On September 10 & 11, 2021 the Northeast Region VKA reconvened at the Oreville Speedway in Mertztown, PA for the 6th Annual EAST COAST VINTAGE KART NATIONALS. This event, though only two days in duration, had lofty aspirations. Not only was this event a regularly scheduled celebration of vintage karting, but it also coincided with INTERNATIONAL GO KART DAY. Additionally, this gathering also hosted a FOX KART REUNION, with Dick Teal, of Fox Karts fame, who graciously accepted the invitation to be our special guest. Finally, it was lost on no one that this weekend also marked 20 years since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
The gates officially opened on Friday at 10AM, though when I arrived “late”, at 10:05, there were quite a few canopies already erected. I was expecting the pits to be muddy, given the heavy rains that had passed through with Ida just a week before. I observed ducks swimming in the still-flooded front yard of a nearby farmhouse, yet the speedway property was, in fact, quite dry and solid underfoot. The track opened for practice at 12:00, and the afternoon was spent testing and tuning until 5pm. Of course,there was a lot of catching up to do with friends old and new. In particular,if you weren’t completely captivated by Dick Teal’s detailed observations and anecdotes, from his unique point of view,you just weren’t paying attention.
As we’ve done before, arrangements were made to meet in the evening at the local restaurant Florence Italian Grille. Per previous norms, we were expecting a core group of about a dozen. Our poor server… Inexplicably, we found ourselves pulling more tables and chairs together and our party eventually expanded to about 24 guests! These are tough times for understaffed restaurants, and this was a perfect storm. This woman -running mascara and all -maintained her pleasant composure -even as she was also responsible for a wedding party in another, different room! Recognizing that this was an untenable scenario, Natalie Bogerman and Ginny Hunter stepped in and assisted with such tasks as distributing menus and silverware, as well as directing traffic when food began to arrive. The food was great,and the conversations were excellent.
Unique among our Northeast events, with it usually reserved for Friday night, the first order of business on Saturday morning at Oreville wasthe Kart Show. This show was, for good reason, flush with Fox karts. I mean, Fox is always well represented in Vintage, but there was definitely an influx of Fox products for this Fox Reunion. Oreville Kart Club reportedly has a robust vintage racing class, and those regulars love Fox karts, too. Another perfect storm, but in a good way! In celebration of the Fox marque, Dick Teal was not just our Special Guest, but he was also asked to evaluate this field of Foxes to present awards for the “Best Restored” and “Best Modified” Fox karts. John Wolkiewicz, Sr., Chris Gruber and I were the judges for the regular array of Kart Show awards, and as a result, we were privileged to stand side by side with Dick Tealand hear his insight regarding the many nuances that he saw in each Fox kart that he inspected. Steering wheels, road wheels, brakes, the yellowing of clear seat piping over time, -the very thread used in the stitching of the upholstery -He took all of this into consideration as he evaluated each kart. His firsthand, original source expertise was incredible. Eventually Ginny Hunter’s Fox, with its West Bend 580was awarded “Best Restored”,and Carl Haydt’s Mercury powered Fox was awarded “Best Modified”.
After the Kart Show, it was time to get to the heats. First, though, we remembered those who were lost during andas a result of the 9/11 attacks,as we heard our National Anthem and observed a moment of silence for the fallen.
The heats went off without incident! This track is short and fast, and this has led to a couple of hairy moments in years past. We were all very pleased with the good clean demonstrations of our vintage machinery and driving skill. Of course, the podium results will appear in a graphic somewhere nearby.
As always, I am grateful to the staff at Oreville Speedway. They have been professional and gracious in years past, and they seemed especially so this year. Alex Greenzweig and Kenny Denglermade sure to make us feel welcome, and the other staff members were quick to help in whatever ways they could. Thanks, too, to the folks who plan and negotiate and arrange these events, including Skip Owen, Karl Ginter, and Sal Palatucci. It was another (another!) great weekend of Vintage Karting Fun!
Another fabulous event. Sure, it was hot, but look at the calendar … it was August! Despite the heat and some lingering concerns about COVID … not to mention some personal issues and schedule conflicts with some larger teams … we had 78 entrants plus a couple practice-only.
We had the pleasure of acknowledging several truly honorable, WKA Hall of Fame Members, and we were able to surprise one new inductee. (Haul of Famers, Ron and Carma Withrow, Paul Martin, Neil Keller, Gary Gregg and Randy Kugler are pictured), but it was Gary Gregg, the owner of G & J Kartway and long-time supporter of karting who was totally taken off guard when his name was announced. It was a pleasure to recognize his lifelong contribution to karting, WKA (founded at Camden), and Ohio Valley Karting Association (OVKA).
We ran the scheduled 1st Heat on Friday, followed by the Kart Show and dinner. Thanks to Romero Llamas, the Kart Show was a big success. Check out the amazing karts that topped the list.
