By Bruce C. Walls
Photos by Susan Taylor-Walls
MONROE, N.C. – A majority of karting Road Racing racers say it was a friend or neighbor who first introduced them to the sport of Road Racing. That’s how 81-year-old karting veteran Dan Stowell says he started in 1968.
“The first place I raced was Green Valley, Texas,” recalled the Denver, CO based Stowell. “I finished fourth in what I’d call a Sportsman class. Road Racing had just kind of started and they were just starting to make Road Racing specific go-karts. I started out in a Hornet go-kart. The early Road Racing go-karts were Sprint kart chassis. They would bolt on saddle tanks to ensure they had enough fuel.
“A guy from Waco, Texas named Richard Peck began building Road Racing specific Hornet go-karts,” Stowell continued. “The early Road Race chassis were high backed like a sprint kart at the beginning, but they evolved into the complete lay-down karts we race now. It’s interesting because I had watched a black and white TV show about people racing karts on runways at the airport. This was in 1964. They were driving sit up sprint karts with saddlebags bolted on. From then until when I got started they developed into today’s lay-down Road Racing karts.
“I was living in Little Rock, Arkansas and I had a bunch of friends from Tulsa, OK. I’m originally from Tulsa, and one of them began racing go-karts. He called me up and said how would you like to go racing? I have a friend who can’t go this weekend and he said I could borrow his kart and my friend lent me a motor and that’s what got me into it. I got out there and I finished fourth, “ Stowell said.
From 1961 to 1987 Stowell worked in various executive sales positions for IBM. After retiring Stowell continued consulting for IBM.
It was also a friend who brought 57-year-old Jerry Apuzzi in karting
Apuzzi, a Boston, MA-based racer, competes in the Piston Port Sprint class on the AKRA Road Racing circuit. He’s improved greatly since his start in karts a couple years ago; he now regularly competes at the top of the class that usually averages over a dozen to 25 entries at many nationals.
“I used to race motorcycles, and I did a little dabbling in cars,” Apuzzi explained. “I had a friend I met up here who was into karting and when I saw what he was doing I kind of inserted myself into their team as quickly as possible. So basically it was the connection to karting that got me here today. I got into karting because they were into it.
“When I saw the Road Race go-karts they were racing I said oh yea! I don’t care where you’re going or how much it costs count me in,” Apuzzi said.
Weekdays Apuzzi is Director of Operations for ADT ‘s New England District.
Jerry Cole has been racing karts since 1957
The karting bug bit retired General Motors electrician Jerry Cole in 1957. Along the way he opened his own karting business, Michigan Kart Supply.
Cole and his two sons have earned many wins and championships along the way. Cole has also been elected to board and trustee positions in local, regional, and national status.
“I got my first ride in a go-kart in 1959 at East Lansing Kart Track. I was in Junior high school back then.” Cole recalled “My old home track for years. I got hooked on karting way back.
“In the late 1950’s the Road Racing series was just getting started,” Cole continued. ” I had some neighbors take me to East Lansing and they let me ride one of their Karts and I was hooked.
“I bought my first kart in 1962 and started racing. One of the local kart shops became available for sale. The owner was moving to Arizona, so I bought him out. That was in 1969.”
Cole changed the business name from Jerry’s Kart Shop to Michigan Kart Supply, the name he currently operates under.
“I still haul the big parts trailer to the races around the country. We try to see that all customers leave with bag in hand,” Cole, who has helped many racers over the years, noted.
According to Arthur McKenny his interest in karting began when a friend invited him to come race with them at Rockingham, North Carolina.
Arthur McKenny has been racing karts over 25 years
McKenny, from Virginia, has been involved in Road Racing karting since 1997.
“I did some local Virginia dirt-track karting with enthusiasm but little success. A friend of mine invited me to a kart race at Rockingham around 1997 with the promise that I could race a kart if I helped him put it back together. I was hooked and returned home to build up a sprint kart, I had for the pipe sprint class and I have been hooked on kart road-racing ever since.”
When kart racers line up on the grid one thing’s for sure there’s a variety of drivers in the field with diverse backgrounds waiting for the green flag to wave.
So, no matter your age or occupation if you feel the need for speed, fun and friends; come racing with AKRA.
For more information on Karting, call the American Kart Racing Association office at 704-764-8138 or contact us on our official AKRARacing.com website.