The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida kicks off its tenth season this weekend, January 10-13 at the Homestead Karting facility at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Almost 250 karters competing in six Rotax Max classes will make this the largest event in the history of the Florida Winter Tour.
The FWT was already one of the largest Rotax series in the world before being granted International Rotax Max Challenge (IRMC) status for 2008. The opening race of the ’08 FWT might very well be the largest Rotax event ever held, and the Florida Winter Tour could become the largest Rotax Max series in the world.
The FWT awards structure is clearly one of the envies of the karting community. Formula Kart Productions, Eastern U.S. Rotax distributor SSC East and Canadian Rotax Distributor SRA Karting, working together with BRP/Rotax, will provide fully funded rides to the 2008 RMCGF to the points champions of the ‘08 FWT Rotax DD2, Rotax Senior and Rotax Junior classes. In addition, SSC East will offer FWT RMC Masters and Mini Max class Points Champions paid entry packages to the United States or Mexican Grand Nationals.
Padding the FWT awards structure are Skip Barber Racing School Three Day Competition Courses for points champions in Rotax Senior and Junior (an $8000 value), while Autosports Media will award free press releases to every Senior and Junior race winner for the entire season, along with a $1,000 web site voucher for the points champions of all FWT Rotax classes.
The FWT also continues its tradition of successful Rotax product introductions. First it was the U.S. Rotax Max Challenge launch, where William Peetz was crowned as the first official U.S. RMC Champion. This was followed by the Rotax Junior launch in 2002, Mini Max in 2004, and now for 2008, a hugely successful North American introduction of Micro Max confirms the FWT as a place where the latest karting products often see their debut.
Dominating the headlines for the forthcoming weekend is the star-studded DD2 class. Iin what promises to be one of the races of the year DD2 World Champion Pier-Luc Ouellete will put his hard-earned title to the test against some of biggest names in North American karting. Two-time ICC national champion Gary Carlton, three-time ICC national champion Alex Speed, and two-time SuperNationals champ and former Formula 1 driver Scott Speed will all be attendance. The competition doesn’t stop there; United States DD2 champ Stuart Marsell, U.S. DD2 runner-up Brandon Marsell, and multi-time Canadian champion Michael Vincec are among the more than twenty drivers registered for this class. Look for even more big names to be added just before the green flag drops.
With 44 drivers pre-entered, Rotax Senior will be one of the most fiercely contested classes of the weekend. Reigning United States National Champion Thiago Parazinho will face reigning Canadian champ Christophe Boisclair, while current Rotax Junior champ Jose Zanella will be making his Senior Rotax debut. The 2008 FWT Rotax Senior Champion will be awarded a Skip Barber Racing Three Day Competition Course.
Also earning a Skip Barber Three Day Course will be the points champ in Rotax Junior, which will almost certainly be the largest class of the Homestead weekend and the largest in FWT history. Capped at 68 drivers with more on stand-by, reigning FWT Rotax Junior and JICA champ and Stars of Karting JICA National Champion Jarvis Gennari will look to defend his title against some of the finest young talent in the Americas. Multi-time national champion Sage Karam and current FWT Mini Max champion Eric Filgueiras, along with a host of other current and former Champions will all seek to dethrone Gennari.
Close to 30 drivers will take to the track in Rotax Masters, which will make it the largest Masters field ever for a FWT event. Reigning class champ “Bad” Brad Smith will be in the house to defend his crown along with his reputation as the fastest mouth in the field! Also, a new era of East Coast-West Coast cooperation will be front and center as Gatorz Karting Cup promoter Andy Seesemann will race all FWT Masters events in 2008; in turn, FWT promoter/FKP President Bill Wright will handle the mic at all of Seesemann’s Challenge of the Americas races.
Once again, the Mini Max class will be filled with many of the names who’ll dominate the sport in years to come. With 28 karts ready to do battle in Homestead, look for new protagonists like Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson to double Formula 1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Seven of the top ten finishers at the U.S. Rotax Nationals are already pre-registered, so the level of competition in Mini Max should be off the hook!
And not to be outdone, there will be 24 Micro Max racers taking part in this year’s historic FWT gathering. As the newest member of the Rotax family, some of the youngest and most talented young karters on the continent will usher in this new class on a national stage; will we see a future World Champion in action at the FWT again?