Galletta’s Karting Club – Klassic Championship Race History:
The World Championship of Gas Flathead Karting is always decided in
late September/early October annually at John J. Galletta Memorial Backyard Speedway:
Galletta’s Go-Kart Club & Backyard Speedway started in the early 1990s as a fun way to race affordable, equally-matched go-karts in the backyard of Galletta’s Greenhouse, around where founding brothers Matt and Chris Stevens used to host backyard football games in their high school days – and named John J. Galletta Memorial Kart Speedway after Chris & Matt’s late grandfather who always considered making a kart track on the land. Although much glory and praise has been given to modern “clone” go-karts in terms of affordability and competitive equality, oddly everybody ignored (sometimes out of ignorance of what we do; sometimes an intentional snub) the fact that Galletta’s had hosted 100% box stock 5hp (gas-fueled flathead) 1-WD go-kart races all Summer through Fall annually at Galletta’s Greenhouse Backyard Speedway between 1990-2004(until local dirt kart racer folk altered our motor rules and forced us to upgrade or be called “whiners”), and still race 100% equalized karts from 2005-up. Now, although we have raced every year since 1990, the first recorded points series and “Klassic Championship Race” was held in 1996. We also have every points season from 2000-up on this website as well. Here we go with the quick rundown of every Klassic in Galletta’s history: (By the way, the intentional snubs led us to believe that they were inferior racers who pretend that they are professionals in their $2,000-4,000 karts but got destroyed when they raced with us in our equalized karts).
The Galletta’s Karting Club started in 1990 when Matt purchased a used yard kart and made a track around the property of Galletta’s Greenhouse, where he lived with his family. It was basically a huge road course that went over the normal track, then through the front yard, through trees and to the driveway, then around the greenhouse and back to what we now know as the traditional track. When his brother Chris (yours truly, the webmaster of this site) got a used concession kart a couple years later, we shortned the track to an oval and raced, sometimes having friends over to hop from kart to kart and have fun. We did this for a few years until the mid-1990s when we created a points system and began counting points and wins. The greenhouse founder John Galletta – who originally wanted to build a go-cart circuit but never had enough interested parties to help build one – was pleased with the track, commenting how large it was (most kart tracks are indeed very small in comparison), and helped us with some safety improvements. In 1996, following the passing of Chris & Matt’s grandfather and founder of the Greenhouse that we race in back of, we did the very first “Galletta’s Go-Kart Classic”, which we have held every year since.
1996 – The 1st Annual Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 70(?): The 1st-ever Galletta’s Klassic had just three karts; Matt in his trusty Galletta’s #3 (an old, rebuilt-for-racing Manco yard kart), Chris in the original Galletta’s #1 (an old, rebuilt-for-racing Thunder Island kart), and Wesley “Ogre” Stevens (in a BRAND-NEW, but rebuilt-for-racing Manco yard kart) battled it out. The two brothers and their father passed each other back and forth countless times – some clean and some not so clean – but Matt Stevens emerged on top on the final lap of this first Klassic, also winning the 1st points series as well.
1997 – The 2nd Annual Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 80: Although no pictures have been found of the 1st Klassic, we did find some grainy photos from our 2nd Klassic in 1997. We see the Galletta’s #4 (back then #23) driven by Chris, and Ogre inherited Chris’s #1 (before it was scrapped for being too heavy; its parts salvaged to create a new, lighter kart, the Galletta’s #2). Matt Stevenswon this 2nd Klassic virtually unchallenged in his Galletta’s #3. Chris was peeved and Wes was stupefied at how badly Matt defeated them.
1998 – The 3rd Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 80: Again, Matt Stevens won the 3rd Klassic in utterly dominant fashion in his Galletta’s #3, again leaving his brother Chris (in the new Galletta’s #2) and father Wes “Ogre” Stevens (in the Galletta’s #4) in the dust. (Despite Ogre’s disgraceful loss, he did at least win best appearing kart while being kicked award).