Historic- Rathman Exterminator; Larry Stallard Restored Historic; ’61 Big J Lancer; WB-820; Gordon Juhasz Modified Historic; ’60 Simplex Challenger IV; Dual WB-820; John Gillman Restored Rear Engine; ’67 Rupp Chaparral; MC-91; Chris Taylor Modified Rear Engine; ’66 Rupp A-Bone; MC-91b; Jake Gillman Past Champion Rear Engine; ’64 Fox Box Mount; 91b1- Rolf Hill Restored Sidewinder; “87 Margay Xpert; KT-100; Bill Arrandale Past Champion Sidewinder; ’73 Bug; MC 91b1; Dan Bucher Restored Sidewinder- ’78 Margay Pro X; Yamaha; Joe Cramer PEOPLES’ CHOICE- ’78 Margay Pro X; Yamaha; Joe Cramer
Our President, Gary Wlodarsky and Track Cook/Clutch Guy, Jim Donovan served up a great meal of corn on the cob, burgers, bratts, complete with the sides and desert donated by Joann Hertzig. I don’t think anyone went away hungry.
Despite a “pop-up” deluge/mini hurricane after dinner, the track was fine for the two Heats on Saturday. The results are below. Our congratulations to all 78 entrants for some great demonstrations of what these old karts can do. It was a safe event. Everyone went home in the car/truck they came in.
We can’t forget our hosts, the OVKA. As always, they are the most accommodating and congenial group of track workers and flaggers, announcers, concession workers and registrations help. Thank you. And thanks to all who came. God bless America. See you next year.
By Kurt Bogerrman Photos by Natalie Bogerman & Scott Kneisel
On July 29-31, the Genesee Valley Kart Club hosted the VKA for the 2021 Avon 12th Annual Vintage Karting Reunion.
I really hadn’t paid much attention to the weather reports as the weekend approached. Work had kept me busy, and I had barely cast my eyes on my Karting accoutrement since the previous event a month earlier. My boss was very kind to let me know on Wednesday afternoon that I was “probably going to get rained out.” At least I’ll still have some time off, I thought to myself. Sure enough, as soon as I dropped the selector lever into “Drive” early Thursday morning, the deluge started. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a wince come across Natalie’s face. She wasn’t sure how I was going to react to this. I said, “What the hell” and proceeded to lug my tiny trailer out of the driveway and disembarked on our 4-hour trek northward.
This journey was a mixed bag, weatherwise, as we crossed multiple bands of rain, then clear, then rain again, coming down with varying intensity. We encountered some of the heaviest precipitation while we were within a half-hour of our destination, and the sky to the northwest was grim. It was at that point that I began to doubt whether there was going to be an event after all. As we neared the Avon exit, however, the rain subsided, and by the time we arrived at the track, efforts were already underway to squeegee off the track surface. Methods included blowers, dragged gangs of tires, and an amusing new class of entries: “Late-Model SUVs.” I never would have guessed that a GMC could negotiate the hairpin. Things were looking up!
There were a total of 77 entries at this event, and many of them were on site already on Thursday. I’m not sure if my expectations have been skewed by some of the low, Covid-era attendance numbers, but I was struck by the number of early arrivals. I quickly recognized the dayglo tees of Jerry, Marc, and Ben Nagle, who had travelled from NW Ohio and had arrived the night before. I eventually learned that Scott Klingler, Jesse James, Don Renton, and Vinny Rotole had also made pilgrimages from their own Midwestern locales to Central New York.
When the track was finally dry enough to be opened for practice, we took our turns in sessions arranged by basic kart type, i.e., Historic, Rear, and Sidewinder. There was little downtime and plenty of track time. The practice sessions cycled continuously, and this was extended right up to the 6pm noise ordinance cutoff. I’ve said it before: I like Thursday practice days.
Some of us have made it a tradition to get together for a meal on the town if we’re amongst the Thursday crowd. Once the track was closed for the evening, about a dozen of us headed down the road to the popular Italian restaurant, Fratelli’s, for some of their delicious fare. It’s fun to better get to know our karting friends away from the din of the track over good, local food and drink. In hindsight, I consumed too much of that local food and drink. Fried cauliflower chunks, each the size of tennis balls…a portion of chicken parmesan that should have been three meals…so worth it! Or was it? Friday morning came quickly. No time for regrets! Pass the antacids. LOL!
The standard event schedule enumerates morning practice and one heat on Friday afternoon, followed by a more abbreviated practice and two heats on Saturday. Weather forecasts and travel time considerations have prompted us at several recent events to vote on whether we’d prefer to do two heats on Friday and one on Saturday. The modified schedule has become a popular option, and, once again, the majority was in favor of front-loading the schedule.
