Karting legends Emmick, Puleo to be honored during 22nd Vintage Kart Olympics
QUINCY — Ron Emmick and Vince Puleo have not been back to Quincy since the early 1980s, but that will all change when both return in early August.
Emmick and Puleo, both household names at the elite level of karting, will be the former stars of the sport honored at the 22nd Vintage Kart Olympics, scheduled for Aug. 3-5 at TNT Kartways in West Quincy, Mo.
Each year the event recognizes the talents and contributions of individuals who helped grow the sport and commanded attention at the national and world levels.
“This is the still the pre-eminent vintage karting weekend in the nation, and Ron and Vince are more than deserving of this honor,” said Quincy businessman Terry Traeder, who is also the event organizer and a former karting world champion himself. “Ronnie and Vince have had great careers.”
Emmick and Puleo will make the trip from northern California, where they both reside.
Emmick, 61, comes from a long line of karting enthusiasts. His family owned and operated the the former California-based Emmick Enterprises, which for years was one of the sport’s premier kart producers. Emmick won a variety of major karting titles, 40 at the national level and three on the world stage. Emmick also drove in the SCCA World Challenge Series with Dave Jolly in a Mazda RX-7, winning a world championship in 1993.
Puleo, 64, is still connected with a number of various racing disciplines but has been devoting more and more of his attention to vintage karting events.
“I fell in love with (vintage) about two years ago,” said Puleo, who owns eight national karting titles and a WKA road race championship at Daytona International Raceway. “The vintage events allow us old guys to get together and (relive the past). I figure I’ll be racing until it’s time to bury me.”
Puleo was a longtime team driver for Emmick Enterprises, where he also worked as a chassis and engine builder.
More than 100 entries are again expected for the Vintage Kart Olympics, which in years past has showcased pre-1976 power plants that helped establish karting as a major player in the world of motorsports.
“I’m happy to be coming back to this event,” said Emmick, who also did some flat-track motorcycle racing during his career. “The Traeders have always been the best family. The last time I was in Quincy was in 1984. I can’t wait to see it again.
“I remember when so many of the big (kart) races were in Quincy. I started racing there in the early 1970s.”
Emmick, who started racing as an 8-year-old, won the 1973 IKF nationals in Quincy in the first Emmick kart to win a national championship. Puleo, too, got the racing “bug” at a young age — dirt track, drag racing and karting. It was karting, however, that carved out a special niche in his racing heart.
“I was just blown away (by the excitement of karting) at a young age,” Puleo said. “And I can never say enough about Quincy and what the Traeders did for the sport. I remember coming to Quincy and the whole town being excited to see us race.”
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