tulsa 2007

By about mid-morning (Christmas morning, in fact) I was cursing the trip out to Tulsa.

It had seemed like such a good idea in early October: fly out on Christmas day - avoiding the usual airport craziness and crowdedness - and go see Jamie Ferrell beat up on the dirt oval boys at the '07 Tulsa Shootout. Four (4) hours of typical Miami International incompetence later, (I mean, seriously, do those people speak ANY language at all? I tried English, Spanish, and a gave French and German a good "college try" before I figured out what gate my flight had been switched to) I was on a plane next to a Ron Paul nutter, nodding along cheerfully as he shared his "hilarious" prison stories.

I can't make this stuff up.

Nor could I have invented the absolutely Heroic bronze statue of George Bush that welcomed me to the Houston airport en route to Tulsa (complete with Orwellian "inappropriate jokes or comments could lead to your immediate arrest" announcements over the PA system).

Spooky place, Houston. Spooky.

In any event - I made it to Tulsa and settled in for (what I thought would be) a nice weekend of kart racing. What I got instead were some of the craziest and most hectic days of racing you could possibly imagine.

My first clue that this was not your usual karting event should have been the Massive quarter-mile INDOOR dirt oval and the 2000 competitors ... but what Grabbed me were the karts "we" (team Ferrell and Friends) were supposed to race.

At first glance, Ferrell's no. 31 ROCKSTAR/Jam-Air racing karts looked suspiciously like quarter-scale Batmobiles, and the RENNTECH /Aixro XR50 engine barked with an urgent Ferocity that echoed throughout the big Quicktrip Center. Over the sounds and smells of the other 1000+ competitors, their little Aixro could still be heard.


Competing in the IKF's "run what ya brung" Open class of karts, the big-winged Jam-Air karts were easy favorites - and Will Ferrell was running his mouth, telling some guys with big dual-Yamaha setups and 450cc Yamaha motors that Jamie would "drive this little Wankel motor right up (their) asses" (not that Will Ferrell, by the way - unless you're into racing, in which case: yes, that Will Ferrell).

It was my (and the Aixro's!) first dirt race, and I am (was?) not used to barking at competitors like this. "What are you doing?" I asked Ferrell. "You're making us look bad."

He ignored me, "This is Jo Borras - do you know who that is? We're gonna kick your ass!"

For my part, I didn't know I was anybody - I certainly amn't when it comes to dirt racing. For Ferrell's part, though, his kart (and Jamie Ferrell's driving) certainly delivered the goods, and after more than 160 heats and mains (one-hundred and sixty heat races and "main" events) Jamie Ferrell won Tulsa's premier Open class.

It wasn't an easy race, and it looked (a few times) like some of the lapped traffic was intentionally trying to take Jamie out of the running. After getting the kart to stick and pointing it straight, he passed 5 karts on the front straight and 2 more in the turn (there were only about 12 karts in the race). The little Batmobile (pictured, above) scrambled wildly for traction everywhere - it was sideways on the straights, sideways in the turns, and Jamie Ferrell sawed frantically at the wheel.

The whole spectacle was just awesome and awe-inspiring, in a "I gotta git me one o' these!" sort of way ... and I probably will, eventually.

Jamie Ferrell will be at the Jam-Air booth at this February's KMi show in Chicago, along with his RENNTECH /Aixro XR50. Go say hi and ask him to tell you about it.