There were 13 classes on the grid schedule, including some combined classes. Historic Rears and Sportsman Rear classes were especially well represented, a growing point of pride in the Northeast. Yamaha participation was strong, of course, with several dual engine entries, as well. A couple of foreign engine duals as well as a couple of four stroke entries were present, too.
One particularly interesting aspect of this event was the surprising number of Dual Engine Rear machines. There were 8! That’s right – Eight! Our guests from the Midwest were well represented in this category, many of those guys fielding seriously race prepped SAE frames. Several of these thoroughbreds had McCulloch motivation while others featured dual West Bent 820 propulsion. Notably, all eight of these karts finished the first heat, which is a special feat in itself! Their oscillating cacophony of pressure pulses, squealing tires, and general sense of barely controlled chaos produced a palette of sight and sound that was a delight to behold. Even with that kind of excitement on tap, we were able to roll through the first two heats without incident, and upon their completion we segued into the Kart Show and the traditional Avon “Pizza and Pop Party”.
The Kart Show was very well attended with about 60 karts flanking the Start/Finish line. This doesn’t top our previous Avon record, but it was, I believe, very respectable in this Covid era. I always encourage everybody to participate in the Kart Show and get their machines out there for everyone to appreciate, especially visiting spectators. Natalie, my amazingly supportive wife, helps to distribute the kart show entry forms and People’s Choice ballots, and checks in frequently to be sure that I stay on task. I usually end up serving as one of the Kart Show judges, and I typically seek to enlist two others, one of whom who is confident with Rear Engine stuff, and another who is more familiar with the sidewinders. On this occasion I was assisted by Paul Hunter and Skip Owen.
The challenge of picking any type of “Best” kart never gets easier, and there were so many great karts at Avon! It bears mentioning that two of those Dual Engine Rears posed a particular quandary for this trio of Kart Show judges. Both Vinny Rotole and Brian Santee had exceptional, yet philosophically different entries in the Rear Engine Modified class. Vinny’s was a very beautiful, very customized, strikingly red and black SAE. It featured a gorgeous pair of MC101s on Hegar mounts and beautifully embroidered leather upholstery. It was low and wide, with no shortage of hydraulic stopping power at all four corners. Vinny’s kart evoked images of Ferrari, Maserati, or Alpha Romeo. Brian Santee’s 1965 Rupp Chaparral, on the other hand, was the analog of a COPO Camaro or something from Carol Shelby’s skunkworks. His machine sports dual MC91s and Hurst/Airheart brakes. Its metallic, piney green paint is complimented by the bright chrome of the steering hoop and the various polished aluminum accessories, as well as by that classic, pleated “Deluxe” Rupp upholstery. Both karts were exquisite in their own ways, but, as judges, we erred on the side of “Period Correctness.” Brian’s Rupp was a restored, factory race team muscle car, while Vinny’s was a retro-mod supercar. At least, that’s my excuse and I continue to struggle with it! The complete show results are published elsewhere in this report.
Saturday’s schedule was much the same as Friday’s and, again, we were able to complete the third heat without incident. The points were tallied, and the trophies and medals were awarded. Those who had long trips ahead of them got to work packing up their trucks and trailers, while others enjoyed some additional open track time.
Instead of repeating the podium results, which are available elsewhere in this issue, I’d rather acknowledge and thank the people whose efforts made this 12th Annual Vintage Karting Reunion possible. Scott Kneisel and Sam Polito are the promoting team for this VKA event and are the vintage liaisons at GVKC. Scott handles the clerical work, forms, class arrangement, and communication. Sam is responsible for the facility and grounds maintenance (track drying!) as well as safety inspections, and also helped out with flagging, as needed. Don Foley was our flagman, and John Salisbury was the First Turn Marshal. Darla Frederick, out of sight in the timing tower, kept things rolling like a well-oiled machine. Al Gutberlet, the facility owner and GVKC President was courteous and accommodating, as always. VKA National Events Director, Karl Ginter, supplied the trophies. Maria DeFrancisco handled the 50/50 ticket sales. There are certainly others, unnamed here, who are deserving of our recognition and gratitude: the folks in the snack bar, as one example, come to mind. These events don’t organize and execute themselves.
This event was fun and exciting. The weather turned out to be exceptional and the turnout approached pre-covid numbers. There was a notable variety of karts on hand, and the competition was clean. It was great to meet new folks from out of the region, just as it was fun to see familiar faces. I’m glad I didn’t pay attention to Wednesday’s weather forecast.
Congratulations to TNT Kartways in Taylor, Missouri for celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Also a big thank you to track staff for hosting VKA races (August 5th, 6th and 7th) on its new state-of-the-art racing surface laid down in late 2020.
Thursday was an open practice day with the driving events beginning after lunch due to some rain delays earlier in the morning. There were 84 entries with 18 VKA classes represented. Heat #1 ran on Friday followed by a kart show and a fish fry.
