Home Forums Road Racing Can RRing survive without the clubs?

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    Jeff Mott

    Just found out that the SKC wont be hosting races at Roebling Road anymore due to financial losses.  At the IKF Grand Nationals last week the Portland Kart Club also lost money. Of course this is because of the diminishing number of road racing karters. Is it time for the IKF and WKA to set up a national schedule and take the financial risk?  What else do you think can be done to keep this unique and exciting racing alive?


    Austin Henry

    I find it amusing when people make these posts and leave out KART. Road Racing in KART it doing quite well.

    Austin Henry


    Jim White

    It is good that KART is doing well. They seem to be the only one. Aside from them road racing is dying a slow expensive death. How do we as road racers stop the trend?



    Colm O’Higgins

    Jim, Austin & Jeff:

    The key is consolidation.  KART may be doing fine but IKF and WKA are hurting, no doubt.

    Now the question is who will “reign supreme”…because someone always wants to.

    Karting here is suffering in comparison to the world stage though US kart racing also has some advantages in it’s diversity.

    Most of us do not want an imposed spec. type of racing, devoid of any innovation developed by entities other than the factories.    

    Two examples: there are no Chris Hegars or Riley Will’s in Europe or Asia.  

    Time to get together or wither and die.  

    Our choice.


    Gerry MCN

    Pretty hard to turn the tide if the simple fact is people are finding it hard to afford the costs, price of fuel alone to travel to events other then a very local race is getting huge.



    Chris Hegar

    Oh no I did something again didn’t I… I’m sorry for what I did and whatever I might do next.  😉


    Jeff DeMello

    Your forgiving Chris.  😉



    Chris Hegar

    I find it amusing when people make these posts and leave out KART. Road Racing in KART it doing quite well.

    KART needs help as well. Looking at the 2013 points totals to date the largest class all year was Briggs Animal Sportsman with 14 in class at Lake Afton, 14’s not killing it by any means. Probably paying the bills and coming out a little ahead but it won’t be long and track rental fees will rise hurting the program. Tracks are starting to look at not just rental but how much fuel they can sell to groups. In other words they want to sell you the track plus 500 gallons of gas to your runners which is easy with big cars but us we don’t do much in that area. Better track days will go to clubs that rent and burn. It’s a tough situation.

    I can see the US moving to 3 or 4 events a year in each region hoping to draw those of us left and going the extra mile to attract the sprint side as a new thing. The only other hope is that a group like SKUSA finds a reason to throw in a big track race which I doubt would happen. I don’t know if the old IKF or WKA label helps sell races anymore, sometimes it’s better to relabel and push it off as a new program.


    Austin Henry


    You sure to know a lot about KART for never racing with us.  Good thing for us is half of our races are on natural road courses, so track rental fees do not affect us as much.  We have a great group of racers and do not require 300+ entries per weekend to pay our bills.  KART was formed to get away from IKF, maybe IKF should pay more attention to what we are doing.  We take care of our racers, create class structures that support what is in the area, all of are classes are sponsored (series and national classes).  All of karting is a slump right now and it comes down to cost in my opinion.  When I raced SKUSA there were people spending 120K+ to race shifter karts, heck for that money we can be racing cars.

    Those of you who dream of a national road racing series, keep dreaming!  If you cant afford to race in your own back yard, how can you race halfway across the country!  Plus the politics would never allow it (we all know this).

    In my opinion KART works because we have the best members of any organization, we all work together to promote and put on races.  We are all involved in rule changes (that dont happen every year), we have relitivly low cost, high quality venues to race at, and we base our class structtre around our racers, we dont need 70 classes in the “hope” that people will come race “once ina  while”.  With that being said, we have had groups ask us to add classes such as Jr sportsman 1 and B-stock, we gladley did but the support from these groups was great, 10-20+ racers show up and we have a great class with great racing.  Also when KART racers travel to other series they are usally up front, so its even greater we have top notch racers as well.

    Austin Henry


    Chris Hegar

    IMO, here’s the way I look at it. Each year did we gain 5 new runners that we never had before while maintaining the runners from last year? 5 is my guess to offset rising cost and I know that’s not nearly enough but looking around the drivers meeting 5 is the best I think we can hope for. If your club isn’t seeing at least that many new racers your in the same trouble as every other rr club or will be soon.

