iKart makes history and finishes 1 – 2 in Tag Senior at Ocala in The Florida Winter Tour with AJ Meyers and Mike Giessen behind the wheel. It was a long week for the iKart team as Ron Funkhouser (the team’s technical director) headed out of Indianapolis, IN Tuesday night Feb. 4th pulling the iKart Team trailer behind him. The going was slow at about 20mph on the highway as Indy was getting hit by another significant winter storm that dumped over 8” of snow. Sunny Ocala, Florida was the destination and after over 24 hours of being on the road phase 1 was finally complete.
Phase 2 started on Thursday with set up and getting ready for round 3 & 4 of The Florida Winter Tour. Going through the karts and making sure everything was ready to go, and getting some practice laps in was on the schedule. Most of the practice time on Friday was spent just getting things dialed in and working on different set ups for both of the drivers.
Phase 3 brought a whole new set of challenges as Saturday would bring rain to Ocala and a lot of it. AJ Meyers and Mike Giessen were both up for the challenge and Ron did his best to keep up with both karts and the ever changing conditions. It was wet and cold and the iKart chassis showed that it is just as good in the rain as it is in dry conditions. Mike started the day in P3 and AJ in P6 during the warm up. In qualifying Mike put his iKart Chassis in P4 and AJ would start from P13. Definitely not where either driver wanted to start from, but sometimes you just have to play the cards you’re dealt and make the best of it. Heat 1 saw Mike move up and finish in P2 and AJ moved up to P10. Heat 2 saw AJ and Mike get tangled up together early causing Mike to drop nearly to the back of the field. AJ ended up finishing 4th and Mike fought his way back through the field to finish 7th, in a down pour of rain, setting the stage for the final. AJ had a great drive in the rain for the final and was able to bring his iKart chassis across the finish line in 2nd place. The set up on Giessen’s iKart chassis wasn’t quite right for the cold & wet conditions and he did the best he could again with the hand he was dealt by bringing it home in 5th place. At the end of a wet and cold Saturday in Ocala, it wasn’t the results the team had hoped for but it was another respectable showing for the iKart Team.
Phase 4 brought a beautiful, sunny day in Ocala and a fresh beginning for the iKart Team. The day started out slow in the warm up session as both drivers tried to get their karts sorted out after the down pour of rain the day before. Qualifying saw a bit of an improvement, but still nowhere near the lap times that the karts and the drivers are capable of putting down. AJ would start from P6 with a fast lap at 37.683 and Mike would start from P8 with a fast lap at 37.771. Adjustments would continue on both karts, and improvements on the track would follow. Heat 1 would see Mike move up to finish 2nd and AJ would fall back to finish 10th after a few on track incidents. Both drivers knew their karts were getting faster, and the track was definitely starting to come to them. The iKart team put their heads down and got to work bringing out the best of each other and doing all they could to show that their iKart chassis could run with the best of them. Heat number 2 was an inverted start which saw AJ charge to the front and take the win by a ½ second over Colin Warren while Mike was 1.9 seconds back in 4th place. This would set the stage for the Final in Ocala, where Mike Giessen would start from P2 and AJ Meyers would be starting from P5. Both drivers would get a great start and Mike immediately took the lead. AJ would make his way up to 3rd within a couple of laps while Mike started to check out. AJ’s kart came in very quickly and his charge forward continued up to P2 as he slowly reeled his teammate in. By the half way point of the race AJ had pulled right up to his teammate’s bumper and they worked together to put over a 2 second gap on the rest of the field. AJ would quickly get around Mike and as they continued to work together – the gap continued to grow. AJ would take the win and Mike would cross the finish line .592 seconds back in 2nd. At the finish line the gap back to 3rd had grown to over 3 seconds, and for the 1st time in Florida Winter Tour history an American Kart Manufacturer would finish 1 – 2. Another successful weekend for the iKart Team and a great job done by everyone involved. Special thanks to Comet Racing Engines for the Leopard Power. It’s always nice to see hard work, and team work pay off in a 1 – 2 finish. We’ll be back in action for the last 2 rounds of The Florida Winter Tour in Orlando on March 14th – 16th, and until then we’ll be hard at work in Indianapolis building more iKarts.