In the recently announced partnership between Radical Motorsport and ROK Cup USA that outlined an alliance to help karters take a different route to big car racing, we dove into the Radical Cup program around the world to analyze the success of kart racers with current Radical racer Austin Riley. While most drivers are persuaded to join the open-wheel series, a more affordable and friendly route is coming into sight through the multi-country Radical Cup program.
“I started racing when I was two weeks shy of my eighth birthday,” expressed Racing with Autism’s and current Blue Marble Radical Cup Pro 1340-point leader Austin Riley. “From the first lap, I knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. As I progressed up the karting ladder, I was fortunate to win three major karting championships by the time I was 13 which helped me in my move to cars. I tried a ROK Shifter kart package for the first time and instantly fell in love. The speed, physical challenge, and focus needed to race and compete at a high level were right up my alley. A Radical Cup car compares to a shifter kart in so many ways and this is why I love the program so much; the speed and the grip levels remind me of my ROK Shifter which is one of the reasons why I have felt so comfortable driving a Radical right from the start.”
Besides Riley, who was the 2021 Radical Cup Canada Champion and current leader in the PRO 1340 championship, there have been several kart racers who have made the jump to the Radical Motorsport program around the world: Puerto Rican Gustavo Rafols is the reigning outright champion in the North America program, and 2021 PRO-1500 champ, multi-time Road to Indy race winner Christian Weir had a strong foray in the Radical Cup program before making the switch to open-wheel racing after developing race craft and gaining some car racing experience, 2019 Pro 1500 Runner-up, Autobahn Country Club member and Road to Indy competitor Jordan Missig, UK standout Daryl De Leon, who just won the Radical SR1 Cup Championship in the UK and Ben Caisley, who trailed De Leon closely all season long to finish second in the championship point battle.
Riley added, “I would recommend the Radical Cup program to anyone wanting to move up from karts. For the money, you can’t race a higher-performing car than a Radical SR3. The track time is some of the most affordable around the world and the paddock is family-friendly, yet very competitive. It is a great stepping stone for someone wanting to try and make a career in motorsports, but also a perfect home for a gentleman racer or hobbyist.”
When asked about his desire to get back to karting on occasion, Riley continued, “I wish we had the budget to still race karts as well but anytime I can get my butt into one, I jump at the chance. I love the pureness of it, not to mention the physicality of it. I work at our local kart track a few days a month, and I do some coaching from time to time when my schedule allows. While I would love to drive more often, I do feel very lucky to have been able to move from karting to cars. I love working with karters and watching them progress, especially young racers. It makes me very proud to give back to the sport that has given me so much but also to show karters that there is a route from karting to cars through the Radical Cup program.”
With the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America Finale at the Sonoma Raceway and the Radical World Finals in Las Vegas on the horizon, Austin Riley will be looking to earn himself his first North American championship trophy to proudly display alongside his Canadian title and would like nothing more than to add a World Champion title to his resume.
“Everything started in karting for me,” added in Riley. “Karting led me to the Radical Cup program, and I am one happy racer!”