December 23, 2014 at 8:43 am #39305
Our family have been in karting at national level for 14 years and we have never seen the upheaval we have in karting today.
Every kart engine manufacturer is creating there own series we the karters need to decide what series we want to follow this will probably entail purchasing a motor, all good and well as long as you pick a series that lasts more than a couple of years or we have another boat anchor.
The tag motor engines are completely out of control there are no real fixed specs they all try to have the most power with less maintenance. the problem then is no way of competing one engine against another due to the different specs so this leads to one make series, this just leads to a dilution of the customer base and fields, no real national championship which leads to small fields and series collapse.
Yet today we can buy a KF engine which is a TAG in all reality which all engine manufactures make which can race against each other with homologation till 2021 which means no changes for next 6 years which would give us the karters some stability in what we are buying.
I know we are going to get that the cost buying and of running these will be more than the TAGS, but when you are traveling thousands of miles to compete in a national race there is no way you are not going to put a piston and ring and check the motor before you travel to these races. So be it KF or TAG you are going to spend money on servicing, and you should not have to sell for cents on the dollar due to no series to run it in. If reliability is a concern we in the US could have ignition restrictor for the restricting of the RPM to help the reliability
HP on these engines are pretty close to US TAG classes as they stand now, so no really change in that other than we now have a engine that will have some value after 3 years.
If anyone has any interest in KF go look at the CIK website and there is allot of good info there on the KF engines on performance and reliability.
Yes and we Rotax which in my opinion is a good starter and recreational class but was never designed to be used for running national series and apart from that when you run Rotax on a national basis you are continually changing parts due to the part of the month. It also runs very hard tires which is what you want at club racing and recreational level not what you want from national class racing.
And then we come to shifters and yes the Honda is not a problem in certain areas of the USA we get great fields at club, regional and national level it grows year on year due to stability of the engine rule package but there will come a day that we will need to go KZ which fits in with the KF again don’t know when but its going to happen.
But one think I can say we need stable engines rules, we need different manufacturer engines to race one another if the sport is to grow one make series will take US karting back years and nobody will make any money to survive long term .
Just my opinion but I would interested to hear what everyone else thinks.
December 23, 2014 at 9:52 am #39310
I think you’re pretty much preaching to the choir here.
The US gave KF a shot but it failed. The homologation thing is nice, sometimes. What happens when you homologate an engine package and you find out 2 months down the road that the clutches are all burning up and failing, as was the case with KF? KF has not only failed here, but across the world. The UK national karting scene couldn’t make it work and drew only a handful to their national events and eventually dropped it. The European manufacturers didn’t even support it because it was a garbage class, that’s why all the big drivers and brands switched over to KZ, and gearbox karting has become the “top-level” of international karting, as opposed to the single-speed classes which have largely been considered the pinnacle for years.
I think we need a different solution other than a TaG engine. How are you going to market KF to the masses when A) it has already failed miserably here once, and B) it’s essentially another, more expensive TaG engine that no one has any experience running?
TaG should be, and always should HAVE been a clubman-style class. Something for the semi-pro crowd who want the convenience of a starter.
Something simple, light, and quick is what the “pro-level” classes should have. An engine formula that harkens back to what karting has always been about. An evolution of what ICA was, rather than a revolution to electronics, clutches, powervalves and nonsense.
Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
December 23, 2014 at 10:00 am #39311
TJ, You beat me to it.
You are correct, the KF category has been a failure across the globe and is not the answer in the US or anywhere else. I believe that CIK has a program in place to replace the KF with a simpler design.
TJ has made in my mind a great decision to move away from the mess that TAG has become and go back to running the good old KT100 Yammie. There is a lot of misinformation about the KT and for the most part it’s malarkey and you can run the thing almost anywhere.
Hmmmm Affordable to buy and maintain, good competition, tons of knowledge in the field on these engines. Right now it seems that the KT100 may represent the closest thing to a true National class that we have right now.
Rapid Racing Inc.
Vintage B-Stock Pilot
"When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."
December 23, 2014 at 10:08 am #39314
What ever the engine package is, we need stable engine rules or we will never have big national fields or grow the sport to support all the engine options out there. The other option is to have these TAG engines fit an engine spec like KF instead of everyone coming up with the next great cheap and reliable engine that cannot fit into a Tag race due to such vast performance differences.
December 23, 2014 at 10:20 am #39315
William, that was what should have happened in the beginning, but the TaG class engines were never built to the same spec because they were all trying to start their own world-wide series like Rotax has done. They were never made to compete against each other on-track.
What we need is as new formula. Something that all the manufacturers will get behind. As Greg noted, I believe the CIK is working on a new formula. They’ve been testing direct drive engines with decompression valves for a bit now and something like that could potentially be quite lucrative.
Until something cool like that comes out and catches on at a national-level, I’ll be racing Yamaha with a few TaG races peppered in when I feel like it.
Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
December 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm #39319
Like I said in my column, we are at another turning point in the sport. We saw this just in 2009-2010 when Stars of Karting went away, CKI came in and faded out, and SKUSA took over as a national series.
At the national level, SKUSA has a solid program moving forward. Is it something everyone agrees with? No. Some prefer the Rotax model over the IAME. Some feel KZ should take over instead of Stock Moto. We are always going to have differences. The best quote ever to explain the sport “You can make a kart out of pure gold, and someone will bitch about the color.” SKUSA had its best numbers in its five years of the Pro Tour, which means either people have no where else to race, or they are doing something right.
Rotax has been a stable platform for 15 years now. More and more racers are looking to become a national champion, or earn a ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals – a true world championship.
The great thing is, for the past 5 years, both have been able to exist and grow. Now add in the Rok Cup portion, there is room for it to grow as well. The problem however becomes, if either program does not focus on the club, regional level, it will be a fight for the same % of drivers that race at the national level.
One of our focuses at EKN the last few years, is to help the Grassroots level grow. The LO206 and Yamaha categories are exactly that. A great way to bring in new people to the sport, without scaring them with a price tag or speed on the track. Minimal maintenance, and overall a great time on-track.
Once you get them hooked, then promote them up the ranks to the TaG and Shifterkart categories. We need to see less and less those racers who come in, buy everything and anything, then sell it all 6 months later because they couldn’t ‘hack it’.
Growing the sport at the base/club level – that is the real dilemma the sport is facing.
David Cole - EKN Managing Editor
December 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm #39322
It would be nice to hear from members/club racers at the following tracks just to get an average kart count for a weekend club race:
December 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm #39323
I would be interested to know what started the exodus from WKA to USPKS in the East? What was it about WKA that made people want to jump ship?
December 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm #39324
Concept Haulers – http://www.concepthaulersmotorspeedway.com/
Midstate Springfield – http://www.mylaps.com/en/events/mid-state-kart-club/624
The USPKS was created by racers that felt WKA was not listening to what they wanted. Racers wanted less races, WKA added more events and more classes. Mark Coats started the series with the support of kart shops in the region, and once racers saw the product in 2013, it grew in 2014. My guess is it will grow again in 2015. It’s a very competitive series that focuses on having a good time at the track.
With WKA now under new leadership, we do not know what direction the organization will go. We hope to connect with them for a future article.
David Cole - EKN Managing Editor
December 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm #39325
I went to mylaps found three of them..the last races. New Castle looks real good. Most of the big classes are all LO206.
New Castle 160 entries
MRP 39 entries
Concept Haulers 21 entries
USPKS vs WKA: The biggest reason for my family. The Yamaha Pipe decision.
December 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm #39326
I raced Newcastle all year in TAG.
The top classes are LO206 and Yamaha supercan. 15-25 entries per class and there are two supercan classes and two LO206 classes.
The TAG Sportsman class is really strong with about 15-20 entries per and the other TAG classes started the year with good entries but then got down to the 4-8 entries at year end. TAG Light was good most of the year but at 335 lbs., my 175 lb. frame won’t make the cut.
I really love the speed of the TAG but have thought about going to the KT100 supercan myself a few times. Not ready to give up on TAG yet though, too much fun.
December 24, 2014 at 7:01 am #39341
IMO, until the focus returns to growing karting instead of how to make money off of karting, the dilemma will continue. In many ways, I see it as a microcosm of the short-term-profit focus of business — instead of offering a superior product and focusing on customer satisfaction, businesses go for the maximum short-term shareholder benefit — to the detriment of the product. Never forget — it’s the product that attracts people and sells — neglect it and die.
The struggling American consumer wants, imo, something that:
1) can be raced virtually anywhere
2) is affordable
3) doesn’t take all week to prepare
4) has rules and configuration stability
Perhaps that explains why the KT-100 is surviving ( I wouldn’t call it thriving…) while everything else but the LO206 (which fits most of the above criteria too) is fading…
A domestic 2-cycle offering would be nice — a la Copperhead 820 — but the lure of exotic Italian machinery and the hollow promise of untold riches for importing them has too much hold for any real domestic success, I think. The closest would be Riley Will’s BRC150, which would be an awesome Pro class…as would the NordAm.
I’m curious to see what the WKA fallout will be….a strong, sport-driven leader could help fix things, whereas more importer and manufacturer pandering will give us a deeper quagmire. Time will tell.
2014 Praga Dragon / IAME KA-100
December 24, 2014 at 8:25 am #39346
Seems to me the importers and manufacturers are driving karting today, each trying to take each others customers and put the other guy out of business. They are not helping grow the sport. They are driving people away.
December 24, 2014 at 8:36 am #39347
Most people we raced with when Concept Haulers was going great had to make a choice money wise between doing regionals or competing heavily at club races. It began with regional racers coming in and smoking everyone. Then the locals began to seek out good Yamaha’s and KPV blueprints to compete. Next you needed new chassis’ to compete in the regionals. Kart shops were doing a brisk business providing clutches, chassis’ and rebuilds.
