This thread is developing into a tremendous discussion on where we all see issues with the state of karting in the US. There have been contributions to the thread from some very knowledgeable people, giving valuable input. We do not all agree on the issues and never will, however the common elements from almost everyone is that we are passionate about our sport, feel it is broken and need to fix it!
I believe most of us agree that part of fixing it must be to increase the visibility of the sport and attract more people into it at the Grass Roots Level as EKN calls it. Frankly the people we want to attract are the kids, once they get involved they want to stay involved. I know many parents that are spending $ 400 or more a month on their kids sport, be it football or any other regular sport. Over the course of a year +/- $ 5 K which would be ample to run an entry level kart in a 12-14 race local series.
The question is how we attract these kids? And are we prepared to invest some time in trying to make it happen, when it is not for personal financial gain? I have some ideas, I also know that some will disagree, and hopefully put forward other ideas.
One idea I have revolves around developing a series that provides scholarships to the kids. This is probably one of the single biggest drivers for kids in other sports and interests, heck today, we have kids getting scholarships from playing video games or raising a sheep for gods sake! Even with my business connections I cannot get sponsorship money for my son to race but I can get business to make contributions to a competition based scholarship program.
With a scholarship program in place the sport can and would be able to access promotion in the schools, it could even be marketed as a method of increased driver ability, awareness and safety. It also introduces an element of encouraging the importance of education. A subject that our sport comes under criticism for too often with parents pulling their kids out of school to attend National events.
Perhaps such a series could be internet based where participants at local tracks are scored against other local events being conducted all over the country, a National or regional scholarship championship without the need for any travel? With a junior series 12-16 year olds, this could allow kids 4 years of competing for scholarship funds, Most other sports, they get 1 shot! Or perhaps it needs to be organized on a basis of a Middle school and High School program, rather than age driven, which could allow participants 7 years of competing for scholarship funds.
I still feel that the higher levels of Karting also need to be addressed. If we are successful in bringing kids into the sport, there will be many that want to go further than competing for up to 7 years in an entry level class and a better defined structure for this would benefit the sport.
From here, how do we move forward? Should we form a new group??? Should we try to get one of the existing bodies IKF / WKA involved? They both seem to be struggling!
Again I know that there will be many of you that read this and disagree, but rather than shooting it down and ridiculing people, put some thought to it and put forward some positive ideas. Perhaps, together, we can make something happen, that will benefit our sport!