Home Forums General Karting Discussion Bumpers or No Bumpers, That is the Question

This topic contains 61 replies, has 38 voices, and was last updated by  Ian Bushey 2 years, 10 months ago.

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    Jim Derrig

    You old guys crack me up.  “It was way better when I was a kid.”  Right, and there hasn’t been a decent rock band since the Beatles, either.

    My personal experience with rough driving is that it’s not as black-and-white as you think.  “I’ll just punt this guy” often turns into “crap, I didn’t punt him and now I lost a ton of momentum by hitting him and there he goes off into the distance.”  90% of the successful contact i see is on the side pods, while wedging your way inside to pass on a tight corner.

    The current bumper system works fine.  Agree that stricter enforcement of the rules would go a long way. Some of the contact is absurdly blatant and nothing is done.


    bo rougeou

    We’ve been on both ends of the bumper debate.

    While not a fan of the pushing and shoving either, it is those once in 3 or 4 races accidents that the bumpers are designed to help.  It is better for the racer’s hide/bones/noggin in the long run.

    When I look back now on the bumperless karts,I think of days when men were men.

    But hindsight tells me that a bumper would have been a good idea then too, just no one made you use it.

    There is a limit.  Have we reached the point where more would be better?  Can we plan for every possible accident/ failure/lapse in judgement?  Doubtful



    mark waller

    Overall bumpers help things as is.  Best comment was how, with the new proposal/CIK bumper system, guys would be penalized when at the start they are punted into the back of someone in front.  New CIK proposal seems to make more new problems than it solves.  Comments about not being able to see all the rough driving aren’t justification for any position.  You put marshals at several corners, let them move around a bit, and nail the  guys that you do catch with significant penalties.  So you don’t catch every one of them?  So what?  You put some hotshoe factory guy at the back, just like anyone else, and it sends a message to everyone.  Enforcing some of these rules about rough driving would not stop all of it, but it would be a good start.


    Walt Gifford

    LOL successful contact, I think you’re part of the problem.

    FAA certified jet engine and aircraft technician,
    Nicholson Speedway class champion 2001,
    Yamaha KT100 Service Center,
    41 years karting experience


    Evan Fraser

    Bob Vehring: Having been on the enforcement end of the operation I agree that you can’t see everything or even a significant portion of the race.  Most incidents I’ve had to report I only saw after they started to happen and these were incidents that occurred in just my corner.

    While enforcement is the ideal solution, it’s also unrealistic to have 100% enforcement even if you have full course coverage, as a CW’s first concern is safety, which is why we’re having this entire discussion as someone (CIK-FIA) has tried to present an alternative to mitigate the issue.

    As you say the answer is fairly simple: Responsibility rests with the driver.  Responsibility cannot however be forced.

    Evan Fraser

    #43 - Formula K FK01 / Briggs LO206

    West Coast Kart Club


    Bob Vehring

    In a perfect world, we’d all have highly trained pro CW’s, how ever that’s rarely the case. Lets face it, at best its a one day a week JOB, and the pay, if there is any sucks

    Even it Road Racing where we sometimes get the same CW’s as say Indy Car, there actually not very good for Karting because how we race is so different from cars.

    My kids have raced since the 80’s, Road Race, Sprint and ovals, all share the problem. Whatever the class, if legal I use 4 cy style body work, even in 2 cy classes. Simple rule, To finish first, you must first finish. A full nose covers you front tires, really cuts down on climbing someone elses tires or kart. With only the short bumper in back, no one, well almost no one will deliberately try to tap you out going into a corner with a chance of climbing your tire. Sprint is not remotely as rough as oval racing, every oval kart there has a full nose and a short bumper, for exactly those reasons, to stay in the race.

    I understand the European following doesn’t like that style, and I do have CIK body work for our sprint karts, just don’t use it unless we have to, the goal is to minimize anything, that could cause us problems.

