Sub-$500 endurance racecars aren't really set up to lay down a blisteringly quick qualifying lap time without leaving the track in a catastrophic cloud of oil smoke. So, ChumpCar let its Central Region Chumpionship participants qualify on the go-kart track instead.
This is a pretty clever solution to one of the inherent dilemmas in beater endurance racing: how do we line everybody up at the start? For many Chump and LeMons races, the starting line-up is first-come-first-serve, but Chump's "Chumpionship" format deserved something special: qualifying. You had to have a certain result to be in the running there, so where you start for the race ought to be determined by more than whoever gets in their car first.
Problem is, everyone who's in these sort of races is out to manage both the engine and the car for the entire length of the race weekend. Going to the limits of both your driver's ability as well as the mechanical tolerances of the car to lay down a über-fast qualifying time is the complete opposite mindset.
For example, I tell everyone on my team not to shift above 5,ooo RPM if they can help it just so we won't run into the oil starvation and rod bearing issues that plague 944s at high revs.
So, clearly, it's a raw deal to make folks who've set up a car for cheap endurance racing to qualify in that car.
Then there's the variety of cars to think about. People joke about Chump's format and rule set nudging it towards "Spec E36" territory, but there are still plenty of teams in the running who have gotten very good at making other cars last and be competitive.
Would it be fair to make a team who races a low-horsepower Miata competitively because of its decent handling and easy fuel consumption qualify against a team who's brought a foxbody Mustang, which has to stop more during races, but makes up for it with butt-tons of raw speed? Probably not.
Luckily, Gateway Motorsports Park has a go-kart track right there! Put everyone in the same car (err, kart), and then you save the wear and tear on the cars as well as give the folks in slower cars a fair chance.
Here's the video of the race weekend, and it looks like a ton of fun. Beater racin' fans everywhere, it's time to brush up on your karting skills.