An otherwise solid day for the Kentucky Speedway Arthritis Foundation Mini Grand Prix Team ended with a last-place finish in a 20-lap, eight-car feature race on a slick half-mile infield road course Aug. 27 after the No. 1 speedway go-kart encountered engine trouble and a flat tire.

Team Speedway drivers Mike Claywell, Mark Knapp, Jessica Pelfrey, Mike Travis and Charles Williams battled rain, stifling humidity and temperatures in the high 80s while racing in the top five through three of four 12-lap qualifying heats in its eight-car division. The team was required to pit to make driver and tire changes during each heat and feature race.

The No. 1 Kentucky Speedway machine started fourth in the feature with Travis behind the wheel. The lead-off driver cleanly made it through trouble in Turn 1 on Lap 1, but the promising start turned sour soon after when the go-kart engine chain popped when it was nudged from behind by the No. 24 General Electric Aero entry.

"It was just lack of patience," Travis said. "It was early in the run and we had plenty of room to race. He must have been in a hurry."

Team Kentucky went several laps down with the go-kart in the Tech Garage for repairs before rejoining the fray. Travis dove to the pits for the first of a scheduled two pit stops where he yielded the driver's seat to Knapp who raced away following a tire change. Knapp completed several laps and pitted to surrender the controls to Claywell. His time on the track ended quickly when the left rear tire went down and the go-kart was retired.

"It's just a racin' thing," Claywell said. "I hate it for this team that worked hard to keep the kart running well all day. We proved we could run up front and we had a top-five kart. We're disappointed we ran into bad luck in feature, but we'll pick up the pieces and be back at it next year."

Overall, 16 teams participated in the fundraiser which made its debut at the speedway.

The nearby Gallatin Steel Team won the CART Division and was followed by the Arthritis Foundation, House Construction, GE Aero, GE Aviation, Frontgate, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and Team Speedway.

Comair was crowned champion of the IRL Division and was followed by BHDP Architecture, GE Aircraft Engines, Prilosec OTC, Grandin Road, Danis Construction, ThermaCare and the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Readers can learn more about the Arthritis Foundation online at

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~