RIVERSIDE 2010 RACE REPORT
January 28-30, 2010
by M.L. Sturgeon - Race Director
“Geez, what a great event; it was just perfect!” That’s the comment I heard most about our 6th Annual Vintage Karting Reunion held January 28-30, 2010 in sunny southern California. There are precious few words to truly describe it, but I will try here to share with you my thoughts and observations.
With record cold and snow and miserable winter conditions blanketing nearly the entire country, the California sunshine was a welcome sight when we all began arriving Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The weekend would see temperatures in the low 70’s at the track and a beautiful backdrop of the snow capped San Bernardino Mountains. As I looked through the pit, I could tell who had come from the cold weather, they were all in t-shirts first thing in the morning. We west-coasters still had our jackets on, then Bob Lapke told me it was 8 degrees when he left home the day before.
This year Adams’ Kart Track celebrated it’s first 50 years with a dinner party on Thursday evening at the Marriott in downtown Riverside. This celebration would see nearly 40 of the Adams’ family presented together which brought a very well deserved standing ovation. There were nearly 300 community dignitaries and karters from all over the place. The 50th Anniversary celebration was not all about the track, but also about the people and organizations that have through the years made karting and the Adams’ track what it is today. Some of those in the karting industry honored at this event for their continued support of the track and karting were RLV Tuned Exhaust, K&P Mfg., I.K.F., Yamaha of America, and the Riverside Chamber of Commerce to name some. There were eight businesses honored. The folks accepting these honors were Art Verlengiere from RLV, Faye Pierson from K&P Mfg., Pat Hansen of Yamaha, and Pat from the IKF office. In addition to these honored businesses, the Adams’ family also honored a select few individuals. These included Tommy Wilms, Mona Sturgeon, Lloyd Mack and Billy Cleavlin who were in attendance, with honorable mentions to the Cressi family and Duffy Livingstone.
This was also a celebration of the family and the track that we have all come to know and love. The track’s history is amazing, which is why the vintage event fits so very well with the track and it’s 50th Anniversary happenings. Frank Adams and Mary-Clark Adams met and married in 1918 and were blessed with eleven children over the next 25 years. Frank passed in 1986, just one year after Mary passed. Five of those children are now deceased, but how proud they surely were of the children and their family. And we are so very proud to have all of those living children join us at this years’ event. Karting would come to the Adams’ family at Christmastime in 1959, and Mary would instruct her husband to take the karts to the lower part of the property near the river to run them. Shortly thereafter Grandpa Frank got on the tractor and began shaping the track, 1960 would see it paved, and as they say……the rest is history……………and a history we are all proud to be a part of.
Most are unaware of the family’s community involvement including church and charity work and you need only speak to any of the many locals to know this. Family matriarch Thelma King is a legend in karting in her own right, and a much appreciated member of the community of Riverside. She is and has been involved in karting and the business of karting most of her life. She and each of her brothers and sisters have much to be proud of. Their hard work and passion for karting and family have built a legacy of integrity and business acumen that has spanned 50 years thus far, and I believe they will be around for at least 50 more. That’s simply incredible and our heartfelt congratulations to all of them.
Today Adams Motorsports Park has continued the family enterprise with Troy Adams in charge with the help of many family members including sister Timel who was instrumental in getting the vintage event going at Riverside years ago when Faye Pierson and Tom Medley first approached her. From an administrative standpoint I can tell you that Timel puts everything she’s got into doing a good job and her efforts are much appreciated. You can keep up with all of the Adams’ complex motorsports activities, and there are many, on their website http://adamsmotorsportspark.com.
And now back to the vintage event, because we all wanted to make Adams’ 50th a most special event, we were fortunate to have many many wonderful volunteers enabling us to give each participant an event t-shirt, custom pin designed by none other than Tom Medley, and you should have seen the customized tech stickers also designed by Tom Medley. In addition, we were blessed with several members/participants who sponsored our Friday evening supper during our Kart Show and Tent Gala. Bill & Dodie Freeman, Jim Donovan, Louie Figone, and Dean Kossaras gave most generously to sponsor our incredible tri-tip and chili supper with all the trimmings. Please thank them again as we simply could not have done this without them. They really made it a gala for our participants.
