The sport of karting was started in the USA in 1956, America led the way! The original manufacturers were all American companies. by 1957 companies like the GoKart Manufacturing Company were producing 500 karts per month. Karting became a phenomenal sport overnight, with races starting up all over America, and the first set of standards were developed along with the formation of the GKCA, the GoKart Club of America. The sport became popularized through articles in American magazines and through American servicemen stationed in Europe.
Somewhere it all went wrong! “By 1959 a new club with national and international ambitions was created in the USA, Grand Prix Kart Club of America (GPKCA). In the following years many other associations were set up, to such an extent that their proliferation and the specificities of their different regulations slowed down the development of the sport.” ( Ref, CIK-FIA )
It seams we have never fixed this problem, the sport is now recognized as a European led sport and there is no question that the majority of the equipment we use is produced by European companies. Today we still have multiple organizations and companies competing in the US to try and take the leed, or in some cases the money, in our sport, WKA, IKF, USPKS, SKUSA, MaxSpeed Group etc. There is no question that some of these groups have been extremely successful and I am not in anyway diminishing their efforts. However, you can’t help but wonder where Karting in the US would be today if we had a single sanctioning body and a single set of specifications!
Today we have no or few American kart drivers that are recognized as World Champions! Indeed we don’t even have someone that is recognized as the US National Champion! Instead we have multiple drivers, all classed as National champions of the series that they run in, diluting the standing of their success. Indeed it really appears that we have no National series but rather a number of “ National Series “ competing for stature. Racing should be about the drivers and not which series is going to win!
This post was started by William Kinnear, and I cannot agree more with the intent of his post, I believe his point is that we need a stable set of rules. We do not follow CIK-FIA rules and we are not recognized internationally, the question is should we follow or should we leed?
The CIK-FIA whether we like it or not has developed a set of rules that are used widely though out the world. Their champions are perceived as the top drivers in the world, “World Champions”. We do not have a single series in the US that follows the CIK-FIA rules, however almost every series requires that our chassis are CIK-FIA homologated, which just about shuts out any US kart manufacturers. Why do we follow the chassis rules but not the engine rules? The same goes for Brakes, Body Work and indeed our Race Suits which are all CIK-FIA homologated!
Rotax, perhaps, has come the closest to developing as a series that is recognized world wide and also in the US, but as a program that was initially intended as a solution to the hobby / club racer has developed it’s own set of issues. Perhaps the EVO, evolution will address this. Even then their champions are recognized only as ROTAX World Champions. This is the key problem for any one make series, all throughout Motorsport!
We have to recognize that we have different levels of Karting needs throughout the US, Club, Regional and National, no one solution can be the answer for all levels. The LO206 for example is a great package for the club racer but it would be preposterous to propose it as the top level of Karting in our Nation. Similarly proposing running KZ engines at a club level would be equally preposterous!
William’s original post focussed in on the issues we have evolving with TAG, we have multiple manufacturers all trying to compete with the ROTAX one make business model and carve out their portion of the money we spend. Some will succeed and some will fail, but we will pay for it! Meanwhile karting in the US will become even more diluted and less visible.
We now have K1 Speed getting in on the band wagon here in the US. Make no mistake that K1 is one of the largest most professionally run business in the WORLD when it comes to Karting. With their involvement with CRG they will have a large impact on where our sport goes, be sure that they will direct it where they can from your pocket to theirs, that is what a successful business does.
If we want control over where our sport goes then we need to be the ones taking control of what we want to do, we need a real National Karting Club weather it be WKA, CIK or something else, perhaps it should be EKN! Whatever it is it needs to be something that is developed for the Karters and CONTROLED by the Karters. It would need to be accepted by the karting community as their voice. That would take an effort by many of us and would require people to donate time, people to accept positions onto a board and for a method for the community to vote or direct how our rules were developed.
I cannot agree more with the original posts intent, If we continue to let manufacturers, series and individuals who are in the sport for financial gains to direct where we are going and how we race we will only continue to be frustrated by the outcome! The ones that suffer are the karters and the local kart shops. Lets not forget that without the these we do not have a sport!