In the introduction of our new “Driver of the Month” feature, this June we’re featuring one of Coyote Motorsports’ longest tenured racers, Jason Zobkiw.
A veteran kart racer from Rochester, N.Y., Jason was brought up in a karting family that included his father, John, who raced karts in the 1970s and ’80s, and younger brother, Dylan, a former WKA national champion in his own right.
At the age of 33, Jason – who is married to Kate and has two children including a newborn baby boy named Cooper – has spent better than two decades chasing sprint and speedway-oval karting events around the eastern half of the country.
Jason, a longtime WKA Gold Cup Series competitor, in recent years has traveled to select Gold Cup nationals while also trying his hand at dirt-oval racing at various speedways in Upstate New York.
The first weekend of June Zobkiw opened his 2016 season with the AKRA Sprint “Northern Tour” opener at his home track, Genesee Valley Kart Club in Avon, N.Y. Competing in the Pro Gas Animal class, Zobkiw was one of the fastest karts in attendance all weekend and netted a P2 finish in Saturday’s final and a big feature win in the rain in Sunday’s main event.
“Competing at Avon for a national event was quite a thrill,” Jason commented. “It was the first time a traveling series has come to my home track, so to compete during the days and sleep in my own bed at night was something new and enjoyable! I really liked the Vega tire that AKRA runs. The tire worked well on my Wide Track, and we were strong all weekend. It was nice to win one on Sunday.”
Here’s a Q and A with Jason to highlight him at the first Coyote “Driver of the Month!”
Your Occupation? Account Manager at ShoreTel Inc
What year did you start racing karts?
The fall of 1994, made my first race at the Genesee Valley Kart Club. We had a used Coyote Bullet from Jason Lamb. I remember the red frame. It was before nose cones and fairings, heck we still used split rims!
How did you get involved in karting?
My father started racing karts in the 70’s. He used to keep his McCullough powered kart up against the wall in his apartment. Used to borrow his roommates car and strap his kart to the top of it. Eventually, he moved to Enduro road race karts and used to race some of the first Coyote enduro karts ever made. He would race all over the country with (Coyote Racing Chassis founder) Wayne Wispelaere running some of the huge Pro Kart races that were part of Indy Car weekends. Eventually, he hung up his helmet and let me get in the seat. I started out racing locally on a used Coyote Bullet in Avon (Genesee Valley Kart Club) back in 1994. I stated racing Coyote’s at the WKA Gold Cup back in ’99 and haven’t looked back!
What is your favorite form of karting?
I have raced sprint for most of my life, recently trying out some dirt. Dirt is fun because of how close the competition is, but sprint karting is my favorite. With dirt, once your tires come in, you got what you got. You can’t really manipulate braking points, change your line, and maybe claw out some fast laps. Sprint karting really forces you to use all of your skills and put the polish on your set ups.
What are your most memorable moments in karting?
Two really jump out at me. The first was an Empire State Series regional event at Saint Lawrence Motorsports Park. The track was so new it didn’t even have bathrooms, just asphalt. There were only 4 of us in the class, but the track was huge with long straights. We all took turns leading the entire thing. Taking the white flag I was 4th. I used the draft just right and took the lead coming to the checkers. Probably the most fun I had in a kart. The second is from a grand national at Charlotte. I cannot remember the exact year, but it was the amateur class. I started way back in the pack and must have passed 8 or 10 karts coming up to finish 4th I believe. People were walking up to me saying “that was one hell of a drive”. Felt like superman!
Future karting plans? How much longer you think you’ll race?
My wife Kate and I just welcomed little Cooper Spencer Zobkiw back in early may, so the traveling will have to take a back seat for a while. However, I would love to keep racing at the Genesee Valley Kart Club in Avon as long as possible. As long as Jim Lipari keeps making Coyotes, I’ll keep racing. Even at 33, I still think karting is the most fun you can have. I plan to keep going and eventually get my daughter and my son into it as well.