Thursday was sunny and breezy with everyone arriving and setting up. The track was open all day for open practice to all participants. Then it was off to the Marriott for the Adams’ 50th Anniversary celebration. About 40 of our vintage race participants were in attendance at this party, and VKA helped by sponsoring an ad in their 50th program. I also saw a couple of hundred folks there that would make their way to the track sometime over the weekend. Sean Buur of GoRacing magazine was there covering the celebration and our event. You can go to their website to read the article about our event. The article includes Carol & Leon Rippy’s amazing 1961 Swoopster show kart which is the only one known to exist at this time. We’ll talk more about our kart show later but please take a moment to look at the article in the virtual version at goracingmagazine.com
Friday would bring a flurry of activity for everyone. While the track opened early and practice began at 9:00 a.m., many would leave for John Julis’ Earl Larson Memorial Geritol Gang Luncheon from 11:00 a.m. til 2:00 p.m. at Don Jose’s Restaurant in Riverside. There were about 125 in attendance and it grows and grows every year. If you have never attended, it is fascinating, with karting legends everywhere.
Then it was back to the track where many never left and practice continued. At about 3:00 p.m. the aroma in the pit turned to Santa Maria style tri-tip being cooked to perfection on the BBQ by none other than Tim Adams himself who built the BBQ along with Troy and Amed; the raffle gifts were set out and ticket sales began, and the tent was preparing for the Kart Show and Gala Dinner, which included the very best chili beans prepared on the spot by Dennis and Allene Macklin (Dilligaf Chili Co.) of Costa Mesa, CA.
Then came the best part, the show karts began to make their way to the staging area. This show was in my opinion far and away the very best show I have ever seen anywhere with a whopping 34 entries - WOW. I urge you to go through the photos on the VKA website and just enjoy these fabulous machines. The judging is simply the hardest job of the race though it only lasts a couple of hours. Robert Stanton was joined by Pearl Gamble and Jack Murray to do the judging and Robert’s comments afterward were “Man, what a great bunch of karts, it’s hard and the karts this year were incredible!” Thank you to everyone who brought a show kart and special thanks to Robert Stanton and our judging team. The show winners were as follows:
BEST UNRESTORED ORIGINAL AWARD went to Jack & Marilyn Lehmann of Tacoma, Washington with their 1968 Bug Sprint. When Jack acquired this little beauty he asked the gentleman selling it “What kind of kart is it?” and the man simply said “it’s blue.” Great acquisition and a great story. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for joining us Jack and Marilyn.
BEST RESTORED ORIGINAL AWARD would see Vince Hughes of Oceanside, California get yet another award to add to his collection. Vince is a master at restoring these old karts and his 1961 Caretta is truly a sight to behold.
BEST RESTORED MODIFIED AWARD this year went to Steve O’Hara of Laguna Hills, California for his impeccable 1965 Rupp Grand Prix dual machine. Steve had a beautiful and most unique collection on display for all of us to enjoy all weekend in his pit. A much deserved win Steve.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD. This award is presented to the kart owner whose kart received the most votes by the folks in the pit. John Mullen of Manhattan Beach, California would walk away with the votes for this machine. It was just a wonderful kart entry for our show and one of the finest 1961 Caretta’s out there. There were people everywhere really looking over the show karts. While I believe we fed about 200 people there were 80 who voted on the 34 entries and this winner received 23 of those votes, triple the maximum votes tallied for any other particular kart…….impressive indeed, congratulations John.
TOM PIERSON BEST BUG OF SHOW AWARD. This award is quite special and Tommy and Jon Pierson really had a tough time this year picking a winner. After much deliberation their award would go to Steve O’Hara of Laguna Hills, California for his very, very rare Bug Scorpion ES-II. Thanks so much for sharing this with us Steve.
Again, please take a look at these and all 34 kart show entries on the VKA website. Talk about eye candy. Enjoy…………………………………
We presented a couple of very exceptional awards for a couple of truly exceptional people, one for our very dear friend and partner without whom we couldn’t make it happen…..Louie Figone. I’ve known Louie for a quarter-century now and have always been proud to call him a friend. He has recently accepted a board position with VKA, something Faye and I wholeheartedly encouraged him to do. I sat on the IKF and other boards with Louie over the years and you will not meet a man with more integrity and knowledge about the sport than he. But the award was a special gift to Louie from “his girls” meaning Faye and I. Without Louie’s knowledge and dedication we couldn’t do it. Thank you, thank you, thank you my friend.
Another presentation was in deep appreciation of everything Jerry Imboden of KARTART does for us and for vintage karting. Jerry is there and has been there producing the finest in kart racing photographs I’ve ever seen. But more than that, he loves our sport and he supports our sport. He has become a fixture at this event and most other vintage events. This year we were blessed with the company of his wife Terri, and what a delightful lady she is. Thank you Jerry for all you do, and for sharing your lovely bride with us.
