Auto Racing

Teenage driver captures pair of Grand Prix championships

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 10, 2019 1:10 am

QUINCY -- Not too bad for a kid who doesn't even have a driver's license.

Quincy's Riley Scott, a 15-year-old rising star in the world of karting, added two more major titles to his resume on Sunday beneath the sun-splashed skies at South Park.

Scott won the Briggs Medium and Briggs Heavy classes, providing a weekend haul of three first-place finishes in the Grand Prix of Karting.

Riley now has four Grand Prix championships in his two years of competing. He's also one of just 21 drivers in the Grand Prix's 34-year overall history -- the event was resumed in 2018 after a 17-year hiatus -- to win four or more events.

"It's crazy, it's just crazy," Scott said, when reminded of his accomplishments.

The teenager, who will be a sophomore this fall at Quincy High School, is part of a family racing team that includes 40-something dad Jeff and 17-year-old sister Avery.

"There is nothing better than being able to do something like this with your kids," Jeff Scott said. "It's an amazing feeling."

Riley Scott's victory in the Briggs Medium gave him two in a row that division, one of the most competitive at the Grand Prix. The 24-kart field had entrants from California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.

Scott held off Eli Fox of Avon, Ind., and Evan Stamer of Glen Carbon, Ill., for a tight, 1.34-second victory. Avery Scott was seventh, Quincy's Robbie Warner 11th and Jeff Scott 16th. Jeff Scott likely would have had a top-five finish, but was caught up in a late-race crash.

"This year's win was even sweeter than last year's," Riley Scott said. "I love it."

Though the top three cars were all within an eyelash of one another, Scott, who has been racing since he was 5-years-old, was able to control the lead for most of the final half of the 12-lap event. For a few circuits, Riley Scott and Jeff Scott were running one-two atop the field.

Riley Scott's second victory Sunday was equally challenging, fending off David Borntreger of Muscola, Wis., and Jeff Dolian of Plano, Texas in the Briggs Heavy run. The margin of victory .07 of a second.

"That was even more of a battle," Riley Scott said. "Anyone could have won."

A weekend-high 46 karts started the Briggs Heavy, but a sizable first-lap crash quickly shrank the field. Only 24 karts finished, and only three were within 20 seconds of the fast-moving Scott.

Violent crash

The roughest episode Sunday came at the end of the Margay Ignite Masters when a three-kart crash sent Pete Vetter of Arnold, Mo., flying through the air before crashing on to the pavement near the start-finish line.

Vetter, one of the legendary drivers of the Grand Prix, was helped to the sidelines with no major injuries. Vetter is seventh all-time Grand Prix victories with eight.

Dolian edged Colin Predith of Chesterfield, Mo., for the victory Margay. Dolian started 19th and worked his way to the front off the pack in six laps.

Emotional victory

Dolian also emerged victorious in what was arguably the closest finish of the weekend, holding off Avery Schwalm of St. Peters, Mo., by .05 of a second -- or about two feet.

An emotional Dolian explained what a win at Quincy meant to him.

"There's nothing more I wanted to do than come back and race here," Dolian said. "I raced here 20 years ago."

Another memorable mishap

The day's second eye-opening crash came at the finish of the Briggs Masters when Michael Welsh of Bettendorf, Iowa, and Dolian came together, with Welsh knocked up against the protective sideline barriers.

Following a brief consultation, race officials declared Welsh the winner, denying Dolian what would have been an event-best third victory.

Powerful ending

The Grand Prix's most powerful division, the 125cc shifters, closed the weekend with speeds that approached 100 mph on the 14-turn, 1.1 mile course.

Zach Schiff of Dallas, Texas turned back Tyler Sawyers of Harrison, Ohio, by a kart length.

Schiff had also won the pre-final on Saturday.

Keeps string alive

North Carolina native Mike Birdsell kept his streak alive.

Birdsell has raced in all 34 Grand Prix events, dating to 1970.

Birdsell's son, Jason, is sixth in career wins at Quincy with nine.

Rounding out the field

Other winners Sunday included David Fisher (Vintage) of Milan, Ill., Gage Rucker (Yamaha Heavy) of Truxton, Mo., and Tony Nelson (Yamaha Masters) of Delmar Iowa.

Nelson, who three races in 2018 at South Park, was assisted this weekend my another familiar name -- Scott Evans -- to Grand Prix followers. The now-retired Evans won 27 events at the Grand Prix during his career, tying him with Quincy's Terry Traeder atop the all-time victory board.

Final thought

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore may have summed up the weekend best.

"This is the premier karting race in America," he said. "I'd like to thank the Traeder family for bringing this event back to the city."