Dec. 27, 2015

Hundreds of teams make camp at Speedway for Daytona KartWeek

DAYTONA BEACH — It was moving-in day Sunday at Daytona International Speedway as hundreds of go-kart teams made camp at the sprawling motorsports facility for Daytona KartWeek.

Among the masses was the Gafrarar family; Chuck and Jacqueline and 7-year-old Caleb. They drove down from Midland, North Carolina, so Caleb can compete for national points on the .75-mile infield sprint course.

There are three courses being used this week at the Speedway.

In addition to the sprint course, which is hosting the Margay Sprint Nationals, World Karting Association competitors will run the 3.56-mile road course and the quarter-mile dirt oval, known as the Daytona Flat Track.

Other than a four-hour practice for dirt-oval drivers, the focus of competitors Sunday was getting their work areas prepped, plus putting the final touches on their racing machines.

Chuck Gafrarar is no stranger to the Speedway. He raced a stock car at Daytona more than a decade ago, and now is sharing his love of this motorsports complex with his son.

“Daytona is the World Center of Racing,” Chuck said. “Everybody knows Daytona. This is an awesome place to win, no matter what you’re racing.

“You look in that trophy case and you know you’ve had an achievement when you see that trophy with 'Daytona' on it.”

The Gafrarars made this journey to KartWeek last year. Caleb finished second in his first national feature, and then continued forward to finish third in points in the Kid Kart Division.

He has made the move up in class this year. His Kid Kart has been replaced by a Mini Swift and Caleb will be going faster.

“His top speed last year here was about 43 mph,” Chuck said. “He’ll be going more than 60 mph now.”

Chuck brushed off his driving suit to compete in a TAG (touch and go) event at the sprint course.

“I brought a kart for myself, but that’s just for fun,” he said. “Put gas in it and go. I’m putting all my effort into Caleb’s kart.”

This was just the first wave of Gafrarars to reach Daytona. A mob of family is expected by Tuesday to watch Caleb compete in his first Mini Swift National.

The bottom line is that go-kart racing is basically a family-oriented recreation event.

“This is all about family, when you go to karting races,” Jacqueline said. “I really enjoy spending time with my family. I think that is what makes go-kart racing fantastic."