I was involved in the discussions with the STARS founders about changing to ICC. While the topic of “take it out of the box and race it” was bantered about I don’t think any of the racers really bought into it. The biggest thing was that STARS wanted to be aligned internationally. At issue for the racers was the perception that if they didn’t buy or rent a Swedish Honda they couldn’t be competitive and even if they did there was a level of engine that was only available to a fortunate few. There were teams that stopped going to the races because of this.
When STARS talked about going ICC all these teams jumped on the bandwagon not because they thought you could run an out of the box engine, but because it took the perceived moto ignition hi jinx out of the picture and seemingly leveled the playing field. They found out that the Swede was a pretty smart guy and continued to build winning engines, but other engine builders had more success than with moto with the simpler rules package. I’m too lazy to go back and look at lap times, but I would say the racing was closer in the ICC days.
The moto days were more expensive, but definitely more fun. ICC was cool because they were true kart engines and it created more opportunity to go race in Europe. The problem with both is that the lines get blurred between the national and local level. Driving and chassis is generally going to win at the local level, but all it took is for one guy (that would win anyway) to start winning at the local track with a “national” level engine and it blows the class apart. Karts get parked and the local Sea Doo dealer just picked up another sale.