As one of the premier karting series in not only North America, but also the world, the Formula Kart Productions Florida Winter Tour was purchased by MAXSpeed Entertainment in August of 2014. Signing a deal with long time promoter and owner Bill Wright, MAXSpeed Entertainment, headed by president Richard Boisclair, would take over the reigns and look to re-energize the program with a new focus and efforts behind the popular winter series.
Immediately hiring the likes of Garett Potter to take the lead role in the series, the 2015 Florida Winter Tour began to take shape. Working with tracks throughout the state, soon after a schedule was announced along with an exciting new class structure. Forgoing the Formula Kart TaG weekend and striking a deal with OTK/Vortex Srl., the double race weekend format will take on a new roll in the upcoming season through the ROK Cup USA program.
Remaining static will be the second weekends of the series that have always encompassed the Rotax MAX Challenge program. With drivers traveling from around the world to vie for race wins, championships and accompanying tickets to the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals, the Florida Winter Tour developed a reputation that would challenge any karting series around the world.
With the first weekend now a ROK Cup USA weekend, all teams and competitors will race in the series utilizing only one engine brand per weekend. Met with praise from most of the industry and their customers, the 2015 Florida Winter Tour was born. The ROK Cup USA is relatively new in the United States but has taken the country by storm. With several of the nation’s top teams and drivers getting behind the program, providing them with well-organized national level events was a must.The 2015 Florida Winter Tour saw stops at the Homestead Karting, Orlando Kart Center and Ocala Gran Prix facilities throughout the months of January, February and March.
The 2016 series will kick off at FWT standby, the Homestead Karting facility in Homestead, Florida. The second stop will see Florida Winter Tour competitors at the picturesque Ocala Gran Prix circuit in Ocala, Florida with the finale rounds returning to Palm Beach Karting in Jupiter, Florida, which has hosted numerous FWT events in year’s prior.
With a host of international teams and drivers making the trek to the Sunshine State, the 2016 edition of the tour promises to be the best yet!
16 YEARS LATER...STILL GROWING
The Formula Kart Productions Florida Winter Tour is one of kartings oldest and longest continuously running racing programs. From its humble beginnings in the winter of 1999 "The FWT" has grown into one of the world's largest, geographically diverse, competitive and prestigious sprint kart racing programs.
Bill Wright, exclusive owner and promoter of The FWT, is excited to report that for the 15th time in its 16 year history the FWT recorded an increase in the total number of drivers and entries during its recently completed 16th edition. The 2014 FWT featured 382 drivers accounting for 1,780 entries. Participating drivers represented 26 countries and all six karting continents.
A SHORT FWT HISTORY LESSON
By 2002 the FWT had expanded to include four shifter classes, two direct drive classes (JICA and ICA), three Rotax classes (Junior, Senior and Masters), and dropped the SKUSA sanction.
In 2006 the growth of classes and competitors had reached a point that a single event weekend didn't provide enough time to meet the increasing demands of the series. So for 2007 FWT was split into two separate Championships, racing on back-to-back weekends. This format, consisting of the FWT Formula Kart Racing Championship and the FWT Rotax Max Challenge, remains in place today.
The 2007 "FK" weekends consisted of two Senior and one Masters shifter classes, Cadet drivers on Comer 80, Junior and Senior drivers on ICA (Intercontinental A direct drive), and Senior and Masters drivers on the then new "TaG" engines.
The 2007 FWT Rotax Max Challenge weekends consisted of Senior, Junior and Masters classes, and featured the introduction of the new Mini and DD2 classes.
Over the next five years the FWT saw a slow but steady decline in the number of classes and entries at the Formula Kart Racing Championship. Conversely, for the next five years the FWT Rotax Max Challenge showed steady growth and the introduction of two new classes. Amazingly, even during the economic troubles after 2008, the overall numbers for the combined programs continued to climb every year until 2013, when economic pressures and the introduction of several competing programs finally saw a slight decrease in overall participation. Sadly, 2013 was also the first time in its 15 year history that the FWT did not feature a shifter kart Championship.
2014 FORMULA KART RACING CHAMPIONSHIP
It is the height of irony that the classes that disappeared from the FWT "FK" Championship in 2013 helped it to grow substantially for the second consecutive year in 2014. Shifter karts made a return to FWT in a big way, providing the largest percentage of an amazing 34% growth in the 2014 FWT "FK" Championship, averaging 110 drivers and 222 entries per event-weekend, with a high of 117 drivers at the March rounds in Orlando.
2014 FWT ROTAX MAX CHALLENGE
Sometimes success can be its own worst enemy. After an amazing 10 years of double-digit growth-percentages, the FWT RMC succumbed to an increasingly overburdened event schedule and competition from the introduction of several new RMC's, and for the past two years has shown a decrease in overall participation. The good news is that even with these declines it is still the largest official RMC series in the world. The 2014 FWT RMC averaged 184 drivers and 372 entries per event weekend, with a high of 210 drivers at the January rounds in Homestead.
THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT!
Over the past 16 years many things have changed in karting in The Americas. Series, predominant classes and engine makes and models have come and gone. One constant has been the ownership and leadership of Bill Wright at the Florida Winter Tour. Bill looks forward to many more years of "SERIOUS FUN!" at the Florida Winter Tour.
HISTORIC FWT MOMENTS
• 2014 Added multiple live on-board camera coverage to FWT LIVE! broadcast
• 2013 Fifth World Title with Cristiano Morgado (DD2 Masters)
• 2012 Fourth World Title with Ben Cooper (DD2)
• 2011 Third World Title with Pier-Luc Ouellette (DD2)
• 2010 World's largest official RMC event (296 drivers). Second World Title with Daniel Morad (DD2). Introduced the TRACKSA light marshaling system to The Americas.
• 2009 Introduced a 16 channel video-marshaling system to monitor all FWT events. First broadcast of FWT LIVE!, the groundbreaking live-broadcast service including live video, timing and scoring and audience interaction. First use of starting lanes with speed limits in The Americas.
• 2008 First year as world's largest official RMC series, a status FWT still retains.
• 2007 Split the Tour into back-to-back Formula Kart Racing ( Shifter, TaG ) and RMC event-weekends, added RMCGF Qualifying Spots, first World Title with Pier-Luc Ouellette (DD2)
• 2003 Dropped SKUSA sanction when Rotax became majority of entries
• 2001 Added Rotax classes
• 1999 Started as a SKUSA/Moto-Shifter Kart series