It may have been the first stop of the Alberta Shootout, but it sure felt more like a Western Canadian Championship this past weekend at NorthStar Raceway in Strathmore, Alberta as karters from four different regions and clubs came together for a stellar weekend of racing. In total, just over 120 entries each day were spread across nine categories, highlighted by a 33-kart showdown in Briggs & Stratton Senior Lite along with great racing in the Rotax Max and Shifter classes.
It has been by far the best attended event yet of the Alberta Shootout, which enters it’s third year and the Calgary Kart Racing Club did a great job at preparing their facility for the number of racers who made their way to the track just east of the big city. NorthStar Raceway is only a few years old now and it boasts a beautiful 1.2KM track with elevation and off-camber corners that really challenged racers and provided great racing.
After two days of racing, here’s how the action went down in each category.
Briggs & Stratton Senior Lite
As it has across our great country, Briggs & Stratton 206 racing is growing at a great rate and with 33 drivers entered this weekend at Strathmore, it was without a doubt, the big show. Veterans and rookies aged between 14 and 70 battled it out all weekend long for the top spot with two drivers taking home race victories in completely different fashions.
To read the complete Briggs Senior Lite report, click here.
Briggs & Stratton Senior Heavy
One man stood out among the rest in Briggs & Stratton Heavy as Alan Haggerty put on a show. After posting the second quickest time on Saturday, he rolled across the scales a little under weight and therefore had to start the Prefinal from the tail of the 18 kart grid.
Advancing forward quickly, Haggerty made it all the way to third while Dave Cameron took home the PreFinal win.
Kevin Dowler made his presence known in the Final by taking the early lead as a three-kart battle broke free from the pack that included Cameron and Haggerty.
However after the halfway mark, Dowler fell to third and just back of the lead duo and on lap 10, Haggerty completed the comeback by going to lead and then pulling out a quick second before the finish. Jason McCumber and Franco Sartor completed the top-five on Saturday.
Sunday featured the same three drivers trading rubber for the win. Cameron nabbed his second fast qualifying time of the weekend but Haggerty, who competed in four different classes on Sunday, drove home the PreFinal win.
However the final was a bit of a snoozer as Haggerty grabbed the early lead while Dowler, a former CASCAR racer, moved into second followed by Cameron. Twelve laps later and the positions didn’t change and the podium was complete. McCumber was fourth for the second day in a row while this time it was Jose Chaves completing the top-five.
On Saturday, Levi Schmidtke was on a mission and he delivered in an impressive way in Rotax Junior. The defending Alberta Shootout Champion in the category, paced the day each time Rotax Junior hit the track and he capped it off with a 3.3 second victory in the Final.
Townes Allan and Wyatt Gulash took the race for second down to the wire with Allan having an edge of only 0.3 seconds at the finish line while the top-five was completed by Connor Peet and Colby Wallace.
On Sunday it was Gulash on the pole-position in Qualifying but a great move at the start of the PreFinal to launch into the lead helped James Altimarano and eventually to the heat win.
Altimarano’s strong pace continued in the Final and even with a hard charging Schmidtke and some great passing and battles, he was able to come out on top, beating Schmidtke to the line, with Gulash settling for third again. Allan was fourth and Peet was fifth.
In Mini-Max it was Keifer Peet who took home both wins on the weekend ahead of Enzo Sartor.
It appeared to be smooth sailing for Evan White in the Saturday Rotax Senior Final until he slowed on the exit of turn two with only two laps to go. Unable to continue, he was forced to pull his kart off the track and surrender the big lead he had built up.
This opened the door for Mark Newson to slip through and take the victory with Skylar Dunning and Jake Thompson rounding out the podium.
White got his revenge on Sunday however as he blistered off fast lap after fast lap in the Final, opening up a seven-second lead at the end of the twelve lap race.
Newson and Dunning disposed of Jake Thompson, who led the battle for second, with three laps to go, to take the second and third steps of the podium.
John Kwong showed his strength and experience on the weekend while running in three different classes and having success in all three. On Saturday in Rotax Masters, he qualified almost a second quicker than his rivals but rolled across the scales after the PreFinal just a smidge under weight. Taking on the challenge in stride, he started the Final from the rear and worked his way forward. Kart after kart, Kwong was on a roll and it ended with him back up front and taking the checkered flag first.
Second went to Josh Carter who did all he could to keep Kwong behing him while Mario Gimenez was third.
On Sunday, Kwong was on a roll again and looked like he could repeat as race winner but only one lap into the Final race and while leading, his kart came to a halt exiting turn three and his race was over. Craig Nerberg took full advantage of his rivals exit and assumed the lead position, and never gave it up again until he saw the checkered flag. Rob Kozakowski missed Saturday’s race as he traveled home from a vacation, but even short on sleep and with a fresh tan, he drove to a second place finish with Carter completing the podium.
Briggs & Stratton Junior
Although it wasn’t easy, another driver was able to double-down and take home two wins at the Alberta Shootout as Connor Peet took control on of Briggs Junior. Like Dunning’s run in Senior, Peet pulled away from his competitors en route to a dominating 6.5 second victory with Townes Allan and James Altamirano joining him on the podium and Kiefer Peet and Wyatt Gulash rounding out the top-five.
However on Sunday, Peet had his hands full with Altamirano. Altamirano nabbed the lead on the opening lap but surrendered it back to Peet on lap two with Allan waiting in the wings for an opportunity.
The front two then worked together to pull away from Allan and settle the race on a later lap. Waiting until two laps to go, Altamirano went back to the lead as the racing tightened up. Back and forth the two traded the lead until the checkered flag flew with Peet making it to the finish line first. Altamirano settled for second while Gulash advanced past Allen on the final lap to finish third. Allan took fourth and Enzo Sartor was fifth.
Briggs & Stratton Cadet
The son of a former Formula 1 driver is off to a great start of his young career as Alexander Berg earned two race wins in the Briggs & Stratton Cadet class on the weekend. Berg, who’s father competed in nine F1 races in 1986 and runs the Allan Berg Racing School, had a spirited battle on Saturday with Matthew Chan as the two traded passes for the lead throughout the race until Berg crossed the finish line first. Matthew Hanna cruised in fourth place for most of the race until he was able to overtake Aidan Carruthers with two laps to go and jump up onto the podium. Carruthers and Mathias Boschmann rounded out the top-five.
On the second day of competition, Berg put his foot down after passing Hanna on lap five to pull out to a 4.7 second victory. In finishing second, Hanna improved his Saturday result by one step on the podium while Carruthers also improved on Sunday to finish on the podium in third.
Boschmann set the fastest lap of the race en route to a fourth place result with Nikolas Ruhrmann finishing up the top-five finishers.
These young guns displayed some great competition on the weekend and will be future stars of our sport in the coming years.
In the Open Shifter class, Jake Thompson steered his TonyKart to a pair of victories ending out Nathan Bartley in both Finals with the ladder putting heavy pressure on the race leader on the leader throughout both races, but unable to make a pass.
On Saturday, Evan White was set to finish third, but like his Rotax Senior race, he was forced to withdraw a few laps before the finish. This moved John Kwong onto the final step of the podium.
White redeemed himself on Sunday, finishing third just back of Bartley while running a Honda Stock Moto engine with a little less power than the KZ engine’s of Thompson and Bartley.
Up next for the province of Alberta will be the Summer Challenge which takes place on July 28 to 30 at EDKRA in Warburg. A few weeks later and back at Warburg will be the second half of the Alberta Shootout on August 19 and 20.