Rusty Rae/News-Register##
Mason Smark, a junior-to-be at McMinnville High School, sets up his World Formula kart for a turn during competition Sunday at the Mac Track, located at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds.
Rusty Rae/News-Register## Mason Smark, a junior-to-be at McMinnville High School, sets up his World Formula kart for a turn during competition Sunday at the Mac Track, located at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds.
Rusty Rae/News-Register##
Mason Smark is all business once the helmet goes on as he readies for a heat of racing Sunday at the Mac Track.
Rusty Rae/News-Register## Mason Smark is all business once the helmet goes on as he readies for a heat of racing Sunday at the Mac Track.
By Rusty Rae • Of the News-Register • 

Driving with confidence

McMinnville go-kart racer making moves in WFC series

There’s a difference between being a go-kart driver and a racer. McMinnville High School junior-to-be Mason Smark is fast transforming from go-kart steerer to full-fledged racer, as was seen during his performance Sunday at the Mac Track for the Oregon State Karting Championship Series. Smark won the AC100 class outright. He finished fourth in the World Formula Class (WFC).

Perhaps the most telling race of the day was the second heat Sunday in the WFC in which drivers lined up in a reverse grid. That meant the starting grid was in the reverse order of finish of the previous heat race.

Smark finished second in that first heat and found himself starting second from the last row on the grid. After making a few tweaks to the kart between heats, he carved through the field with the skill of a Lewis Hamilton to take the win.

“The biggest difference in my driving this year is that I’m starting to see the track in kind of a three-dimensional space,” Smark said. “That allows me to drive with more confidence and to really know where I can make a move and where I need to wait to make a move.”

Even with that strategy, racing is a fickle mistress, and Smark led 11 of the 15 laps of the WFC final. However, he misjudged the fast first turn and ran off the track, allowing three other drivers to get by him before he reentered the fray. He finished fourth in a drag-race finish to the checkers with .5 seconds separating first to fourth place. A lesson learned for Smark.

However, in the faster AC100 class, Smark dominated on the day, setting fast time in qualifying, and winning each heat with ease, while also posting the fastest speed of the day at 70.5 mph.

With three races left in the series, Smark is in fourth place in the World Formula class and has a chance for the title. He leads the AC100 point race.

The weekend of racing served as a tune-up for the Saturday Shoot Out at Tri-Cities, where Smark will face one of the strongest challenges of the season, racing against 15 to 20 of the top AC100 drivers and teams on the west coast.

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