Home Forums General Karting Discussion Full bumpers in kart racing

This topic contains 35 replies, has 23 voices, and was last updated by  Paul Hir 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #18633

    Chris Fraser
    Participant

    Hello everyone.  I’m fairly new to the sport and have been doing quite a bit of practice in rotax sr.

    One observation I’ve made is that most of the serious crashes in racing seem to be caused by touching wheels at speed.  The first race I ever watched (Redline Oil Series at Sonoma), I must have seen at least 3 crashes, and the ambulance came onto the track twice (fortunately, just as a precaution and everyone walked away).  I saw karts get launched into the air from touching wheels, one landing on top of another driver.

    My question is: why don’t outdoor karts use a full bumper that goes around the perimeter of kart like you see on indoor karts?  I realize that this would make changing wheels, making chassis adjustments, ect more difficult, and also might affect the way the kart flexes, the axle lifts, ect.

    I’m just curious if anyone has ever considered this for outdoor karts and what the reasoning is.  Even from watching karting at the higher levels it seems like crashes are still pretty common with experienced drivers, although I haven’t seen a lot of serious injuries.  It seems like if contact between karts was more predictable it might allow for closer racing and give more confidence to the drivers.  Again, I’m new to this – so just curious about people’s thoughts on this subject (I know open wheels karts have been that way for over 50 years).

    #18656

    James Cooksey
    Participant

    Try Golf

    #18657

    Chris Fraser
    Participant

    Try Golf

     

    I’m not concerned for my own safefty, or displeased with the way things are.  Just curious what people thoughts are because I think it’s an interesting topic.  I’ve seen a lot drivers get knocked out of a race early on because of this or total their karts.  If some of these incidents were more minor and kept karts in the race it seems like it would be beneficial.

    However I’m not sure if a full bumper would even work on these karts.

    #18658

    David McDowell
    Participant

    Chris,

    To me if you put bumpers on the karts the just become rental karts with big engines. I don’t know when the first race you watched was but since 2010 most organizations have required full width rear bumpers since the largest cause of flips was due to wheel to wheel contact, when the wheels are rotating in opposite directions.

    I have never seen a kart flip from side to side wheel contact, and have been behind many in races doing this the whole way down the front stretch.

     

    The bold move to pass is the whole fun of racing. It’s who has the balls to push the breaking zone that extra yard or two to get the pass. Or who is the chicken and will give the inch to allow room.

    #18659

    Chris Fraser
    Participant

    Chris, To me if you put bumpers on the karts the just become rental karts with big engines. I don’t know when the first race you watched was but since 2010 most organizations have required full width rear bumpers since the largest cause of flips was due to wheel to wheel contact, when the wheels are rotating in opposite directions. I have never seen a kart flip from side to side wheel contact, and have been behind many in races doing this the whole way down the front stretch. The bold move to pass is the whole fun of racing. It’s who has the balls to push the breaking zone that extra yard or two to get the pass. Or who is the chicken and will give the inch to allow room.

    This was in 2013, I think in both cases it was in a turn where someone’s front wheel got in between the wheel and the side pod of another kart.

    I agree about the fun part, but lower risk in the event of contact still wouldn’t take away from the dynamics of the driving.  If anything it seems like people would make more attempts to overtake and make things more interesting.

    However maybe you are right and this sort of things doesn’t happen often, so the bumpers aren’t really neccesary.  I do have the new style rear bumper and think it’s a good idea.

     

    #18661

    Chris Fraser
    Participant

    Chris, To me if you put bumpers on the karts the just become rental karts with big engines. I don’t know when the first race you watched was but since 2010 most organizations have required full width rear bumpers since the largest cause of flips was due to wheel to wheel contact, when the wheels are rotating in opposite directions. I have never seen a kart flip from side to side wheel contact, and have been behind many in races doing this the whole way down the front stretch. The bold move to pass is the whole fun of racing. It’s who has the balls to push the breaking zone that extra yard or two to get the pass. Or who is the chicken and will give the inch to allow room.

    But yes I agree it would look a little silly and take away some of the appeal.

    #18662

    Mike Bray
    Participant

    Racing – because football, baseball, and basketball only require one ball.

    #18674

    Walt Gifford
    Participant

    Chris, you have obviously never raced 360 bumper karts with a pack of aggressive pro drivers. Some of the hardest hits I’ve ever taken in 41 years of kart racing. It’s a completely different style of driving more akin to a pin ball machine or a bowling ally. That’s why they don’t mix rental karts with pro karts, they are battering rams and they bring out the worst in any driver.

    Gif

    #18677

    Dustin McGrew
    Participant

    Some of these replies are a little disappointing. I’ll never fault anyone for questioning the status quo and thinking of ways to make racing safer.

    #18678

    TJ Koyen
    Participant

    No consequences = no risk = no common sense = no regard for other drivers.

