April 18, 2014 at 10:39 am #25894
I’m surprised that there has been no talk on this forum about the impending changes in the US distribution chain for IAME (Manufacturer of the Leopard, X30 etc.). It appears that there will be two exclusive importers IAME West run by SKUSA’s Tom Kutscher and IAME East run by Justin Marks and Eric Jones of the Mooresville Motorplex.
It is my understanding that Russell Karting, Italian Motors, TS, and Haddock will no longer be importers of IAME products.
Will this make things better? Make them worse?
Discuss.April 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm #25900
We are working on an interview with Tom Kutscher to be published very soon. Speaking with Eric Jones at the USPKS event last weekend, they are excited about the future, and looking forward to helping the industry grow along with the IAME brand.April 18, 2014 at 3:49 pm #25901
I see some changes in the future of US karting with this. Probably a more structured racing series featuring the x30 engine to compete with the rotax race series, with the help of Skusa. The availability of various tag packages has been dwindling over the years and here’s another indication. X30 or Rotax race series.
Maybe the 2016 CIK engine structure will shake things up in a few years as well. KF is changing back to a more simple package. Back to direct drive and minus the starter. But could be even a few years beyond then for anything to catch on here if at all.April 19, 2014 at 7:46 am #25917
It is a notable change. Aren’t Russell Karting the ones responsible in bringing IAME/Parilla to the US in the first place? And reading a press release from one of the former importers, this change was completely unexpected.
I don’t know if this is the right place to bring it up, but this new development ties into the trend that, at least on the national level, the late Tom Argy’s concept of TaG is all but dead. Now, instead of several engine manufactures competing for TaG supremacy on the race track, it’s several single-make TaG programs battling each other for a piece of the marginal karting consumer base.April 19, 2014 at 7:57 am #25918
Chuck, Yes Russell was instrumental and if I remember correctly George Russell was the American in Ital-American Motor Engineering (IAME).
Time will tell what the future brings but I personally feel that the Russells, Haddock, Italian Motors crews stayed loyal to the IAME brand and had their legs cut out from underneath them.
I’m trying very hard to understand the stated goal of the new importers of making the IAME product line available in more shops. I wasn’t aware that was a problem and I believe that this will continue the slide of TAG at the club level.
What press release were you reading Chuck, I’d like to take a look at it myself.April 19, 2014 at 7:26 pm #25943
I thought Haddock was the “American” in I.A.M.E.? Arrangements change with the times, but it’s just good business and courtesy to notify long time business partners before yanking the carpet out from under them… I’m not impressed, and will have to seriously consider whether to use IAME products in the future.April 19, 2014 at 9:23 pm #25946
It is possibly no coincidence SKUSA approved the X30 and all the long time importers get ousted all in a matter of a few weeks.
To me, IAME represents vigorously the short sighted 3 year obsolescence side of karting. The Leopard and KPV isn’t enough for them.
bbApril 20, 2014 at 12:17 am #25948
I’d be interested to know how this will effect the parts supply for those running the older IAME Reedjets and such. Those engines are still very popular in road racing. I don’t see the new importers as caring about those older engines.April 20, 2014 at 7:32 pm #25973
Jim Russell Jr. just received 30 new Reedjets this month (I think close to half are already sold) , so he is on board with supporting them.
bbApril 21, 2014 at 12:43 pm #26027
In my original post I posed the questions of “Do you think this will make things better?” and “Do you think this will make things worse?”
To my surprise I should have asked one additional question; “Do you even care?”
Although there are statements that these changes of importership will stabilize this segment of the sport my personal feelings are that it will do just the opposite.
I have no issues with any of the parties involved but I’m not liking this particular change in the karting industry in North America.
Time will tell as always.April 21, 2014 at 8:04 pm #26046
I don’t think this is going to save the Karter any money. This probably is not any better for Karting than paying higher taxes. And there isn’t much we can do about either.
I guess we will see won’t we. But most interesting to me will be what will happen to the Komet KPV??????
The Leopard is basically gone, but we can see from History what IAME is doing. Tags came in around 2003. Lots of engines came in, rules were put in place, and the Leopard was a good motor and got most of that market share. Then production on the Original Leopard stopped and in came the 09 Leopard. Forced upon the US and we had to simply adapt. Now IAME has stopped producing the Leopard and is exporting the X30.
The original IAME built engines for the US Market, not the other way around. (The rules were basically 100cc’s for $100)
Ever since, they have been dumping whatever they want on us every 3 years or so. This is why there are a lot more Karts with Yamahas, Briggs and Clones in the US than IAME products. IAME has left all the importers holding the bags with inventory on obsolete products. IAME has left the US karter holding the bag on motors where production was replaced by a “slightly” better product. (Have they ever fixed that starter issue?)