    Not stepping on KART with my listing of 14 runners Austin but the KART site shows every race and all the runners in those races for 2013 to date. You have about 213 total entry’s  in all classes for all season and that’s not counting each name to see how many times it’s listed in more than one class or guys that only went to 1 event, that’s everybody. I’d imagine it’s about 80 names registered total that push the program consistently. 80 is almost exactly what we have here in bodies so were pretty close to the same as far as trucks in the pits. You may not now but you will be in search of racers at some point. Natural tracks are cool and your lucky to have them but pavement gets rough and needs $ to get fixed that’s when the $ rises.

    IKF rr has done what the racers asks as far as I know for rules. Can I ask what recent rules made you dislike or the IKF runners in general dislike for rr? I’m on the IKF rr committee and have not seen any requests or changes to our rules in years. I will pass on your request to the board.

    Numbers in IKF rr have lots to contend with. SKUSA in Cali, nice sprint programs here in the NW and the dark side of karting no ones thinks about…. dirt. Dirt is growing and it’s cheap in comparison to rr if your looking for fun with your buds. Yes you can piss it away if you try real hard but dirt is very affordable and you can buy it all ready to go if you know where to go.

    I forgot to add, if anyone with anything shows up at the rr track we will always accommodate those runners, we never turn down a kart unless it is unsafe. You wanna run Briggs 2 stroke banana pipe ball bearing muffler Senior over 75 @650lbs class just offer up a few and we will see if it can be added to the roster. Yea were that desperate to draw in people, it’s ugly round here.



    Peter Zambos

    I can’t speak to what happens everywhere else, because I do all my racing in the midwest.  I’ve raced with KART in the past, when CES held joint events, and, from my perspective, were a joy to race with.

    To the point, however, when it comes to my part of the country, what has hurt the sustainability of road racing is a lack of interaction between the local tracks/clubs and the regional road racing.  So, my answer to the question posed is no, road racing cannot survive without the clubs.  Karters, almost invariably, start at the sprint level (as they should) and then get introduced to road racing at some point, hopefully.  If there’s no interaction between the clubs and road racing, there’s no one to replace the inevitable drop outs when karters retire, have kids, get divorced, lose employment, etc.

    The national series that comes through my neck of the woods has certainly done nothing to foster growth in participation, and, arguably, has actually harmed it.  I’ll stick with having a regional series run by people who actually know what karters in my region want


    Lyle Clark

    I think the main reason for much of the falling of road racing is the cost of the top tier tracks. Those facilities can get what they want and don’t have to work with clubs if they don’t want to. Because of these high costs, the clubs have to charge each entry more. Parking lot events and purpose built sprint tracks can absorb costs a lot better.

    KART is a great group, but 4 of their 7 races are at parks where the rental is WAY less than the other tracks. This helps offset the top tier tracks.  Not a dig against KART at all, they are making it work. SWRA had Oakhill to help offset costs, but when Oakhill went away and those promoters started losing big money, SWRA went away.

    Not sure what the answer is except to try to model after KART, and get back to the roots of road racing.





    Thom Andresen

    Jeff, SKC is going to continue our series next year, we may be down but not out.


    Chris Hegar

    +1 Lyle


    bo rougeou




    As a business man I can’t see the point of the large tracks.  They should want someone doing something at their track every weekend.  The bills for the track go on whether anyone uses it or not.



    Barber in B’ham is rumored to want the karts because they want the business.

    If I had a jillion dollar track, I would book anyone who could come in and help me break even.

    You can’t book NASCAR every weekend


    Colm O’Higgins

    Here is my viewpoint, but something, actually more than a few things, needs to, must happen:

    KART certainly has a dedicated model that works for Hallett, Lake Afton and Garnett, etc.  Can it be applied across the expanse of North America?

    Dart Kart Club runs Mid Ohio but it costs I am told, nearly $40k to rent the facility for 3 1/2 days for a closed (no spectators) event.  And they barely break even.

    At M.I.S. Michigan Kart Club runs a high quality race event and added by requests practice on Friday.  But they only got 50 participants and lost $7000 approx.  This will change.  Also they lost money on the food concessions…kart racers mostly bring their own stuff.

    Local “Late Model” circle tracks have spectators and sponsors.  Kart clubs have few.  And they usually involve the local business community.

    There are several factors that affect Roadracing today:

    1      Years ago clubs (of ‘higher’ series) paid ‘tow money’ to racers depending on how far  we traveled to reach the track.  A Travel Fund paid into by every racer and then distributed?  Can we do that?

    2     Schedules and Race Personnel need to, must be, active at each others events.  More populated race events and spread across timetables, Regions respected.  Memberships likewise need to become interchangeable, or amalgamated eventually.  To become reciprocal on Memberships and Licences would be a good starting point.

