Ruskin, Florida, September 19, 2014 - Twelve CCO Corvettes made their way south on back roads this morning, their occupants looking for a break from the daily grind and a great weekend of enjoyment with friends. Ed was again master planner for a great drive through rural Southwest Florida. First destination: Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery, Bunker Hill, Florida - a Certified Florida Farm Winery located southeast of the Tampa Bay area. Larry and Lenora Woodham - proprietors, hosted our group, provided a nice buffet lunch and gave us an informative winery tour and comprehensive tasting of their varied and creative wines. CCO thanks the Woodham’s for their hospitality! Bunker Hill has established themselves as a Green Environmentally Responsible Vineyard and enjoys the distinction of being labeled “The Greenest Winery in America.” Visit bunkerhillvineyard.com for more information. Many CCO’ers made purchases, and we departed slow and safe in what had now become a significant downpour, destination: Ruskin, Florida, and the Inn at Little Harbor, where we would meet several more CCO members who traveled straight to Little Harbor, foregoing the winery leg of the weekend.
Rain and generally dismal weather was the order throughout the evening, so after checking in at Little Harbor it was off for a walk or short ride to Sunset Grill, umbrellas up, for drinks and later to the restaurant for dinner and socializing as nearly forty CCO'ers looked out onto Tampa Bay with the city of Saint Petersburg on the horizon.
Saturday morning brought more rain for breakfast and a lot of weather-channel-watching on our phones. The real chance that bad weather might force the cancellation our Old Farts in Karts event that evening had us really concerned. At about 10AM, after some indication the storm front was moving further south and Ed communicating with track officials, the decision was made to wait out the weather and hit the pool and spa even though the sun was still scarce. By noon, the sun was playing with partly cloudy skies, and almost everyone was either in the spa or pool, or at the poolside Hooks Bar & Grill grabbing seafood goodies, burgers, drinks & beer! Everyone was catching up on their late-summer tans until time to prepare for our gathering at 4:45 for our drive down to Anderson Racepark in Palmetto, Florida, for the main event of the weekend!
Anderson Racepark is a real karting race facility that caters to the weekend thrill seeking novice, but also does corporate team building events, professional testing, etc., and provides full pro-shop services and kart driving training. Check ‘em out at andersonracepark.com. CCO’s event was essentially a corporate team building format, using Anderson’s ‘Rock’ Karts in what is called ‘The Rock Kart Challenge.’ The challenge format begins with a drivers meeting followed by a 15 minute practice session on the track, followed by another drivers meeting, then a 10 minute qualifying session where each driver is timed (each kart is electronically scored through each lap) to determine the starting order for the main race to follow. The main race is a pace vehicle led, green-flag start, and is 12 laps in length, with a white to checker flag finish. A follow-up race is then held, reversing winning order, placing the main race winner in the back and successively to the front where the slowest main race driver leads off. This event is set up to give the lead driver as much lead time over the last driver as was his/her average race time gap behind the lead in the main event. The idea with this format is to see how far each driver can advance his/her position against the lead in a 10 lap sprint.
As it turned out, we had thirteen kart drivers ready to go at 6:00 PM. Needless to say our Corvette owning, spirited driving, billy-bad attitudes really showed up during the four driving heats and, as a result, we had an absolute blast. Anderson’s ‘Rock Karts’ are 9 HP, 40 MPH rev-limited machines that are quite potent and plenty fast for newcomers. Sure, there were a few bumps, spins and even some water-sports as Mike made a real ‘splash’ when his kart went off in turn 13 and disturbed a bit of standing water off-track. All our non-kart driving folks in attendance really seemed to enjoy the evening - cheering their favorite drivers on, photographing the event and enjoying the amazingly colorful sunset that accompanied our event!
Thanks go to Chad at the track for directing our event, Ed & Sandra Merchut for planning, organization and communication, VP Events - John Bradham, for communication, and accommodations coordination, and Sandi Brown for taking the pics in our event gallery and to everyone who came out to support all our Old Farts in Karts!
Congratulations goes to the following Old Farts in Karts Champions:
Jose Ayala - First Place Finish in the Reverse Order Event
Mike Nostro - Absolute Best Wreck - Off in Turn 13 stuck in muddy water
Howard Brown - First Place - Main Event
A very special “Thank You” goes to members’ Lester Smith and Jon Adams for their generous donation of watches from their personal collections so that Ed could present the winners of Old Farts in Karts with appropriate trophies… After all, any motorsports event worth it’s salt recognizes it’s champions with elegant one-of-a-kind time pieces. CCO stands tall!
We’ve added several photo galleries of the entire weekend - The winery & vineyards, at the Inn at Little Harbor and, Old Farts in Karts in our photo galleries. Also, we managed to get copies of the Results Sheets for practice, qualifying and both final events and posted them as PDF views here as well.
Click to view Old Farts in Karts Weekend Galleries
Click to View/Download Race Results PDF’s