1999 – The 4th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 80: This Klassic had 4 karts, as the newer Galletta’s #1 was built. This one saw RaYzor C. pose with the kart in womanly fashion, but shared the ride with Dangerous Dan Boyce. This was the first Galletta’s Klassic ever recorded on videotape (and hence also now on DVD, as every one since is), and we see Chris Stevens win in in the Galletta’s #2, combining it with a victory in the total points series for the year as well, breaking Matt’s 3-year streak of power.
2000 – The 5th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 80: Chris, Matt, and Wes ran 33 events and built the Galletta’s #6 and #5 making it so 3 more people could race with us. Chris Stevens was the dominant factor all year, winning 15 & 1/2 features (including 7 straight) en route to winning his 2nd straight Klassic in his brand new #5. Brian Galletta and Larry Dishaw upped our Klassic count to five.
2001 – The 6th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 80: This season, we started having big track guest racers join us and have a ball! Fran Rowe, Cameron Rowe, Gordon Smallidge, Randy Ritskes, Joe Miller, and Team Syrell pit crew members Eric Syrell, Sean Stevens, and Brian Galletta. Cam helped Matt create stagger on the karts, which increased the speeds about one second. Cam also won a feature (becoming the 1st visitor to ever do so in our 1990-2001 history). Chris Stevens completed a 3-year Klassic and track championship sweep in his Galletta’s #5 kart, matching Matt’s previous 3-year reign. The #7 was the new kart built this year.
2002 – The 7th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 90: A talented crop of rookie drivers in Tom Culeton, DJ Barnes, Dan and Chris Lupa, Dan Alnutt and friends joined us in 2002, increasing the regular driver total yet again. Matt Stevens in the #3 snapped his brother Chris’ 3-year domination by taking the Points Standings on the final night and then taking the Klassic, although Chris challenged him late in the Galletta’s #0, a rebuilt old racing kart donated to the club.
2003 – The 8th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 100: We upped the Klassic to 100 laps this time, and Brian Galletta and friends – all inexperienced rookies – filled the karts for this one. The race was close between the more experienced Brian, Chris, Wes and Matt, with Chris leading late and looking strong, but due to walking on the wet grass during a caution break, his foot slipped off the gas for a split instant enabling Matt Stevens to sneak by and emerge the victor late in the race in his Galletta’s #3, also taking the points title.
2004 – The 9th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 100: For the 1st time ever, we had competitors starting to bring their own karts instead of them all being onlyGalletta’s karts, and it made for a great season! Ed Maynes and Dan Murdock shared co-rookie-of-the-year honors in another batch of talented young drivers. Chris was the fastest time-trial-er in his brand new #8 kart, but broke down early on. Ed broke out and tried to lap the whole field during the first half of the race, but broke down before he could do so. Matt Stevens then pulled away after Ed’s break, and was never even challenged Galletta’s #3, again also taking the points title.
2005 – The 10th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 125: Another full field for the 2005 Klassic. This season saw several people start bringing their own karts, including Gary Miller, who shared rookie-of-the-year honors with Rob Jimenez, who used Chris’ backup #5 all year. This Klassic saw Gary, Fred Collins, Ogre Stevens, and Rob duke it out, but it was Matt Stevens who AGAIN took the win in his #3 when everybody else spun and wrecked in front of him on a mid-race restart. Again, he also took the points crown. Oddly, for the 2nd straight year, Matt, Jason, and Chris finished 1-2-3 in the Klassic. On a side-note, this was the first season that we were not 100% box stock. We “shaved” or “milled” our heads to compete against 6.5hp OHV karts that raced with us in the regular season, but when it was decided to split the two different motors into two classes before the Klassic, the OHV karters dubbed themselves “The Outlaws” and never came back. This was also the year that we created our website, which has helped us gain new drivers and also fans all over the world... and cause some local 2-WD methanol karters to actually hate us (My only guess is because they disrespect our type of karting and overrate theirs? I always respected them before they kept mocking us. And, coincidentally, two new dirt kart tracks popped up around this same time.).