LOST DISTANCE AWARDS (National & International)
INTERNATIONAL Long Distance Award: Max Laybutt from New South Wales, Australia joined us this year for the first time. Max is the treasurer for the Australian Karting Club, and a true character. He says he had the time of his life, and we made sure to thank him for making the trek by presenting him with our long distance award. Our karting friends from Australia have participated in this event for years, and Graeme Barwick, who received this award last year has been to three of our Riverside vintage events.
Our Australian friends (Graeme Barwick) also presented Faye Pierson and Duff Livingstone with a beautiful photo collage of their race in Australia in 2008.
U.S.A. Long Distance Award went to Larry Smith for a very special reason. Larry is the gentleman who drives the RM Motorsports semi tractor/trailer rig through rain and sleet and wind and snow so that our Midwest and eastern friends can make it to our event. The Bennett family arranges this truck and this year Larry drove 26 karts out to participate. While Larry may not live as far away as some participants, he put on more actual driving miles than any of them and for that we salute him. He was quite surprised and pleased. What a great guy.
And while the Kart Show and Tri-Tip Supper was going on, we were conducting our raffle which is just one of the highlights of our event, and is always special. Thousands of dollars worth of donations are raffled, everything from jewelry to tool boxes donated by the Sturgeon family (and always a big hit) and a travel-size television from the Figone family. There was even an old fashioned stereo donated by Tom Medley, go-kart Christmas ornaments from Hightower’s and of course tons of goodies from Jerry and Terri of KartArt. And Bill Parun brought a special bottle of wine again as well. This is all in addition to vintage kart parts, tires, etc. and included gift certificates from Robert Stanton. We even received a custom kart cover from Brian & Dottie Thomas who couldn’t make it to race with us this year. This year Jim Donovan of MaxTorque gave a custom clutch and you should have seen the winner. The donations are many and it’s just a ton of fun. Thank you so much to all of our donation sponsors. Without the great participation in our raffle we wouldn’t be able to pay for everything, and it’s just a ton of fun. On Saturday at the drivers meeting we also picked from the tech cards and gave a driving jacket sponsored by Tom Patronite of Azusa Engineering. Tom does this every year….thanks Tom.
Each class winner was presented with a t-shirt from G.E.M. Products, a book about Karting written by Gene Genebral, and a 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program, along with a very special trophy custom designed and hand made by Tom Medley, Randy Holt and gang. Again, Medley is 90 years young and is truly a legend. His contributions to vintage karting are vast and much appreciated. In addition Louie Figone and Jerry Imboden of KARTART got together to give every class participant a very special gift, a photograph of each class was taken on the grid and will be mailed to each and every participant. How special is that?!?! Thank you Louie and Jerry.
Richard Kennedy treated us again this year to his THIS SIDE UP exhibition which is always a thrill to watch and there is nothing easy about it. He throws his kart onto two wheels and drives around the track. If you didn’t see it yourself you wouldn’t believe it possible. This is a learned art that Richard has dedicated years to doing. Please read more about Richard in the Cast of Characters attached to this article.
Legendary flagman Jerry Adams started the race program in his own style, and after a couple of heats handed the duties off to nephew Troy Adams. But Jerry sat there all day long, I think to make sure Troy was doing it right…….haha. Thanks so much Jerry.
We had 109 entries on Saturday, though 7 weren’t signed up properly and hence are not included in the totals below though we know they were on the track. We also had an additional 12 participants that just came to play on Thursday and Friday, and some of those folks changed their minds and entered a class on Saturday. So our total participation was about 121, and that is a new record for our event, and may be a new record for any vintage event.
SPORTSMAN and SPORTSMAN HISTORIC had 19 entries on Saturday. After months of controversy, Faye and I, after much input from members, decided to run these two classes as non-competition classes. The thought was that we were losing folks that wanted to play but really didn’t want to race. It needs to be understood that these were the only two classes that were not racing. But, some of the folks who just came to practice did in fact enter to participate in these classes and others on Saturday. Soooooo, please let us know what you think about the class structure as this is all about the participants and we want to make sure that those who wish to play can play and those who wish to race can race these magnificent machines. There really is room for everyone to participate and we certainly want to keep it that way. I am of the personal belief that anytime you have two drivers on the track, they are racing. I also believe it is up to the drivers and the officials to make sure things don’t get out of hand. I am extremely proud to report that we have not had the ambulance run yet at any of our Riverside events.
I have to tell you that Leon Rippy was entered in both of these classes and I could see the grin on his face the whole time he was on the track. Carol and Leon had a pit full of friends and I understand that four of them will be here next year with their own kart to participate. Martin who is a former motorcycle racer from Argentina was particularly fascinated. Leon tells me he took a couple of practice laps on Leon’s R-200 and was hooked. Chip Mooneyham from central California is one of my favorite characters in all of karting and it was great to see him in these classes and at our event again. Two years ago he broke every kart he brought, and this year he put on a fine show. He’s a great driver and always a pleasure to have join us.
