Menstuff® has compiled the following stories on the
RoboPong.com go-kart 200 mile endurance race at New Castle
Drivers return to roots at karting
Rising, current stars race go-karts in New Castle
Drivers return to roots at karting event
This year's edition saw 80 entries and a 56-kart starting field for the 200-lap contest on Oct. 15.
"I guess word traveled from year to year that people were having a good time," said Dismore, a former IndyCar Series driver. "The 56 cars that were on track had some great drivers. Hopefully, next year we'll have an even bigger and better event."
Eight representatives from the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series were on hand to take part in the event, including last year's winner Dan Wheldon. The 2005 IndyCar Series champion was again paired with Mark Dismore Jr.
Their thoughts of being back-to-back winners were foiled in the early going when their Comet Kart Sales-sponsored machine experienced brake problems, putting them several laps behind.
Despite the mechanical troubles, Wheldon was delighted to return to his racing roots.
"It's always good to come out and do things like this," the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver said. "This is how I started my racing career, so it's good to be out here with people who aspire to be in the IndyCar Series. You can even learn a thing or two by being out here and running against these guys because a lot of them do this all the time. The Dismores are great people, and they were actually the ones that took me to my first Indianapolis 500."
Reigning Indy Pro Series champion Jay Howard and his No. 0 Screaming Talent team finished 13th -- the highest of IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series drivers. Like Wheldon's, Howard's kart was strong in the beginning, but a miscue in the pits cost the team a shot at the victory.
"We were leading in the first stint and came in for a pit and were docked a position for a fueling infraction," Howard said. "We went back out and during my second stint the exhaust broke, so I had to come back to the pits. It was really fast out there though and it was a lot fun and a great workout."
IndyCar Series veteran Sarah Fisher was also on hand, teaming with Katherine Legge for this year's event. They finished 22nd (Editor's note: Actually they finished 31st.) after a chain came loose from the kart, forcing a string of unscheduled pit stops. For Fisher, it marked the beginning of what is shaping up to be a hectic off-season.
"I'm going to do some Skip Barber off-season training to prepare for road course racing," Fisher said. "I have been helping Kyle O'Gara with some karting races as well. We're going to go run an endurance race in Norway, which I'm looking forward to. On top of all this, I'm also going to school so all of this is keeping me plenty busy."
Also participating were the IndyCar Series' Tomas Scheckter, Jeff Simmons and Scott Dixon as well as Indy Pro Series drivers Veronica McCann and Arie Luyendyk Jr.
"It's good to be out here," Scheckter said. "With everyone like Dan (Wheldon) and Scott (Dixon), plus all of the kids that race this event, it makes it very special. We all grew up doing this, and we're all still very competitive. Sometimes we don't like getting beat by a 15-year-old kid, but that happens. We've made about 10 unscheduled pit stops, but this a great event, and I have to thank the entire Dismore family for putting this on."
The RH Racing entry of Ricky Rudd and Paulie Harraka won the race, which was taped for broadcast on Speed.
"We have a former Brickyard 400 winner that won here today and
last year we had an Indy 500 winner (Wheldon)," Mark Dismore said.
"We are going to put a trophy on permanent display in the lobby,
which will list all of the previous winners of this event."
Rising, current stars race go-karts in New Castle
That was the scene Sunday afternoon (10/15/06) at the RoboPong.com 200, a four-hour, 200-mile endurance race around the paved, mile-long road course at Motorsports Park.
Many of the fans were friends and relatives who came to watch average Joes compete against rising stars as well as drivers who have reached stardom, such as NASCAR's Ricky Rudd, Champcar's Katherine Legge, Indy Pro Series's Arie Luyendyk Jr., and IRL's Sarah Fisher, Robby McGehee, Jeff Simmons, Scott Dixon, Rick Treadway and Dan Wheldon (the 2005 Indianapolis 500 champion.)
Rudd and teammate Paulie Harraka won Sunday's race; last year's winners were Wheldon and Mark Dismore Jr.
Go-kart racing, or karting, is known as the "high school" of motosport, where drivers gain the skills required to graduate to Formula 1, Indy and NASCAR racing.
Drivers had to be at least 15 years old to enter Sunday's race.
"It will be a blast to be back on the go-kart track where the fundamentals of racing begin," Fisher, who turned 26 on Oct. 4, was quoted as saying before the race.
"There are some awesome drivers out there," driver Carl McIntyre from McCordsville said during a pit stop.
Asked why he considered them to be "awesome," McIntyre said, "Because they're passing me."
He said karters reached speeds of 80 mph on the straightaway.
The vehicles screeched through curves and blasted gas and oil fumes into the crowd.
Jennifer Davis of Spiceland attended the race to watch her boyfriend's son, Rex Norris III, from Knightstown, compete. Asked what she most enjoyed about karting, Davis said, "The excitement, going fast and the crashes."
Bruce and Betty McGill from Muncie went to the race to support driver Robert Smith, a Henry County native who formerly roomed with the McGills' son, Geoffrey, at Ball State University. The two friends also had raced together.
(Geoffrey was killed during a race five years ago. In his honor, Fisher put his name on the wing of her car in the 2002 Indianapolis 500).
The McGills heard that a fund-raiser was being held after Sunday's race for Smith's five-month-old child, Ethan, who suffers from a rare disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.
Joann Harding drove to the race from Fort Wayne to watch her son, Chris, compete for the first time.
She was amazed by the length of the race. "Two-hundred miles is a lot of laps to put on a go-kart," she said.
She breathed a little easier after the congested, first several laps were completed. "I'm glad they're more spaced out," she said.
Source: Seth Slabaugh at 213-5834 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.thestarpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061016/NEWS01/610160329/1002