August 3, 2004 > Racing with the Pros
Racing with the Pros
by Jeremy Inman
July 14th gave race fans a chance to meet and compete against Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Pro Racings' World Challenge Drivers at LeMans Karting's indoor racetrack in Warm Springs. The event was to promote the SCCA's Infineon Grand Prix at the Infineon raceway in Sonoma, held Friday, July 16 continuing through the weekend.
The pros were available for autographs at a table displaying racing helmets of World Challenge Drivers Bobby Carter, Kyle Hayner, Roger Foo, Seth Thomas, Stu Hayner, Matt Richmond, Frank Bain, Mark Weber, Jason Bowles, Bill Auberlen, and John Prall. Before racing began, owner Brad Rampelberg invited the pros in attendance to the briefing room. He requested that the racers take it easy on his cars, but more importantly - on the fans. After signing up for a twenty lap race, fans suited up in a full racing suit and made their way to the pits. Out on the track, the pros were racing a few warm-up laps and quickly becoming accustomed to style of racing that karting has to offer.
At around noon, races began. Each race started with a five lap qualifier that determined each participant's starting position for the twenty lap race based on best lap times. No more than four pros were on the track during any given race, but that didn't keep the matches from being fast and furious. The karts screeched around the turns in tightly bunched packs of three or four. The "no bumping" sign was a common sight. Karts spun out or crashed into the walls. One even lost a wheel. Suffice it to say, race fans in attendance got their money's worth.
For those who are unfamiliar with LeMans Karting, this is an indoor racing facility on Hotchkiss Street just off Warm Springs Boulevard in Fremont. It offers affordable track time to racers ranging in experience from novice to expert, and provides an authentic racing experience. Before entering the track and racing, customers are given a key and escorted to a locker room. Donning a LeMans' racing suit, a briefing follows. A video is shown detailing safety precautions, karts basics and track etiquette. After the briefing, customers enter the pits where they are assigned a car. Racers are entered into the track computer that displays best lap times and current position. At the end of the race, participants are provided with a printout that details average lap time, average speed, best lap, and overall positioning. More details about LeMans can be found on the web at www.lemanskarting.com.