|Date: 5/14/2015 8:51:46 PM|
5 wins in a row and counting for unbeaten 12-year old Derek Berlitz
By Dino Oberto … “Keeping Track”
The 2015 race season in Northeast PA is less than a month old and it’s getting that way too for a number of drivers who compete in the Gold Plate kart class at Greenwood Valley Action Track near Orangeville. That’s because 12-year Derek Berlitz of Drums has won every feature race run thus far, a streak of five in a row as of May 9.
Berlitz, a sixth grader at Drums Elementary/Middle School, is in his second season with the Gold Plate class. After copping two wins last year, his intent was to try and match or perhaps go one better than that mark. Not only has he been able to meet that goal but he is raising the bar to an even higher level than he could have imagined.
Berlitz got his winning ways started on April 11 and followed that up with a repeat on April 18.
“It felt really good and I just wanted to keep the streak going. By week three I was thinking, ‘I just got to win,” said Berlitz, who raced at Greenwood Valley for the first time last year and was third in points.
And win he did, and again and again. Five and counting.
“It feels great. I just hope I can keep it going and build on the streak to go higher and higher.”
He may be only 12 but Berlitz has been motoring around and winning on the area’s kart tracks since he was seven.
He began in Kid Karts, then moved on to Purple Plate, Blue Plate and now Gold. In 2010, Derek, and is older brother Danny, had a blistering season when they combined to win 42 feature kart races and took home respective track championships at Borger’s Speedway in Saylorsburg. When Borger’s went from dirt to asphalt in 2011 Derek continued his winning ways there. He also ran a Junior Slingshot and not surprising, won in that class too. Derek has raced at Selinsgrove Raceway Park and Snydersville Speedway.
Now that he calls Greenwood Valley home, Berlitz says he really likes how well maintained the track is each week and it suits his driving style.
“I really like it there. It’s smooth, wide and fast. I can pass on either high or low side but I really prefer the bottom,” said Berlitz.
Gold Plate one of the highest levels in karting before going to Adult Caged. It is as close to unrestricted as you can get. There is, however, a weight rule and the kart with driver must weigh-in at 360 lbs. Berlitz tips the scales at 96 lbs., meaning there is a lot bulk added in order to meet the requirements. But despite that he has not let it be a deterrent and slow him down.
“It was a big difference when I moved into the Gold Plate class. There was a lot more speed and you have to be more delicate with the throttle,” he explained.
Another interesting fact with is that at age 12 he is one of the youngest drivers in the class. Drivers range from 12 – 16 years old and the racing is close, but not close enough to beat Berlitz.
His father, Danny Berlitz Sr., raced karts and stock cars. But he gave it up to give his sons an opportunity to do the same.
“When I raced the big cars they would come and sit in the stands with my wife every week but I never really got to spend time with them and interact. What we are doing with the karts, it’s a real family experience. The enjoyment my wife and I get from seeing our kids doing something that I wish I could have done, that is what I love most about go-kart racing compared to big car racing,” said Danny Berlitz.
“Derek’s driving has always been good. He’s aggressive but he’s smart out there too. He puts a lot of time in with the kart both at home and when we’re at the track and he knows that maintenance wins races and I give him lot of credit. He puts the time and effort in.”
While Derek looks to build on his win streak, he is also starting on his next racing endeavor, a 270cc Micro Sprint. While he hasn’t raced the car yet, he has been able to get laps in at Greenwood Valley and hopes to be competing by summer.
“It’s (Micro Sprint) different than anything I ever drove. The power is amazing and you have to drive it in a whole different way than with a kart. You are shifting with the Micro and it’s something I have to get used to,” said Derek.
If his current and past experience are to be an indication, then the move into the Micro Sprint should be just as rewarding.
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