The Aluminos Arrive and Drive program has been a successful program over the past two seasons on the West Coast
The past two seasons has been a successful beginning in what promises to be a long future for Team Aluminos. The Danville, California-based operation, which came to life in late 2007 and splashed onto the karting scene with their debut at the 2007 SKUSA SuperNationals with excellent results and happy customers. From there, a great foundation was created to help produce consistent and solid results for the last two years in their Arrive and Drive program. Aside from the results, the crew at Aluminos has the received the respect and admiration from its customers - who continue to return each weekend to gain that extra edge in pursuit of their own personal goals.
“The past two years have been great for Aluminos,” stated owner Rob Soares. “Being a driver myself, I knew the concept I wanted for our Arrive and Driver program is what customers and drivers needed in order to provide a solid service that they would be able to gain individually from. I’ve surrounded myself with and hand selected top notch people I trust and respect to help out our customers. Each person at Aluminos is a key asset for their unique abilities to give our drivers that little something extra in only a manner in which their talents allow for. They are all very experienced racers and mechanics, which are invaluable in this racing environment.”
Aluminos has what can be considered a ‘Dream Team’ of instructors/tuners working with him throughout the season. Soares is by no means just an observer as he is a key component to what happens for each of his customers under the tent. As the one-time owner of KLS Racing - the former importer for the GP Kart brand - Soares knows the technical side of the race craft as well as a solid CV behind the wheel as a driver since 2000. His right-hand man and technical guru is George Tavares. Coming from a long background of motorsports, including rally cars to dirt bikes, Tavares has a vast knowledge of the technical side of racing. Soares and Tavares have been working together since 2002 and proven to be a potent duo.
Engine specialist George Tavares works solely for Aluminos and has an accomplished background in karting along with other forms of motorsports.
Depending on the weekend, the Aluminos tent will have a distinguished group of instructors and tuners. In the past, the father/son combination of Vince and Lorenzo Mandarino - who won the 2005 SKUSA SuperNationals SuperPro title - has assisted those under the Aluminos banner. The stable fixture since the start of Aluminos has been Tom Dyer. The 2007 and 2009 SKUSA SuperNationals S3 winner has a real-established record as driver, both in karting and cars. A product of the competitive NorCal karting scene, Fritz Leesmann is another added bonus to the Aluminos staff. Leesmann is an established driver in both TaG and shifter karts, earning numerous national wins and championships and knows his way around with a wrench in his hand. Another notable person that joins the Aluminos tent throughout the year includes Joe White, another knowledgeable mechanic and driver who knows the ins and outs of a karting package.
The entire package put together by Soares has been the key foundation for the Aluminos Arrive and Driver program. Aluminos offers packages for ICC, Stock Moto, and TaG divisions aboard a number of chassis brands. The ICC package is for those looking to compete in the KZ2 or G1 categories with the choice of TM or Maxter engine power, supported and maintained by Joe White Racing Engines. The Stock Moto option is with an Aluminos Honda CR125 engine maintained by Tavares. For TaG, the options are an IAME Parilla, Rotax or any engine that the customer provides if they have a preference. With the crew assembled, the right race packages available, the trackside support is above and beyond what most will experience with any other program. Aside from the basic race prep and kart maintenance, the Aluminos staff is there to help with driver development (including lead/follow, debriefing, and driving advice), chassis tuning, engine tuning and data analysis. The data analysis is a key aspect to the program as Aluminos utilizes PI data acquisition systems to break down the nuances of driving, chassis and engine performance unlocking and giving definition to where the potential gains for driver and his equipment are.
“Rob and Team Aluminos have a great arrive and drive program with a great group of guys who have a lot of experience with karts and kart racing,” commented Fernando Diaz, a G1 driver with Aluminos. “I think it is a tremendous asset to get feedback from drivers/coaches such as Tom, Fritz, and others. These are all top notch drivers and working with Team Aluminos gives you a chance to work with these guys, do lead-follow, and have them jump in your kart to see if your feedback is accurate. Not to mention Rob is a very involved and knowledgeable team owner and he is not afraid to go testing so you can work on your skills and kart set up.”
Aluminos driver coach Fritz Leesmann debriefs the on-track performance with G1 driver Fernando Diaz
Diaz joined Aluminos in 2009 and went straight to the podium this season. His big victory came at the ProKart Challenge West Coast Shootout in the middle of the summer and was a top-five runner at the SKUSA SuperNationals in the G1 category aboard his Aluminos-prepped GP package.
The Aluminos crew is also family-friendly as well. The father son duo of Phil and Brad Dunford has been with the program since early 2008. “I was introduced to Rob about three years ago by SKUSA CEO Tom Kutscher as I told him I was interested in giving my son the opportunity to compete with the best, said Phil Dunford. “I knew I didn’t have the technical skill or the know-how to achieve this myself and that’s when he referred me to Aluminos. We were able to come to an agreement on how they would be able to help work toward our goals. Aside from the great technical support we get, the talented driver coaches they have brought in to work with myself and Brad - whether its doing the lead/follow session or helping to understand driving different kart set ups - has been great for improving our driving skills. As a father himself, Rob's worked with me as a mentor to my son to teach him to understand that the opportunity that he's been given shouldn't be taken lightly and consequently my son has shown more gratitude and drive than previously.”
This past season, Brad finished fifth and sixth in the championship standings in the super competitive S3 class in ProKart Challenge South and North programs, respectively. Phil himself returned back behind the wheel this season for three events, placing on the podium in the final two. Both Brad and Phil competed at the SuperNationals in the S3 and S4 classes. Brad came from 13th on the main event grid to finish a respectable seventh aboard his newly acquired Aluminos prepared CRG kart. Phil climbed aboard his trusted GP chassis and advanced from 19th to a solid 12th in his first SuperNats event.
Phoenix resident Peter Workum was looking to broaden and accelerate his base of driving skill and karting knowledge while getting involved in a high level of competition when joining the trackside program for Aluminos. Scoring his first victory and clinching second in the PKC North program, Workum is well on his way to become a consistent front-runner aboard his Intrepid chassis.
Lead Aluminos driver coach Tom Dyer and Aluminos owner Rob Soares work with S4 driver Peter Workum during a test session
“Rob and the Aluminos crew have done a very good job at facilitating my different arrive and drive program from the outset,” explained Workum. I elected to supply my own chassis, motor and spares to allow me to conserve funds to do additional racing. My strategy was to get as much exposure to as many good karters, quality coaches and experienced mechanics as often as I could and was able to accomplish that with Aluminos. I have recently been fortunate to receive a tailor made driver development program in an effort to improve my kart driving technique and race-craft with Aluminos. I am looking forward to being able to further pursue this program over the off season and into the coming year of racing with the Aluminos crew.”
Workum did double-duty at the SuperNationals, running the S4 and TaG Masters divisions. With the help of the Aluminos squad, Workum finished an impressive eighth from 20th in the shifter kart while placing 14th in the TaG ride for two top-15 performances against 40 drivers in both fields.
For the 2010 season, Aluminos is looking at fielding drivers at the SKUSA ProKart Challenge North and South programs, as they have for the past two seasons. The South program will be a mixture of facilities in Southern California while the North will contest events on numerous configurations of the Jim Russell International Karting Center at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Added to their schedule for the upcoming season will be the new SKUSA Pro Tour that is set to compete in April at the Infineon Raceway facility that Aluminos considers their home track and a temporary circuit in the St. Louis, MO area. The year will end with the 14th annual SKUSA SuperNationals in Las Vegas.