SuperNats XXII

301DAYS

SKUSA Winter Series

21DAYS

2018 Pro Tour

42DAYS

PKC California

14DAYS

PKC Texas

63DAYS

Can-Am PKC

120DAYS

Supernationals

SuperNationals VI - 2002
After five years of solid growth in both numbers and excitement, the SKUSA SuperNationals 6 took American kart racing to the next level in 2002 when former CEO Jim Murley relocated the event following a new connection with popular Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, located right in the heart of Las Vegas. After building the event at the Las Vegas Karting Center outside the city in Sloan, it was time to take the act to a bigger stage, one right off the strip. Add in the fact that the main events on Saturday and Sunday were both aired live on the new HDNet television network, and there can be no arguing the fact the sixth edition of this amazing event broke all the records.



Karting veteran and former SuperNats winner Memo Gidley designed the temporary course on the lower parking lot, located directly adjacent to the busy I-15 thruway. Utilizing SKUSA’s new TechPro barrier system, Gidley’s track was fast and challenging, offering many passing areas and long backstraight that made late-braking maneuvers frequent. The live HDNet coverage was ahead of its time, and put the race on the screens of many sports bars and pubs around the country as karting scrambled to find a place to pick up the feed. Although not Speed Channel, it remained a huge step and it was certainly great coverage that came through in stunning high definition.



The absence of two-time race winner and defending SuperPro victor Scott Speed, who had graduated to Star Mazda and Skip Barber competition, opened the door for a new winner and the fight for supremacy was thrilling. The SuperPro battle that year had been a wild one, with Phil Carlson winning the ProMoto Tour championship, edging out the year’s top guns like Alan Rudolph, Bobby Wilson and Ron White for the crown.



In qualifying, White showed the way with a 44.771-second lap that gave him the pole for his heat race. Italian Motors’ Jordy Vorrath (Italkart) was second quick in the timed session, putting the Canadian on the inside of row one for the second heat race grouping. First Kart North America’s Wilson was third overall, just 0.112 seconds off of White’s pace, edging Scott Holmboe (Swiss Hutless) and Benny Moon (PTK) in the top five. Former SuperNats winner Darren Elliott (PTK) was 12th out of 42 following qualifying, but he would attack in his heat race.



The top 10 drivers from each of the two heats would transfer directly into the main event, while the remainder would head to a LCQ to transfer the final 12 to the 32-kart grid. Having been awarded the SKI Driver of the Year honors on Friday evening, White was riding an emotional high as he and Wilson began their battle by finishing first and second, respectively, in the opening moto, while David Jurca (Italkart) was third ahead of Canadian Dan Di Leo (First Kart) and Jason LaPoint (Trackmagic). Jason Bowles (MS Kart) was tenth in the order, the final transfer spot, winning the instant invitation. In the second heat, Vorrath to control to win, with Joe White (CRG) hot on his heels in second. Elliott improved to third to take a position on the third row for the final, while Holmboe took fourth ahead of Matt Champagne (MBA). Former 80cc Junior national champion Kyle Wharff (Fittipaldi) grabbed the final position in the top ten, edging out Trackmagic’s Kyle Martin, who had stormed up from last after breaking a tie rod at the start of the heat. In the LCQ to complete the line-up, Martin took control to win ahead of Joe Janowski (GP) and TJ Ross (Trackmagic). Seth Ingham (Topkart) grabbed the final transfer, beating out the remaining ten drivers for a spot in the big show.



The main event was all about White and Wilson facing off for the win. The dice was spirited all race long with White stretching away on the straights, only to have Wilson eat up the gap in the tight stuff. It made for awesome television. It became apparent that Wilson just could not mount a challenge at the right place on the track as White held onto the point to score the biggest win of his career. Wilson took home a strong second while Joe White capped a great weekend for the White family with a third place finish, joining his victorious brother on the podium. Jurca and Elliott complete the top five.



Seven additional classes were on the docket at the Rio as well. The arrival of the purpose-built ICC engine was also making its initial debut at the event, and the Italian Motors duo of David Jurca and Michael Valiante stole the show. Running in tandem out front, Jurca would go on to take the win after his team leader with Martin putting Trackmagic on the podium in third. In the semi-pro Formula S1 class, Tad Funakoshi (Birel) was continuing his development as a top-level shoe as he scored the victory ahead of future SKUSA King of the Streets winner Kyle Wiegand (GP). Factory Trackmagic rookie Ben Petter finished second overall on the ProMoto Tour in FS1 and took third in Vegas to cap the year.

The Formula G1 class continued its growing popularity in 2002, as the category needed an LCQ to set the grid at the Rio. In the race, SoCal pilot Bill Fleming (Trackmagic) notched his biggest win, out-dicing Chris Farrell (Tony Kart) in a wild and entertaining fight. Robert Cao Jr. (Birel) was third ahead of Craig Sender (Trackmagic) and Burt Gasaway (DFM). Heading in the other direction in terms of stature, the Formula K1 class remained well-supported in Las Vegas and the race saw young star Garrett Zine (Topkart) score the win over Chris Jackson (Maranello). In the restricted 125cc Formula MX class, Brandon Scarberry (DFM) repeated as the SuperNationals winner, turning in a masterful display in coming from 19th to first after trouble in the Prefinal. Curtis Hewitt (CRG) was second while Robby Kuhn (Gold) finished third.

In Formula Junior, a future star named Alan Sciuto (CRG) stole the show as he powered to a big win over Brady Halbasch (Birel) and Graham Rahal (Birel). A look at the Formula Junior results again points to the incredible development pool that SKUSA had at this time. At the Rio, the field included current Champ Car Atlantic stars Sciuto, Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Richard Phillippe, this year’s Star Mazda champion Adrian Carrio and runner-up Kevin LaCroix, ’06 Formula BMW title winner Robert Wickens, Cooper FF2000 runner-up Dane Cameron and ARCA racewinner Brad Coleman. It was a stacked field for certain and speaks volumes to the quality of training offered by shifterkart racing. In the Novice class, the youngest drivers in the paddock, Cody Jolly (CRG) stood on top of the box after out-running Billy Goshen (Topkart) and Steve Barros (Topkart).

When it was all said and done, the 2002 SKUSA SuperNationals took the event to a new level. With accommodations just a few yards away and a stellar track on which to race, the future of this annual event had never looked so bright. We now know that this ride at the Rio would not last but, at the time, we were all happy to be enjoying the ride.