Roadracing in Arizona & New Mexico

The Distant Past

January 2004


For the young at heart and mature of bone

It’s an odd beginning, but the kart racing group speeding around the track at ASA ProAutoSports events got started at a boat show.

One of the founders of Southwest Karters, Randy Quismorio, was leisurely walking the boat show in Denver years ago when from out of the blue came an offer from a kart construction company showing its wares. Come out to the track. Drive a kart. No charge.

Bargain shopper Randy hesitated briefly, but thought what the heck and showed up for his free lesson.

“I was hooked,” he said. “I bought a kart from them on the spot.”

Enter his friend, Benn Herr, who doesn’t remember how he got introduced to karting it was so long ago, but he’s been racing them since 1971.

The two got together and raced with a California group but they wanted more fun and more convenience.

“A couple of years ago we started our own group,” Randy said.

“We tried going by ourselves as a club but we didn’t have the draw,” said Benn.

Southwest Karters, a loosely fitted group, noted Randy, had few venues and a sporadic schedule and it just wasn’t the vehicle to attract serious kart racers who wanted to drive on a predictable schedule and have amenities such as flaggers and a starter and the rest.

One thing led to another and Randy, who used to buy Red Line oil from Larry Pond’s former Skunk Works, happened to connect again with Larry, who made them an offer – a run group at ASA ProAutoSports events.

“We found a home now,” said Randy.

“It’s a very good fit for us,” said Benn. “We don’t feel like second class citizens. All the work is all done for us now. You just show up and we get our sessions and go out and race. It’s a fun show, too.”

The racing is close. The speeds are fast. And the fun is top notch.

In this karting world there are two kinds of racing. Sprint racing is done on tracks less than one mile and road racing is on tracks longer than a mile. As these two racers agree, the road racing is a lot easier on mature bones and muscles.

There are three classes of karts, the challenge kart for sportsmen and junior drivers, tag karts with big engines, electric starters and no shifting, and shifter karts with a sequential gearbox and a more powerful engine.

“There’s definitely lapping,” Randy said, noting that there can be a 20-second difference between the fastest and slowest kart. But never mind the speed. It’s the skill that really counts. At St. Johns, the winner was 12 years old. The group’s oldest driver is in his 60s.

The group keeps its own points, issues its own trophies and hopes to grow along with ASA ProAutoSports to, perhaps, even have its own show on a different track at the Firebird complex during ASA ProAutoSports event weekends.

Meanwhile, racers in ASA ProAutoSports car classes are curious about the karts.

“They’re interested in what we’re doing,” Benn said. “Our race cars happen to be smaller than theirs. Like anything, it’s all relative. I’ve driven bigger cars and I appreciate them.”

A big advantage to the karts, Benn noted is this: “Your wife doesn’t complain about you taking up the entire garage.”

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