Racelab Becomes Official Distributor for TB Kart in North America

British Columbia operation based at Area 27 primed to develop network for historic brand

Racelab's Craig Finer has a long history in the sport and is highly motivated with his new relationship with TB Kart
(Photo: EKN)

Right now, despite the challenges presented over the last two years by the COVID-19 pandemic, our sport is in an extremely positive place. Karting in North America continues to enjoy expansion and growth, with new businesses, new race teams and, of course, new facilities being developed. With every new kart track that’s constructed, it’s common to see the rental side of the business being complimented with a competition component that provides the full slate of options for those looking to either feed their need for speed or develop as a possible future star in motorsports. Western Canada’s KARTPLEX is among the newest karting circuits in North America and is geared at providing the fun and excitement of rental karting and now competition karting as well, having established a foundation for a new home as the North American distributor of the TB Kart brand under the Racelab Noram name.

KARTPLEX is located in the Area 27 Motorsports Park in Oliver, British Columbia, Canada. Just 20 minutes from the USA/Canada border, and a five-hour drive east of downtown Vancouver, Area 27 is the motorsport club equivalent of Pebble Beach with breathtaking scenery and amazing natural elevation changes. Constructed in 2016, the KARTPLEX addition to the facility broke ground in late 2017 and completed in 2018.

Racelab’s Craig Finer sat down with David Cole in Sonoma to chat about their program

The driving force behind the creation of KARTPLEX is long-time karter and established businessman Craig Finer. As a driver in his younger years, Finer progressed from the club level all the way to national competition, including the SKUSA ProMoto Tour. Through that progression, he moved to managing and operating karting teams that competed throughout Canada and the USA. Eventually, Craig took on the role of business director for SKUSA in the early 2000s. Since that time, he was in the audio/video business in the Portland, Oregon region before taking a new position in the Seattle area just after Jim Murley and SKUSA separated. Then in 2011, he and his family moved back to British Columbia and continued to be involved in karting with arrive-and-drive programs. It was when the founder of Area 27 approached him about building a kart track in 2017 that things began to move forward.

The KARTPLEX circuit measures out at 1.21 km (3/4-mile) and was designed by former Formula One champion and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve. The facility provides arrive-and-drive programs, along with a karting academy and kids racing camps. League and endurance racing is conducted throughout the season with the track’s TB Kart rental kart fleet, which are available for adults in the TB R15 and TB R13 Mini for drivers aged 8-13.

The KARTPLEX facility at Area 27 in British Columbia is a fantastic opportunity to draw new racers into the sport

It is that connection with TB Kart which fueled KARTPLEX’s move to the next step in its evolution. The racing branch of KARTPLEX began with the acquisition of Racelab from industry veteran Steve Rickman. Racelab is an established name in the Vancouver area and northwestern region of North America, and while Rickman is no longer part of Racelab program, he will continue representing the company’s Atomica brand under his re-birthed ‘Genesis Racing’ operation. Racelab is positioned as the on-site kart shop at KARTPLEX and will become the basis of a proper race team for the kart brands it represents.

“It was my ambition to get serious quickly that led to the purchase of Racelab,” stated Finer. “I was not familiar with the competition industry side of the sport in the British Columbia area. When I did my research, I saw that Steve Rickman and the Racelab brand was among those who stood out. We purchased the company and the brand, and then I brought in Danny Kacic, a long-time industry member in the sport who owned CRG West in the past. I love the Racelab brand and it’s helping to get our competition side of the business moving forward this year and into the future.”

That is where the relationship between KARTPLEX/Racelab and TB Kart expands even further with the recent deal to become the North American distributor for the brand. Manufacturing for TB Kart – formerly known as TiBi Kart – began in the 1970s with the parent company being established in the early 1900s producing small parts and accessories. Their headquarters is located in Orsenigo, Italy, roughly 50km north from downtown Milan.

The TB Kart is enjoying significant success in Europe and is primed to do the same here in North America
(Photo: TB Kart srl)

TB Kart has a proven history for quality material and success on the track, both in Europe and here in North America. The Tibi brand could be found in the US in the 1980s and 1990s, but the brand’s initial re-entry into the American market was led by Farshad Bagheri in south Florida. Bagheri’s passion for the sport keeps in him the seat, running in the Masters Shifter category, and he was also a primary player in growing the Briggs 206 program at the Homestead facility, which brought a number of new racers into the sport and helped inject much excitement into the club. Bagheri will remain a key partner and will continue to develop the brand and support Florida customers in cooperation with Racelab.

The focus for Racelab and the TB Kart brand will be to provide elite customer service and professionalism for not only the dealer network, but all customers in an effort of resurgence in the North American karting market. Direct day-to-day interaction with the factory will further support the dealers, tuners and racers across the USA and Canada aboard the TB Kart brand. Inventory is already on hand for both USA and Canada, with the early months of the 2022 season already establishing trackside support for major North American events and series.

The Racelab team has attended several events to begin the 2022 season, including the Challenge of the Americas in the southwestern United States

“The relationship obviously began with our rental kart side at the KARTPLEX,” continued Finer. “We were looking for a more direct relationship for our rental kart product and discovered TiBi was manufacturing several brands. From that, they were interested in expanding their competition side of the company – TB Kart. Once we began bringing the racing karts to North America, we noticed a huge amount of success in Europe for TB Kart. The market reach here in North America was not as strong as they hoped, and TB Kart was excited at our desire to roll up our sleeves and expand the network. Nobody doubts the product anymore and it was perfect timing. We are already seeing success here during the winter programs in the USA on both coasts and expect more big results in the future.”

The S55M is TB Kart’s model for the single-speed divisions. For shifterkart competition, the S197M is the latest model while the ‘Monster’ serves the Cadet divisions. They also produce the BabyKart for the Kid Kart category. TB Kart has already garnered victories and podiums here in the USA during the winter programs, spanning the Senior, Shifter, and Cadet divisions. The factory team in Europe continues to find success in WSK, IAME, and FIA competition year after year.

The Villeneuve brand is an exciting component of Racelab’s plans for the future
(Photo: Racelab)

A unique venture through KARTPLEX and Racelab is the Villeneuve Racing Karts (JV Karts) program. Working with TB Kart as the manufacturer of the brand, the 1997 Formula One World Champion launched his signature chassis in the first half of 2021. The JV1 is the flagship model, suitable for all Senior and Junior categories – including 100cc and 125cc along with 4-Cycle competition with the removal of the third rail and optional teflon front bar. The JV6 is the shifter chassis while the JVJr model is for the Cadet racers.

“The JV Kart is the Racelab factory team brand. Jacques is a partner, and we want it to be exclusive to those drivers under our tent. It will be our star chassis, however, we want to push the TB Kart brand across North America. The product is the same, just different colors. It’s a beautiful full circle program with a significant and incredible brand that is a fantastic partnership for us. The factory is cooperative, and willing to expand the TB Kart brand as quickly as we can here in North America.”

The complete package resides in British Columbia with the circuit – KARTPLEX – the kart shop – Racelab – and the material in TB Kart and JV Karts. It is a formula that will not only help bring new people and families into the sport, but also provide a solid foundation for the region to develop the future stars of the sport through the race team and product.

For additional information on the brands, and to contact for TB and JV kart and parts, head to www.theracelab.com or call 250-488-4630. For email contact, use info@theracelab.com or info@kartplex.com

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