Regionals grew and the club races became a secondary race where you prepared for the next upcoming regional.
The disconnect with the club started when your competitors started saving their fresh engines for the upcoming regionals. Pretty soon the competition fell apart. This was the beginning of lower class turnouts at the weekend club races. For a few years, the regionals basically became our club race.
The track owner tried to move to Rotax as a spec type class. The regionals didn’t let rotax in so fragmentation at the local level began. Rotax eventually died out at the club level. Some of the local Rotax guys tried nationals only to find out their box stock sealed rotax cant compete with the big team engines coming out of Florida. This took the wind out of some of the people who invested in Rotax.
For some reason a wreck during the KPV club race ended the KPV class at Concept Haulers. By far this was the best class of racing ever. The regionals have supported a very small kpv class. Not sure why this class isn’t the biggest because by far it has the most reliable, low cost high speed engine in karting. I think part of the demise of KPV may be due to WKA continuous rule changes regarding pipes. Anyway, KPV was the most cost effective high speed racing at Concept Haulers.
Tag racing was a joke to us club racers. We would watch ten leopards start a club race and 5 finish as everyone broke. Money pit and it still is.
Anyway Yamaha Sr never took off at our club and KPV was gone so we quit club racing.
So Yamaha became the engine. Can was the class. WKA ruled out cans. Threw a pipe on our great KT engines only to find out they suck with a pipe. End of WKA KT class for many.
So we quit kart racing like alot of other people.
1. KPV is the best speed for the money and can be competitive without many short term rebuilds. Clutch is bullet proof. Speed is fast.
2. lo206 racers will probably not become super TAG guys so there is no feeder for these national series.
3. Briggs Pro Gas can be made from an LO206.
4. Midwest club entries indicate somebody better follow new castle lead.
5. There are so many different opinions that karting will probably never be able to work it out in the us. Too many ball sports here that take away from motorsports. Plus most people would never put up with escalating costs.
December 25, 2014 at 8:26 am #39370
“New Castle 160 entries”
“MRP 39 entries”
“Concept Haulers 21 entries”
This is an easy one… New Castle has 160 kart average because Mark Dismore kept his focus on the fundamental, affordable classes such as Yamaha and LO206 and didn’t push the Rotax agenda. They also don’t require you buy tires from the track and entry fees are reasonable ($45/class I think?). Maybe more people should copy what NCMP/KRA does…
December 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm #39375
^^ and while they make money off the sport, they also love it for what it is and are 3 generation kart shop owners and racers…
2014 Praga Dragon / IAME KA-100
December 25, 2014 at 5:32 pm #39378
dismores were also very smart to build that track next to a very busy highway. Free marketing is hard to get. Mrp and concept haulers badger mid state g and s …. Those tracks are a little off the beaten path. Hard to get exposure without big ad expense. Not sure there is enough money in kart tracks to budget mass marketing into a market like chicago…..
personally… I think the problem is a lack of marketing and the profit level to operate one of these tracks….. As far as mooresville….very unique market plus they have other profit sources.
December 25, 2014 at 6:12 pm #39379
All these changes in Karting are what make it difficult. For someone to say they are committed to a certain engine for a certain amount of time is ridiculous. People arent stupid, we see whats coming around the corner, and for that reason I wont be racing with them. Trying to monopolize tires and engines is a joke.
December 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm #39380
Mike Prokup said:
“KPV is the best speed for the money and can be competitive without many short term rebuilds. Clutch is bullet proof. Speed is fast.”
I agree with you Mike. Even though not everyone thinks so, there’s a bunch of drivers in SoCal that do, which is why the F100 series is still growing at a rapid pace. F100 is 95% KT100’s and HPV/KPV engines. Close racing – low cost – fun.
Isn’t that what club level karting should be?
F100 isn’t the largest series around SoCal (only 3 yrs), but when you have over 60 drivers all with the same equipment – challenging for the podium – I’m not sure why.
If you agree with Mike P, make some calls – get everyone that has a 100cc engine to make a class at your local club.
Read the F100karting.com rules – they make sense. Is F100 a stepping stone to NASCAR and Formula One – Not at all.
“A great way to bring in new people to the sport, without scaring them with a price tag or speed on the track. Minimal maintenance, and overall a great time on-track”. David Cole.
December 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm #39382
I 100% agree with Mike and Stu. The KPV engine is in my opinion the best bang for your buck. It’s a shame that it has died out in karting because everything mike and stu have said is 100% true. I wished more club and regional races would bring back the KPV engines but from what I am told the reason KPV has died is because of greed! If that true it is a shame because I think if that engine was pushed in the right way, you would see more people want to be in that class, but unfortunately it is not being offered as a class except in a few areas around the country. Oh well, it is what it is but I think that if more places followed the lead of the F-“100 series in So Cal you would see a huge bump in club and regional racing as far as entires go
December 26, 2014 at 5:22 pm #39411
My personal opinion is that stock honda is, in reality, less expensive after buy-in than kt-100 (we spent 4x as much keeping the kt’s in clutches as all the maintenance total on the stock honda), but that’s just my opinion. If you want to talk about forward thinking organizers, however,it is my opinion that our local club president, Ron Pattison, of the Tulsa Kart Club, has one of the best local plans for two-stroke.
