North Carolina racer enters final four Karting Challenge rounds atop Briggs Senior points
CONCORD, N.C. — Luke DaCosta is evidence that perseverance pays off in karting.
The 17-year-old Concord, N.C., native is in his fourth full year racing karts at Trackhouse Motorplex in Mooresville, the popular 0.7-mile karting facility formerly known as GoPro. Trackhouse hosts what is arguably the country’s premier club series for sprint karting, known as the “Karting Challenge,” a 14-round program that runs from February through December.
The Briggs Senior division for 4-cycle 206-powered karts is routinely one of the largest and most competitive in the series. For drivers age 14 and up, the class typically starts 30 or more racers in Karting Challenge events with entrants ranging from beginners to some of the best 4-cycle racers in the country.
Not long ago — 2019 to be exact — DaCosta was one of those beginners. Then racing in the Briggs Junior division, the current high school senior went through his trials and tribulations as he honed his skills and gained experience.
Like most racers getting started, there wasn’t a ton of success at first, but DaCosta kept at it. Luke and his dad, Jon, owner of LCD Fab who’s an expert welder and former NASCAR team crew member, have made countless half-hour drives from their Concord home to Motorplex Drive in Mooresville on a near weekly basis to practice.
“I was like a fish our of water when I first started,” DaCosta admitted. “Then COVID hit in 2020, and that actually helped me. Once the track opened back up, with most everything else still shut down, we started going there three days a week. I made laps on top of laps. It was a lot of time and persistence and I started making progress and moving up through the fields.”
DaCosta says he and his dad continue to haul their No. 22 Coyote Motorsports Zenith to practice at Trackhouse “at least every two weeks, on average.” When asked how long they spend at the track on a typical practice day, Luke was quick with a response.
“Open to close,” he answered without hesitation.
Now armed with thousands of laps around Trackhouse, in late 2020 DaCosta started to make his presence known as a top runner in Briggs Junior at Karting Challenge events. By the end of the season, he had score his first win.
DaCosta was shut out of victory lane in 2021 and returned in 2022 with high hopes. He’d add three Briggs Senior top-five results to his resume during the first five rounds of 2022 and break into the win column for the first time in nearly two years on his Coyote with a score on July 22 at Round 6 of the series. The win marked his first in the super competitive Briggs Senior division.
“It was a huge deal to get a win in Senior. We had high expectations and we were really disappointed when things didn’t well. The win was actually my first time on the podium that season. It was really special. We were just hoping to get on the podium to turn our luck around, and we ended up getting the win, so it’s something I won’t forget,” DaCosta said.
He’d end up P4 in the 2022 Briggs Senior championship standings for his best points finish to date.
Entering the 2023 season, DaCosta again had his sights set high. With a win the previous year and several top finishes, his goal was the class championship.
But he also knew there was plenty of competition. In addition to several top local runners, fellow Coyote drivers like Hudson Brown from Maryland, James Overbeck of Ohio and Chris Carroll from South Carolina make regular Karting Challenge appearances. DaCosta admits the season didn’t get off to a great start.
“It was a little bit of a rocky start to the year,” Luke commented. “There was a lot of rain in the first few rounds, and I don’t have as much experience in the rain as some of the national racers do. So the weather probably held us back some, but then we got on an upward trend and began building momentum. We’ve had a really good summer.”
After three finishes outside the top 10 to start the season, DaCosta finished P4 in Round 4 in March for his first top five. He’d come back in April and win his third career Trackhouse final in the series’ fifth round and add a P2 finish the same day in Round 6, crossing the finish stripe right behind national championship Coyote driver Overbeck.
A couple of P8 results in May during rounds 7 and 8 weren’t what DaCosta was shooting for, but decent points days, nonetheless. He was back on the podium in July with a P3 run in Round 9 and most recently finished a close P2 to Brown in Round 10 on August 11.
Since Round 4, DaCosta hasn’t finished worse than P8 and he has four top-three podiums including his Round 5 win. This consistency has been enough to gain Luke the Briggs Senior points lead with four rounds remaining.
As for what a championship would mean, DaCosta says it’d mean the world to their family-operated privateer team.
“A championship would mean a whole lot. Really, anywhere in the top three would be phenomenal. All the Coyote drivers we’re racing against are so tough, and I know I have my work cut out for me. We’ve spent the last three or four years working at the track and spending so much time there. All the time and sacrifice would pay off in a big way if we can win this title. My dad and I could have spent a lot of time doing other things, but this is what we’ve chosen, so I’m working as hard as I can to get this championship,” Luke said.
DaCosta speaks highly of his time racing a Coyote Zenith. Now on his second Zenith chassis since joining the Coyote team, Luke has been running the same kart for a little over a year.
“I really like the Zenith because it’s easy to tune. You can make an adjustment and feel it on the track,” Luke explained. “Once you learn how and what to tune, I immediately know what I want to change when I feel it on the track. Our usual plan is we go to the track with an idea of what we’re going for, and make adjustments based off what I feel. The kart is so consistent that it really makes it easier on us, especially when we were still learning the chassis.”
DaCosta noted he and his dad normally focus on caster and camber adjustments when tuning the chassis.
As for support they’ve received from Coyote, Luke had nothing but good things to report.
“It’s a good environment with the other Coyote drivers and teams. We’ve received help from almost everyone we race with on a Coyote, especially when we were new to the chassis. So it makes it really comfortable to know that while we don’t technically have teammates since we’re our own team, in a way, we have a bunch of teammates out there because all the Coyote racers do a good job racing each other clean and supporting one another,” DaCosta added.
DaCosta also offered some advice for drivers getting started in karting who may not yet have the results they’re hoping for.
“Just make laps. Getting as many practice days and laps under your belt is key. Proper physical condition is also really important. We have a home gym I work out in all the time. Staying in shape will help you get ahead of the game,” DaCosta said.
Next up for the LCD Fab team is Round 11 of the Trackhouse Karting Challenge set for Saturday, Sept. 11. Round 12 will be Oct. 21 and the series will close out 2023 with a Round 13-14 doubleheader Dec. 2-3.