be chosen. The interview session, how you present yourself, potential, experience and more were all considered. They ended up keeping 14 for the final day because the judges had difficulty separating the final few. Mine was the last name called to add to my anxiety. Brian Till said the finalists names were mixed up and it was random, they weren’t picking on me – but it was still nerve racking. So, at that point, we felt the experience had been a success. I would at least get the maximum amount of track time and coaching, and also showed I could compete.
For the final day, we would get to run on the Cooper Tire slicks that they use in the race series. They had a lot more grip and lap times dropped by 2 and a half seconds. We only got two sessions on track, but I was able to make the most of them and really show what I can do. I remained in the top 3 or 4 on pace and kept the car on the track and pointed in the right direction.
Then the waiting began and it seemed to take forever for the judges to return to the tent...I was awarded 4th! That meant my first race weekend will be free, which includes three races and a test day. That’s a $10,900 value. But even if I didn’t win anything, I still became a much better driver and took the final step to be race ready in a car. I am the most confident I have ever been in a car and I know that when I do my first race, I’ll be able to compete for the win. The Lucas Oil Formula Car Series schedule includes six weekends at well-known tracks throughout the country. We are hoping to be able to fund at least three or four weekends while continuing to work on race craft (& having fun) while karting.
Stay tuned for my 2019 racing schedule and thanks for your support!
10/25/18 - Sebring: Lucas Oil Formula Car Series Practice Day
I was given the opportunity to test a formula car again in a pre-race lapping session with the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series at Sebring International Raceway on October 24th.
Even though this was my first time in a formula car in over a year, it didn’t take long to get up to speed. In the first session, I was able to get very comfortable with the car. I was the fastest in my group.
In the second session, I was able to drop my lap time by almost another second. I was even more in control and felt confident in my abilities to compete in the series. By the third and final session, I was running lap times right with the series top regulars and championship contenders.
The purpose of this pre-race test day was to see if I was ready to race and could be competitive I feel like we were able to answers those questions positively and now we’re ready to race. I would have loved to race in the event, but we are going to stick to our plan to make sure I’m ready and make the most of the opportunities. I think and hope we will be able to race in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series next year and I I’m excited for my future in this series.
Big thanks to Darren Manning and iAdvance Motorsports for the coaching on his sim to get me ready for a new track! And thanks to the instructors at Lucas Oil School of Racing for helping get quicker each session. They included Indycar driver Pippa Mann and the last 2 USF2000 champs - Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood.
Stay tuned for more on our future racing plans!
10/11/18 Season-ending kart update
Since my last blog...We raced in the SKUSA Pro Tour for the first time in mid August at New Castle Motorsports Park. SKUSA is the top level of karting in North America with all of the factory and big-budget teams competing. There were over 80 karts entered in our class, X30 Sr (TaG). We did not show the results we wanted but it was still a great opportunity to learn. We were as quick as many of the front-running national-level drivers during practice, but a wreck on day one bent the chassis in two different spots, stealing our pace. But driving against national competition was a great learning experience.
After SKUSA, the chassis was straightened but it has been beat up too much to compete at the level it could. The kart is now finishing its 2nd season - which is a very long lifespan for competitive karting. Despite that we were still able to finish the season strong. In the last race of the season, we were able to qualify in the front row for TaG Lite, missing the pole by just half a tenth. The race started out with a close battle for the lead, but the inconsistency of the chassis likely caused us to not be able to get any temperature in the tires causing us to drop off pace at the end of the race. We finished the race in fourth and second in the championship for TaG Lite in KRA. This is my best points finish in karts. We finished 3rd in one of the Jr. Yamaha classes two years ago.
In the Sr. TaG class (same kart and engine, just a higher minimum weight requirement), there was great competition all season. This is the most competitive class at the highest level in KRA. There are often drivers who have raced in the Mazda Road to Indy competing in these races and the top national drivers all run a few races to prepare for SKUSA, WKA & other top events. We ended up 4th in points in this class!
This season I have developed into a completely new driver. I have so much more control over the kart and I am a lot smarter and more strategic. I am looking forward to putting all of this together next season - and the plan is to have a new kart and a better chance with equal equipment.
Thanks to my tuner and coach, Ron Funkhouser! And, thanks to my supporters including Don and Jennifer Caldwell (Caldwell Realty & Caldwell Subways in Hobart/Valparaiso), Nancy Chumbley & Hinchman Racewear, Bell Helmets, Fastimes Indoor Karting, Hull Chiropractic, Performance Tire Service Company and Lee Marcom (& of course my parents!)
Next, we are doing a formula car test at Sebring on October 24th and we might race the kart again at Whiteland Raceway. I am excited to get to show what I have learned and to prove I am ready for the next level.
As always, thanks for your support!
July 17th New Castle Motorsports Park KRA doubleheader recap
I am going to try to start posting regular updates on my racing here, starting with the most recent KRA doubleheader at NCMP...After starting the weekend without the certainty of even entering the race because of engine problems, the #52 kart was able to find a lot of pace. We were one of the fastest karts of the weekend but many misfortunes kept us off the top step of the podium.
We had four races this weekend - Two in the TaG Sr class and two in the TaG Lite class. TaG Sr is the more competitive and deeper. It’s the closest to a pro class. These are the karts IndyCar drivers will train in and sometimes race. It is the most competitive class in all of American go kart racing. TaG Lite is the same kart and engine, but less weight is required. So, drivers tend to be younger and it’s often not quite as competitive. But, this weekend, there were several other really strong drivers in this class.
In Saturday’s TaG Sr race, we had our best qualifying session so far in TaG – qualifying on the outside of the front row in a very strong field. But, the race ended early after a lap one incident fighting to hold position.
Saturday’s TaG Lite was a little more exciting. After starting in fifth, we were able to work our way up to third, and the top three ran away from the rest of the field. We had plenty of pace to win, but unfortunately we lost the brakes and had to slow our pace a lot to keep the kart on the track, ending our race in third.
Sunday’s TaG Sr race was my race to lose. I won my first pole in TaG. In the race, I pulled away from the field of 20 and led until about two thirds through the race, when we had a mechanical. We still don’t know exactly how, but the axle bent while I was leading without hitting anything, causing me to quickly lose 6 spots. I finished 7th. We think that I might have ran over something like a weight that had fallen off someone else’s kart without realizing it.
After spending the entire break putting the kart back together, we started Sunday’s TaG Lite race in second place. After battling for positions two through five, the leader was able to break away. After the leader started to take off, I decided to stay in third and push second place to try and catch the leader but there wasn’t enough time. By the end of the race, the kart tightened up, and we lost the pace we needed to pass for second.
While these weren’t the results we wanted this weekend, we still were able to find a lot of speed and we collected two more podiums giving us 6 in the 9 TaG Lite races, including a win and we are 2nd in points. In TaG Sr, I think we are 3rd in points with a podium. But, this weekend we found the pace to win with some luck.
Next up, after baseball the next two weekends, will likely be the SKUSA Summer Nationals at NCMP from August 10th-12th. This will be our first SKUSA race, which includes all of the best karters in the country and a great experience.
Thanks for your support!
Jackson Lee #52 iKart