Southern Kart Club attracts 200-plus entries for Tom Speaks Memorial at Roebling 

Southern Kart Club faithful toast to Tom Speaks Saturday night (SKC photo)
Southern Kart Club faithful toast to Tom Speaks Saturday night (SKC photo)

BLOOMINGDALE, Ga. — The Southern Kart Club held its annual fall road racing regional Oct. 16-17 at Roebling Road Raceway in Bloomingdale, Ga., where around 100 drivers (including many newcomers) making up 211 race entries filled the 2.02-mile circuit’s infield pit area over the two-day stretch.

A cloud barely entered Savannah-area skies with hot, summer-like temperatures Saturday turning a bit cooler Sunday to give racers near perfect weather for a couple days of karting. The club honored recently passed longtime tech inspector Tom Speaks with the renaming of the event the “Tom Speaks Memorial” while raising approximately $5,000 to help the Speaks family with expenses. Many longtime friends gathered in the garage area for a late-night toast to Tom Saturday night. Earlier in the evening dozens turned out for Saturday night’s Low Country Boil that featured some great food and conversation at the raceway’s concession area.

On the track, CIK LO206 Senior continued as an extremely competitive division at SKC-hosted events at Roebling with approximately 30 racers entering both Saturday and Sunday. Ten vintage enduros were in attendance, 15 laydown enduros took the green in Saturday’s race group 6, around 20 4-cycle sprint-enduros raced between Animal and LO206 divisions, and eight LO206 cadets and juniors competed in Saturday’s second race group.

Here’s a quick recap from Saturday’s racing at Roebling Road.

CIK LO206 (Saturday and Sunday)

Saturday CIK LO206 top 3 Kyle Banovetz, Doug Rink and Jame Russell
Saturday CIK LO206 top 3 Kyle Banovetz, Doug Rink and Jame Russell

Roebling Road continues to attract very strong 206 Senior fields. Twenty-nine drivers took the green Saturday and the team of Scott Heath, Kevin Darling and Jon Miller were quick to jump out to a big early lead. The trio, all on MGM chassis, looked to be headed to settle the win among themselves until Heath dropped out about two-thirds of the way into the 30-minute contest and lap traffic caused Miller and Darling to separate. 

With the change up front, within about a lap Kyle Banovetz, Doug Rink, Jame Russell and Quincy Smith — all drafting together — caught and passed Miller and Darling and pulled away, proving what an important factor the draft and teamwork play at a track like Roebling. 

Banovetz continued to lead the new train up front for the remaining laps with Rink and Russell in tow. They’d cross the finish stripe 1-2-3 with only 0.133 seconds separation. Smith fell back several kart-lengths during the final laps but still managed a solid P4. Darling and Miller would settle for P5 and P6 after dominating the early stages of the race. Gary Campbell was P7, Wayne Lee P8, Heath Baker P9 and Stephen Gallagher rounded out the top 10. 

Sunday CIK LO206 top three Kevin Darling, Jon Miller and Scott Heath
Sunday CIK LO206 top three Kevin Darling, Jon Miller and Scott Heath

Jorge Ruiz, Kyle Bickford, Ruben Caceres, Coby Cromer and Noah Rivers finished P11 through P15

Come Sunday, Darling, Miller and Heath were inseparable up front. The trio again pulled out to a big early lead, and it would have taken quite an act to separate them on this day. Running fast laps over 2 seconds quicker than Saturday’s quickest times, Darling would lead Miller and Heath to the final straightaway when they fanned out three-wide coming to the checkered flag. In a near dead heat, Darling’s black No. 999 crossed the finish line inches before Miller’s No. 627 with Heath about a half-kart-length back in P3. Darling’s official margin of victory was 0.010 seconds over his teammate.

Banovetz, Rink and Russell also ran fast laps quicker than Saturday’s but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the lead group. Banovetz would cross the stripe P4 but more than 37 seconds back of Darling. Rink rounded out the top five with Russell and Campbell right behind in P6 and P7. Caceres, Ruiz and Baker completed the top 10. 

Race 1

Makena Rice, fresh off a pair of wins in September at Pittsburgh, continued her domination of the 100cc Air Cooled TaG Senior division. The Mooresville, N.C., driver won the class in Saturday’s first race group by a huge margin over JC Sanders. JC’s dad Scott Sanders ran third. Sunday’s race produced the same top three.

Caitlyn Ulm won the junior version of 100cc Air Cooled TaG and Mandy Doles was the winner of Yamaha Sportsman Sprint.

