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Gilbert Kart Champion and Bondurant Instructor to Take on the World


This December, the father of three will compete for the world karting championship in Portimao, on the southern
coast of Portugal. If he wins, he would become this country’s first
world karting champion since 1978, when Lake Speed won that racing laurel.

Professional karting is similar to amateur go-karting, but
the race vehicles are much faster — up to 100 mph with the most powerful
engines — handle much firmer with tight suspensions and the global competition
is extremely demanding.

For most of his time, Rudolph is the vice president and
general manager of the Bob Bondurant SuperKart School at the world-famous
school at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix. There, instructors at the
44-year old world-destination have taught more than 400,000 students —
professional drivers, teens, chauffeurs, amateur enthusiasts and karters — how
to be safer and more efficient behind any wheel.

In March, with firsts and accumulated points won during the
national karting tour, Rudolph was awarded the
Florida Winter Tour Rotax DD2 Master Championship in karting and, because of
that, a ticket to the 2012 Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal as a member of Team
USA. Most recently, this past August, he won again at the US Rotax Grand
Nationals at Michiana Raceway Park facility in South Bend, Ind. — a tune-up for
the championship.

For the last 13 years, Rudolph has handled the day-to-day
karting operations at the Bondurant School, while also expanding its programs.
He also teaches entry-level shifter kart courses and advanced classes at PKRA,
the Valley’s kart track, and also coordinates the school’s racing series in Formula
Mazdas and the Bondurant Rotax Max Challenge.

As one of the world’s shifter-kart luminaries, he is a
multi-time national champion; the only five-time SKUSA “King of the Street”
champion; a WKA National and Grand National champion; and holds, among a number
of records, the 250 cc SuperKarts all-time lap record at Road America. He has
appeared on television, radio and on the covers of magazines such as Shifter
Illustrated and Kart Sport.

“I began racing at the age of 9, so I have pretty much always
done that,” says Rudolph, who was born and raised in St. Charles, Mo., just
outside St. Louis. “My parents owned an auto shop, and my dad did a trade with
someone to work on his car in trade for this ‘racing go-kart.’ We had no idea
what it was, but after the first time to the track we were hooked, and the rest
is history.”

After his schooling and while racing, he entered the
printing business through a racer friend. He spent 10 years working in the
pre-press side of that industry and even did sales for a couple of years.

Then in October 1998, he met Bob Bondurant, the world
champion driver and founder of the Bondurant School, at the CIK World
Championships in Charlotte, N.C., the first time the event had been held in the
United States.

Bondurant, meanwhile, had been speaking with Michael
Schumacher, the multi-world-championship Formula-1 driver. “Michael told Bob
that he did karts regularly because no other form of driving gave him such a
similar experience to his F-1 cars,” Rudolph says. And Bob thought, ‘If it’s
good for Michael Schumacher, it’s good for the Bondurant School and our

Rudolph and Bondurant chatted at the racetrack a few times
that weekend. “It wasn’t two weeks after that event that I received a letter
from Bob asking if I was interested in moving to Phoenix to run his newly
opened karting school,” he recalls. He flew out for a visit to the world-famous
school and moved to Phoenix in March 1999. Today, with wife Jessica, they are
raising daughters Alyssa and Ashley and son Aden.

For a while, Rudolph stopped racing, with the demands of
work at Bondurant, family life and the fact he was already 40-plus. But, last
November at the PRI show in Orlando. Fla., he jumped into a kart again and did
well in the Red Bull Street Fight All Stars Race.

That race was sponsored by Rotax, and the Rotax importer
said to Alan, “America needs a World Champion: Have you considered running
Rotax in the DD2 Masters class?”

“The more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me to
try and achieve this goal,” he recalls. So, he decided to run this year’s
Florida Winter Tour with the PSL Atlantic team owned by Mike Dobbelsteyn.


And, now he’s on to the world championship in Portugal.

“Alan is
a fierce competitor and wants to win each and every time out,” Dobbelsteyn
says. “He is a great driver and perfect role model for up-and-coming drivers
and should be a great asset to Team USA.”

Says Rudolph:  “I am very excited and honored to represent
Team USA in Portugal. I have heard so much about the event — all great
things — and I would like to attain the opportunity to help Team USA win its
first Rotax Grand Finals Championship.”

Until then, he will be guiding
drivers at the Bob Bondurant SuperKart School. “We do everything from
beginner ‘experiential-type’ courses to advanced courses,” he explains. “What
most people don’t know is that many of the same techniques apply to both cars
and karts — like trail breaking, weight transfer and line technique.”

At whatever level, karting is fun, instructive and demanding
for everyone in the family: “I love professional
karting because it’s one of the purest forms of racing,” Rudolph says.
“The wheel-to-wheel battles are second to none, and the physical aspect is more
demanding than anything I have ever driven.”

David M. Brown


20000 S. Maricopa Road, Gate #3
Chandler, AZ 85226

P.O. Box 51980
Phoenix, AZ 85076



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