EVENT PREVIEW — WKA Daytona Sprint Championships 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A busy couple weeks on the national sprint karting scene will kick off less than with the 2022 edition of the WKA Sprint Championships at Daytona International Speedway’s infield kart track.

The Sprint Championships is part of an annual triple header event for WKA at Daytona. As has been the case since about 2009, three national kart races all take place at the famed World Center of Racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., to form “Daytona KartWeek.” The show is likely the largest karting event in the world each year. 

wka daytona kartweekWhile sprint racers tackle DIS’s 0.55-mile kart track, road racers are in action on the famed 3.56-mile super speedway road course and Daytona’s limestone-based quarter-mile Flat Track hosts the WKA Dirt World Championships just outside NASCAR turn 1. 

This year’s Sprint Championships features a 12-class lineup with both 2-cycle and 4-cycle classes on the card and more than $14,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs. The Margay 206 Ignite Senior and Masters divisions are both included with four IAME divisions — Micro, Mini, KA Junior and KA Senior — and six “open chassis” 206 classes — Cadet Green, Cadet Advanced Yellow, Junior, Senior 360#, Senior 380# and Masters. 

Based on pre-entry numbers, the largest division looks to be KA Senior with 38 drivers currently entered and $2,500 going to the overall winner. The 206 Senior 360# class had a slow start, but picked up a bunch of entrants during the last few days of pre-registration to currently sit at a 32-driver field before more racers will likely enter on Tuesday, Dec. 27 during parking day. 

Daytona kart track’s front stretch shown in foreground
(Alissa Grim photo)

Most other classes will have formidable fields with Micro Swift, Mini Swift, Cadet Green, KA Junior, 206 Junior and Ignite Senior all showing more than 20 pre-entrants heading into the event.

The numbers are pretty solid. About 10 years ago this race was attracting a record crowd of around 700 race entries if you counted each day’s class entry (drivers had the option to enter either race day or both days). Using that formula, this year’s pre-entry total would be 544 including the Ignite divisions, a respectable number that will likely push closer to 600 race entries when at-track signups are counted.

As noted in the first paragraph, the Sprint Championships is not the only big race taking place in Florida between the last week of December and the first weekend of the new year. Cup Karts North America has their second annual Winter Nationals ready for Jan. 6-8 at 103rd Street Sports Complex in Jacksonville, and the race surely costs WKA some LO206 entries at Daytona. 

Last year, the Winter Nationals butted up to the tail end of KartWeek, giving racers the opportunity to leave Daytona after day two of racing Dec. 30 and head straight to Jacksonville for practice on the 31st and racing Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 1-2. 

This year’s calendar didn’t fall that way, and CKNA opted to run their season-opening event a week after KartWeek wraps up. Many 206 teams, especially ones from north of the Mason-Dixon, surely had to pick one race or the other to start their 2023 race seasons.

2021 Daytona 206 winner Mick Gabriel will be one of this year's favorites in KA Senior (Alissa Grim photo)
2021 Daytona 206 winner Mick Gabriel will be one of this year’s favorites in KA Senior (Alissa Grim photo)

Kart Lounge will be in attendance to cover all the action at the 2022 Sprint Championships and AEM Karting will help us capture onboard footage for our YouTube channel with Gabe Sessler in Senior 206 and Mick Gabriel in KA Senior. 

Here are some other interesting notes on this year’s and past years’ WKA Daytona Sprint Championships.

  • This year’s Daytona Sprint show has a lot of money on the line with nearly every class offering a cash purse. KA Senior and KA Junior both offer a $4,425 overall purse to the top 10 with $2,500 going to the overall winner. Both 206 Senior divisions will pay $1,000 to the overall winner with other divisions offering either a cash purse or gift certificates to the winner and top-three overall finishers.
  • Daytona KartWeek always takes place Dec. 27-30, no matter which days of the week the dates fall on. Many years this means a mid-week show, including this year, which will have parking day on a Tuesday, practice day Wednesday and race days Thursday and Friday.
  • Although the Sprint Championships takes place during the final days of the current year, the event traditionally serves as the first race of the new year’s race schedule. While this year’s Sprint Championships is not tied to a WKA points series, in the past the race has served as round one of the upcoming year’s Manufacturers Cup Series.
  • As just noted, for the first time possibly ever, the Sprint Championships is not part of a WKA series. The organization retired the Manufacturers Cup Series after the August 2022 Grand National at Motorsports Country Club in Cincinnati, and this year’s Sprint Championships is a standalone event and not the Man. Cup season opener.
  • The Sprint Championships appears to be the only time in the 2023 season that WKA will host a sprint race that includes 2-cycle classes. Unless another race is added to the organization’s 2023 national calendar, all sprint races during the upcoming year will be 4-cycle-only shows in the Gold Cup North and South series. 
  • Daytona KartWeek is the only time DIS’s kart track is used during the year for kart racing. This makes the Sprint Championships a unique race, as nearly every other national sprint race during a year is held at a track that gets utilized more than once and usually often with club racing, practice days, etc. In road racing, this is a fairly common scenario, as tracks like Daytona, Mid-Ohio, Pittsburgh and others typically only host kart races once a year with no testing available prior to the race. 

For all information on the 2022 Daytona Sprint Championships, including the event timeline, tire rules, entry list and more, go to worldkarting.com/daytona-kartweek/daytona-kartweek-sprint/. 

At-track registration will open Tuesday morning, Dec. 27.

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