Team Racelab recently made its international debut at the SKUSA Supernationals. This event which took place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the biggest annual karting event in the world. What follows is a breakdown of the event from Craig Finer, president of Racelab.
“We are racers and we would always like better results….Regardless, I don’t think a first time visit to the ‘Big Show’ gets any better than ours was for a brand new team consisting mostly of ‘Supernats Rookie’ drivers, tuners and support staff. I think we can be very proud of how we presented and conducted ourselves on this big stage. All of the comments I heard about our demeanour as a team were more than positive. Our karts, suits graphics and branding got more positive feedback than just about any team in the paddock as far as I could tell.
I was also proud of how our drivers and team staff met the challenges and frustrations that we faced on track. There were some tough moments and missed opportunities for sure, but we took a very calm approach to finding the missing speed, and our drivers and tuners learned, improved and moved in the right direction all week. Simone said ‘It’s a year worth of karting experience in 6 days’ and he was exactly right. As long as our passion for the sport is intact (mine just keeps growing) we are now better and stronger than we were one week ago, and we will return to our winter, summer and regional programs as better drivers, tuners, managers and coaches!
Supernats is an extra intimidating place to make an international debut for all members of the team, but for drivers it is a very steep learning curve. Sticky tires, walls everywhere and the best kart racers in the world…all at once, all for the first time for many of us. We need to asses our performance in that context, and in that context you all did very well.
For our juniors drivers, this can be a very scary race! Ty and Jamel stayed super calm, raced clean and hard and made us proud. Jammer had a frustrating series of heat races but then came back and did his best racing in the final, never giving up a great battle until the end. Ty also got bumped and banged during a few heat races but he stayed calm, bounced back and got faster and faster all weekend beating many much more experienced drivers to the checkered flag. Both of these boys are champs of the future and I hope both of them know that we are proud and pumped to have them under our tent.
Even though it didn’t say so on the results sheet…Ariel and Isaac are both Jr’s too, but for a variety for reasons (one’s of them is too big….I’ll let you guess who) they chose to race against the big boys and girls in Sr. Isaac had the most frustrating heat race series of all, managing to DNF all three, but he came back with a smile, and threw down promising speed and some amazing first laps passed just to let everyone know, he’s not just a hockey player, but a darn good racer too.
Our other Jr, our new friend and teammate, Supernats Rookie Ariel Elkin put on a show that was stunning to watch. Racing Supernats legends, karting world champs, the SKUSA Champs and several professional racing drivers in the Sr X30 category. He was among the quickest in most heats (quickest in one) in spite of some contact and a DNF, won the LCQ, and fought from the back of the pack into 20th before getting tangled in the final. Keep in mind that @Arielkin is 14 years old and needed special dispensation from SKUSA to race as a Sr.! Ariel was gracious with his time and always ready to help our less experienced drivers, not to mention cleaning up under the tent and generally being a great teammate.
Our home grown crew of X30 Senior Drivers all showed that they had the class and the speed to race with the best. Marco, Josh and Sam all found themselves on the wrong side of barriers more than they would have liked, but they drove like champs, showed real speed and, more importantly, resilience and a great attitude.
Marco showed his speed early in the week and, like the rest of us, found the changing conditions of the LVMS parking lot hard to stay on top of. In spite of his own challenges on track, Marco kept his mind on our team’s drivers and made sure they all had the data, coaching and physical prep that they needed. This is the mark of a professional and the reason why we are lucky and proud to have Marco on our team.
Big Thanks to Marco for his dedication to ALL of our RL/KP drivers! U Da Man Marco!!
Josh showed that he was not out of his element at in the ‘Big Show’ and kept moving in the right direction in spite of a tangle or two that pushed him back. Josh made the fast group after qualifying and raced hard in the heats to get a chance in the LCQ. A great debut at the mighty Supernats by any measure.
Just to put in in perspective, these boys were racing around with Indy Car Legends Will Power (apparently Marco and Will are now well ‘acquainted’) and Joseph New Garden, not to mention other former Supernats and international karting champs! ….We know they will be back and fighting for podiums…very soon!
Sam Porter was our only X30 Masters driver and he did the team proud just like the youngsters. Sam timed in as high as 12th in one of his heat races and showed amazing speed for his first Supernats race ever! In the end of the day a bit of contact and an ‘upper body’ injury (as they say in the NHL…we call it ‘karter’s elbow’) made it extra tough. Our resident Kiwi fought hard all the way to the final and showed that both he and his TB Kart/PMW machine had the speed to compete with the Top Guns! Sam will be back and its obvious he’s got what it takes to bring home some metal next time.
