Skunk2 was at it again with its second annual Media Cup Kart Challenge, and this time I reigned supreme. This was the second year that Skunk2 invited a select group of import magazine editors to battle it out on a karting course for bragging rights. It provided a playground for trash-talking and baiting our co-workers and colleagues. Last year, Turbo magazine took second place behind Sport Compact Car, so this year I was determined to aim for that number one spot. Mind you I had not kart raced since last year's event, but pesky details rarely discourage me when it comes to all matters related to speed.
Grange Motor Circuit was once again the spot for the action. A 3/5-mile track modeled after a kart course in Belgium, it provides a challenging course mixed with quick, hard turns and a fast straightaway. The machines to this madness came in the form of 125cc karts pumping out 30 hp and the potential for 80-mph speeds. Going that fast and being only a half-inch off the ground can be rather unnerving for the novice driver. Lucky for me I don't shy away from speed.
My partner in crime representing Turbo magazine this year was Scott Tsuneichi. The racing gods looked down upon us when we found out that karting pros Sport Compact Car were out of the country. Our biggest competition now was Gary Castillo of Import Tuner. Also on hand were Honda Tuning and our favorite whipping pony, Super Street. Good ol' Super Street placed last in last year's competition and with different editors representing this year, we didn't know what to expect. All I knew is that I wanted one of the dope trophies Skunk2 was giving out. Mounted Sparco steering wheel trophies in different colors for first, second and third were up for grabs. I also had my eye on the mounted sprocket trophies for highest mph and quickest lap time. 2NRs Gary Castillo and I instantly glanced at each other and we knew it was on for highest mph. The claim for who is the fastest rules our office and damn if I didn't win it. Gary would never let me hear the end of it.
We had a great day battling it out on the course and I listened to the pointers of the pro drivers on hand to improve the line I was taking on each pass. I ripped on Scott for being a slow driver. However, he did seem to manage a kart better than Project Turbo MINI Cooper at last year's Hotchkis track day.
Gary and I were within a half-second of each other right from the get-go so the competition was steep. Any wrong move would blow Turbo's chances for a first-place finish. I reminded Gary that I held the weight advantage; no beer belly here.
In terms of achieving highest mph, well, let's just say the straightaway was our friend. We floored it down the straight with little regard for the sharp turn at the end. On the last lap of the last run I said a prayer to the karting gods and flew down the straight prepared to spin out at the end of the first curve and go flying through the air (luckily that didn't happen). In the end we knew it was going to be close and come ceremony time we had no idea who won.
As luck would have it, by the slightest of margins I beat Gary for fastest mph, and Scott and I took home first place for Turbo magazine. We collected our much sought after Sparco trophies and thanked Skunk2 for provided us with such a fun day.
Gary ended up coming in second for Import Tuner, and Honda Tuning took third place. Super Street was yet again in the cellar, but it's all good. Now I have a tough title to live up to for next year, but at least I can bust on all the guys this year for my superior karting skills. That is, even though the pro drivers beat me by an astonishing 3-plus seconds. But, hey, at the end of the day the trophies speak for themselves.