Story by Keith Shampine of KartLounge.com / photos by Bruce Walls of Action Enterprises
WAMPUM, Pa. — Road racers from across the country converged on Pittsburgh International Race Complex on the final weekend of September to close out the 2021 AKRA National Road Race Series. The fifth annual Dart Kart Club-hosted Pittsburgh national produced a huge crowd of about 300 drivers making up over 850 race entries between Saturday and Sunday’s contests.
The Pittsburgh national, which also counted as a WKA, CES and Woodbridge Kart Club points event, has grown in size every year since 2017 and now rivals the annual June Mid-Ohio Road Race Nationals as the biggest enduro-style karting event of the year. The race was the third and final Dart Kart Club event of the year and closed out AKRA’s six-race national tour which began in May at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia.
Following move-in Thursday night, Sept. 23, racers enjoyed three days of track time on Pitt Race’s fast and technical 2.78-mile Full Circuit. Chamber of Commerce-type weather was the norm all weekend with temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s throughout the three days. Albeit a bit cool at times with the wind, after rain moved out Thursday night, Friday practice and the weekend’s 14 race groups were able to run under clear and partly cloudy skies to decide the weekend winners and 2021 series champions.
On the track, competition was fierce in every race group. Yamaha Pipe for laydown enduros and CIK 125 Shifter both started over 30 karts Saturday lead the way as the largest classes of the event. Plenty of other divisions attracted double-digit entry counts, including the 4-Cycle Sprint and CIK LO206 categories, Stock Honda Lite and Heavy, G-125 Shifter, TaG Senior and TaG Masters, Piston Port Sprint and the 250 Super Kart and Unlimited finals.
Joe Adler was a three-time winner in the 4-Cycle Sprint categories, while several other racers drove to a pair of wins. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights at the 2021 Pittsburgh Road Race Nationals.
Joe Adler wins 3 of 4 in 4-Cycle Sprint
Wisconsin’s Joe Adler was the driver to beat all weekend in the 4-Cycle Sprint 360 and 380 divisions. Adler started his domination in Saturday’s third race group with a close 0.156-second win over Josh Nevels in 4-Cycle Sprint 360. Regan Vehring and Jesse Schwabe finished nose to tail in third and fourth with less than 1 second separating the top four. Robert O’Dell rounded out the top five of 17 starters.
Adler was back later Saturday with another victory on his 4-Cycle Central-sponsored No. 3, this time in 4-Cycle Sprint 380 Final 1. Adler crossed the stripe 3.6 seconds in front of Michael O’Dell for the win with Nevels third, Robert O’Dell fourth and TJ Nevels completing the top five of 18 drivers to take the green.
Sunday’s 4-Cycle Sprint 360 final was another close one. Adler had just enough to hold off a hard-charging Michael O’Dell for his third win of the weekend. O’Dell was on his bumper throughout the 20-minute race and crossed the finish stripe only 0.335 seconds back of Adler. Schwabe led a close race for third that included TJ Nevels and Anthony Wimmer finishing fourth and fifth. Less than two tenths of a second separated third through fifth, but the pack was more than 23 seconds back of the Adler and O’Dell at the finish. Eighteen karts started the race.
Ironically, Adler’s most dominating performance of the weekend was in the race he didn’t win. As the weekend was winding down, Adler was going for the four-race sweep in Sunday’s sixth race group which included 4-Cycle Sprint 380 Final 2. Adler had a commanding lead late in the race when on the final lap he and a TaG kart from another division made contact, sending Adler off the track and denying him of the weekend sweep. Michael O’Dell was riding second and took advantage of Adler’s bad luck, racing past and scoring the win by a 7-second margin over Vehring. Wimmer was right behind Vehring in third with Schwabe and Robert O’Dell rounding out the top five.
Brian Fisher sweeps 125 Shifter
Next to Yamaha Pipe laydown, the 125 Shifter finals were the biggest of the weekend with 32 drivers taking the green Saturday and 26 on Sunday. Road racing veteran driver and acclaimed engine builder Brian Fisher left little doubt who was in control in the 125 Shifter category throughout the weekend.
Fisher scored Saturday’s 125 Shifter Final 1 race by a 0.724-second gap over Alex Watzke. Pierce Baldus made it to Pittsburgh from his Kansas home and came away with a P3 effort, right behind Watzke at the finish. A tight trio raced for fourth with Lee Waddell taking the P4 spot, Derek Proctor P5 and Daniel Barth a close P6. Mark Nagy, Brad Berelsman, Glen Critchett and Pascual Torres finished seventh through 10th.
