As much as I wish the Russell closure wasn’t happening – losing institutions in a sport is never a good indicator of the sport’s health – I can’t say it was a big surprise. Since they were cut out of the IAME business, they never really found the product driver to replace what was a huge part of their business. While karting is facing some challenges currently, the Russell closure had less to do with the health of the industry than it did specific aspects of their business. Jim has a good line on the booming Parolin business in North America – hopefully he is able to ride the wave of that brand push and keep the Russell name, if not the original business, in the market.
That said, you and I are on the same page Greg in terms of the need to turn the focus to the grassroots of the sport as opposed to the top tier. If all the money spent on sponsoring and advertising the top tier events and series were redirected to the local clubs and tracks then maybe those clubs and tracks could afford to offer more reasonable entry fees and spend more money on recruiting more families in to the sport.
I am thankful there will be a few less National level races this season in our market. I am intending to steal some ideas I’ve seen from around the country and support a 206 Club at one or more of our local tracks. While I make most of my living on the road I’m going to try hard to give back to the local clubs and tracks where we got our start in hopes of seeing a vibrant local community rise once again.
Is the karting business in a challenging position right now? Sure. Are there signs of a resurgence in the market? Absolutely. Is that resurgence contingent on the people in the industry doubling down on local clubs & tracks and getting involved again? Damn right. The industry on the whole can be saved by the industry members if we are willing to put in the work.