Brad Richardson was on the track as well and I have to tell you that he created two beautiful event posters and presented them on Friday evening to Faye Pierson and to the Adams’ family. Each of the Adams’ family spoke which was really a thrill for all of us. Thelma, Jerry, Tim, Helen and even the baby of the family (a fact she likes to remind her siblings about) Sharon shared their thoughts and feelings on this most special event. Now that was rare and really cool.
The always effervescent Dodie Freeman, along with Jay Mendoza, Mike Ray, Christian Gavricas, Bill Parun, Mike Ray, Jack Martin, Eric Pierson, Dan Erickson, Louie Figone, and the Grundfor’s were just some of the folks who ran in these two classes and commented to me on the fun they had in these classes on the track.
REAR SINGLE would see 16 drivers start the race. Tommy Wilms, who was honored at the Adams’ 50th Banquet on Thursday night would show us why he’s been karting all these years. Tommy won the race, but George Friend, who just moved up to senior classes this year, would be all over Tommy all three heats. Gentlemen thank you for such a close and exciting race. Third place would go to Craig Bennett and this was another race where there was hard driving going on all over the track all three heats. Bill Parun, Dick Florey, Bill Freeman, Gary Medley, Chip Mooneyham, Matt Azzara, and Dan Rogers and the rest of the pack would slice and dice in nearly every corner. Thanks fellas and congratulations to Tommy.
REAR SINGLE Over 6.1 had 15 participants vying to win this one. Steve O’Hara who is always lightening fast, was just thrilled to have driven this particular kart to victory as it had a ton of sentimental value to him. Steve won all three heats, with Kim Gillette coming in second, her best finish, congratulations Kim. Louie Figone, Jim Waltz, Roger Mulkey, Bruce Bereiter (another true gem), Gerry Milazzo (an artist by trade and just a great addition to our vintage family) would join Colin Reese, John Greaves, Jim Jessup, Jay Mendoza (who sponsored Steve O’Hara’s winning ride) Hal Orndorff, Ron Price and Jeremy Weimer would really put on a race for us. In the first heat Steve started near the rear and came by so fast on the staightaway on the start he startled some of the drivers and nearly caused an incident. However, I am proud to report that all of these drivers know their stuff and there was no contact, just some sideways action and a bit of controversy……nothing new to racers at all. Thanks to all of you for a fine race.
REAR DUAL had 16 drivers. I have to tell you this is one of my favorite classes. These machines really are in a class all their own and in their time were impressive, but I find them more impressive today. The karts are rare and watching them on the track is always not only close racing, but exciting stuff. Ron Weimer of Sacramento, CA won the race, and finishing 2nd was Jesse James of Chicago. While this certainly isn’t Jesse’s first kart race, it was the first time he actually raced this kart, and the first time he has joined us in Riverside. Our good friend from Australia, Graeme Barwick, who is a life long karting enthusiast had never actually raced at this event and he finished in 3rd place. Congratulations to all and thanks for the show gentlemen, you did a great job.
SIDEWINDER SINGLE was our biggest class with 20 participants, and it was simply put a great race. While we should have split the class (my fault) it was certainly exciting to watch. This race was close and exciting in every heat. Jon Woods and John Griffin fought long and hard for this one and Griffin would take home the gold………………and you should have seen how pleased his mom was. Jeffie, John’s mom, would join him to accept his much deserved first place trophy. Jeffie stayed all three days and every time I saw her she had a smile on her face. A lovely lady, and a great win for John.
There were three different packs racing hard in each of these heat races and all were exciting to watch. Certainly made me want to crawl back in one and join them. Dick Florey, Chip Mooneyham, Steve O’Hara, Dean Kossaras, Mark Bray, Mike Ray, Jim Jessup, and newcomer Jordon Gouveia put on great races all over the track.
I have to tell you that John Griffin managed to purchase himself another kart at the end of this event, a rare Bug rear engine dual, and we can’t wait to see him drive that one……………
REAR SINGLE SPORTSMAN (Drivers age 60+) had 7 entries and is always fun to watch and some of the hardest racing of the event. As always, Mark Shepard, Pearl Gamble and Faye Pierson put on one hell of a show in the lead pack. While Mark handily won the race on his remarkable Caretta, all of these drivers really work hard at making it a race to watch indeed. The second pack running just behind the lead pack included Dean Kossaras who finished 3rd, Scott Grundfor in 4th, Jim Jessup and Matt Azzara. You guys never cease to amaze me. Thanks for a magnificent race, you are all an inspiration to the rest of us.
