The two biggest winners of the previous two Xtream Rock Island Grand Prix powered by Mediacom events squared off in several head-to-head clashes at the world’s largest karting street race. Cal Stewart, Concord, NC, winner of five races in 2016, and Tony Neilson, Delmar, Iowa, winner of six races the previous year, each won three races in 2017.
Stewart won in Yamaha Heavy 2 and the Travis DeVriendt Memorial LO 206 Heavy race -- the largest class of the day with 44 entries. He also won TAG Senior, edging Anthony Honeywell of Tulsa, Okla. Neilson’s wins came in LO 206 Medium over Justin Wishard of Illinois, LO 206 Masters over Dan Newell of Tennessee and LO 206 Heavy 2, again beating Wishard.
“I had to keep him at bay. The kids’s got a lot of talent,’’ said Neilson, 36, of Stewart, 25. Racing at Rock Island “takes a lot of preparation and a lot of luck. It takes the same amount of both, and man it takes a lot of luck,” Neilson said.
“Winning once here is special when you’re racing against the guys I’m racing with,” he added.
The King of the Streets Open Shifter class was won by Austin Wilkins of Texas, over Rory vander Steur of Maryland. Wilkins also won Open Shifter 2 by a wide margin over Andrew Bujdoso of Ohio. Joe Ruch, Indiana, won the 80cc Shifter class over Illinois’ Josh Lane. Jordon Musser, Dallas, Texas, won the 125 Open Masters shifter class with Lance Lane in second.
“To be able to win at a race where big names never won at is just awesome to think about,” said Wilkins, pointing to IndyCar drivers Graham Rahal and Conor Daly who each failed to win in visits to Rock Island.
A full flite of Margay Ignite Shootout classes were offered this year – Junior, Senior and Masters. Spike Kohlbecker of St. Louis won the junior title, Jordan Bernloehr, Minnesota, won senior and Pete Vetter of Missouri, won the masters race.
In other races, Tim Goettsch of Iowa won Yamaha Heavy 1 and Yamaha Medium. Honeywell, from Oklahoma, won TAG Masters over Ethan Wilson of California.
Three Vintage classes were also featured with Kirk Gustafson winning the MAC, Josh Fisher the Open class, and Tom Day winning the Sportsman feature. All are from Illinois.
Gustafson, 69, said it was only the second race he had ever won, with the first being some time in the 1970s.
After lap records fell in 12 classes last year, four new marks were set in 2017. They were by Honeywell in TAG Masters, Lance Lane in 125 Masters, Jacob Boden in Ignite Junior and David Cole from Michigan in Ignite Masters.