2006 – The 11th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 150: 16 karts made for our biggest – and the closest finish – in Klassic history. This one was an epic battle, as Rob Jimenez, Chris, Matt, and Wes Stevens all battled for the lead throughout the race. However, it wasWesley “The Ogre” Stevens who won it in the Galletta’s #4 – in a motor bought off of ebay for $20 – when he passed Rob late and held off a last-lap charge by Matt in his brand-new #33. Matt did still win the points title, however, making the first time that we ever had two different Klassic and Track Champions. We also had Kelly Miller as a big-track guest-star driver. This season, we also doubled our race schedule by racing at Oswego Speedway’s fledgling new dirt kart track, being the largest and most competitive karting class for the first two seasons on the track. It was fun other than being forced by the track operator (a disgruntled, failed 1-3 time driver at Galletta’s) to race vs. the OHV Outlaws (the same people who quit our track the previous year) and even an “Open” class methanol kart by the track operator, or else not race at all. Even so, Matt Stevens still won the points title and several Galletta’s karters scored wins despite being overpowered in the motor department. Wes Stevens also took the season-ending unofficial 1st 15-kart/40-lap “Mixed Motor” Classic before Labor day when all other methanol/WKA classes refused to race because the track was too bumpy. Those wussies! And some of them looked down on our class? :^P
2007 – The 1st Oswego Speedway Dirt (Mini) Classic 50: In 2007, we again doubled our races again and raced at Oswego Speedway’s Dirt track, where Matt Stevens won the points title andChris Stevens won the 1st-Ever 50-Lap Oswego Speedway Dirt Classic in his Galletta’s #8. Perhaps even more impressive than any other division (we shared the track with WKA methanol karting classes), because the Galletta’s Kart Club had to again race against a “6.5hp OHV Outlaw” kart class using their stock 5hp flatheads (with only shaved heads to equalize the difference). In fact, Galletta’s brought 12 karts and fielded 11 in the 16 kart Gas Stocker Classic. Chris, Wes, and Matt swept the trophies and Classic tickets in the undisputedly largest and most exciting race in the Oswego Kartway’s history.
2007 – The 12th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 175: Our 12th Annual Galletta’s Kart Klassic saw rookies Kyle Reuter, Ryan Coleman, Mike “mc” Howell, and Buddy Cottom (all with prior racing experience on other tracks) provide a challenge for the 3 vets, but Matt Stevens again swept the Klassic and Points Championships in the Galletta’s #33. This season we also helped our two heavier drivers by allowing them race cams, where all normal-weight drivers needed to remain box stock. It helped equalize competition even more, which is what our race rules are all about since day one. On a bad note, the only significant injury in the history of our track happened in this Klassic when a rookie unintentionally cut off early-race leader Wesley Stevens into a tire barrier, causing him to violently flip and break his shoulder blade and a few ribs. He healed up fine in a month’s time and effectively retired from full-time racing (only racing a few ’08 Oswego shows to help us fill the field) due to the accident.
2008 – The 2nd Oswego Kartway (Mini) Classic 50: This was our final season at the Oswego Speedway’s newly renamed “Oswego Kartway”, as the track operator admitted to selling our OHV Outlaw co-competitors Animal motors, forcing us to change our rules to compete (this was the first season that race cams were fully allowed in our club, due to rule changes forced on us by the Oswego Kartway), and he only allowed a motor class split after the Outlaws mutually agreed to it. He then awarded Wes Stevens the Classic win after he passed race dominator Matt under caution on the last lap at the stripe, then angrily berated us for bringing it up to him on is message board. In the following off-season, he then banned our entire class, following it up via he and his friends proceeding to childishly mock us (and even threaten us) on two web forums for nearly a year afterwards. After 13+ years of racing problem-free on our own track, but then being barred from another track for breaking no rules, getting in no fights (unlike other classes), no bad wrecks (plus less wrecks than other classes), never cheating (despite accusations in the other classes), and 3 years of bringing 8-16 karts in our division (when other classes barely had any early on, and usually only maxed out at 3-10 total each class), forcing us to change our rules away from box stock (then banning us for left-turn box stock “clone” motors), producing affordable $5 DVDs of their weekly races, giving free online promotion to, and doing uncompensated logos and web-banners for – was simply appalling. Although in the end it was a mutual split, the lack of respect and child-like mockery by supposed professionals (ha!) was disgraceful, worth pointing out here for anybody who did not know, and is the reason why we – for now – just race on our home track. Our negative experiences with that track’s belligerent operator and his ‘yes-men’ has made our club’s decision to go to other local tracks onlyvia personal invitation from track officials allowing us our own class without altering our tried-and-tested rules. We’ve raced here for 14+ years – before all of the other local dirt karting tracks even existed – and won’t be going anywhere. It’s the reason we developed our affordable brand of backyard racing and chose to race $400 karts instead of $4,000 karts – to race 100% for fun and pure competition only, letting driver skills (and not money invested) decide the outcome, and not have to deal with the cheats, the dishonesty, and the spoilsports commonly found in “organized” racing.
