Unsure as to whether he will have a place on next year's IndyCar Series grid, Will Power will keep his hand in by taking part in the 2008 Performance Racing Industry All-Stars Karting Classic at the Orange County Convention Centre in Orlando next month.
The Team Australia drive will turn out for the FirstKart.com
team in the Masters division of the 11 December event, running as part of a three-man squad alongside fellow IndyCar driver Marco Andretti and leading NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Antron Brown. The team will also run a three-kart line-up in the Karter division for Indy Lights drivers James Davison and Bobby Wilson and karting ace Spencer Pigot.
The event will mark a return to his roots for Power, whose motorsport career began in karting at a young age, when he and his brothers raced at the Greer Park Kart Raceway in his hometown of Toowoomba. The Long Brach Grand Prix winner still drives karts regularly to help maintain his high level of fitness and tune his reflexes, but has not raced competitively for some time.
“Karting is where it all began for me, but it's one part of my driving that I've never completely stepped away from,” he confirmed, “I still drive karts regularly, both in Indianapolis and back home in Toowoomba as the karts are so fast and the tracks so demanding that it's the best way to keep your eye in between races or during the off-season.
"And, on top of those benefits, it's a huge amount of much fun and something you can do with your friends, whether it's other drivers or just your mates. You can understand why so many drivers keep racing karts through their whole careers. Any training you do that's also fun is always great.”
Power will drive a First Kart chassis powered by a 125cc IAME Leopard engine as he competes in a field full of well-known competitors, including former Champ Car rivals AJ Allmendinger, Max Papis, Cristiano da Matta, Nelson Philippe, Jan Heylen and Ryan Hunter-Reay, as well as current IndyCar opponents Buddy Rice and Townsend Bell, Grand-Am's Oswaldo Negri and NASCAR's Scott Speed and Jamie McMurray. Further driver announcements are expected in the lead-up to the event.
Power's place in the IndyCar line-up remains in doubt following speculation that long-time backer Craig Gore may withdraw his Aussie Vineyards sponsorship following the loss of the Gold Coast race in Surfers Paradise. Gore has been struggling with ill-health in the past year and may decide to focus on his various business interests rather than backing The KV Racing Technology car that Power drove throughout 2008. As a result, the PRI outing will be a welcome diversion for the Australian.
“I've really got to thank the FirstKart.com
team for this opportunity and I'm hoping to give them a great result,” Power said, “We've got quite a team lined up for the event. I've heard a lot about this race and I've been really keen to get some kart races under my belt during this long off-season. It should be a lot of fun but, in saying that, I'm taking it quite seriously. I'm still very fit and I want to get a good result.”
The All-Stars Karting Classic is staged at night, in conjunction with the enormous PRI convention, and forms the nationally-televised season finale for the US-based Stars of Karting Series.