In 1978, Lake Speed proved what many people had believed for a long time — that he was the best kart driver in the world. Lake did this by winning the karting World Championships at Le Mans, France. Before his international victory at Le Mans, Lake had won nearly every important race in the United States at least once. Three times he has claimed a sprint-racing national championship title in the B-Open class, and, in 1975, he was the C-Open class champion in both sprint and road racing. All tolled, the kart shop owner from Jackson, Mississippi, who has been racing since 1961, has won over 20 national championships.
Lynn Haddock, Lake’s friend and mechanic at Le Mans, has won perhaps more titles than any driver in karting. Lynn started racing in 1958, when he was eight years old. Since then, he has captured over 20 WKA (World Karting Association) titles and almost as many IKF (International Kart Federation) titles in both sprint and road racing. In 1977, Lynn proved his versatility as a driver by winning the Reed Open and B-Limited class national championships in both the sprint and enduro competition. The Chattanooga Choo Choo, as this engine builder from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is known, gained international recognition with his victory in the 125cc class at the 1975 Hong Kong International Karting Prix. Often called the “Queen of Champions,” Kathey Hartman has shown that success in karting may come to women as well as to men. Kathey is one of the most successful drivers in karting history. Competing in a sport dominated by men has not prevented Kathey from winning 15 national and 3 grand national titles. In fact, no other driver has won two grand national championships in a row, as Kathey did in 1971 and 1972. While compiling an impressive list of sprint-racing victories, Kathey has been most outstanding in the enduro competition. Kathey would quickly admit that her achievements in karting must be shared with her husband, John, chief of Hartman Engineering, which introduced the first lay-down enduro kart in 1963.
Other top karters who deserve mention along with Speed, Haddock, and Hartman include grand national champions Kyle Adkins, Bob Pruitt, Gary Emmick, Linda Emmick (Gary’s wife), and Howard Combee, who has also won the Hong Kong International Karting Prix. Veteran drivers Mark Dismore, Dave Knapp, and Terry Traeder have won karting honors for many years, while bright young stars such as Texas state champion in Junior I and II classes Adam Thompson and 1979 Barnesville Winter Olympics champion Denise Johnston promise to be big names in karting for years to come.