    3    10 Classes maximum!  I counted 61 class divisions in WKA!  Have a participation level requirement, respond quickly.  Do not turn any racer away but put all stragglers in a ‘Left Over’ class of sorts.  Right now Bracket racing would fit.

    4    Top tier tracks, as Lyle wrote, can choose from other more wealthy forms of racing to make their profits.  V.I.R. is a prime example.

    5    I feel safe, kinda.  But other racers from other types say we at the very least look unsafe!  So kart racing has to become proactive on that issue.

    6    Finally, no (other) type of race series exists without a major sponsor. In WKA Mazda has been great…but is the local dealer even aware or involved?  Never saw one yet. Therefore karting has to identify what it can offer a sponsor or piggyback on a higher series activities.  Kart racers bring in significant dollars to local businesses…with little return other than price.

    Maybe leave the price at list and get the motel, gas station, or restaurant to provide a set of trophies with their name on it.

    To allow the above to happen will take political will, a humbling of egos, and a willingness to compromise.  Time is of the essence.



    Colm O’Higgins

    Bo, you are correct.

    But the ability to buy Insurance rules.


    Kelly Read

    To answer the question “Can RR survive without the clubs”??   If we are talking about the “local” club, YES, I do this myself.  I don’t have members like the old days where members came out and volunteered to flag, do scales, tech, etc..   The events I promote these days, I have to pay people to put on the event.  Would I rather have a club who has enough “volunteers”  to help put the race on, HELL YES!!!  In my area, we used to have a local sprint track that our sprint racers came to the RR track and volunteered and our RR’s went to the sprint track and volunteered, that is gone at least where I am at. Now, we have only the RR racers and we need them to race vs help so this is why I have to pay people to flag, kart pick up, etc.. . Yes, some of the racers do still help (pre-tech, post-tech) but want to race also.

    As for organizations (IKF,WKA,KART), are they needed?? In my opinion YES. Are any of these perfect, NO!!! Having a organization such as them is important as they are the ones who do a lot of the behind the back work (would have to be there to fully understand). I know this as I have been a past IKF director and today still a big HELPING HAND for any of the organizations when called upon. 

    I have said it many times, I don’t really care who the name is at the top of the event, I JUST WANT TO RACE!!! Anytime my family can go somewhere else and race, we will. BUT, we are sure to support our own area races first!!!

    As for KART, it is like any organization. It takes the right leaders, racers, etc to make it happen. As I said above, are they perfect NO. BUT, since I have been involved with other organizations rather it be just giving them input when they call or e-mail me on certain things, KART does listen to there racers better. I will say that one of KART’s biggest advantages is having the number of races (7-8) in a local area that racers can attend, is awesome. How many RR racers can say that they can drive to 7-8 events under 5 – hours??  This could be more if our weather was better. KART runs from late April to mid October as where there are other parts of the country could run year round.

    As for numbers, yes KART numbers are lower then in the past, but who’s isn’t?? It’s not so much as getting new racers (always could use more) but, it is keeping those who do/have raced in is tough. Economy, jobs, kids, etc is always going to be a issue no matter where we race at with this.

    Number of classes is always a discussion no matter where you are. I see no reason some club/organization should base what to run off someone who doesn’t race in there area. If what you have works (pays the bills, racers are happy, had a good event, etc), then be it!!! I believe all clubs/organization have to do what they need to do to be successful and they are the ones that should know not someone who just get’s on forums and talks and doesn’t go to there events.


    I’m not hear to speak negative against any organization. For the record, KART was formed in 1994 and started racing in 1995 and still is in the green even after many felt (hopped) KART would die within a few years after starting up. KART must be doing something right if other organizations are calling them wanting to have joint NATIONAL races!!!

    So, in a nut shell!!!  If a event has you a place(s) to race and you can afford to go, THEN GO!!!  Let’s face it, all the major organization rules are pretty dam close to each other so this should not be a issue of attending.  We have had to make MINOR changes when we got somewhere but, we did it because we want to race!!!!!! LESS TALK AND MORE ACTION (attend races) does more for our FUN HOBBY!!!

    Let’s go racn,



    David Cole

    To answer the question, no.

    Is it time for a national series? Of course not. If local racers can’t support their local program, how is a national schedule going to survive.

    Should IKF and WKA take financial risk? I’m guessing they are not making money off road races.