2008 – The 13th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 200: Our 13th Annual Galletta’s Kart Klassic went 200 laps (after we technically did 200 last year counting cautions). Chris Stockham was a big-track guest star driver, and early on challenged leader Buddy Cottom along with Russ Hockey. But shortly after the mid-way point, Matt Stevens put the #33 in 1st again and clinched yet another Klassic and Galletta’s Track Championship with the win. The new Galletta’s kart built this season was the #80, driven by Matt’s wife, Melissa, who was the first first female feature winner at Galletta’s during the prior 2007 season.
2009 – The 14th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 200: Our 14th Annual Klassic went 200 laps (technically 210 after counting cautions and green laps on tape). Russ Hockey scored the pole with a 16.22 and set a very fast pace while dominating the vast majority of the race, holding off challenges by Jesse Vivlemore, George Russell, and Chris Stevens. That was until late in the race Matt Stevens took the lead in his #33 on lap 162 and then held off his brother Chris–who had to come back from the rear after being in the top-3 all race and losing a drive-wheel nut late–to take the win, his 10th Klassic victory. However, Chris did break Matt’s 8-year-straight Track Championship winning streak by racing and finishing consistently in the top-3 all year long, despite Matt having more total wins. This race became legendary for the fact that the top three karts did not pit and went all 200+ laps on one tank of pump gasoline! Russ, despite leading 152 laps, finished 2 laps down due to running out of fuel.
2010 – The 15th Galletta’s Go-Kart Klassic 200: On Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 – A 14-competitor 200-lapper was in store for the 15th Annual Galletta’s Karting Klassic 200-Lap Championship, and again did not disappoint as a close, competitive race with a lot of drama. Point-leaders Chris and Matt — while running a strong 2nd & 3rd late behind the slowing Gary Miller Sr. — tangled together and had to go to the rear. After the restart, Kyle Reuter–who did lead over 100 laps early in the Galletta’s #1 before having to change karts due to a sputtering motor–took the lead late and was not challenged. Reuter, The Oswego Kartway Track Champion (Medium-Weight Methanol Flathead Division — the premiere one at that track), racing his 1st Feature at Galletta’s since the 2007 Klassic, emerged from the marathon race on top in the Galletta’s Greenhouse #0 kart. He became 1st non-founding/visiting driver to ever win a Galletta’s Klassic (Matt Stevens won 10, Chris won 3, and the since-retired Wes won 1)! In addition to being the 1st Non-Founding driver to win it, Kyle also became the 1st driver to come back from the rear using a back-up kart that did not start the race to win (which also exposes how many potent “Arrive-and-Drive” Galletta’s karts are available and go unused by the high volume of [from Chris & Matt’s point of view] rather cowardly local karters who do not elect to enter the open-to-all invitational, “build-your-own or arrive-and-drive” race). There were many battles and tremendous racing from 1st lap to last. It was his third Galletta’s Klassic entered, and Kyle said afterwards, “I still can’t believe I won it! This was the most fun I’ve ever had in any race in any kind of kart. ” That’s exactly why and how we race, and we are thrilled to hear it said by so many drivers of other local racing classes!
