Wiegand dominates gearbox; Lawson scores 4-wins
Ohio’s Gary Lawson notched four more wins to run his win total at Rock Island to an amazing 20 victories, while Kyle Wiegand won his third King of the Streets title at this year’s Rock Island Grand Prix, presented by AT&T.
Wiegand started the day off right by winning the coveted King of the Streets stock moto title over a tough field including reigning King Jordon Musser. Wiegand benefited from some attrition behind him as Derek Crockett got into the barriers. Nick Lucido also bounced off the plastic barriers and ended up sideways and collected Musser in a nasty crash. This left Wiegand just having to avoid lapped traffic and mechanical failures as he cruised to win the 30-lap race over Jake French. Canadian Max Gamble finished third, but was removed by a technical DQ giving the third spot to Cole Mathewson.
For his efforts, the Top Kart driver won a $1,000 check, a special KartRaiser Electric Kart Stand valued at approximately $890 supplied by Michael Polizzi and Full Bore Karting, and the coveted Rock trophy. “After all these years, I finally don’t have to lift the kart onto the stand any more,” said father and tuner John Wiegand.
The race was sponsored by the 42 area McDonald’s restaurants and Ronald McDonald placed the traditional cape and crown on the winner. Wiegand had previously won the King’s title in 2004 and 2005. With the two first-place paychecks, Wiegand surpassed Alan Rudolph as the all-time money winner at Rock Island with $19,535.
Meanwhile, Gary Lawson carved his way through the streets of the city to win the 2-cycle Senior Sportsman Medium and Heavy classes sponsored by CBS4, as well as 4-cycle Animal Heavy and the Rumble at The Rock Animal Medium classes sponsored by AT&T.
“I had really good starts today and that’s what made the difference. Getting out in front and not having to deal with too much traffic kept it clean,” said Lawson.
This was the first year that the Rock Island Grand Prix co-promoted four classes with Championship Karting International and the blending of the organizations seemed to work well. Wiegand also won the CKI North American Street Championship for KZ2.
“Rock Island has such a rich history of bringing all levels of karting together for this unique event, that CKI could not pass up the opportunity to be a part of this tradition,” said Kevin Williams, CKI's General Manager. “There was fantastic racing in all categories and everyone at CKI is thrilled with the results of the weekend.”
Texan Alec Udell won the Rotax Junior race sponsored by Kids Racing for Kids, over Cameron Smock and Drake Woodard. He was challenged early by Austin Self but he ended up in the barriers at Turn 2. Arizona’s Phi De Lao O won the Rotax Senior and Leopard events. Each of the four CKI classes also brought with it a $500 certificate to the Bob Bondurant School of Performance Driving besides a check and a Rock.
“After I got in the lead, I just put my head down and focused. There was no real excitement except for what I put on myself to hit my marks and not trick myself,” said DeLaO.
Udell (Top Kart/Rotax) also added a hard-fought win by just .069 of a second over Texas teammate Bristol Gunderson (Top Kart/Rotax) in TAG Junior sponsored by Kids Racing For Kids. Hers was the top finish by a female driver for the weekend. Indiana’s Alan Berry was third.
The biggest field of the weekend was in TAG Senior sponsored by AT&T where Sam Beasley (Arrow/Motori 7) bested Nevin Nelson (Energy/Rotax) and Eric Schumacher (Kosmic/Rotax). Alabama’s Mack McCormack (Arrow/Motori 7) won the 23-kart TAG Masters race over fellow veterans Scott Hamble (Margay/Motori 7) and John Dixon (Tony Kart/Sonik).
The 2-cycle Pipe Heavy class sponsored by Lafarge North America was a battle between a number of Rock Island-area drivers with Tim Goettsch taking the checkered flag, but losing the win when he came in light at the scales. This gave the win to Drake Ostrom with Michael Dittmer second and Garrett Bouchard third.
Minnesota’s Chris Enderlein found himself in a duel to the finish with Lance Lane before winning the 125cc shifter Masters race sponsored by CBS 4. Graham Wilcock was third. After competing at Rock Island for eight years, Enderlein finally won his Rock.
“It was the first time I didn’t look behind me. I just drove. I’ve been here so many times before and been in front and thought I was going to win and crashed out or hit the walls,” he said. He originally hadn’t planned to race, but changed his mind at the last minute.
The new 4-cycle International (clone) exhibition race sponsored by Schurr Power Racing was won by Travis DeVriendt of nearby Sherrard, Illinois over a field of 22 drivers. Indiana’s Scott Hamble was second and Mark Luna of Illinois third.
The Rock Island Grand Prix, the world’s largest karting street race, draws entries from throughout the United States and Canada, competing for one of karting’s largest purses. It has also hosted racers from Italy, France, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, Argentina, Bermuda, the Philippines and Mexico. It includes 15 feature races in 4-cycle, 2-cycle, TAG and shifter classes.