Sunday’s 125 Shifter main was more of the same with Fisher driving to a convincing triumph by more than 4 seconds over Watzke. Nagy improved on his P7 result Saturday to take third on Sunday. Torres did the same, improving six spots from his Saturday finish to take P4 in the weekend capper. Proctor rounded out the top five for the second day in a row.
Billy Hansen wins both TaG Senior finals
TaG Senior was another big category at Pitt Race with 18 karts taking the green both days. Billy Hansen was the class of the field, winning both days by convincing margins.
On Saturday Hansen would score the win by more than 31 seconds over Darin Marcus. Clare Tracy was third, Sebastian Bushey fourth and Adrian Dale fifth.
Hansen completed the TaG Senior sweep with an 11-second win over Nolan Ruocco in Sunday’s race. Jarrett Bank was P3, Dale P4 and Sean Swisz rounded out the top five.
Olsen, Dokken split Yamaha Pipe
As expected Saturday’s Yamaha Pipe class was the largest of the event with 38 drivers registering and 35 taking the green flag. Wisconsin’s Patrick Olsen continued his hot streak with another dominating performance on his LAD Specialties TKM Coyote enduro. Olsen raced out to an early lead and pulled away throughout the 40-minute race for a convincing 18-second win over Florida’s Chad Dokken. Jason Lorang was third with Randy Fulks crossing the finish stripe P4 but opting not to weigh in. This would give fourth to Colin Jedrzejek and fifth to Michael McLaughlin.
WKC regular Scott Stauffer would finish just outside the top five in P6 with Austin Queen P7, Nate Morgan P8, Nick Cole P9 and Lamar Hilliard P10.
Sunday’s Yamaha Pipe final was a different story as Olsen would again lead early but ultimately retire early about two-thirds of the way into the 30-minute enduro. Dokken would improve on his P2 finish a day earlier to score the win on his No. 89 Richie Warren-built laydown. Nate Grindell crossed the finish line only 0.620 seconds back of Dokken but would weigh in a few pounds light. With Grindell getting DQ’ed at the scales, Illinois’ Rick Fulks would take second with Lorang in third for the second consecutive day. Randy Fulks was fourth and Evan Stamer completed the top five.
Jedrzejek was P6, Rusty Benson P7, Queen P8, Kyle Lewandowski P9 and Hilliard again P10.
Jim Sorrentino sweeps Piston Port Sprint
Massachusetts’ Jim Sorrentino easily won both Piston Port Sprint finals. Racing in the first group each day, Sorrentino wheeled his Elite K-71-powered Elite chassis out to a 36-second win over Midwest racer Jerry Revelyin Saturday’s final. Ted Carbonaro was third with Adam Trumbley P4. Eric Stockford was the last driver to finish on the same lap as Sorrentino in P5.
Sunday was more of the same with Sorrentino winning by 34 seconds over his teammate Carbonaro. Ohio’s Mallory D’Augustine drove a solid race to finish P3 in her first weekend behind the wheel of a sprint-enduro. Al Gierz was fourth with Michael Greiner rounding out the top five.
Our thoughts are with Saturday’s P4 finisher Adam Trumbley who was involved in a Sunday morning practice accident that resulted in a broken collar bone. We wish Trumbley a speedy recovery.
It’s all Andy Kiker in 250 Super Kart
Andy Kiker’s been at it for a long time in enduro-style karting and the New Jersey veteran added a couple more wins to his resume at Pittsburgh. Kiker drove his No. 24X super kart to a pair of wins in the 250 Super Kart class. Saturday’s final would see Kiker win by a fairly close 2.8-second margin over JR Osborne. Arkansas’ Brian Wilhelm was third with Paul Gatto fourth and Brad Berelsman fifth of 15 entrants.
Sunday’s Super Kart final was again Kiker over Osborne, this time by a closer 0.857-second margin of victory. Super Kart newcomer Brandon Schenkel had a solid run to take third with Wilhelm fourth and Jeremy Baldi completing the top five.
Stevie Young wins twice Sunday
After getting shut out of victory Saturday, North Carolina’s Stevie Young found redemption Sunday by scoring a pair of shifter-kart wins.
Young won his first race in Sunday’s fourth group. Young raced to a 9.8-second win over Mark Eller in Stock Honda Heavy Final 2. Rob Morris was P3 with Chad Donner P4 and Glen Luening P5 of 15 starters.