2011 – The 16th Galletta’s Greenhouse Karting Klassic 200 – SATURDAY,OCTOBER 8th, 2011: A grueling 200 laps. But yours truly – webmaster Chris Stevens – broke a 10-year dry-spell by winning his first Galletta’s Greenhouse Karting Klassic since 2001 (while running almost on fumes)! It was not easy, as he time trialed 5th, and had to come from the back of the field twice when he blew a tire in 2nd early, then clobbered a tree in 2nd late. But everything fell his way when the leader of the first 157 laps of the race, Matt Stevens, decided to refuel putting Chris in the lead with barely sputtering off enough fumes to get him the win with Matt all over him. Several competitors didn’t finish the marathon event, and the closeness of competition made this the HARDESTKlassic to date, with tough competition form first to last, including 2010 defending Klassic Champ Kyle Reuter (who lost a front wheel while in 2nd himself, crashed into the buckwheat in turn 2 and retired). For most of the first 100 laps, Kyle pressured Matt to set a fast pace, which in the end was the deciding factor that forced Matt to refuel with 43 laps to go, which put Chris – who made it back to 2nd for a third time in the race – in the lead. Chris actually benefited from blowing a tire early and conserving gas in the rear during the 2nd 4th of the race, which led to him having enough gas to take the checker, the first time the Galletta’s #8 kart won a Klassic – Chris’ previous Klassic wins came in the Galletta’s #2 (1999) and Galletta’s #5 (2000 & 2001). Chris has had several close calls in those last ten years (many 2nd and 3rd places, and a few bad luck breaks while up front in position to win). Outstanding show from start to finish with some close racing and a few exciting accidents to keep you viewers satisfied. Complete race videos on DVD only $5 each disc and are ready. Meanwhile, here is a recap of the 2011 season thus far, including the 2011 Finalized Point Standings, where Matt Stevens led enough laps in the Klassic to earn enough bonus points to surpass his brother by two points! This after Chris had enough top-3 points to beat Matt by 1/2 point in 2010! And consider that going into Klassic, the top 6 were all up for grabs That’s racing, folks!
The 17th Annual Galletta’s Greenhouse Karting Club Klassic 200 – SATURDAY, October 6th, 2012: The 17th Annual Galletta’s Greenhouse Karting Club Championship 200 had 14 karts on the starting grid. And what a complicated story it was – the most controversial Klassic in the first seventeen years of the annual season championship finale’s history. In short, the race was highly competitive throughout, with Brian Galletta, Kyle Reuter, Randy Platt, Matt Stevens, and Chris Stevens all leading significant portions of the 200-lapper with karts easily fast enough to get the win. With the exception of Platt spinning out while in the lead, every other lead change in the 200 lapper occured in lapped traffic. And none more controversial than the final two lead changes between Matt and Chris Stevens – the founding brothers and winners of 14 of the first 16 Klassics (only Wes Stevens in 2006 and Kyle Reuter in 2010 won the other two). The brothers passed each other back and forth behind the lapped traffic of rookie Dave Spanfelner during the last 20 laps of the race, and with 5 laps to go, contact changed the outcome. Matt put himself in the back after his #33 bounced Dave into Chris (and the caution came out for Dave after he went off the track and the start-line pilon got stuck in his bumper). This put Chris Stevens in the lead to the the checker via passing the line in 1st place on lap 200 – which would’ve sealed him his 2nd straight Klassic 200 victory and put him ahead of his brother Matt for the 2012 points title. However, the race win was lifted. Why? Well, Matt Stevens and Mary Stevens both deeply protested the fact that Matt needlessly and voluntarily went to the rear of the field after he and Chris were battling back and forth for the lead through traffic and bumped the Dave Spanfelner #54 off track during their battle with 5 laps to go, and Matt put himself in the back of the pack, leading to Chris crossing the finish line at the checker, The race was then declared no winner, and Ogie Stevens stepped up to the winning kart and took credit for the win. It is Ogie’s 1st career win of any kind, although he claims that he has won everything he’s ever tried, including things that he never knew he even was trying. Due to the controversy, the likely decision will Chris and Matt technically tie (with nobody else losing a position), but will split 1st (Chris’ final position) and 5th (Matt’s final position)’s points. With this being the case, Matt holds on to the points lead and takes the 2012 Galletta’s Track Championship. Oh, that tricky Matthew, stealing wins even after he didn’t win! 😉