For most of 2014 and the upcoming 2015 season, the Tulsa Kart Club has and will be running what can be described as an “adult-2-stroke-up-125cc” class. Its a run-what-brung class that includes kt-100, TaG, Rotax, stock and mod shifter, KZ, and whatever else you show up with. If there is a referencable nationally sactioned weight, we use that. If not, the competitors agree on a weight. If it doesn’t result in competitive racing, we change the weight. If you are a novice and you don’t make weight, that’s ok.
Ron’s policies have resulted in a TaG class with 2 entries at the beginning of the season growing to an open class of 12 entries for the season closer. We all had fun and some beers aftetwards. Something to think about, at least locally.
December 27, 2014 at 10:43 am #39423
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!
December 27, 2014 at 6:26 pm #39438
I agree with David Hosie for the most part. The top down approach isn’t working. As a community we need to come together. By community I mean not just karters, but kart businesses, tracks and clubs too. That is, the ones that can conduct themselves professionally. Having only karter’s input by itself is a dangerous approach. Drivers for the most part only think of themselves in a first person narrative. The approach needs balance and perspective from people who are in it for the long haul and have vision. Right now too many orgs and kart businesses are in a scarcity mindset and that’s making things worse.
I see the future of karting as very bright, but there won’t be growth without some transitional pain, some of which we are already going through.
December 28, 2014 at 8:33 pm #39504
IKF is “member led”, and you can’t convince me that they’re not a political quagmire….in most cases of democratic orgs, I see “many chiefs few Indians” syndrome, or the “charismatic popularity contest” winner while the more reasoned, but introverted candidate loses out because he/she is not as networked.
IMO, the solution is a benevolent dicatatorship, where someone who knows, and loves, the sport for what it is forms an org with competent staff, reasonable rules, and a focus on family fun and only tweaks the formula in very minor ways to improve the “product.” Once that formula is found, don’t change it for decades. Who cares if it’s “boring” — the people who love the sport for what it is aren’t going to leave, only the trendsters.
The chief difficulty will be finding a suitable candidate who actually wants the job, and is immune to the sway of corporate bribes.
2014 Praga Dragon / IAME KA-100
December 31, 2014 at 1:13 pm #39709
One thing that really does not make sense is kart shops sell you chassis and engines, but how many of them offer you a series to race in or track to race at.
Without the track and series how are they going to get repeat business you end up with equipment with no really place to race or practice.
Kartshops and importers need to be able to give there customers a place to race and practice unlike Motocross where you can basically go anywhere and run your bikes karts need race tracks and without a tie up with kart shops and tracks it limits the ability of karters somewhere to practice and race.
This in turn limits kart sales and growth of the sport.
January 2, 2015 at 2:36 pm #39789
A major problem with the “one national organization” idea is that geographically we are freaking huge compared to Europe, and our population density is much lower. One or two tracks probably are the only place to go for hundreds of miles, and they can, when they want, tell the so-called “national organization” to shove it without losing much if any of their customer base.
If a national org, for example, decides “only MG tires from now on,” it has no way of enforcing this–Bridgestone or Maxxis or whomever can just go the to local track and offer an incentive for using their tires. What’s the national org going to do other than throw a tantrum?
January 2, 2015 at 5:31 pm #39793
More importantly, why are they speccing a tire at a national level? Most things should be “open” at that level of racing…IMO.
2014 Praga Dragon / IAME KA-100
January 3, 2015 at 8:01 am #39816
Jim, The point here is not that we need a National body creating rules at the local level. Frankly we are doing quite well at the local and regional levels. Where we are lacking is at the National level!
What series is our National series? Is it SKUSA, WKA, IKF, USPKS ??? This is the issue. We do not have a leading recognized National series and therefore cannot identify who our National champions are.
While we have many many drivers out competing at the local level we also have many drivers spending tens of thousands competing at what we have as National events and frankly getting NO recognition for it.
Indeed it can be argued that we do not actually have a National series and that all of the series are in effect more like Regional Series than National.
This year we had several of our US drivers travel to Europe for the World finals, they all struggled with the same issue, the tires and engine packages were not what they were used to racing on. Basically our drivers were not prepared by our series to compete at the top level. Now frankly I believe that we have many very talented drivers that could be competitive at the World Finals but we do not have the venues / series here in the US for them to get the experience on the same package that the europeans are racing with.