    I think the point here has been made several times, the “new answer” looks like it could cause more problems then it would fix


    BTW, I guess that now I could qualify as the “old guy”, and the Beatles sucked in the 60’s too


    Tim Pappas

    There have been more torn up karts since the plastic bumpers were implemented than before. Why? The stewards cant see everything, its easy just to punt and run, drivers dont have to learn how to pass anymore, and a complete lack of respect especially from those racing on Daddys money.  It doesnt help that two of the greatest drivers of our time, Senna and MS, had a crash to win mentality that has become the norm.  The tag sr. Class at any big race has become a joke. When indoor karting is cleaner than a national kart race there is a problem.  My solution. Ditch the plastic rear bumpers. Let drivers learn how to pass and learn consequences. Land on your head once and you will think twice. For those that dont learn that is just Darwinism. You cant fix stupid.



    Brian Degulis

    Having been in karting 40 years ago I’ve seen it with and without body work. Without it contact was rare and sometimes catastrophic. When I got back in with my kids I thought the body work was a great idea and I still do even though excessive contact is now the norm. The problem isn’t the bodywork it’s that the rules are not being enforced some tracks don’t even try.

    We have several venues to race in our area. One is a local club that uses a car track. The track isn’t very good but the people running it and almost all of the members are really good people. It’s cheap and accessible I loved it because you weren’t come up against big money or factory teams it was good local racing. There were 2 idiots in the shifter class that were just plain reckless so reckless that the entire TAG class refused to run with them. The track for whatever reason wouldn’t do anything about it. I guess they were worried about kart count and I get that but in the long run they lost kart count by trying to appease everyone and ignoring the problem. There are other tracks in our area that do enforce the rules so now we go there.

    Tracks have to start enforcing the rules. If they don’t then don’t show up.



    Evan Fraser

    I have to admit Bob (and the other well-written replies) you’re swaying me to the no-rear-bumper side of the argument.  What better way to learn not to be an ass than to land on your head?  If all we’re doing is trying to encourage better, more sportsmanlike driving then I agree.  From a safety perspective though anything that helps prevent head-and-neck injuries should be encouraged.  I wear a collar even though they’re not mandated, and will likely be buying a 360 device.

    Where the CIK is concerned though the rear bumper now becomes a liability issue.  If they remove it then they’re knowingly risking more rollovers and will be blamed for someone’s child being injured.  I don’t see that happening.

    Evan Fraser

    #43 - Formula K FK01 / Briggs LO206

    West Coast Kart Club


    David Cole

    What about removing the rear bumper from Senior level racing? Keep them on the Junior and Cadet levels.

    David Cole - EKN Managing Editor


    Evan Fraser

    Juniors are some of the most aggressive, fearless drivers I’ve ever seen and so the most likely to run over someone’s tail in my opinion.  If they learn in their first 8 years of driving that they can run in to the kart in front of them without consequence, I’m not sure that they won’t continue trying to do so despite the lack of bumper in senior.  I opine that it’s all or nothing.  Remove it from all of them or keep it for all of them.  Or maybe keep it in Cadet, as those are just little kids who should be kept as safe as possible, and remove it from Junior on up.

    Evan Fraser

    #43 - Formula K FK01 / Briggs LO206

    West Coast Kart Club


    Dustin McGrew

    Taking off the bumpers just to stop people from bumping sounds like a terrible idea to me.

    Evan, you say landing on your head would be a teaching a lesson. What about someone who drives clean and just happens to get caught up in something? I don’t think that person is being taught a lesson. All that person is getting is a trip to the ambulance.

    I’m not a fan of anything that makes it easier to go upside down. This no bumpers thing just sounds awful to me. IMO its like saying F1 needs to go back to the cars they raced in the 60’s because everyone raced with more respect. Respect didn’t stop anyone from dying.


    Evan Fraser

    Very true, it’s not just the bumping drivers that are going to land on their head.  I’m just saying I can see where Bob is coming from that removing the rear bumper will probably reduce the amount of ramming as it will make the cost that much higher.

    You’re right.  If the issue was ONLY sportsmanship with no additional risk I’d say remove it.  However while the removal of the bumper may force some drivers to drive with a bit more respect for the consequences of ramming someone, the risk is too great.  I’m going to commit and say: Keep it.

    In my response to David I was saying not whether to remove or keep it, just that if they decide on one or the other that it should be consistent.

    Evan Fraser

    #43 - Formula K FK01 / Briggs LO206

    West Coast Kart Club


    Brian Degulis

    “LOL successful contact, I think you’re part of the problem.”


    He’s competing  with the current mind set and that’s what has to change. Today kids that get professional coaching are taught how to use contact to compete. If you enforce a no deliberate contact rule it will eventually change the mind set.




