QUINCY, Ill. — Fresh off six podiums at their home race — this past weekend’s Quincy Grand Prix of Karting street race in Quincy, Ill., the Scott family, comprising Jeff Scott and his 19-year-old daughter Avery and 17-year-old son Riley, will unload their five IONIC Edge Chassis machines, start working on maintenance and look toward their next races, which will likely be a local event and then Round 3 of Cup Karts North Division in July at USAir Motorsports in Shawano, Wis.
For the Scott family, racing is a family affair that’s meant to stay fun, challenging and competitive. All three drivers are accomplished sprint racers each with many local and national feature wins, championships and top finishes to their credit. But for Jeff, the sport of karting has never signified a stepping-stone to the next higher level of racing.
“We’ve always tried to keep it fun, go to new tracks, meet new people,” Jeff Scott commented about his family’s longtime involvement in kart racing. “I’ve never had the mindset that my kids were going to be the next Indy car stars. I know a lot of parents aim toward those goals, but that’s not why we’ve been involved in karting.”
Based in Quincy, the Scotts spent several years racing locally at the Mid-State Kart Club in Springfield, Ill., and other tracks in the area including Gateway in St. Louis and TNT Kartways in Missouri. After a stint racing in the Yamaha divisions with the Route 66 Sprint Series and at other marquee events such as Quincy and the Rock Island Grand Prix, Jeff and his family team moved back to the 4-cycle ranks around 2016, purchasing their first IONIC Edge kart when Riley was 14 years old.
Jeff points to a lack of juniors on the local level benefiting both Avery and Riley’s driving skills at young ages.
“At our local tracks, there were no juniors. Around the time both of my kids were 13 and 14 years old, they’d race in the senior classes. They gained a lot of valuable experience racing with the adults, and that helped them,” Jeff said.
In more recent years, Jeff and Riley have been forces in the Masters and Senior categories on the ultra-competitive Cup Karts North America (CKNA) scene, and until this season Avery has been involved in other sports during her high school years. While they don’t follow a full schedule with any series, the Scotts normally attend all the big CKNA events, including the Grand Nationals at New Castle and this past March’s inaugural Spring Nationals at Charlotte, popular street races like Quincy and Rock Island, and pick and choose other events to attend, whether a regional Cup Karts North race or club races closer to home.
We took some time to talk to LO206 Masters standout Jeff Scott about his family’s past, present and future in the sport of karting.
Kart Lounge — Thanks for taking some time, Jeff. What’s your history in motorsports and karting?
Jeff — “My family owned a quarter-mile dirt track for 30 years, so I grew up in the sport and started racing at the age of 7. I started street racing karts at 17 or 18 and raced until I was 22 or 23. I had a bad crash and broke a vertebrae in my neck and quit racing for a long time. By then, it was time to focus on work and start a family. We still ran the stock car track and that took up a lot of my time. Avery was born in 2002 and Riley in 2004, and both started racing kid karts by about 5 years old, so that would put us around 2007 to 2009. For the most part, we’ve been racing karts regularly ever since.”
KL — What do you do for a living that helps give you the opportunity to kart race at such a high level?
Jeff — “I’m the third generation owner of a roller skating park in Quincy, called Scotties Fun Spot. We have arcades, laser tag, mini-golf and other entertainment. We’re open weekends only right now because of COVID, so we have to plan our weekend kart racing around work.”
KL — In your kids’ early years of karting, what tracks and/or series did you follow?
Jeff — “We live two hours from Springfield, so Mid-State was our home track. We raced there a lot and won a lot. We switched to Yamahas and followed the Route 66 Sprint Series for awhile. We had fun, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune to go-kart race, and 2-cycle racing was more expensive. We weren’t looking to go to Indy or anything like that. In the early years, we tried to keep it local and keep it fun.
KL — And what races and series do you follow now?
Jeff — “After a few years of racing mainly locally, part of the fun became going to new tracks and meeting new people, so we began to travel a bit more and we still have that mentality. We pick and choose where we race, and we try to hit at least one or two new tracks every year. We follow a lot of the Cup Karts series and run as many of their races as we can. Of course, we still make it a point to attend Quincy, Rock Island and we’re planning to run the Elkhart street race. We may run a STARS race if it works into our schedule. We’re always looking to try a new track if we can get there.”
KL — Your team fields some very sharp IONIC Edge chassis. Talk about your choice to go with Kyle Luttrell’s chassis line.
Jeff — “We bought our first IONIC Edge kart in 2016, I believe it was. I’d seen them around and got ahold of Kyle and we started running up front immediately. This was when Riley was 14 and running in the senior classes. In the beginning Kyle and I talked a lot on the phone. He sent me some videos, and I liked some of the stuff he’d done. He’s an innovator, and he’s always trying to make the karts better. I respect that. We bought one for Riley and we went straight to the front of the pack. No doubt it gave us speed.”
KL — In addition to Luttrell’s support, what are some the things you like about the IONIC Edge karts?
Jeff — “It seems like the chassis has enough adjustability that it doesn’t matter the track or surface or weather, we can always get the karts fast. Some other karts we’ve run, they’re fast at one track and not the next. Or they’re fast in the cooler weather but not in the heat. With the Edge’s, we feel we’re able to go fast everywhere. I went to three new tracks last year and won at all three.”
KL — How many race-ready karts do you have in your stable in 2021?
Jeff — “We had five race-ready IONIC Edge karts at Quincy. They’re all either 2020 or 2021 chassis. I’m on a brand new one and Avery is running a prototype that I ran last year. She’s doing really well on it this season; she’s won three times locally and ran second at Quincy in the Pro Briggs race.”
KL — What are some of your family’s most notable past accomplishments in karting?
Jeff — “We’ve accomplished track championships at pretty much all of our local tracks. We hold lap records at Mid-State, I believe. We never really raced for championships in touring series, so I can’t point to anything regarding national championships. Riley has won the Quincy Grand Prix three times, once in 2018 and twice in 2019, and he’s won two Rocks at the 2018 Rock Island Grand Prix while I finished second to him in one of the classes, which was so cool to see your kid in front of you win an event like that. We’ve both had podiums at the CKNA Grands at New Castle, and I’ve won at Elkhart and won the Masters points in 2020 in the Cup Karts series.
“Avery won a golf scholarship in high school, so she’s taken some time off from racing. Now she’s graduated high school and back racing basically full-time and she won the first three club races at TNT Kartways earlier this year. Other than locally, most people around the Midwest and national level don’t even know Avery has raced a lot in the past. She’s really good.”
KL — Talk a little about the current state of karting with the Briggs LO206 platform, which has really taken off in recent years. What keeps you and your family so committed to the sport?
Jeff — “The LO206 has helped a lot. For us, it’s more affordable. Honestly, we’d love to make the jump to the KA100 class but to compete even at the regional level in those classes, my engine bill would skyrocket. We race for fun, but we also race to win, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to run up front. With the LO206, we have seven engines and they’re all within two tenths, so it comes down to chassis setup and driver, which we like.
“Nowadays with how the 206 program has grown, we can take the karts and basically go anywhere and not have to worry about changing engines and other things to meet different rules. The Clone was pretty big on the sprint scene in this area for awhile, but we got tired of blowing up engines. Thankfully, the 206 came in and it’s become a great engine program for sprint racing.”
KL — Any idea what the future holds in karting for the Scott family?
Jeff — “Not really. The sport is growing, and we have no plans to stop. We’re definitely enjoying racing with Kyle and the IONIC Edge karts, the LO206 program, and all the great tracks and series. We’ll keep our feet grounded, keep it fun and race as much as we can.”