Many people will argue that a True National Series running say CIK-FIA rules would be too expensive for the masses and they are correct for the masses it probably would be too expensive. A True National Series however is not for the masses, it is for the top say 90 – 120 drivers. Events like the Supernats with 500 + drivers, while spectacular are not really a very good venue for the top drivers as there is too much risk that an inexperienced driver has an effect on the outcome. A series at this level should require the participants to qualify for the series through the other regional series!
January 3, 2015 at 10:00 am #39820
Dave Hosie wrote;
“What series is our National series? Is it SKUSA, WKA, IKF, USPKS ??? This is the issue. We do not have a leading recognized National series and therefore cannot identify who our National champions are.”
Dave, this topic has been beaten to death over and over on this forum and others. With all due respect I just do not agree.
I’ve written this rant several times on this forum in the past but I’ll do it again.
I don’t understand the obsession that kart racers have on “Having a true National Champion.”. Kart racing is not the least bit unique in this aspect. Think about it!
In 2014 who was the National Stock Car Champion? Did he run with NASCAR? ARCA? ASA? Others?
Who was the National Sprint Car Champion? Did he run with USAC? ALL STARS? SCRA? CRA? Others?
Who was the National Drag Racing Champion” Did he run with NHRA? AHRA? NDRL? Others?
My point is that the “No true National Champion.” spiel is of new real significance and in fact is quite normal in US motorsports.
IMO, the bigger problem is the manufacturers and importers are running the show and they have resorted to fragmenting the sport more than ever before.
People like myself that have been intimately involved with kart racing for in my case over a half century can trace the change and subsequent decline of kart racing it can be directly traced to when the European (primarily Italian) “invasion” of North American kart racing began in earnest 15+ years ago.
I don’t know how to change the current course that our sport is taking but without real change I worry about the sports future.
Rapid Racing Inc.
Vintage B-Stock Pilot
"When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."
January 3, 2015 at 11:44 am #39825
Couldn’t agree with you more on the issue of manufacturer / importers driving the business. We are moving to one make engine series, Rotax, IAME, ROk.
How long will it be before someone comes up with the idea of a one make engine / chassis series! It may not be far away!
My point from my posts on this topic is that we need to have leadership if we want to avoid what is coming. Provided we just sit back and let people driven by financial gain decide where and what we race then we will only get what they want us to have.
Having been involved in racing for the past 40 years both on an amature and professional basis I am well aware that it is the racer and small service company like yours that suffer.
Without either we do not have a sport!
You are right about racing in the US. It is a farce all over, but that is an excuse. The reason for this is exactly the same in the other series you mention. No leadership!
Our leadership is supposed to come from the IKF or WKA, are you happy with the leadership they are giving the sport? It would appear not or we would not have the shared concern over the manufacturers / importers controlling the sport.
January 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm #39828
One make / one engine — EasyKart. Must not have been what the masses wanted.
You’ll have to solve karting’s identity crisis before you can solve its’ logistical and leadership crises. Or else figure out how to herd the cats.
2014 Praga Dragon / IAME KA-100
January 3, 2015 at 9:12 pm #39851
The reason karting has become so fragmented is because karters led it to be. Think about it: if everyone brushed off new engine packages and stayed with the tried and trues: Briggs, K100s, Stock Hondas, what have you, would we be having this discussion? No. For some reason (unbeknownst to me) people almost seem to enjoy switching motors, or there are others who feel it necessary to cheat to win a plastic trophy, discouraging others. Someone earlier had it right, doing things short-term is idiotic and leads to long-term failure in many arenas in life. I’m amazed that something like karting, which is so damn fun, cannot gain traction with people.
Bottom line is until classes are condensed, rules are agreed upon (seriously what is up with the !@#$ measuring contest between sanctioning bodies?), and things stay relatively the same (maybe only small, inexpensive changes made based upon RELIABILITY and EASE OF USE), we’re mired in what we’ve got: a big piece of glass shattered into millions of pieces, all seemingly bickering with one another.
January 4, 2015 at 7:35 am #39854
Thanks for the reasoned response. Your statement that the current situation is bad for both the racer and the small shops is right to the point. The effect on the racer is (I think) obvious to most, however there seems to be a fair sized segment that feel that the shops are bloodsuckers getting rich off the racers back.
The fact is that the uproar that is kart racing today has made it harder and harder for the small shops to stay afloat. Constant changes in the flavor of the month when it comes to engines and chassis does a great job in making the shop owners inventory obsolete in what is an astonishingly short period of time. As a result most shop owners decline to keep as much inventory as they used to just to keep from getting hung with as much tied up in obsolete inventory.
Unfortunately that makes it very difficult to compete with companies that are fortunate enough to be operating on “old money” and the ones run by well heeled businessmen that aren’t worried about paying the mortgage and the light bill.
Your statement about all of racing in the US being a farce is true on the surface, but much of it is remaining successful in spite of the fragmentation. Drag racing in particular seems to have held off the effects of the economic downturn way better than most. My shop is adjacent to Lucas Oil Raceway @ Indianapolis (Formerly IRP) and every event from a NHRA blow out to the smallest ET based drag meet pack the racers in like sardines.