    Collin Lynn

    I have not been to a race in about 5 years so I decided to go watch the SKUSA race at DKC. I was shocked at the amount of people just punting the guy in front of them and not even trying to pass. I am not saying everything was better in the old days but I do know the more body work that’s been added to the karts has increased the amount of intentional contact.  At one point on the grid I heard someone ask their driver why didn’t you just punt the guy out of the way, I think the rear bumpers are a large part of this mentality plus they just look stupid.


    Bob Vehring

    Lets be clear that I am talking the same basic bumperthat comes up to the WKA required height and runs at least between the frame rules.. That is the same design thats been on all karts since we started in 83. It protects every thing but the wheels.


    I think a big part of the problem is US karting has now simply taken to the common practice of simply mandating what the Europeans do. Please don’t tell me its saftey because far to many things saftey related, some of which were mandated for years, are now not enforced on European karts.

    Heres a few of my favorites. At one time ALL karts were required to have some form of stopping the rear hubs from coming off the axel. It could be Cir Clip, tether or a nut and bolt. ALL 4 cy classes must still have this. CIK karts no longer have to because they don’t ship them with that. I guess wheels don’t come off over there but you may remember years ago a member of this board died when hit in the face with someones elses wheel and tire that flew across the track.

    All 4 cy engines are required to have their pipes wrapped with heat tape, our pipes are 1 in in dia and about 16 in long. Seems odd that a 2 cy pipe, that cover the whole area in the back of the kart, or my real favorite, some of the 125 engines where the pipe exits in front and comes up and over the engine, right next to the driver need anything I guess those guys don’t burn

    This last one should concern everyone. WKA put very tight reg’s on Briggs reqaurding flywheels, they must be steel, not cast, require factory “To destruction” testing and be enclosed by a double thickness cover attached by 5 mounting points.

    Two seasons ago I witnessed a Comer 50 cc flywheel explode coming down our straight at Badger. I saw it, I inspected the engine including the cheap cast cover which was blown right off, and I swept the scharpnel off our grid, which if it had been a race day rather then a practice day, would have been filled with people and karts. I did notify the “powers that be” and received no response, not even acknowledgement they received it. No changes have been made to the flywheel system on this engine. When in doubt, HIDE.

    I have little doubt that this new bumper is really driven by the manufacturers, who simply want something new to sell you


    Glenn L Riggs

    Bob I believe you hit the nail on the head, very well put article. Hope more will read it. All comes down to money. It`s a shame that we have to follow someone elses rules when we invented the sport. Thanks


    patrick j slattery

    I think the Org. don’t call rough driving as tightly as they should for fear of losing an entry due to pissing people off.  Hard to say how many they lose, due to not calling them.




    John Matthews

    Lynn Haddock wrote-

    More overpriced non-sense from Europe. Racing was better and the drivers were better when we only used four number panels and small tubular bumpers + nerf bars. All this plastic crap that has been sold in the name of safety and making the karts look more like race cars is a huge load of  S —  Follow the money for the real truth.



    Karting in the US has gone steadily downhill since we started letting folks in other countries make our rules for us. These so called “safety features” just make things more dangerous by giving reckless drivers a false sense of security. This new proposal is a clear admission that full width rear bumpers are wrong for karting and adding more stuff to combat bad driving is just plain stupid.

    I challenge anyone to show that karting was any more dangerous back when we just had number panels attached to a thin bar in front of our tennis shoes. If CIK had any interest in training drivers to compete in open wheel race cars they would drop all this nonsense and remove the full width rear bumpers all together. Sadly it seems to be an organization designed to serve manufacturers, not racers….



    Harrison Potsworth

    tl:dr, but I’d rather spend that money on having a camera (Gopro, Ion, etc) on each of the damn karts to check a reply at race end. If someone has been shoved excessively, it can be protested and proven.

    Make the penalties harsh. Very harsh. As in, DNF for rough driving harsh.


    Edit: Europeans gotta make their $ right, so start selling front and rear bumpers/fairings with camera mounts in them already.


    David Heims

    +1 Harrison on the GoPro idea.



    Ted Hamilton

    My vote is go back to breadbox pods on the sides, allow low-density foam filler to prevent gravel/mud incursion, and use the skinny rear bumper and pedal-width front bumper with nassau panels allowed.

