Season 1 | Episode 8 | “ROK and a Hard Place” | Aired Mar 25, 2015
This episode of Kart Life sees the racers traveling to Ocala, Florida, for a competition in 105-degree heat. The Tavellas didn’t make the pilgrimage, but John “Huge-o Boss” Bromante did, and his latest expenditure to overcompensate for Gio’s lack of kart control involves buying people! Specifically, the Tavella’s tuner. “The Tavellas may not get him back,” John smirks. “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” Articulated like a boss, Johnny.
Our favorite villain/child abuser, Wes Phillips, walks up to Henry Malukas holding hands with a young-looking girl. Wes’ daughter? Nope. This is his girlfriend Christina(!). Back from a long stay in Europe(?). Wes explains that she’s a national champion who’s raced all around the world. She’s here to help tune, stand beside Wes in goofy sunglasses, and maybe prevent him from destroying David Malukas’ self-esteem.
Sasha Brun-Wibaux’s here, as is her mother, since this track is close to their home. Her crush, Ryan Norberg, approaches, dripping from the humidity. “Oooh, you’re all sweaty,” she beams before embracing Ryan for longer than anyone would hug someone that sweaty. Dad Francois says Sasha is sick, “but that’s no excuse. If she’s well enough to be here, she’s well enough to race.” Apparently not.
In the first Juniors race, Sasha finishes 12th. “I feel like shit,” Sasha tells us. Her breakdown ends in tears, with her head buried in her mom’s chest. She echoes JP Southern Jr.’s diatribe from last week: “Everything I do is wrong. Nothing goes right!” Mom kindly offers to drive her to the track early so she can have more practice and feel more comfortable. “My dad always tells me how I screw up. It’s nice to have my mom here,” Sasha sniffs.
David Malukas struggles, finishing sixth. David says he thinks Wes using race tires for the practice session is why he didn’t race well. Wes is oddly compliant and offers to change whatever the Malukases want, when Henry suddenly loses it. “I’m f***ing sick and tired!” Henry bellows at a red-faced Wes, who never deigns to remove his shades. Henry continues, neck veins a-popping, jabbing his finger like a sword at Wes. I’m all for people screaming at Wes, but where was this ire weeks ago, when Wes was verbally and physically slamming your child, Henry?
The Welages team up with a new family, the Boutots, because it’s cheaper to partner at these expensive races. The Boutots’ patriarch advises Jason Welage to follow his son, Devin, because “everyone knows my kid is the fast kid.” Boutot talks drafting, except he calls it “a suck” and he can’t stop using this phraseology: “So if you can get a suck to Devin, and Devin finds another fast kid, then he gets a suck and you get a suck. If he pulls a good suck, and you get a suck on him, you’ll be fine.” This makes perfect sense to Meghan Welage, who adds,”Yeah.”
As the Cadets race, John explains auxiliary starters aren’t allowed here, so drivers must use a push-button ignition. The race starts and the announcer tells us all we need to know: “Bromante looks like he’s struggling,” and “This is not the day for Jason Welage.” They finish 15th and 16th, respectively. “Fast kid” Devin Boutot takes 11th. Perhaps he didn’t suck hard enough. Gio’s push-button switch broke, causing the kart to perform poorly. The tuner and John agree to cut the wire and use an auxiliary starter. “Rules or no rules, my kid’s racing,” John chuckles. “Legally, they can stick it.” Remember: The Bromantes are the people who squawked to anyone with ears about how Tavellas called them dirty drivers.
Next race, they illegally start Gio’s motor, then remove the battery. Their dirty antics work and Gio takes third, while Jason places fifth. Devin Boutot must’ve sucked too hard, finishing 13th. At inspection, the official asks the tuner if Gio’s kart had a battery on a track. The reply: “Uhhhhhhhhh … It had one when it left.” This brilliant ruse fails to work, and the official wants to inform the race director. John steps in, with his best snake-oil salesman act, trying to sway the official. Sadly, his efforts work, and the official says to fix it to continue to race.
In their tent, John is giddy that he successfully defrauded a regional kart league official. “I said it wasn’t our starter, that I got it from Vincenzo Serrascino!” John brays. “Who’s that?” asks the tuner. “Some guy I just made up!” John guffaws as his wife high-fives him. Hey, John. You do see those people holding TV cameras, correct? You’re aware this is being filmed and these race officials will see you gloating about pulling one over on them?
The following day is even hotter. But Sasha doesn’t notice. She’s found someone new to lavish her attention and affections on: a puppy. Her dad, giving her the stink-eye while tuning her kart, asks if she’s done her precheck sheet. Her tuner reminds her to put air in the tires, and the Juniors gird for the championship. In a sad show of sexism, the drivers are walked to the track by “ambassadors”—young women in tight and revealing outfits, holding umbrellas.
Before this Juniors race, we see the pace car is actually a helmetless man on a Harley. Because … Florida. David takes third, while Sasha finishes eighth. “Which is actually pretty good. Hopefully this gets my dad off my back.” No dice. Francois doesn’t break stride as he passes, clapping Sasha’s arm hard, and tells her to balance her tires. “Just get out of here!” she growls, before cursing him out.
The same inappropriately dressed women walk the Cadets to their karts. “I finally got my umbrella girl. She was pretty hot,” says 10-year-old Jason. Ever the lecherous creep, John Bromante shares his riveting thoughts on these objectified girls: “Florida, are you kidding me with these umbrella girls? My son’s walking around like he’s the sultan of Zanzibar! I hope he gets a nice blonde.” They race, and Jason takes fifth. Top Kart notices and calls Greg to offer a spot on their team. Jason accepts, elated.
Gio places 12th. “The kid doesn’t have what he needs,” John laments. “We’ve changed motors, chassis, and tuners. I don’t know what’s got to happen, but something has to change.” Yes, John, it does: Gio needs to learn how to drive better, and you have to stop cheating for him.
Kart Life airs Wednesdays at 10/9C on TruTV.