I also work part time as a USAC official and sprint car racing even though it is probably the leader in fragmentation sure seems reasonably healthy. I can’t speak for all of the US but here in the midwest sprint car tracks outnumber kart tracks by a huge margin and the fields are full everywhere and it’s common for there to be 4+ races per week and more than that when you find that many of the tracks run on the same dates.
Again I don’t have the answer, a member led organization quickly turns into anarchy with people wanting everybody’s ox to be gored but their own.
A benevolent dictator to lead the sport out of the wild is probably the answer but who in their right mind would accept that position?
Rapid Racing Inc.
Vintage B-Stock Pilot
"When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."
January 4, 2015 at 8:42 am #39855
<p style=”text-align: left;”>WOW the race season needs to get going. Instead of complaining or trying to figure out what the heck is going on in the sport And there is some problems but all sports have there problems so go out and Enjoy Kart racing tell your friends and family”s your Neighbors how much fun your having Promote your spot it will grow it will go through all kinds of ups and downs as we in life all do I have raced in all forms of racing and Karts are by FAR THE CHEAPEST. A set of rocker arms and shafts for the funny car are as a kart is and from there it all goes up in costs if i pop an engine it can cost 50,000 how many years of engines races parts etc can you go through with 50 grand and cars cost over 100 grand so we make no money at it But Dam we have allot Fun. Karting is a Blast its allot of fun for cheap Hell having a Kid in Hockey costs more and i am sure all those Kids are making the NHL just ask their Parents . I Could go on and on But maybe you get my point go out and have fun race where you race enjoy the day the race The time you get to spend with Family and Friends and all the Good Memories Boys Start your engines or go Play Tiddlywinks Enjoy it Just remember you are all in the cheapest and Funnest Motorsport in the world keep it FUN . Have a Great 2015 we will see you at the Tracks across america or maybe just your home track Thanks for the Great sport thankyou all for being there through the Years</p>
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January 4, 2015 at 9:16 am #39857
…..I have raced in all forms of racing and Karts are by FAR THE CHEAPEST. A set of rocker arms and shafts for the funny car are as a kart is and from there it all goes up in costs if i pop an engine it can cost 50,000 how many years of engines races parts etc can you go through with 50 grand and cars cost over 100 grand so we make no money at it But Dam we have allot Fun…..
I’ll never understand the reasoning of people who compare a multi-million dollar professional motorsport with grassroots-level karting.
C. Skowron #15
January 4, 2015 at 10:45 am #39860
Charles our funny car stuff is just a hobby not a multi million dollar deal its all relative. To go national it is a big expense with the funny car as it is a bigger expense to go national with Karting i am just saying enjoy your sport what ever it may be and at what ever level you are comfortable Spending any sport can be relatively cheap or as expensive as you want to make it . Just go out and Have Fun Buddy that is what it’s all about . See ya at the Track
January 4, 2015 at 1:29 pm #39863
Just vote with your wallets and stop listening to 50 different people telling you what the hot new class or chassis or engine is. Eventually it all evens out.
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
January 4, 2015 at 8:26 pm #39874
The one make/one engine class at the new Gateway Kartplex is working out ok
with the Margay Ignite chassis and the Briggs LO206 engine. And it is all made in the USA.
January 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm #39875
There are a lot of points being made. Here is what I’ve seen here in the midwest:
The majority of this thread has had an emphasis on the top level of the pyramid, which I think is slightly misguided. The answer for “the state of karting” should be a reflection on the base of the pyramid, not the top. After all, it’s the base level that feeds into the top level. Karting at the moment isn’t replenishing at the base level, which will eventually kill the sport at the top level. I’ll agree that the top level is pretty fragmented at the moment. Instead of posting a 12 page essay on the obvious problems at the top, it might do us some good to look at AMA. I can race a dirt bike anywhere in this country, have a consistent set of rules and a wonderfully designed ladder system. As for WKA, USPKS, SKUSA, etc…. who cares? All major series are pulling from the same pool of national level drivers, fighting for their attention and entry. How does that increase the numbers at your local club?
So the real question should be, how do you bring people into the sport and get them involved at their local track? No new karter cares, or even knows, about the national level. They just want to go out and have fun with their kid/wife/buddies.
I’m sure there are many answers. The solution we use is the LO206. When someone with no experience comes in and wants to go racing – they get an LO206. We don’t bombard them with: 2-cycle or 4-cycle? Yamaha, TaG or Shifter? Do you want to race nationally? Give them an easy, fun, affordable package that they can grow with. After all, isn’t that what club level racing should be? That formula has brought 30 new people into the sport at just our local track over the winter. If every track implemented a similar philosophy, you’d start to see growth in the sport at the base, then the middle and eventually the top. It is much easier to market a completely new LO206 kart for $3,995 than the $9,500 TaG counterpart.