The only Team TB Kart pro with Supernats experience was Pro Shifter pilot, Kristian Habulin and he was a monster all weekend. In a huge field of the world fastest shifter drivers, Kristian showed top 10 speed in several heats and put his TB S197 in a strong 19th to start the final. He literally had our eyes popping with confident passes and ‘on point’ race craft as he battled up to 15th overall for the final. Kristian gave aggression a new meaning and we simply loved cheering him towards a great result.
It must be said that is was a pleasure to watch young TB Kart Superstar Ariel Elkin throw a kart that came out of our containers in the Okanagan around at the very front of the Elite X30 Senior field.
On the operations and technical side, I simply cannot state how appreciative and proud I am of the efforts we made as a team.
Danny Kacic (Gangster Name Dee-Kay) was at the forefront of all of it, and he literally has worked his fingers to the bone for a month leading up to this event. His tireless effort never stopped and he did a great job of making sure everyone on the team, tuners, drivers, and support staff, had everything they needed throughout the event. Danny’s work ethic, technical know-how and creativeness are all key to the way we worked and presented ourselves as a team. Besides acting as manager and technical director, Danny also designed the team jackets, shirts, the Villeneuve tent panel and our entire pit space layout (including the trailer). Amazing job Danny!
Props and thanks to DK from everyone who rolled a tire or turned a wrench at the ’Nats.
Robbie Horvath (AKA Racetrack Robbie) kept us all moving, eating, drinking, organized, and cleaned up with style. Robbie took a ton of initiative to find the little things that might be forgotten and keep us ticking like a clock all weekend. In the end of the day, we could not have done it without Robbie and his selfless dedication.
Props and thanks to Racetrack Robbie from everyone who ate, drank, sat down, needed tires mounted or just about anything else!
Regular staff super-tuner Damon (Damo) Schatrowski and Hired Gun Doug (Daddy-O) Sharp (sorry Doug…had to) added veteran tuner skills to our tent that made a big difference while the rookies (drivers, tuners, and team owners alike) learned the ways of more experienced programs. These pros made sure our equipment was straight, square and moving up the grid all week. We appreciate their patience, professionalism, and positive attitudes in stressful circumstances. We also appreciate the sense of humour and team spirit that beamed out of both of them all weekend. Both of these guys traveled a long way to be with us and they both made a Big difference for the drivers and team.
Props and thanks to both of our ‘DS’s’ for your hard work, dedication and commitment to helping a bunch of newbies find their way forward!
Aiden Nelmes (BabyFace) and Ryan McMurren (RyMac), our Supernats rookie tuners, simply didn’t act or tune like Rookies at all. Using all of the world class resources under the tent, and the drive to get the work done efficiently and properly, both of these budding super tuners out performed expectations and made sure our equipment was square and speedy and our drivers were on time and ready. Outstanding job, gentlemen.
Props and thanks to both Aiden and Ryan for your loyalty, hard work and the utterly fantastic attitude you demonstrated throughout the weekend!
Finally, there is no way to measure the impact of having world class pro’s under our tent, showing us the way. The impact of having Simone Brenna (Il Professore) and Niko (The Italian Stallion) to help us understand and learn to get the maximum out of the chassis they design and build was huge for all of us. Regardless of our results at the event, there is not a single driver or tuner under our tent that did not learn, grow and become better. That included me (The old, bald one).
Grazzie Mille to our new friends from across the ocean. We are dedicated to forming a strong connection with our Italian brothers and sisters at TB Kart and this was a wonderful way to begin the relationship.
Of course, thanks to Chris Freckelton at Precision Engine Works who kept all of our X30 and KA100 drivers ‘in the money’ when it came to horsepower. Ditto to Roger Woltjer for building Ty a motor that was clearly more than up to the task! We have a great deal to learn, but power was never a problem under our tent.
Special thanks to Willie and the entire Fisher clan, Mike Abougoush and all of the team and family members who kicked in and made this possible and fun! I hope you all had a blast and I hope you’ll all come back with us next winter!
Rose and I are humbled by the dedication, commitment, hard work and great attitudes that prevailed under our tent.
This can be a tough event and my take away is that I’m just eager to get to work, get ready and go back for more! That’s a great sign!”