    This is the first time I’ve seen someone asking for MORE bumpers on a kart. Most are asking to remove bodywork.

    As Walt said, if you’ve ever seen real kart drivers at a rental kart place, you’ll know instantly why full 360 bumpers would be a mess.

    Karting doesn’t need another reason for people to make idiotic passing moves. Most incidents already occur because someone is trying to overtake by using their bodywork.

    #18681

    Brian Mead
    Participant

    Chris – Go look at the vintage stuff.  Nothing. Nada. Much,much lighter piece of equipment, less mass flying around, and you knew if you wheeled somebody, you were fair game. I remember a picture of Alex Zanardi, not a big man, just picking up his kart and walking with it. The safety was with the drivers, not the equipment.

    #18682

    Greg Lindahl
    Participant

    360 degree bumpers with on-board cameras showing what’s truly taking place would provide the safety of bumpers with the responsiblity of live footage witnesses.

    #18683

    Brian Mead
    Participant

    Ah- more weight, more to fall off, more money……I don’t see the plus.

    #18685

    Chris Fraser
    Participant

    Chris, you have obviously never raced 360 bumper karts with a pack of aggressive pro drivers. Some of the hardest hits I’ve ever taken in 41 years of kart racing. It’s a completely different style of driving more akin to a pin ball machine or a bowling ally. That’s why they don’t mix rental karts with pro karts, they are batterin rams and they bring out the worst in any driver. Gif

    No consequences = no risk = no common sense = no regard for other drivers. This is the first time I’ve seen someone asking for MORE bumpers on a kart. Most are asking to remove bodywork. As Walt said, if you’ve ever seen real kart drivers at a rental kart place, you’ll know instantly why full 360 bumpers would be a mess. Karting doesn’t need another reason for people to make idiotic passing moves. Most incidents already occur because someone is trying to overtake by using their bodywork.

    Thanks guys, this actually make sense to me. I knew there would be a good reason! I have done some enduro type racing at an indoor track where a lot of more experienced drivers/ karters would show up and I can see what you’re talking about.  I always attributed it to the fact that the indoor track is half the width of the outdoor track with a lot of turns so people have to get a closer when passing, but what you are saying makes sense. I have to admit it is fun to be aggressive at the indoor places but if I was in my own kart I would probably not appreciate getting rammed.

    Some of these replies are a little disappointing. I’ll never fault anyone for questioning the status quo and thinking of ways to make racing safer.

    Thank you! Better than the “try golf” response.  I wasn’t trying to admit to being a pansy, just curious if this has even been considered and what the reasoning is.

    #18686

    Chris Fraser
    Participant

    Chris – Go look at the vintage stuff. Nothing. Nada. Much,much lighter piece of equipment, less mass flying around, and you knew if you wheeled somebody, you were fair game. I remember a picture of Alex Zanardi, not a big man, just picking up his kart and walking with it. The safety was with the drivers, not the equipment.

    We have a 1960′s “go kart” that was my dad’s growing up.  No bumpers. He used to have 2 mac10 chainsaw motors on it that would get it over 65mph.  I not sure I can even fit in that thing anymore, it’s tiny. And yes, very lightweight.

    #18690

    Ben Matthew
    Participant

    Racing – because football, baseball, and basketball only require one ball.

    Favorite racing quote ever.

    As the father of a kart driver watching my son race a variety of karts (asphalt oval, dirt oval and sprints) over the last 10 years it has always struck me as ironic that people view the sport as particularly dangerous.  Maybe we are just lucky, but we have seen and my boy has been in a fair number big wrecks without so much as a broken bone.  Yes, we have seen drivers taken to the hospital for a check-up, but nothing like you see in high school football or worse yet lacrosse where it is surprising if someone does not end up on a stretcher by the end of a game.  It would be interesting to see a list of crash/injury data to compare to the more common ballgames.  Plus it would give me some ammo for all the people who say “Are you crazy letting your son do that?”

    If you really want to see a lot of people being shuttled to the hospital go to a club level motorcycle race.

    I guess my point is that if we are going to make safety changes to the sport then they need to be changes based on empirical data.

    Just my $.02

    #18692

    Brian Wilson
    Participant

    It has been my experience that the bigger the bumpers have gotten or the more coverage they have provided, the more contact there has become. With the vintage karts, and currently F1, the more open the wheels were, the more skill the drivers used in overtaking another driver. Seems that with the advent of bumpers, people have taken the Nascar moniker of “rubbin’ is racing” to heart.

    Personally, I think the more bumper coverage you require, the lesser driver skills will become and the potential for serious accidents will rise. Drivers will just have the attitude that the other person will back off or get bumped off the track. Having someone with that attitude  bullying their way inside me going into a high speed corner is not something I relish.