Saturday morning practice was followed by Heat #2 and a tribute to the late Faye “Ladybug” Pierson. Track owner Terry Traeder began the tribute by reading an article on Faye that summarized her life in Bug kart manufacturing and racing. Local kart racer Avery Scott closed the memorial service by driving two laps around the TNT track in my 1962 Bug Fly reproduction kart built by Steve Welte. The 3rd and final heat and the awards ceremony followed.
Saturday was a “warm” day with the air temperature at 90 degrees. A big thank you to Jeff Miles and staff for all of their hard work, and to Christy Miller who provided the racing photos for this write-up.
By John Copeland, VKA Enduro Director Photos by Turn 13 and John Copeland
Tucked away in eastern Ohio Amish country, Nelson Ledges Road Course has been a favorite of sports car club racers since 1958. But since 2019 this hidden gem has been added to the AKRA Road Race Series, hosted by Dart Kart Club and Vintage Enduro Karters enjoyed it once again in 2021. Coming off the historic 942-entry triumph at Mid Ohio just a month earlier, Nelson Ledges was the perfect counterpoint; a more traditional club-type racetrack, a more laid-back atmosphere, and less pressure on the organizers with closer to 300 entries. Mind you, 300 entries would mark a successful road race event at any venue, and it was a good fit for the 2 mile, 7 turn Nelson Ledges.
The track layout is all about speed, with long, sweeping, high-speed turns taken flat-out and only two (or one!) braking points. Many of the participants, including yours truly, thought it might be the most physically demanding track they had raced on. While most of the Midwest sweltered in a mid-summer heat wave, the tempering effects of breezes off Lake Erie made for more pleasant temperatures. But it also brought some rain off and on Saturday. The folks from Dart kart did their usual stellar job and managed to get all the Saturday races in by combining and shortening them. Sunday, predicted to be the worst weather of the weekend, turned out to be the best, with clear skies and comfortable temps.
Vintage Piston Port Saturday was part of the 10-class combined race that was first off the grid on Saturday. Eight Vintage Piston Ports were entered and they spread out pretty quickly with Ben Eberhart in the lead, followed by Arthur McKinney and John Copeland. With dozens of karts of varying speeds on the track; TAGs and L0206’s, sit-ups and laydowns, there was never a shortage of people to race with. At the end of the 20 minute Vintage event the winner was Eberhart, McKinney, and Copeland , followed by Fred Stoll and Greg Hartley.
Vintage Open Saturday was a seven-kart field and was another multi-class combined race. Fred Stoll took out whatever frustration he had from the Piston Port race by blistering the field by more than 2 ½ seconds per lap. Ben Eberhart climbed out of his winning Piston Port machine just long enough to pour in some fuel and took it right back to the grid to trail Stoll in 2nd. Arthur McKinney also tried back-to-back races, but retired after only 3 laps. That left Ben Eberhart’s father Duane in 3rd place, followed by John Konkle and Greg Hartley.
The weather forecast for Sunday was for rain all day, but it turned out to be clear skies and warmer; a beautiful day for racing. Vintage Piston Port Sunday gridded the same 8 contestants as Saturday’s race, with largely the same results. Ben Eberhart was even faster than the day before and lapped all but 2nd place. Arthur McKinney was in the runner-up spot once again, with John Copeland rounding out the top three. Chuck Brewer edged Fred Stoll for 4th, leaving Greg Hartley 6th. Compared to the Saturday race, the track seems almost deserted with only 19 karts in the combined 8 classes taking the green, but the clearer track made for faster laps.
The 5th race on Sunday was another repeat of Saturday’s Vintage Open event, with 6 entries. Once again Fred Stoll was the class of the field, winning by 40 seconds. Ben Eberhart repeated in the runner-up spot, again running the Piston Port Yamaha he had won with just an hour earlier. Listening from the pit wall as Eberhart’s clutch slowly self-destructed was painful, but it hung on until the checker. Phil Reuter, back in a laydown kart for the first time in several years, adapted quickly and claimed 3rd ahead of John Konkle and Greg Hartley.
The 5th race also featured the only Vintage Twin as Mike Schlager hustled his Dart Mean Machine twin B-Bomb ride to everyone’s delight. Schlager’s laps, in the 1:22’s, are a tribute to his devotion to showcasing truly period-correct Vintage machine.
And so the AKRA/Dart Kart wrapped up another outstanding weekend of road racing. The AKRA Road Race circus moves on to Summit Point Raceway in August, and then the much anticipated mega-event at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, featuring the first-ever Vintage Enduro Kart Celebration in late September. Road Race karting is enjoying a much-needed resurgence as karters rediscover the unique sensation the laydown, high-speed racing brings.