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World records are rare in the making but the 24 hour world distance record for a kart on an outdoor course now rests securely in the hands of Gary Kannegiesser aged 58 who, with a fourman team, shattered the Guinness record on December 10/11th. Driving a TaGconfigured Tonykart, Kannegiesser and his Laps for Kids team drove 1,312 laps around the 1.2 mile course at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler, Arizona, a total of 1,574.2 miles or 2,533.43km. The previous Guinness record of 1,062.5 miles (1,709.9km) was set in 1997 by a team in Northern Ireland. Starting at 1:03pm on December 10th things looked anything but auspicious as a fowled plug brought the kart to a stop after travelling roughly 100 feet! However, with a quick replacement, the run was on its way. The team endured cold night temperatures, successfully evaded rabbits and black cats who crossed the track as well as unscheduled breakdowns.
With scheduled refuelling stops each half hour and driver changes on the hour, the team of Kannegiesser from Ohio, Alan Rudolph, 29 from Phoenix, 14 year old Timmy Megenbier from Illinois and Phil Gordon 47 from Chicago, along with reserve driver Cap Henry aged 15 from Ohio and a pit crew headed by Tim Megenbier met every obstacle that arose. With racing legend Bob Bondurant waving the chequered flag, it was Rudolph who brought the kart across the line at 1:02:59pm on an overcast December 11 to complete the 24 hour epic. The world record breaking team averaged almost 66mph over the entire course of the run, with Megenbier posting the fastest lap time of 51.1 seconds over 1.2 miles, or 84.2mph. Megenbier is the highest finishing North American in Rotax MAX Grand Final history with a 5th place at the 2004 Junior Finals in the Canary Islands. Alan Rudolph, Chief Instructor at the Bondurant SuperKart School, three times King of the Streets at the Rock Island Grand Prix and holder of numerous national titles in karts and cars, was behind the wheel on both occasions when the 125cc engine blew. However the team was well prepared, installing a replacement in less than 20 minutes.
When that engine yielded lower lap times though, the crew performed a rebuild, subsequently reinstalling the original engine. Several hours later, in the dead of night, the engine went again with Rudolph at the wheel. However, since the halfway mark from the old record had been reached in roughly nine hours, even with engine changes, everyone was confident the record was going to fall with plenty to spare. After the second rebuild the engine performed flawlessly for the rest of the race. The previous record was eclipsed at 5:30am or 16.5 hours into the run with Kannegiesser at the wheel. He was also behind the wheel when 1,500 miles was surpassed with a bit more than an hour remaining. Kannegiesser, the founder of Laps For Kids (www.lapsforkids.com), came up with the idea for a world record attempt to bring attention to karting as the cradle of motorsport today and to raise funds for the Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina, founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty and actor Paul Newman, in honour of Adam Petty who died in 2000. Kannegiesser was supported by his two sons, Dane and Robert, while Timmy Megenbier was supported by dad Tim as Crew Chief and his mum Angel. Alan Rudolph’s wife and daughter cheered their man as he piloted the kart the final hour into the history books. The goal of raising $1 million for the charity wasn’t met but the team showed how karting can bring families together for noble causes while at the same time having loads of fun.