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Manteca s kart king brings Duffy home
Photo Contributed. Jarrett Gilmer poses with the “Duffy,” a trophy awarded to the International Karting Federation national champion, Wednesday night in Manteca.
Staff reports of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
STEAD, Nev. – Coming off the International Karting Federation Kid Kart Division Region 11 points championship, Manteca’s Jarrett Gilmer, an 8-year-old third grader at Veritas School, didn’t know if he would make it to nationals.
Each year the IKF holds a two-day national championship in which the coveted “Duffy” trophy is awarded to the best driver in each division sanctioned under IKF racing.
This season, the IKF 2-Stroke Grand Nationals were held July 21 and 22 at Desert Park Raceway, near Reno, Nev.
While the rest of 14-kart field arrived in Nevada on Saturday in preparation for Wednesday’s race, Gilmer, his mother, Sheree, and grandfather, Donny, who double as the JAG racing crew, were back home in Manteca, unable to afford the trip to Nevada.
But thanks to some last-minute sponsorship from Wendt Construction, Womble Auto Parts and Kim and Ray Weathers, Gilmer’s No. 2 was packed up and the young racer was headed to face the nation’s best.
“When we got there, it was a little intimidating,” Sheree Gilmer said. “The kids there were from all over, and they had the full set-up with full crews. Some of those kids had has many as 22 motors, and there we were, showing up the day before the race with one motor and a back-up.
“We felt like a little fish from a little pond in a big pond full of big fish.”
The track at Desert Park Raceway features a number of hills and turns, which fits Gilmer’s reputation as a technically-skilled racer well.
Gilmer ran fast enough for fourth overall during qualifying (3 laps), finished second the heat race (5), and ended up with the second position heading into the rolling start of the 10-lap championship.
Gilmer was fantastic in the championship, leading every lap save for one. Gilmer was passed by the No. 8 kart, driven by Jarett Tachovsky, on the fourth lap, but quickly found his way back to the head of the pack and led the rest of the way.
Tachovsky trailed close behind Gilmer heading into the last corner of the final straightaway, while the No. 11, driven by Zach Corbitt, ran in third position.
Tachovsky made his move on the straightaway, but Gilmer refused to give. Tachovsky bumped Gilmer, sending the No. 2 kart into the gravel where it hit the rail and flipped, shooting Gilmer from the vehicle.
Gilmer belly-flopped onto the asphalt, hopped up quickly and ran off the track to safety.
Tachovsky took the checkered flag, and Corbitt finished second.  
But IKF rules state that any red flag on the final lap reverts the championship order to white-flag positioning.
Because Gilmer, who finished in 10 minues, 42.884-seconds, led heading into the final lap, he was crowned the national champion and awarded the Duffy.
Tachovsky (10:42.940) took silver, and Corbitt (10:43.035) claimed bronze.
“Someone protested the win,” Gilmer said. “But it was in the rule book.”
The rule is meant to protect a driver that finds himself in the very situation Gilmer did.
“The hardest part of it all was the thousand of emotions afterward,” said Gilmer, who was shaken by her son’s wreck, said. “It was fear, relief, happy, sad, nervous, and, when we learned that Jarrett had won, elation.”
Gilmer prepared to race shortly after winning the championship but Sheree wanted to make sure Jarrett had fully recovered mentally from the accident, so the young racer sat one out.
Sheree says it won’t be long, however, before Jarrett is back behind the wheel.

- Brandon Petersen