    If you recall, we wrote an article, basically begging and pleading that things change in road racing or it would be extinct. Well, nothing has changed. WKA still hosts seven races a year, when less than 1% can make all seven. IKF tried another Grand Nationals, and it was just another regional race. KART, they keep plugging along and as noted, don’t have the large financial facilities aside from their Grand Nationals.

    New racers is the key. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of convincing to get a newbie to a road race, let alone a sprint race. And if you look at the numbers, the majority of new racers are between the ages of 5-15. Once they hit 18, it’s off to college or on their own for racing, so we loose racers there. Road racing needs to focus on drivers 35 and older, gear-heads with disposable income and love speed.

    David Cole - EKN Managing Editor


    Gene Davis

    I agree with Mr. Cole. Road Racing needs the clubs to survive.

    Let me put on my Dart Kart hat for a minute. I have been treasurer of DKC for 26 years. It has been along time since it “only” cost $40,000 to put on a race there. DKC had the opportunity to race 3 times at Mid Ohio in 2013. We declined the other 2 events because they were close to other events at nearby tracks. We stopped racing at Putnam because we just could not get enough people to cover the bills.

    Let me put my WKA hat on. WKA does make money on the Road Racing series. As with all the other series within WKA they all work together to pay the bills. Some races make more than others, thats the cost of doing business. Can WKA take over the national series? The answer is no. They do not have the people to staff the events.

    Now for just my opinion. Cutting classes is not the answer. When I am doing the budget for DKC I look at how many karts we need on the track for each time slot to pay the bills. If WKA was to cut the classes to lets say 10 from 42 what is going to make up for the loss of entries. Clubs will have to offer more local option classes to fill the void. That saves the clubs no money. The clubs still have to buy awards for the classes be it a local option class or a national class. By leaving the number of national classes where it is allows the rules to be the same from track to track so that the people that want to travel know what is what from one track to the next.

    WKA hat again– We are working on a total revamping of the way the national program works for Road Race. Originally we were going to roll it out in 2015 but we are working hard on getting it ready for 2014. Right now all the energy at WKA is being spent on getting the Tech manual to the printers. Once that is finished we will tackle the Road Race changes and see if we can roll it out in 2014.

    Thanks for listening.



    Debbie Kuntze

    I can honestly say that RR does not survive without the local club.

    Here in So Cal- RR tracks got expensive, so much fragmentation (here was almost a sprint track within 30 miles of anyone’s home popping up), busy lives = less volunteers to put on the event.

    SCK closed up in 2007 and there is no road racing in So Cal-unless NCK comes down to Buttonwillow or Willow Springs and that is once or twice a year only


    Gene Davis

    Just thought of something else. I understand and agree 100% that all karts in Road Race should have a dual braking system for safety reasons. That decision has cost the clubs alot of entries. Local short track sprinters used to come to the “big” track once a year to race. Many of them got hooked at that point. Now since they would have to change the braking system on their kart that just don’t come.

    I am open to any suggestion that can help Road Race.



    David Cole

    Just thought of something else. I understand and agree 100% that all karts in Road Race should have a dual braking system for safety reasons. That decision has cost the clubs alot of entries. Local short track sprinters used to come to the “big” track once a year to race. Many of them got hooked at that point. Now since they would have to change the braking system on their kart that just don’t come. I am open to any suggestion that can help Road Race. Gene

    I agree Gene that the rule has hurt road racing in WKA. The ‘boom’ of TaG could have moved over into road racing, but it was stopped when racers were told to spend more money to go on the big tracks. Had the rule came in as a ‘suggestion’ rather than a ‘must’, I personally feel it would have been better.

    But like I said before, it would not have completely saved road racing. We still need to reduce the number of races a year, to help promote those major events that we still do have, and focus on building the regional programs.

    4 – WKA Nationals a year – each hosted by a club (DKC, Woodbridge, Southern Kart Club)

    3 to 5 regional events a year for each area – Midwest (CES), Northeast (Woodbridge), and SKC

    You don’t need any more than that.

    David Cole - EKN Managing Editor


    Randy Pierson

    The 51 shifters on the grid at Blackhawk in Aug. and the 39 shifters at the last race at Gingerman tells me that CES is turning a corner. It was epic….


    David Cole

    The 51 shifters on the grid at Blackhawk in Aug. and the 39 shifters at the last race at Gingerman tells me that CES is turning a corner. It was epic….

    Randy, I agree with you that what CES is doing for the Shifter and TaG program has been great. People are pooling together to come race certain races, and that is why we need to limit the number of races we have in a year. I hope the Michigan events don’t fall on work weekends in 2014 😉

    David Cole - EKN Managing Editor

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