January 5, 2015 at 7:48 am #39896
<span style=”color: #444444; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 21px; background-color: #efefef;”>The solution we use is the LO206. When someone with no experience comes in and wants to go racing – they get an LO206. We don’t bombard them with: 2-cycle or 4-cycle? Yamaha, TaG or Shifter? Do you want to race nationally? Give them an easy, fun, affordable package that they can grow with. After all, isn’t that what club level racing should be? That formula has brought 30 new people into the sport at just our local track over the winter. If every track implemented a similar philosophy, you’d start to see growth in the sport at the base, then the middle and eventually the top. It is much easier to market a completely new LO206 kart for $3,995 than the $9,500 TaG counterpart.</span>
LO206, or for those what want something a little faster WF is a great introductary package. KT100 has no place in the entry level market IMO. Too much to learn for a newcomer. More experienced karters often underestimate how much they have learned about these kind of setups, to most newcomers it’s too much to take on. They get frustrated, burnout and quit.
The other factor with KT100 is that racers budgets will tend to have more of their annual budget directed to engine work, rather than race entry fees which is what actually make the grids. Keep it simple and low maintenance and people will keep coming back.
What does “national” mean anyway? I see so many races and orgs offering it it’s lost any meaning with me.
It’s all well saying vote with your wallet, but if the result of that vote is people not racing karts, because for example, good grids for their equipment is too far we have a problem, and we do have a problem.
January 5, 2015 at 10:26 am #39902
The national-level racing is the image of the sport — even in the eyes of most of us. But having enough quality national series isn’t the sport’s problem. What is lacking is one organization (I’d even settle for a czar) to work with the local tracks to develop the sport at the local level (and I’m not just talking about trying to sell them insurance). That umbrella doesn’t need to pick rules and classes etc. but it sure would be nice if we had a national licensing system and maybe some coordination among events from various organizations on the race schedule to avoid serious conflicts.
If local racing is built up, I think the national issues will take care of themselves. In the 1990s when we started the Rock Island Grand Prix you could look around at neighboring tracks (Norway, Quincy, Davenport, Marshalltown, Springfield, etc.) and easily find 400 karts racing each weekend. Today, I’m guessing you will maybe find 150 combined and some tracks are gone forever. Gus Trader’s PKA street race series had over 350+ entries almost every weekend of the summer — now RIGP is the last one left and we are fighting to maintain 200.
Another huge blow to the sport, IMO, was losing the Kart Expo International trade show. Each Feb. all of the manufacturers, importers, series, kart shops, sanctioning bodies, etc. were in the same place. Individual meetings were held in conference rooms and around the bar and many of the issues facing the sport were hammered out. And yes, all of the new products were on display. None of the auto-racing based gatherings have come close to filling that void and our sport is worse for it.
Sadly, we have no central rudder pointing us in any direction. Things at the national level won’t get better until much more is done to promote the sport at the local level … you have to learn race craft before you can race with the best. I have been involved in karting for more than 20 years and while there are some bright spots, this is the worse I’ve seen the sport overall in the US. Rebuilding it must start at the local kart tracks.
January 5, 2015 at 3:04 pm #39920
Roger I could not agree more, we need someone or a WKA or SKUSA body to set up some structure in karting from grass roots to national level this will help grow the business and sport. We then would have engines and karts that would retain some value and could be used at any level the kart shops would be in a better shape and not scrabbling for the next great engine package.
Promoters would get good fields as we no longer have these small fields that make promoters have to run 10 classes to get any number of people to turn up at an event.
January 5, 2015 at 5:07 pm #39923
“That umbrella doesn’t need to pick rules and classes etc. but it sure would be nice if we had a national licensing system and maybe some coordination among events from various organizations on the race schedule to avoid serious conflicts.”
You guys just crack me up.
Why the heck should a local track owner care if somebody has a “license”? Who is going to make the owner turn away an unlicensed paying customer? A “license” might make sense if you have a national or international level race and want to keep obvious bumblers off the entry list but it isn’t going to grow anything at a local level: If anything it is a barrier to entry. Licensing is for the elite.
As for the number of classes, we have a large humber of classes because paying customers show up with a wide variety of karts and the track owners aren’t going to tell them to leave. I started out with a 10-year-old shifter with a mod honda. Out of date and the only one on the track. I got it cheap. Excluding karts like that with standard, nation-wide specs will not encourage people to enter karting. It will just make it more expensive to enter.
Hell, SKUSA is speccing Hondas and X30’s and the whining and wailing can be heard from coast-to-coast. Again, its okay if you are running an elite series and want to keep costs down for those who would actually show up with 3 different engines and select which one works best at track “X”, but local level? Nope.
A national body can issue all of the specs and rules it wants, but in the absence of some ability to enforce the rules, it’s just so much spinning of wheels.
