Wampum, PA (November 16, 2006) -- Most kart racers spend their entire career wishing they had a chance to show their mettle behind the wheel of a race car but understand that the chances of someone offering them the opportunity with no strings attached is very rare. Fortunately for the kart racers that compete in the BeaveRun Championship Kart Series, there is someone out there that just may give them that opportunity.
That person is John Walko, a regular in the BeaveRun karting paddock turning wrenches on son Trent's Cadet Kart. John also happens to own John Walko Racing, a professional race team headquartered in Trafford, PA that competes in the Star Mazda Series.
Walko has been an active supporter of the karting series since its inception. Each year he hand picks drivers that display race savvy on track combined with a mature presence off the track as well. These drivers earn the chance of a lifetime according to Series Race Director Scot Silbaugh.
"We are fortunate to have someone like John provide this opportunity. I don't think an aspiring kart racer could find a program like this at any other track; we are very lucky."
The most recent drivers to make the giant leap from karts to the 240 horsepower Star Mazda machines were Timmy Wilson and Matt Machiko.
Wilson competed at BeaveRun in the Briggs Animal class primarily along with traveling to WKA events but until this date had never turned a lap in a race car. Machiko recently capped his season off with a second track Championship in the Yamaha Junior Can division. Machiko also had never been behind the wheel at speed in anything other that a kart until this test.
The two young racers took to their latest challenge quickly though and the lap times tumbled as confidence soared in each driver. At the end of the day Walko came away impressed with the duo.
"I was blown away by Matt and Tim both. Compared to when we started this program, the times are more competitive and the drivers are making fewer mistakes."
For Machiko the ear to ear grin every time he stepped from the car was a give away that this was an opportunity he would not soon forgot.
"It was a whole new experience, a thrill, completely amazing! It was the most fun thing I've done in my life. I just have to thank the whole crew from John to Scott to Ray; everyone there was great and helped me so much."
Wilson was quick to echo Machiko's sentiments after an incredibly smooth and fast run made even more notable by the fact that he had raced only sparingly this season.
"It was awesome, just amazing how these cars handle at this speed. The closest I've ever driven to anything like this is a kart; this is just a totally different ball game. It was so much fun driving this car and working with everyone, they really know what they are doing."
Walko believes that the credit for much of the early success these two young drivers experienced goes to the BeaveRun Karting facility and the quality of racing in the BeaveRun kart series.
"Matt ran a low 54 and handled himself very well, I was impressed. Meanwhile Tim did extremely well too running mid 53's. Again, not a mistake. He was very smooth, perfect downshifts, never put a wheel off. I have to attribute that to how hard they pound on each other week in and week out at BeaveRun. Maybe our cars are developed more since then but these kids never even put a wheel off in the grass, never made any mistakes."
Ironically, both drivers ran their test behind the wheel of the car driven by a BeaveRun Karting grad, Charles Anti. Anti helped Walko's team clinch the 2006 Star Mazda Team Championship. His success with the team further validates the quality of drivers coming through the BeaveRun Karting system.
Silbaugh was understandably enthused with the performance of the young drivers he has watched come up through his program.
"This is really exciting to see racers who started with us when they were just young kids earn this kind of opportunity. And to see them do so well right out of the gate just proves that the competition level at BeaveRun and the facility itself help to develop excellent skills"
Star Mazda Champions JWR Launch 2007 Testing Program Rotax Junior Grand National Champ Megenbier Tests with JWR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRAFFORD, PA (November 6, 2006) – Just two weeks after winning the Star Mazda Team Championship in their first season, the John Walko Racing crew was hard at work again. The team set up shop at their home track, BeaveRun Motorsports Complex, to take advantage of some clear fall days in advance of their scheduled testing program.
The first driver on track this testing season was recently crowned Rotax Junior Grand National Champion Timmy Megenbier. The Melrose Park, Illinois driver recently earned an invitation to do test drives for the 2007 Red Bull Junior Team and will travel to Lisbon, Portugal to test his skills.
Megenbier also was coming off of a successful stint in the Skip Barber National series, where he scored a second and fourth in the final two races at Road America on the same weekend he won the Rotax Championship. However, the fifteen year old racer felt that there would be an advantage to spend a day of testing with JWR in a higher horsepower car before heading to Portugal to run the Red Bull Junior Team Formula BMW cars.
The effort to put this test together at such a late date was worthwhile according to Megenbier.
"It was a great day! We came in to it just as a practice day, that's what it ended up to be, but every time we went out we went faster and had better car control and better feel. John and I hooked up really well - he knew what to do and I knew what to do so it went really well."
Despite cool temperatures, Megenbier turned in very impressive times according to team owner John Walko who was engineer for the test.
"For the first time in a Star Mazda car and his first time at BeaveRun I was really impressed. He was just a second off of our best time ever here on a less than ideal day. Neither the track nor the air temperature ever went beyond 52 degrees; we never saw the sun all day."
Walko also noted that Timmy responded with accurate feedback to changes made by the team.
"I made changes to the car and he sensed what they did quite well. I'd do things without telling him and then ask him what it did to the car and he was able to explain the changes well. He was able to feel where it affected the car the most and give good feedback, really impressive actually."
For Megenbier the test went well and should be good preparation for his trip to Europe where he will not only take part in the test drives for the 2007 Red Bull Junior Team but also race in the Rotax World Finals which are being contested in Portugal as well. This invitation to compete against some of the brightest rising stars in racing was earned by becoming the Rotax Junior Grand National Champion.
"This was a new experience getting used to the track in such a high horsepower car. It was a good test to help prepare for Red Bull program though. I think we should do this again soon."
This test was just the beginning of an off season program for JWR that will have the team traveling next to Road Atlanta for several days of on track activity. Charles Anti and Russell Walker, two key members of the 2006 Championship winning team, will be among those drivers testing for JWR at Road Atlanta.
Drivers interested in participating in the off season testing program are encouraged to contact the team soon. Also, drivers interested in discussing their 2007 racing programs should contact John Walko Racing at John@johnwalkoracing.com .
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