    While we’re at it, lets get the total weight back down to around 330 and use sticky tires again so the chassis work like they were designed to and don’t blow our backs out putting them on stands…

    Oh, and run NorDams for the premiere class….

    Oooops, sorry — I was in dream land for a while there. But I still stand by skinny bumpers and breadboxes.

    2014 Praga Dragon / IAME KA-100


    Bob Vehring

    Hate to say it, but I don’t think were really going to find an answer. Too many things involved, unfortunately some not controlled by us.

    Karting still is the best bang for the buck in motorsports, still cheap compared to most other things, but to some still big business. Face it, the Europeans are going to build them as they want and they will ship and sell them here, because thats how they make them. It will be pushed here, because many of our countries distributors and shop owners are politically involved. In other words, its what they sell.

    We’ve been in this, between my wife first, then the kids (now mid 30’s) since 1983. One of the advantages to that is, we’ve owned and driven many types of karts, and we’ve raced in all types of karting.

    Some things I just don’t get. 2 cycle sprint seams to be in a world of its own on chassis. Not that they aren’t nice chassis, they are, but your looking at around 5K for a roller. Looking at 4 cy sprint, both types of ovals and Road Race, mostly, by far American chassis and new come in around $2500.

    Not looking to hi jack the topic, or start a debate, simply saying 2 cy sprint is going to follow what the Europeans give to us. Unless they over seas choose differently, you will get these new bumpers.

    I think I posted this before, but we have been down this road10-15 years ago, what was then called Paperclip or hoop bumpers came around, for the same reasons, to stop climbing tires. Its not hard to see the increase in rough driving this will produce coming, and those bumpers were banned for a year or too. That changed because most imports simply started coming here with the big bumpers. That’s how they made them, that’s what they shipped.

    Maybe 4-5 years ago you got the larger plastic bumper with the claim that it would better protect the rear wheels. Well look at it, of course it protects the wheels better, however not part of the sales pitch, its not hard to see its also much safer for the kart coming from behind, to punt you. That put you where you are now.


    We’ve use just about every style of body work over the years except the newer style plastic rear bumper which I refuse to use. IMO no question the safest is the standard full coverage nose used on most 4 cy karts. Yes, you can still have contact with the rear tires of a kart in front of you, however there is only now one tire rotating to cause climbing. The full nose also is large enough and round enough that it will push you off the other kart before really climbing to the point of launching you.

    We also prefer the rear bumper that meets WKA spec’s for height, but only mounts between main frame rails, which greatly reduces thoughts from someone taping you out in the corner.


    I think we all know, the odds of getting that option from Europe are roughly zero, and I’d guess roughly the same for any promoters here bucking the trend to give you that choice. My thought is you guys will be bumper shopping soon.

    The saving grace here would be, if the leaders of our sport, just like our leaders in Washington DC were to grow some balls and start governing with common sense instead of bowing to business pressure.




    Rob Kozakowski

    After the first experience with the new front bumpers on the KZ karts at the Winter Cup in Lonato this weekend, it seems that the fears are being realized.  When many of the world’s top kart racers think it’s crap, it’s probably crap.


    TJ Koyen

    Yeah, Bas didn’t like them.

    “Dear followers, teams, drivers and sponsors,
    The new “drop down bumper system: is it the final solution to the problem of racecontacts or just another difficult rule to apply that will turn people away from karting?
    We (drivers) are not able to do anything anymore. We are scared to overtake our concurrents, we are scared to be close as possible behind our concurrent because we are scared to loose our front bumper because if the concurrents wants to win and is clever, he just have to brake a little bit more or miss his gears and we loose our front bumper, we get a penalty (30sec) for the mistake of the other driver. We are scared to pass a curbstone because we can loose the front spoiler with that, if that happens we get a penalty for it (30sec).
    Karting is not a contactsport, we all do know that but i’m sure that most of you agreed with me that with this kind of rules people will turn away of karting!
    Teams, sponsors and karting manufacturers are spending so much money for racing, REAL HIGH LEVEL RACING.
    Please I would like to ask to all of you to share this message and stand up againsts to the nonsense rules!
    With best regards, Bas Lammers”

    I agree, stupid solution.

    Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
    Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com

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