C-OPEN SIDEWINDER DUALS had 9 drivers. This class is always exciting. It’s not just the sheer speed but the ability of these guys to really put it on the ground. These karts are a handful (understatement of the year) and the incredible race put on by Craig Bennett, who won the race, and Jeff Campbell, John Griffin, Bob Lapke and the entire class was spectacular by any standard. With speeds reaching 100 mph into the monza turn it will capture your attention in a hurry and keep it the entire race.
Gus Traeder of Quincy telephoned to see how the event was going as he and his family intended on being with us. Unfortunately Fern, Gus’ wonderful bride, was dealing with health issues and they couldn’t make it. He did, however, want to make sure that I said hello for him and invited everyone to Quincy for their 50th celebration this September. Thanks Gus, for your support and we’ll be there.
Few people realize more than I all the real effort it takes and how valuable a team is in making any race happen, especially this one. Our event is unique because the people are. The participants are just as important as the staff, and I extend my heartfelt thank you to everyone who made the effort to attend.
I do have the thank Troy and Timel and their staff. Timel’s children are always a delight and they work very hard. Karen and Joanna are also part of the administrative team and do a fantastic job as well.
As most of you know, Louie Figone takes care of tech and this year he was assisted by Mark Bray from Oregon and Steve from Phoenix.
I also wish to express our deep appreciation to our daughter Brooke Sturgeon-Krum who dealt with all of the pre-entries and ran registration and scoring with her sister Jillian Owen, our daughter-in-law Shanna Balbas and Roilene Pierson. In addition, Barb Gamble has become a fixture on our team and no one works any harder, she was all over the place. I also want to thank Nancy Lotz who helped me immensely, and I think she sold more raffle tickets than anyone. She was there with a helping hand every time I asked and it is much appreciated.
Our computerized scoring team and grid attendant, The Preschern’s (Pete and Carolyn) do a fabulous job as well. On race day, Carolyn dropped her computer and drove an hour home to get her backup before the race started. She is just great at what she does, and she does it for Gus at the Quincy event as well. I also want to ask that you all say a prayer for Anne (Pete’s sister) who is normally helping but is currently fighting some health issues. Anne did join us for Friday evening festivities and it was wonderful to see her again. God Bless and we’ll see you next year Anne.
Also on our team is “the announcer guy” Mr. Dave Williams. Dave is priceless and he makes our event all the more special because he is one of those announcers who really gets folks involved in what’s going on, not just on the track but in the pit as well.
I also have to thank my husband, Rick, who made sure our tri-tip was picked up at the butcher shop and delivered right on time for cooking on Friday. We ordered the meat from Gus’ Food Locker in Madera, CA. It was Harris Ranch beef, the best in the country, and specially seasoned for us. There was about 200 pounds of beef, and it was mighty delicious. Just ask Craig Bennett, who told me he went back four times for more meat and enjoyed every bite. The chili beans were the best as well, and I have to tell you that the gentleman who made our chili also worked a corner for me on Saturday when we lost a corner worker, what a gem.
Most of the VKA board members were also in attendance at this event. Their support and their efforts are noticed and appreciated. It is our organization and those of us who have been around since its inception are quite proud of its promotion of vintage karting. They are volunteers who try their very best to do what is best for its membership. They participate in all of the vintage events and its one of those thankless jobs…………………………so thank you to each of you, and thanks for making the effort to be here to support our members and our sport. Board members in attendance were Louie Figone, Dean Kossaras, Jeff Campbell, Bob Lapke, Brad Fultz, Jerry Van Duesen, Carl Weakley and Bill McCornack. On Friday evening at our gala Bill was presented with an awesome framed photo prepared by Jerry Imboden of KARTART, and was quite surprised. Bill contributes mightily to the vintage movement and is always there to help. I have to tell you that each and every board member offered their assistance to me during the event.
Another person who must be thanked is Faye LadyBug Pierson, your hostess for this event. She really puts her heart and soul into this event every year in the pre-race prep. She is a wonderful ambassador for vintage karting.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I want to thank my assistant race director, Terry Ives. His help is greatly appreciated and he, as always, does a fine job. Terry’s contributions to vintage karting are quite endless as well. It is also a special treat to have his wife Carol join us again this year.
I also have a correction from our 2009 kart show winners. Ralph Johnson won two awards at the kart show last year and I incorrectly reported he won only one. Sorry Ralph!!!
In closing I just want to let all of you know how very proud I am to be a part of this event and even more proud to call you all friends. MONA