I’m very surprised at the lack of reaction to the announcement of the pending closure of Russell Karting Specialties. They are one of the oldest if not the oldest organizations in North American karting.
In my mind this points out the awful truth that US karting is suffering from decreasing participation. Over the last 15 years give or take expenses have skyrocketed, technical complexity has reached the mind boggling point, and it appears that US karting has forgotten where it came from. Many in the karting industry agree that participation has dropped by over 50% over the last decade and a half.
Where does this doom and gloom perception come from? Every race I went to this summer had great numbers, some the most entries in 10 years. Most series/tracks/clubs are thriving. I won’t speculate on why Russell is shutting down but I’ll tell you this, the days of just opening the shop door or track gate and expecting people to show up are long gone. Shops better have a great online presence and be at the track supporting customers. Adapt, diversify, and treating the racer like a customer are huge.
Pipe of the month, Motor of the month, Tire of the month, Chassis of the month that are too complex and too wide to promote any good competition on aging track structures has driven more away then it has brought in.
This is the biggest myth in karting. It hasn’t been that way in a long, long, long time.
Matt I disagree with your statement about karts (sprint karts in particular) not having become too technical. Dozens of geometry settings, different axles, different ride heights, trick alloy tubing, hubs, wheels etc. The number of adjustments available can be bewildering to even the most savvy racer.
I agree with Matt. The amount of maintenance and tuning on the current crop of motors/carbs/clutches is minuscule compared to what it once was. Just because the current karts have a ton of adjustability built into them doesn’t make them anymore complex than it used to be. Any good tuner or shop should tell the newcomer not to worry about any of that. I’m glad I don’t have to screw around with pills and have lasers for front end adjustments.