According to my Dad, George Russell used to sell motors from his shop at little or no profit because he knew he would make $15 a piston. Long term thinkers is what we need!
BbApril 22, 2014 at 4:37 am #26056
Good post Bernie.April 22, 2014 at 8:38 am #26091
Then production on the Original Leopard stopped and in came the 09 Leopard. Forced upon the US and we had to simply adapt. Now IAME has stopped producing the Leopard and is exporting the X30. The original IAME built engines for the US Market, not the other way around. (The rules were basically 100cc’s for $100) Ever since, they have been dumping whatever they want on us every 3 years or so.
[edit: for some reason the system says Greg wrote the above although Bernie clearly did]
Sorry, not buying is one. Where did you get that the Leopard no longer is made? I can still buy a brand new one. As for the 2009 upgrade, it wasn’t “forced” on anyone, as you can still buy new parts for an old model Leopard and I’m not aware of a single karting body that required a switch to the 2009.
I don’t think the X-30 is a Leopard replacement. It’s an attempt to respond to the lower revs, less vibration, and longer service intervals of IAME’s chief competitor, Rotax. It’s hardly being “forced” on anyone. It’s an option to the Leopard, designed to grab some market share from Rotax.
I’m not seeing any planned obsolescence conspiracy theories here, and I don’t see how IAME has the market share or organization to “force” anything on anyone.April 22, 2014 at 8:42 am #26092
Jim, That’s not my quote!! I never said that, the quote is from Bernie’s post not mine.May 7, 2014 at 10:39 pm #27080
The 09 Leopard came in and was a surprise to all the organizations.
The fact we can buy IAME’s old products “new” here in the US is part of the problem.
Tag was/is a great idea, IAME started with the Leopard, then came 09 Leopard, now X30. If history tells me anything I would guess IAME already has the replacement for the X30.
Tag for Rotax hasn’t changed much in 10+ years and I think this is a different picture than IAME has painted with their Tag over the same 10 years.
bbMay 8, 2014 at 10:45 am #27117
TaG as it was originally conceived — a leisure / fun class for old farts and casual enthusiasts, with no national points or series other than informal get-togethers IS STILL a great idea.
IMO, what TaG has morphed into is an impossible situation (re: equality) that lines the pockets of manufacturers while leaving the importers and racers at their whim. Even Rotax doesn’t have the rules stability it used to, and spares are another tier higher in expense…
I still haven’t heard any explanation on the rationale for switching from the former importer alignments — just ethereal interviews about the “potential for the future.” I don’t wish the new guys ill, but it’s hard to trust orgs that aren’t direct, open, and forthcoming.
On a side note, it’d be cool if they reintroduced the greyhound logo.May 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm #27130
“I still haven’t heard any explanation on the rationale for switching from the former importer alignments”
Well, it sure wasn’t customer service. Italian Motors did a great job.
I suspect is was simple jeolousy on IAME’s part: IAME wants its own “IAME Cup” series to compete with the Rotax national series. By co-opting SKUSA, IAME now has its foot in the door for a national TaG series with the X30 as the spec motor, which will be tied into the yearly IAME X30 International Championship event. I think the Kruesher (sp?) interview made it pretty clear SKUSA will be going to the X30 as a spec TaG motor in the next 2 years.May 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm #27208
I hadn’t read the Tom Kutscher interview, interesting. So, the Leopard is done and the X30 will be spec in 2 years for SKUSA. Hard to argue with the success of SKUSA over the past few years. Although, it is still a pretty small portion of the US Karting market.
Anyone have any information on how the KPV is going to be handled?
I still see puppet masters here.
The Tag idea, with all its messes, worked in my opinion because it was a grass roots ground swell. Greg was there (and still is), I think he’d agree! We here in the US thought it was our idea! I thought IAME got a pretty good share of that.
Rising tides float all boats. When the tide goes out, like it is now, we find out who is swimming naked!
bbJuly 25, 2014 at 8:21 am #30837
As Ted points out, Tom Argy Jr.’s original vision is still very much alive… that these engines could compete together at local tracks where there weren’t enough karts to run individual classes for each engine. The original vision — back in about 2002 — also included a couple of national festival-type events (Rock Island GP, TAG World Finals) where there would be good competition for those who wanted to step up, but also lots of fun things to do. I was with Tom when he pitched the TAG idea to IAME and others, so I heard it first hand.
What I don’t think Tom anticipated was that TAG would ever become a national class. I believe he thought at the national level there would be enough Rotax, Leopard etc. in the country to maintain single-make classes. But different organizations took the TAG class and ran with it, changed rules etc. and muddied the whole picture.
TAG being run at local tracks under TAG USA rules should continue to be a viable class for many years to come. At the national level, single-make classes have taken root. In both cases, Tom’s vision was accurate 10+ years ago. God bless the man — karting needs more leaders like him. I still miss him every day!
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