Young would close Sunday in the seventh and final race group with a big win in Stock Honda Lite Final 2 in a 20-minute contest that saw the top five finish nose to tail with less than 1.2 seconds separation. Young scored the win over by less than a half second gap over Summit Point regular Pascual Torres. Coy Dayton would take third with Lee Waddell fourth and Eller rounding out the top five of 15 racers.
Makena Rice sweeps 100cc Air Cooled TaG Senior
North Carolina racer Makena Rice won both 100cc Air Cooled TaG Senior main events. Riding a No. 221 Nitro Kart, Rice would win by more than 11 seconds both days. Saturday’s 25-minute race saw Rice cross the stripe 11.6 seconds in front of P2 finisher Trevor Smyth. Franz Griffith was third with Eric King fourth and David Casaperalta fifth.
Rice pulled away to a 13.8-second advantage in Sunday’s 20-minute final to win her second race of the weekend, this time over Griffith. King was P3, Paul Pendleton P4 and Ryan Miller P5.
Scott Heath doubles up in CIK LO206
MGM Chassis drivers controlled the CIK LO206 classes all weekend. Saturday’s third race group saw the top-three spots filled by MGM drivers in the LO206 Heavy final. Scott Heath would score his first win of the weekend over Jon Miller and Kevin Darling. Less than 1.5 seconds separated first through third. Clark Gaynor would take P4 with John Morris rounding out the top five.
Many of the same drivers were back on track in Saturday’s sixth group, which included CIK LO206 Final 1. Tripp Ritter would drive to victory in this one in one of the closest finishes of the weekend. Ritter crossed the finish line just 0.062 seconds ahead of Miller for his only win of the event. Darling and Heath were nose to tail in P3 and P4 with Gaynor completing the top five of 18 starters.
Heath would make it a sweep of CIK LO206 Heavy with an incredibly close victory in Sunday’s Final 2 over Miller. The official margin of victory was only 0.005 seconds. The lead duo finished more than 20 seconds ahead of P3 finisher Scott Wentz. Morris was P4 with Daniel Inderlied P5.
Twenty drivers started Sunday’s CIK LO206 Final 2 to make it the largest 206 field of the weekend. Again it was a top-three MGM sweep but this time Miller would deny Heath of the weekend hat trick by scoring the win by just 0.034-second gap. Darling was only a couple kart-lengths back for another P3 result. Jake Hall was P4 and Kyle Banovetz rounded out the top five.
Ryan Spierowski wins twice in TaG competition
Ryan Spierowski found victory twice at Pittsburgh. He’d open the weekend with a win in Saturday’s TaG Masters Final 1. Spierowski picked up the win by nearly 20 seconds over Craig Mortz; Paul Behnke was third, Richard Buckley fourth and Darein LeFeber fifth.
Spierowski made it two in a row Sunday morning with a close win in the IAME Sprint Final 2 contest over Clark Gaynor. The official margin of victory was a mere 0.039 seconds. Jason Lorang notched another P3 result with Saturday IAME Sprint winner Greg Heberle P4. Joseph Paolicchi filled the top five.
McKenny, Stoll double up in vintage racing
A special Vintage Enduro Kart Celebration event kicked off racing Friday after practice, which saw Fred Stoll win Vintage Open and Patrick Olsen drive to victory in Vintage USA / Piston Port.
Many of the same drivers were back at it Saturday afternoon in race group 3, which included Vintage Piston Port USA Final 1. In an exciting race, Olsen appeared to be on his way to another convincing win until Arthur McKenny and Adam Trumbley caught him late in the 25-minute enduro. McKenny and Trumbley would shoot past Olsen in the closing minutes with McKenny going on to an impressive win by just a couple of kart-lengths over Trumbley. Olsen would have to settle for third with Stoll fourth and Greg Hartley P5 of nine starters.
Stoll would come back later Saturday to dominate the Vintage Open Final 1 contest. Turning fast laps about 3 seconds quicker than anyone else in the six-kart field, Stoll would cruise to an easy win over McKenny. Hartley was third, John Konkle fourth and Phil Reuter fifth.
After a close win Saturday, McKenny easily won Sunday’s Vintage Piston Port final. The Virginia veteran won by more than 50 seconds over Stoll with John Copeland P3 and Greg Hartley P4.