     

     

     

    #18708

    John Kuntze
    Participant

    Over the years at times the more someone tries to make karting safer the more dangerous it has become. Karting has turned into overpowered rental karts it’s less about driver skill and more about shoving and wrecking somebody. The last step to finally screwing it up is putting on a roll cage in the name of safety. Karting would be safer if you removed all the bodywork you would sure learn respect real quick if you tried to drive the same way.

    I am fortunate to able to watch guys like Scott Pruett, Lynn Haddock and Ron Emmick race karts seeing those guys race each other hard and passing was an art form it was a joy to watch I can’t say that about karting today.

    #18714

    Charles Kaneb
    Participant

    If you have ‘em, you’ll use ‘em.

    I raced indoor karts two days ago.

    I got hit from behind so hard that the kart in front spun out. I saw a guy make a crazy move, hit the wall so hard he was halfway out of the kart, then THREE LAPS LATER make the exact same move in the exact same spot and end up stationary.

    Ever see the little rollers on Rotax DD2 karts? If you installed a set of those in front of and behind the front wheels and behind the rear wheels you could get rid of the rest of the bodywork.

    #18730

    Mike Bray
    Participant

    I remember seeing an interview with AJ Foyt where he talked about safety and the old days of racing compared to today.  In the 50′s and 60′s drivers were getting seriously hurt and killed on a weekly basis because of the lack of safety like they have today.  Because of the high risk he said a driver really learned to thread the needle because he knew if he missed he was probably going to be either dead or doing some sheet time.  Foyt felt like it made for a better and more polished driver.

    No one ever wants to see someone get hurt, especially me.  I think today’s karts have about the right amount of bodywork to be safe enough but not so much as to throw caution to the wind.  Karting should be making good polished drivers, not just brave drives.

     

    #18731

    lynn haddock
    Participant

    or bowling

    #18774

    Kerry Matthews
    Participant

    Over the years at times the more someone tries to make karting safer the more dangerous it has become. Karting has turned into overpowered rental karts it’s less about driver skill and more about shoving and wrecking somebody. The last step to finally screwing it up is putting on a roll cage in the name of safety. Karting would be safer if you removed all the bodywork you would sure learn respect real quick if you tried to drive the same way. I am fortunate to able to watch guys like Scott Pruett, Lynn Haddock and Ron Emmick race karts seeing those guys race each other hard and passing was an art form it was a joy to watch I can’t say that about karting today.

    There’s SO many good comments on here against bigger bumpers, but I like John’s the best, maybe because I’ve talked to Scott Pruett and his father many times about karting… then and now.  They say the same.   I got out of sprint karts because of the carnage, all the younger guys going kamikaze into turn 1 on the first lap.  Granted, I had a rough start in sprint racing, flipping in my second race due to wheel to wheel contact, and breaking several bones and collapsing my lung, so I’m not too keen on contact.  I found road racing to be a lot more fun, but when things go wrong, they go wrong in a big way.  I’ve seen the inside of the ambulance a few times, but I’ve always been lucky and gone home in my own vehicle.  I’m against any more bumpers or safety crap on karts because, as stated above, it takes away from a driver’s skill.  Without them, you know that IF you have contact with another kart, you’re BOTH done for the race, so you do your best to avoid it at all costs.  It makes for better drivers.  And I have done indoor karting with several pro drivers from NorCal, along with some of the SwedeTech guys.  Never been hit so hard in my life.  On a big track, that would not be pretty.

    #18793

    Tom Jensen
    Participant

    Karts are designed to flex when they turn.  Full bumpers all the way around inhibited that flex making lap times slower.

    #18830

    Jim Derrig
    Participant

    What the heck, I’ll play devil’s advocate.

    The logic of “less safety equipment means more safety” makes no sense.  If that was the case we should get rid of helmets and require everyone to race barefoot in shorts and Hawaiian shirts, because then everything would be REALLY safe, right?

    If the problem is that everything becomes so safe that people will start banging, then the simple solution is to make “avoidable contact” illegal, with an automatic DQ for the person initiating it.  I’ve been in exactly one series where the race director had the guts to enforce this rule and you know what?  We didn’t try to hit each other.  Amazing.

    Of course, some sore, DQ’d loser inevitably will whine, pack up his equipment and leave vowing never to come back, which apparently is enough to cause some promotors not to enforce such a rule.  My choice is to avoid a series run by promotors who let nut cases run other karters off the road.

    Having said this, I think the current level of protection is fine, as the full width rear bumpers pretty much eliminated 90% of the potential for flips from wheel contact.  So based on empirical (albeit anecdotal) evidence, I don’t see a need for more bumper coverage.  But this “we get more safe by taking away safety equipment” stuff is just wacko in my opinion.

    #18837

    Mike Bray
    Participant

    What the heck, I’ll play devil’s advocate. The logic of “less safety equipment means more safety” makes no sense. 

    It makes perfect sense because it teaches you how to DRIVE, not just become a Kamikaze.

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