By Rob Potter
JEFFERSONVILLE Andy Karadontes and his wife, Lori, recently spent some time in Daytona, Fla.
While they took some time to relax and enjoy the nice, warm, sunny weather, their primary reason for driving down to Daytona was for the AMA Sports Winter National Dirt Track Series at Daytona Bike Week ’08 sponsored by Black Cat Gold.
It turned out to be a very successful trip for the Jeffersonville couple.
Andy won 16 of 30 races in Daytona to earn his fourth career AMA Sports national championship. Karadontes, who is known as the “Jeffersonville Jet,” won two national titles in 1986 and captured his third in 2001.
Karadontes, who celebrated his 50th birthday back in January, also earned second place awards in the 40-plus and 50-plus age categories down in Daytona.
However, the man who began racing motorcycles when he was 14 years old and has won more than 400 titles in the years since wasn’t sure how he would do in Daytona. In a recent interview, Karadontes said he was ill with flu-like symptoms as he and Lori made their way to the Sunshine State.
But after a diet limited to Gatorade®, bananas and soup for a couple of days, he was feeling well enough to compete in six races per day.
“I’m there to win,” said Karadontes, who has worked as a union electrician for 30 years. “I like to be aggressive.”
Being aggressive and having a strong desire to win are two personality traits Karadontes has in common with his favorite stock car driver, the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. Since he was given the No. 3 for his motorcycles back in 1986, Karadontes cheered for “The Intimidator,” who won seven NASCAR championships with that same numeral painted on his cars.
Karadontes raced his Australian-made KTM motorcycle in the open expert division on 1/4-mile short tracks and a 1/2-mile D-shaped track down in Daytona.
He went up against top racers from around the U.S.
“New York was well-represented down there,” said Karadontes, noting that racers came from several Midwestern states as well as states in the South.
“There were 12 [racers] on the line every time,” he added. “The top six in the heat advanced to the semifinals or finals.”
In addition to the love and support he receives from Lori, Andy said that he has had assistance and support from many other people during his successful racing career. Among them are his two mechanics, Glenn Lewis and Andy Butler, as well as Lloyd and Linda Barriger.
Karadontes added that he and Lewis have been best friends for decades.
Just because he turned 50 three months ago does not mean that he is planning to retire from racing anytime soon.
“I love it,” he said of speeding down the track on his motorcycle while trying to outmaneuver the other riders. “It’s been a good sport for me. I’ve been able to make a little money.”
This summer, Karadontes will race at two area tracks Oakland Valley Race Park in Cuddebackville and Accord Speedway. He plans to compete two Saturdays each month at Oakland Valley and on Wednesdays at Accord. The 2008 season at Oakland Valley kicks off this Saturday, April 19 and racing begins at the Accord Speedway on Wednesday, May 7.