Sunday’s Vintage Open Final 2 was very similar to Saturday’s with Stoll driving to another convincing win over McKenny. Hartley, Konkle and Reuter again finished P3 through P5.
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Here’s a rundown of the rest of the winners at the Pittsburgh Road Race Nationals.
Saturday Race 1
In addition to Sorrentino winning Piston Port Sprint, three other drivers drove to wins in Saturday’s first race group.
Rod Williams won TaG Lite Sprint by only a kart length by 0.209 seconds over Clare Tracy. Nolan Ruocco was right behind in P3.
Virginia’s Greg Heberle won one for the WKC racers in IAME Sprint Final 1. Heberle tracked down leader Jason Lorang and passed him late in the race for a 0.373-second triumph. Lorang would settle for second with Darin Marcus third.
Jarrett Bank scored his only win of the weekend with a 14.2-second victory over Matthew Gibson in TaG Senior Heavy Final 1. Craig Mortz rounded out the top three of 13 starters.
Saturday Race 2
Joe Scavuzzo, Allen Hollinger, Kekai Huanio and Todd Hayden joined Patrick Olsen as winners in Saturday’s second group. Scavuzzo won his first of two races with a 9.7-second victory over Steve Scavuzzo in Formula 100. Richard Scavuzzo was third.
Hauanio led five other entrants across the stripe to win Junior Enduro Final 1. Dean Dybdahl crossed the finish line P2, but was disqualified in post-race tech. This gave Shane Hayden P2 and Austin Harper P3.
Hollinger dominated a short field in Formula 125, and Hayden was the only entrant in Air Cooled 100cc TaG Enduro Final 1.
Saturday Race 3
While Adler, McKenny, Rice and Heath were winning their races (see above), several other drivers scored wins in Saturday’s third group.
Corve Baker won Yamaha Sportsman Sprint; Max Nickl was the winner of TaG Junior Sprint; Isabella Simpson won Junior Sprint.
Saturday Race 4
Darin Marcus and Peter Mordarsky joined Brian Fisher as winners in Saturday’s fourth group, which saw some 60-plus of the fastest shifter karts in the world challenge Pitt Race’s 2.78-mile course.
Marcus sliced his way to the front of the 16-kart Stock Honda Heavy field and drove to a 13.5-second victory over Dan Chalk. Chad Donner, Mark Eller and David Harding finished bumper to bumper in third through fifth.
Chicago’s Mordarsky led the way in G-125 Shifter Final 1. Mordarsky earned his only win of the weekend by a convincing 33-second gap over Simon Kowalski. Michael Kaminski was third in the 15-kart field with Attila Juhasz P4 and Michael Crawford P5.
Saturday Race 5
A number of smaller divisions took to the track in Saturday’s fifth group. Tom O’Reilly won B Stock over Robby Harper III. Mike Schlager won Vintage Twin Engine; Jerry Revely was victorious in Open Sprint; Stoll won Vintage Open; Craig Wetzel won 100cc Piston Port; Mallory D’Augustine triumphed in 100cc Limited Enduro; Jeff McClellan won Yamaha Sportsman Medium and Henry Baker won Enduro 4-Cycle.
The largest class on track was Controlled Final 1. Steve Scavuzzo won on the track but weighed in light at the scales. This handed the win to Joe Scavuzzo, his second of the day. Richard Scavuzzo was third, Jonathan Scavuzzo fourth and Ian Morgan fifth of 10 entrants.
Saturday Race 6
Another group of CIK karts and sprint-enduros hit the track for Saturday’s next-to-last race group. As noted, Billy Hansen won TaG Senior, Ryan Spierowski TaG Masters and Joe Adler in 4-Cycle Sprint 380.
Yamaha Sprint was also on track and eight karts took the green in this longtime road race division. Ryan Hoskinson would drive to victory in a fairly close race over Ohio’s Andy Leighninger. Hoskinson crossed the stripe 2.1 seconds ahead of Leighninger for the win. Al Gierz was third.
Cait Ulm won the Junior LO206 Final 1 contest over Mary Badgley.
Saturday Race 7
While Andy Kiker was driving to the win in 250 Super Kart, Larry Dobbs was doing the same in Unlimited Final 1. Dobbs would win by a 20-second gap over Doug Baldi. Kristina Griffith was third in the 10-kart field.
