Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Summer Thunder” | Aired Feb 18, 2015
We open in Wampum, Pennsylvania, with the always-chappeaued, often-sleeveless Derek Fitzgerald making a fart joke. Strong start, Kart Life. The cadets—Dylan Tavella and Gio Bromante—head out. Gio’s working to stand on that podium “because that’s where he belongs, baby,” chortles John “Boss of all Bosses” Bromante.
Dylan’s tuner sees Gio’s bumper is too narrow for regulations. Gio could be disqualified, which “would be karma, wouldn’t it?” Phil Tavella says, barely hiding a wide grin. (Phil’s referring to John Bromante’s squawking in the pilot episode about Dylan illegally fixing an engine that led to his disqualification.)
The kids set off. We’ve got a new announcer calling this race, who spouts gems such as, “Who wants the second position? No one, that’s who.” It’s a photo finish between Dylan and his rival from last week, with the spoils going to Dylan, by 6/1,000 of a second.
David Malukas’ hand is red, blistering, and sore, but tuner Wes gives precisely zero f—s. David’s kart is tuned so perfectly, Wes tells us, that “my grandmother could get in it and go fast.” (Ahem, TruTV. New series idea: Granny Karts.) If David can’t turn the wheel right, then all of Wes’ contemptuous coaching will have been for naught. The juniors—Sasha Brun-Wibaux, Savannah Fitzgerald, and David—race. Francois Brun-Wibaux wants a top-five finish from Sasha, and “there’s no reason that can’t happen.” Au contraire, Francois.
His baby girl finishes 13th, Savannah comes in 10th, and David doesn’t finish. He shakes his hand in pain before he spins out and crashes. In the pits, Wes has graduated from a passive-aggressive coach to a full-fledged dick. “David has a little injury; his pinkie hurts or something. That’s when he quits, so …” Henry Malukas looks to the man he hired to critique David’s driving for a critique of David’s driving. Wes instead critiques David’s life.
“David f—ed up the whole race,” Wes begins. “Guys who win races push through that,” meaning David’s aching paw. Wes now does an impersonation of David. This consists of Wes waving his hand in the air and shouting, “Everyone, my blister hurts!” Wes isn’t very good at impressions. Or possessing tact.
Henry tries to steer the conversation back to actual strategy, but Wes shuts that right down: “No, no, no. There’s no other critique than David doesn’t want it enough. So if he wants to sit in a chair and get pampered and Band-Aided and we can put, like, fur coats on him [… what?], that’s when he quits. I should take him out of his five-star hotel and put him in a tent next to his kart.” Psst, Wes. You do realize these people, like, pay you, right?
John Bromante learns Gio has been disqualified because someone narked about the bumper. John and wife Stacey speculate about the identity of the tattletale. TruTV helps us out by replaying footage of Phil Tavella speculating about Gio’s bumper, in black and white footage, which makes him look extra nefarious. Phil learns of Gio’s DQ and replies, “Good. There are a lot of head games in karting. It’s like a chess match. The best teams play these games well. This week I’m the bad guy.” It’s unclear whether this is a meandering, cryptic confession or a poor metaphor.
Sasha Brun-Wibaux is sandwiched between two race boys, snapping duck-lipped selfies before her next race against David and Savannah Fitzgerald. Sasha going to drive cautiously as she doesn’t want to crash into her teammate and crush, Ryan Norberg. She does indeed drive cautiously, running in the back of the pack. Francois does his impression of Sasha driving. It’s more inspired than Wes’ impression, but neither will be booked for a review in Vegas anytime soon.
Sasha finishes 13th, but she has no time to dwell on horrible driving: Her crush was just run over. Dramatic music swells as she bites her lip and stares at Ryan limping his totaled kart along. Ryan cries and Sasha rubs his back and rests her head on his shoulder and generally tries to combine their two bodies into one. She reiterates Ryan is a “good friend” before giving him the same lustful look a Real Housewife gives a bottle of pinot grigio.
Rodney Dangerfield Shirley Tavella tells a group of track mothers karting doesn’t get enough respect: “Lacrosse kids get banners after wins, but no one cares when Dylan comes in with a world championship trophy!” Another mom complains, “My kid’s school doesn’t think it’s acceptable for him to miss 39 days of the eighth grade!” Meghan Welage laughs that “the county doesn’t think I’m a good parent,” per their letters about son Jason’s truancy. Oh, those silly administrators and their not wanting children to miss eight weeks of school!
Henry Malukas carefully tells Wes, “maybe today, like, no coaching, like nothing.” Wes tells us, “David feels bad and I want to make sure he does. For the entire day.” Wes is starting to seem like the kind of fellow who would kick a puppy, though he claims, “It’s the psychology of racing. If David’s got something to prove, he’s going to work hard.” A storm rolls in and the skies darken before unleashing. “Woah! It’s raining really fast,” says little Ryan Tavella. Little Ryan Tavella would make an amazing weatherman.
Racing in the rain is more dangerous, multiple people—and common sense—tell us. David and Sasha drive onto the slippery track. It’s a mess, with kids spinning out every few turns, but the officials only call the race after lightning strikes too close for comfort. Three hours later, the sun’s out and so are the juniors. Sasha doesn’t finish; David brings it and wins.
Afterward, Wes greets Henry by saying, “There’s nothing wrong with a good ass kicking, you understand?” Henry must because he bear-hugs Wes into the air before cracking Wes’ back, because that is apparently a thing Henry Malukas does when he’s happy. David dumps the smallest bottle of water ever over Wes’ head. Everyone smiles and laughs and forgets about how Wes was a total asshole before. Ah, resolution.
Kart Life airs Wednesdays at 10/9C on TruTV.