Home Forums 4-Cycle Racing I miss the 80's !

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    • #6951
      mike clements

      Back in the 80’s we had some pretty big 4 cycle shows. Barnesville, Carterette Country, etc. These races had big money for qualifying on the pole and bigger money for winning: In the Open Modified Classes !!! The fastest classes were the one’s that got the people to the fences. The stock classes were pretty much a Tag Along, “me too” part of the show. We had TWO Jr classes. A .425″ restrictor and a .500″ restrictor. That was it for juniors. We didn’t need 6 or 8 classes for kids. Just like it should be today.
      Modifieds : I loved it that way. Both the driver and the engine man could shine if they were good. Most of us ran tires right out of the wrapper.
      So…What Happened ? Today, everybody pays big money to watch paint dry. Stock class clones ? Really ?
      I build these engines everyday and I earn a living from them too. But to be honest about it, the Open class modifieds is where innovation rules and that’s where the $$ should be too.
      The best answer I have heard that responds to my pondering of “Why Stock Classes” is that people just don’t want to go that fast. Really ?

    • #6953
      Bob Baldwin

      Mike : Wasn’t there some guy named ” Moon ” ? that won a bunch of those $$$ races ?

      Sadly it is NOT that the people don’t WANT to go fast . Most karters DON’t KNOW HOW to make them go FAST !!!


      Arrive and Drive and Sealed Motors are WHERE it is AT today .

      Lots of credit to the Open Motors Guys and the RUN WHAT YOU BRUNG GUYS !!!

    • #6960
      mike clements

      I believe Rohn Moon did most of his winning in the 90’s. If not, he can correct me.
      In the 80’s the big money 4 cycle open races were won by Robin Bradshaw, Charlie Sox, whoever ran and Enik motor or an Otis motor or a George Owenby motor. Dicky Wilson won several also.
      I was spending my time on the west coast and pursuing IKF Duffys, etc. We didn’t have many money races out here. We did have one pretty good money race up in Vegas though. Ronnie Emmick won a bag filled with 1000 Susan B Anthony silver dollars. I believe he still has it too.

      To me, dirt oval karting died when the drivers layed down, all the body work went on, and tire prep took over. Combine that will slow as slug motors and you have single file, follow the leader type driving. For asphalt sprint racing, that died when the shifter kart, TaG motors, Rotax and everything “Spec” came along.

      I would bet $$$ that if the sanctioning bodies would each promote one class for fully modified 2 and 4 cycle to compete in, their Grand Nationals entry list would grow by leaps and bounds. And when that class pulled out and onto the track, Everyone would be watching. Basically, put on a UAS series on asphalt sprint tracks. It would certainly bring back the guys who enjoy tuning engines and karts.

    • #7529
      Rob Howden


      I’m not sure that growth you’re hoping for would occur. The Rock Island Grand Prix has promoted a Pro Open class for the last couple of years and the participation has been disappointing to say the least. They only drew seven entries last year.

      I think it comes down to the fact that people really approach karting a little differently than they did back in the 80s and 90s. And it’s not that people are ignoring innovation, the focus has been put more on the driving experience due to escalating costs of the open formulas.

      I believe it also involves the overall mindset of today’s youth. There is a definite lack of desire and commitment to improve oneself. If you’re not winning, you quit. If you’re not in the championship chase, skip the final races. Man, I never thought of doing that. I ran every race in the series to battle for fourth in points, or seventh or tenth, whatever it was – no one stopped running. I think the growth of the RIGP Pro Open deal was tough in the early going because no one thought they could beat the tandem of Haddock and Giessen. In the 70s and 80s, I’d be willing to bet that karters would work their asses off to try to beat Haddock, not throw in the towel.

      Well, you mention that putting the UAS rules on asphalt would do the trick…you’re going to find out. Rock Island’s Pro Open class is running under UAS rules. Only time will tell.

      Rob Howden - eKartingNews.com Publisher / Editor - @RobHowden

    • #7576
      James McMahon

      Yep UAS rules at RIGP. Sadly I can’t make it this year. I had really hoped to run and support pro open, but I just can’t. If its still around in ’14, I will try again.



    • #7648
      John Matthews

      Same here….

    • #51143
      Richard Gordon

      I used to run modified flatheads back in the mid 80’s in NC.  We ran a race at 311 speedway in Madison.  1/2 mile dirt oval.  Had around 50 karts.  We averaged 95 mph laps!  My hands were totally numb from the vibrations at the end of those 20 laps.  Fun stuff and you could build a competitive engine for around $1k if you knew what you were doing.  Saw one guy that even turned a flat head into an ohv with a home made head.  Talk about creativity and innovation.  You won’t find that kind of stuff anymore.  I’m putting together a LO206 as we speak though.  Want to get my son into karting and around here it is by far the cheapest and easiest way to do it.  Other option here is TaG.  It would cost 2-3X more to get something put together.  I see it leaving more in the hands of the driver and chassis set up.  Not a bad thing, but miss the smell of methanol and the sound of the pop corn poppers that shook the ground.

    • #59842
      mike clements

      It’s been more than 6 months since someone posted here. Let’s get those old 4 stroke opens out and do some racing.  I have an old Gil Horstman Briggs open motor from 1975.  It made 12+ hp on my dyno. So, I thought I would run it with the vintage guys over @ Adams kart track next month. Boy, Was I invited to stay home or what ! ?  Seems those guy do NOT like 4 strokes.  But, I have to tell you, my first kart ever, Christmas of 1959 came stock with a Lausen 2.5hp 4 stroke. This was a race kart for it’s day and all my buddies got the same kart. By new years day 1960 we held our first race and we all ran 4 strokes. Then we raced against the 2 strokes and we were even up with them. Most of them ran the 2.5 hp west bend 580’s .

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