Pascual Torres nearly won a couple times at Pitt Race but he had to settle for one win and it came in Stock Honda Lite Final 1. Torres won a close race that saw the top five separated by less than 1.4 seconds. Coy Dayton would cross the stripe 0.357 seconds back in P2 with Mark Eller less than a half-second off the winner in P3. Lee Waddell was right there in P4 with Virgil Gross only a couple kart-lengths back in P5.
Sunday Race 1
A scary accident ended Saturday’s first race when Nolan Ruocco and Clare Tracy made contact at the start/finish line while battling for the TaG Lite Sprint Final 2 win. Tracy’s Birel chassis would make heavy contact with the inside guardrail and it would send her to the hospital.
Thankfully, the Tracy family has posted that it looks like Clare will have a full recovery with a severe concussion the most serious of her injuries. We all wish Clare a speedy recovery and we’re thinking of her and her family throughout her journey.
Looking at the results, Ruocco would win TaG Lite over Tracy and Saturday winner Rod Williams.
Craig Mortz won TaG Senior Heavy Sprint over Matt Gibson and Richard Buckley, and Chuck Morgan won WKC Vintage Euro. As noted above. Ryan Spierowski won IAME Sprint Final 2 and Jim Sorrentino was the winner of Piston Port Sprint Final 2.
Sunday Race 2
Joining 25-plus entrants in Yamaha Pipe on track in Sunday’s race group 2 was Formula 125, Junior Enduro and Air Cooled 100cc TaG Enduro.
In one of the best races of the weekend, Lawson Polhill edged Kekai Hauanio and Dean Dybdahl in Junior Enduro Final 2. Polhill drove to victory by a close 0.253-second margin over Hauanio, effectively denying Kekai of the Junior Enduro weekend sweep. Dybdahl ran third only 1.4 seconds back of Polhill at the finish. Shane Hayden and Joshua Toth were P4 and P5.
David Thuerbach won Formula 125 Final 2 and Todd Hayden won Air Cooled 100cc TaG Enduro.
Sunday Race 3
Similar to Saturday, Max Nickl won TaG Junior Sprint and Isabella Simpson won Junior Sprint. Roy Lovvorn won Clone Sprint and Adolph Gryzb won LO206 Sprint. Corve Baker won Yamaha Sportsman Sprint.
As noted above, Joe Adler, Scott Heath, Arthur McKenny and McKena Rice won their respective categories in Sunday’s third race group.
Sunday Race 4
George Argiris joined Brian Fisher and Stevie Young as winners in Sunday’s fourth group as the weekend began to wind down. Argiris triumphed by a 7.5-second margin over Simon Kowalski. Jeff Landrey rounded out the top three in the 14-kart race.
In this group, Fisher completed his weekend sweep of 125 Shifter while Young won Stock Honda Heavy over Mark Eller.
Sunday Race 5
Todd Hayden would win Controlled Final 2 over Ian Morgan and Timothy Koen. Jerry Revely (Open Sprint), Mallory D’Augustine (100cc Limited Enduro) and Henry Baker (Enduro 4-Cycle) were the only entrants in their divisions. Fred Stoll won the Vintage Open Final 2 race as mentioned above.
Sunday Race 6
Billy Hansen completed his sweep of the TaG Senior finals in this group while Craig Mortz drove to victory in TaG Masters. Andy Leighninger improved one spot from his Saturday finish to score the win in Yamaha Sprint Final 2. Fran Mazzucotelli was a close second with Al Gierz P3.
Michael O’Dell stopped Joe Adler’s dominance in the 4-Cycle Sprint categories in the 380 Final 2 race while Jon Miller won over Scott Heath and Kevin Darling in CIK LO206 Final 2.
Sunday Race 7
The final race of the weekend would see Larry Dobbs join the aforementioned Andy Kiker and Stevie Young as winners to close out the Pitt Race national. Dobbs would dominate Unlimited Final 2 by nearly a 1-minute advantage over Kristina Griffith. J Michael Long, Lamar Hilliard and Allen Hollinger finished P3 through P5.
Kiker won over Osborne in 250 Super Kart Final 2 and Young won over Torres in Stock Honda Lite Final 2.
Six cadets raced in Cadet Final 1 with Shane Smith taking the win by a 1.4-second gap over Riley Morgan. Madison Ulm was P3, Marcus Wolfe P4, Levi Smith P5 and Gwen McLean P6.
The best race coverage of enduro racing ever. Thanks for the great job. From an old fart that was involved when 100 kart classes were normal. Great to see the sport rebounding.
Thanks for recognizing the coverage, Alfred!