Glenn, I can understand the frustration of the people in Eastern Canada who were heavily invested in the old Honda GX program. Nobody can deny the success of that program – the numbers say it all. But success and numbers doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still the best option in today’s world.
While the East was heavily invested in the GX program, it was actually the West where the inherent problems with the GX program were witnessed. The GX program never really caught on in the West. There were small pockets of racers here and there, but even the ones who had strong results with the GX in the West were always looking for alternatives because they found that the strong results came at a cost that made no sense for “entry-level” 4-cycle racing.
As a result, the West has seen different clubs adopt almost every alternative 4-cycle class imaginable – clones built to varying levels of “ASN-GX specs”, modified clones, World Formulas, Animals, TKM, etc. While none of these were “great” solutions, at least they were viewed as better than spending $2500 (not at all uncommon) for a competitive, but still slow GX engine (“ASN clones” being cheaper, the others being faster).
The West is still having troubles getting any significant numbers in 4-cycle, but that’s really no different than karting in general in the West right now. Aside from the 2 clubs in Alberta (one of which has had no track this year), karting participation is low in the West. But, if you look at the 2 Alberta clubs, a large part of their growth is coming from the LO206 program because it’s not only cheap to get into (to GET people into the seat in the first place), but it’s simple and cheap to operate (to KEEP people in the seat long-term).
The Honda GX program wasn’t “bad” per se, but there were inherent problems (cost to be competitive – i.e. run at the front – at even the club level; plus the changes in manufacturing specs of the engines over the years that made keeping the rule book up-to-date a real challenge) with the program that were masked somewhat by the fact that people were so heavily invested in the East.
The guys in the East who have made the switch to the LO206 that I’ve spoken to have unanimously agreed that the LO206 is a better program (even if they were almost all skeptical at first, and many took a loss on their GX equipment).