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"
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