|ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – For the first time in a number of years, significant changes have been announced for the class lineup at the Rock Island Grand Prix, the world’s largest kart street race, to be held August 30-31, 2008. Presenting sponsors of the event are AT&T and Mazda. Other major sponsors include Kart Expo International and Jumer’s Casino Rock Island.|
Highlighting the changes are two additions to the TAG (touch-and-go) race program and adjustments to several other classes. Headlining the changes is the exciting addition of a TAG SuperPro event open by invitation only. Invitations are extended to drivers who have competed internationally in TAG-based series such as Rotax, Rok and Easykart. Also eligible are drivers who are in the top 10 in points for the WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Series and the Snap-on Stars of Karting Spec Racer class, at the time of registration. National level Intercontinental A and Intercontinental C drivers who choose to race TAG at Rock Island will also be eligible, as well as former TAG winners at Rock Island and other national events. Other drivers may petition for an invitation. The class will pay a minimum of $1,500 to win with additional awards expected. Drivers who compete in TAG SuperPro will not be eligible to compete in the TAG Senior class.
“Rock Island has supported the TAG International racing concept since it was first created by our former race director, the late Tom Argy Jr. It was his vision that TAG would serve to attract new competitors to kart racing at the local and regional levels. He also believed that manufacturers and importers would utilize one or two national TAG Festival events, such as the Rock Island Grand Prix, where top drivers would showcase their equipment. Creation of the TAG SuperPro class follows through on that vision,” said Roger Ruthhart, president of the Rock Island Grand Prix organizing committee.
“In 2007, our TAG Senior class was the most talented and competitive TAG race of the year in the United States. At least 15 drivers would have qualified for the TAG SuperPro class,” Ruthhart continued. “Unfortunately, in essence that left the drivers for whom the class was originally created racing for 16th place. Creation of this new class will not only provide another premier class for our thousands of spectators, but will also make the TAG Senior class more competitive and relieve some of the pressure on the waiting list for that class. We believe this move is a win-win for everyone and hope the drivers will support it,” Ruthhart said.
Also for 2008, a TAG Heavy class has been added. It will be run at the same weights as TAG Masters.
Another big change is the addition of a 125cc Stock Moto class. The class features a stock Honda motorcycle engine with no modifications allowed. It has been growing in popularity in several parts of the country, and this year has been added to the race lineup at Rock Island. It will follow Superkarts! USA rules. “We’re not sure if this class’ time has come yet, but we are willing to find out. It’s up to the racers to prove that we made the right move,” said Ruthhart.
The race organization also made a big change to the class previously known as Yamaha Heavy. This class, which features a tuned exhaust pipe, has been declining in popularity nationwide including at the Rock Island Grand Prix. So this year, the HPV motor, with both the 3-and 4- pipes, will also be allowed in the class. HPV-4 will run at the same weight as the Yamahas, and HPV-3 will get a weight break. A rolling start will be used.
“This allows us to continue to offer the class for those decreasing numbers of Yamaha pipe competitors, while opening the door to HPV drivers who previously haven’t been able to compete here. We think it’s a good deal for everyone,” said Ruthhart.
The Yamaha Medium pipe class will no longer be run. Other classes that will no longer be offered at the Rock Island Grand Prix include Intercontinental A, 4-cycle Raptor, and 125cc Masters – which can still run with the 125cc Moto class.
“The vision of the Rock Island Grand Prix has always been to allow as many competitors as possible to participate in our event, and to put on a good show for the thousands of race fans who show up for the races,” said Ruthhart. “We are not prone to tinkering with our classes and rules each year. We watch trends, talk with other tracks and series, and make adjustments when we think they are warranted. The changes this year are substantial, but are made in the best interests of the event, the competitors, and the sport. We hope the many drivers who have supported us over the years will agree.”
For the eighth year, the Rock Island Grand Prix will feature Superkarts! USA’s King of the Streets race.
Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the Indy Racing League and Bridgestone Tires will again boost the winning purse for the Intercontinental C World Street Championship to $4,000.
The Rock Island Grand Prix has drawn top drivers from 34 states as well as Canada, Bermuda, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, France, Italy, Costa Rica and England. Drivers will compete in 14 races featuring around 400 race entries.
Lay-out Race Track
The Rock Island Grand Prix has also announced several changes in its event-specific Supplemental Rules.
* Full bodywork only will be allowed in 4-cycle classes. All 2-cycle classes must now use CIK homologated nose cones and size pods.
* Numbers will now be a pre-tech item. Specifically, numbers must be at least five inches tall and cannot have shadows or shading. Front 4-cycle numbers cannot wrap over the top of the fenders. Rear number panels must be anchored so they do not “sail.”
* Any competitor caught cutting fence to leave early without official prior approval will be banned from the Rock Island Grand Prix in the future.
* In addition, a bounty is being paid for new competitors. Any driver who brings another racer with them, who has not competed at Rock Island before, will get $10 off their registration.
Additional news about plans for this year’s Rock Island Grand Prix will be announced at Kart Expo International, held Feb. 23-24 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center in suburban Chicago. For more information on this event, visit the official Rock Island Grand Prix home page: www.rockislandgrandprix.com