Race 2

Cadet LO206 winner Madison Ulm
Cadet LO206 winner Madison Ulm

A number of new drivers to Roebling Road hit the track in Saturday’s second group that included Cadet LO206 and Junior LO206. Five drivers entered Cadet and the race up front was a close one throughout the 15-minute race. Madison Ulm would edge Corbin Polhill for the with by just 0.035 seconds. Cale Darling finished 9.1 seconds back in third and his fast lap of 1:57.774 was actually quicker than Ulm’s and Polhill’s. Will Haire was fourth and Isaiah Figueroa had the fastest lap of the race with a 1:56.930 but he’d retire two laps from the finish and be credited with fifth.

Amber Thomason dominated the Junior LO206 race. Turning quick laps in the 1:46 range, Thomason won by a wide margin over Katie Greco and Elijah Figueroa.

Race 4

Tony Ellison was the fastest vintage kart in attendance with his 135cc Open laydown. Ellison won the first vintage exhibition of the weekend by a big gap over Virginia’s Arthur McKenny. Ellison’s quick time was a 1:26.402 to McKenny’s 1:30.171.  

Christopher Foskey was third, Daniel Reed fourth and William Anderson fifth. Dick Charest, Tony DeAlmeida, Alan Lidke and Rick Gilmore were other entrants.

Race 5

Fifteen drivers hit the track midday Saturday for the fifth race group that included Animal Sprint 390, IAME Sprint, Stock Honda and Yamaha Sprint. 

Seven racers entered Animal Sprint 390 and Wesley Thomason edged Rob Garland for the win. Thomason finished just a kart-length ahead of Garland for a close victory. Marty McLaughlin was P3 and Steve Johnson P4. Ben Thomason was quick but dropped out just past the two-thirds mark of the 30-minute race and was credited with fifth. Same for Hank Hefner and Quentin Hill, who were credited with P6 and P7.

IAME Sprint included six racers and John Bryant dominated. While his fast lap of 1:25.841 was only slightly quicker than three of his competitors’, Bryant pulled away for a 22-second win over Lee Curtis, Blane Aarup and Arlan Brady, who finished nose to tail in P2, P3 and P4. Quincy Smith rounded out the top five with Scott Wentz sixth.

Veteran David Harding won Stock Honda and Tad Segars was the winner of Yamaha Sprint.

Race 6

Saturday's enduro grid
Saturday’s enduro grid

Fifteen traditional laydown enduros gridded for Saturday’s sixth race.

Eight drivers entered Yamaha Senior with seven making the call for Saturday’s contest (one no-show). Chris Marshall easily drove to victory while turning laps several seconds faster than his competitors in the 1:25 to 1:26 range. Justin Greene took second ahead of Jeff Estes, William Anderson and Mark Marr rounding out the top five.  Chuck Bonic and Santiago Ruiz de competed the field. 

Ace Rossi won the Yamaha Sportsman Heavy contest over Dean Cate and David Stolte.

Lawson Polhill backed up his Sunday Pittsburgh win with another Junior Enduro victory. Polhill dominated the race, winning by several laps over Benjamin Marshall and Brayden Marshall. 

Joe Thomas won 100cc Controlled.

In a race of nearly no attrition, 14 of the 15 starters completed the entire 45-minute distance.

Race 7

Another 15 drivers hit the track for Saturday’s seventh group.

Jody Powell scored the victory in LO206 Sprint 390 by a big 32-second margin over Robert Garland. Joe Cuslidge was third with Desi Greco fourth and Ray Adjemian fifth. Spencer Jeffers completed the six-kart class.

Open Sprint was the closest race in this group with John Gallagher winning by just a kart-length over Ben Morris. Chuck Wilbur wasn’t far back in P3 and Dan Smith dropped out early and was credited with P4.

Blane Aarup dominated the TaG Heavy final, finishing more than a lap in front of Arlan Brady for the win. Scott Wentz was third and John Morris fourth.

Roy Lovorn won the Clone Sprint final.

Race 8

Vintage karts were back on the track for their second exhibition of the day and again it was Tony Ellison driving to the win. Arthur McKenny, racing a K-55-powered Elite chassis, gained a good bit of speed from Saturday’s first race and finished only 10 seconds back of Ellison. Christopher Foskey was third, William Anderson fourth and Dan Reed fifth.

Race 9

Some of the fastest karts in attendance were on the track for the last group of the day which included Unlimited and 125 Sprint Shifter. 

Todd Brown won Unlimited over Larry Stewart while Jonathan Cooper won the shifter class over Jeff Estes.  Only Brown and Cooper made it the full 20-minute distance.

Click here for more photos from SKC at Roebling Road

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