50 Days To The 50th Running Of The AKA NationalsTweet
Today marks 50 days before the 50th Australian National Sprint Kart Championships fires up at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway in the Northern Territory on July 7/8.
It is the first time in the 50-year history of the prestigious event that it has been held in the Northern Territory. With more than 250 competitors expected to converge on the Hidden Valley complex, it is anticipated that the championships will become the Top End’s largest motorsport event in terms of participation.
“Holding the National Championships in Darwin for the first time marks a significant moment for our sport, both nationally and in the Northern Territory,” said Australian Karting Association National President Craig Denton.
“Over the past few years we have seen the Darwin Karting Association develop well and the Hidden Valley circuit is undoubtedly one of the leading venues that we have anywhere within the country.
“The Darwin people have shown in the past with their support of the V8 Supercars and the Australian Sprintcar Title that they love their motorsport and we hope that this event will be no different.”
With the countdown towards the blue ribbon event on, it would be remise not to look back at where the Australian National Sprint Kart Championships originated.
In 1961, the inaugural karting championships were held at Caringbah, NSW where New South Wales drivers dominated the entry list – in fact there were only three interstate competitors.
It was at this event where Norm Chipperfield was crowned the first champion following the Champion of Champions race where the top three placegetters in the three categories (200cc, 150cc and 125cc) went head to head in a final shootout to determine the overall winner.
Following another ‘unofficial’ Australian title in Surfers Paradise in 1962 where Bert Jones was crowned the Champion of Champions, the first Australian National Sprint Kart Championships were held in Seymour, Victoria in November 1963.
It was at this event where the legacy of the ‘Nationals’ was born.
Since the inaugural Australian National Sprint Kart Championships, the event has traditionally been held on the Easter long weekend on a rotational basis across all states of Australia.
During that time there has been more than 250 competitors crowned national champions in their respective categories with the most successful of them all being John Pizarro – who claimed 15 Australian Championships during his time in the sport.
This year will see the event be hosted in the Northern Territory for the first time at the Darwin Karting Association’s Hidden Valley complex on the weekend of July 7/8.
It is at this event where the National Champions across nine categories – catering for a variety of ages, weights and engine capacities – will be crowned.
“For the past three years, the committee and members have been working towards this project and it’s going to be great to see everybody’s hard work come to fruition in July,” said Darwin Karting Association President Greg Meyer.
“We will have competitors from all parts of the country coming to compete at the event and I’m confident they’ll all go away from Darwin with some great memories.”
One of the local drivers expected to figure prominently at the event is Berrimah’s Bryce Fullwood.
The 14 year-old is currently in his fourth year of karting competition and has already enjoyed success at the state level with victories in Western Australia and South Australia during 2011.
While he has never competed at a National Championships previously, Fullwood is confident of his chances at taking home the green plate (awarded to the winner) in the Junior National Light category.
“I’m really excited about the Nationals being held in my home town, it’s going to be awesome,” said Fullwood.
“I won two State Championships last year and came closer in a couple of others, but I’ve never raced at a Nationals so it’s going to be a bit of a new experience for me.
“I’ll have the local track knowledge on my side but the top drivers won’t take long to catch onto the circuit and I’d say there will be at least half a dozen drivers, if not a dozen, drivers who will be serious contenders for the title.”