SALISBURY, N.C. – Just over a week ago, Lucas Sipka didn’t even have an Open division outlaw kart of his own, but now the teenager has a shot to race in the QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport for the first time.
Sipka will make his maiden attempt at Millbridge Speedway’s biggest race, as well as just his third Wednesday Open appearance at the sixth-mile dirt oval, during the May 20-22 spectacle.
His opportunity to compete in the Speed51 Open came after his older brother Adam, who works for a start-up technology company, purchased one of Tyler Reddick’s former outlaw karts for Sipka to drive at his home race track.
That opened the door, and from there, the former Box Stock regular knew he had to seize the chance.
“My brother played a big part in getting this thing and I’m so grateful to him for getting involved and helping me out going into the biggest race week of the year,” Sipka said. “The only thing that he asked was that he could drive it if he wanted to come down and turn some laps, and I figured I could make that deal. He is family, after all, and we have each other’s backs.
“I’m just so excited to be a part of this. I’ve watched the Speed51 Open for a few years now, and it’s one of the craziest nights there is at this race track every year,” he added. “To think that I’m going to be a part of it this week is a little insane, but I can’t wait to get started.”
Sipka is particularly excited to be wheeling a family-owned No. 54 entry, with backing from Clouatre Motorsports, during this week’s event. He made his Open division debut driving for Kyle Beattie earlier in the spring, but feels like he can drive harder in his own kart than driving for another team owner.
“It’s a cool feeling (to drive for family). A lot of drivers may not talk about this, but at least for me, when I drive someone else’s equipment, I’m out of my comfort zone. When I drive my own stuff, it allows me to drive a little more like a bat out of hell,” Sipka joked. “You can just be a little bit more aggressive, I feel like, when you’re not worrying as much because you don’t want to tear someone else’s kart up.
“When I drove (Kyle) Beattie’s kart in my debut, other than the No. 21 … I maybe took it a touch easier, just because I knew it wasn’t my machine and I don’t like tearing up other people’s stuff,” he noted. “I’m more comfortable and fitted to my kart, and in my mind it lets me take a few more chances than I might normally take otherwise. Now, we just have to go forward into the week and see what happens.”
Though he only has two prior starts in Open equipment, Sipka is aiming high for Wednesday night’s $5,151-to-win program, hopeful of racing his way through the alphabet soup and into the big show.
A confidence-building 11th-place finish in Sunday’s Clash at the Creek, held at nearby Mountain Creek Speedway, has buoyed Sipka’s hopes even more.
“I’m shooting for a shot to contend in the B-main. In a perfect world, that’s my goal,” said Sipka. “I know the competition is going to be tough, but I’d like to get that far if I can. The main mission is just to keep the kart clean, though. We want to not tear anything up and roll it back in the trailer in one piece.
“After we had a shot at a top 10 at Mountain Creek (Speedway), I’m feeling a lot more confident now.”
Sipka’s rapid ascent from Box Stocks to the premier class over the past six months has surprised even himself, but he’s focused forward and not looking back when it comes to the biggest race of his career.
“It hasn’t really set in yet that I get to do this. I don’t think it’ll set in until I get out on track Tuesday for the first session of hot laps,” Sipka noted. “Monday’s practice … that’s cool and all, but it’s still just an open practice with a few more karts than normal, really. That first race day is when it starts counting.
“My mind is honestly blown that last year I was in a Box Stock, and now I’ve got triple the power and so much more competition because I’m running with the Opens. It’s crazy,” Sipka added. “Who would have thought, right?”
Practice for the QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport at Millbridge Speedway begins on Monday, May 20. Feature racing takes place on both Tuesday, May 21 and Wednesday, May 22.
For more information, visit www.millbridgespeedway.com.
-Millbridge Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Blake Harris