January 6, 2015 at 6:11 am #39951
Unfortunately, you are right, Jim. If you think anything getting pushed down from the top is going to work, you are crazy. Local track owners and local shops are going to run/sell whatever they can to the paying customers. At this time, with karting in the shape that it is, no one can afford to turn away paying customers right now.
With that current mindset, the only people who can change what happens is the local racers and kart shops. You have to promote and buy whatever is best for karting. This is hard to do when certain shops are “exclusive retailers” of this or “North American dealer” of that. Everyone has their own agenda and trying to make a buck for themselves. Top down is not going to work. Getting all your local karters on the same page is how it has to start. Then neighboring series, then your regional series. You have to grow from the bottom up. You can’t build a skyscraper from the tip down…
January 6, 2015 at 8:14 am #39957
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!
January 6, 2015 at 8:44 am #39960
Greg Dingess nailed it. Spot on in every regard.
Greg Wright also nailed it with which side of the pyramid needs to be attended to.
Both mimic much of the rhetoric I have preached for awhile. We need reasonable, entry level programs with common rules to build the base of the sport again. Let IAME, Rotax, Rotax and Honda fight amongst themselves at the National or even Regional level, but the tracks and clubs need to ignore what they do and focus on putting butts in karts again.
I have made a conscious decision not to sponsor any large traveling organization this year or in the near future and will instead be spending my sponsorship dollars on local racing only. I spent $4500 last year sponsoring classes & events and advertising. At the end of the day I got some slightly better pit spot locations and my name called out a few times. Nothing against the fine folks that cashed those checks – they have to run a business too. But that $4500 could have been used to provide class sponsorship, awards, arrive & drive programs, incentive programs to build LO 206, Rookie or Kid Kart programs locally that would reap way more rewards long term.
Anyone in this business for the long haul should seriously consider where their money is being spent. With the current environment of big engine manufacturers mandating the direction of the sport, I’m of the opinion that they can fund their own agenda and I’ll underwrite mine – sustainable growth at the local level.
January 6, 2015 at 9:01 am #39962
I think everyone can agree on the general problem: we need more people racing go karts. Where people will start to disagree, is how do we make that happen?
I think licensing, scholarships, etc all have merit but I think you are putting the kart before the horse. I don’t think those are the issues currently keeping people out.
When a suburb family is at the dinner table deciding if they want to try kart racing, they aren’t doing so with the mindset that they want to dominate at the nationals by next season, or drive for a factory team in two years. They just want to have fun! So the easy solutions should be – set up an affordable base level program that allows them to have fun.
Our Ignite series at the Gateway Kartplex is a spec series, targeted at new racers. Everyone runs the same chassis (same adjustability as any modern kart), a sealed LO206 and Bridgestone YDS (hard) tires. The average cost per weekend is roughly $60 which includes entry, you’ll only need two new sets of tires per year and the package itself is incredibly low maintenance. That is what I think of when I think of “Grass Roots”. People just want to have close, fair racing and this package gives the opportunity to do that. The low horsepower/hard tire combination creates a wider skill gap (not a wallet gap) that will help drivers hone their skills and be better prepared, should they decide to move on to a higher end of karting in the future.
Take that program, transplant it into other clubs and I think you will start to see the numbers grow.
/shameless plug :)
January 6, 2015 at 10:33 am #39969
Dave Hosie, Hope you don’t think I’m picking on you but I will respectfully debate whether your statement of “The people we need to attract are the kids.” has legs.
IMO your assertion that once the kids get involved they will stay involved flies in the face of my personal experience. What I’ve seen is the kids get involved and by their mid-teens they either “move up” (I hate that term) to cars or lose interest and give it up.
Over the last 10 years I have tracked junior drivers in the successful KRA program at NCMP and here’s what I’ve seen. Starting with a field of kid karters (say 15 entries), only a modest percentage move up to the Jr. Sportsman (cadet?) level, from there the Jr. Sportsman drivers only seem to have well less than 30-35% move up to the Jr. Class. Then the Juniors move less than half to senior classes. End result over a 10 year period you may see 10-15% of the original group of kid karters spend any time in the senior divisions. Better than nothing for sure but nothing that I personally would want to pin the majority of my hopes on.
Again from my vantage point it seemed during the best years for growth in kart racing the Junior classes weren’t much more than an after thought. The founding fathers of our sport, (Art Ingels, Duffy Livingston, Gil Horstman etc.) focus was on the male demographic aging from mid 20s to mid 50s.
This group carried kart racing through the 60s, 70s, 80s and well into the 90s. Typically they were motorheads that had completed their education, established themselves in the work place and had a moderate amount of disposable income. They didn’t have stars in their eyes concerning a professional racing career, they just wanted to race hard, have fun and try to improve their craft. Those are the people that made a lifestyle out of kart racing and most of the juniors that did stick with the sport are their offspring.
Others may see it differently, that’s OK too, but I believe that a lot of the focus of the last 15+ years has been misguided.
Rapid Racing Inc.
Vintage B-Stock Pilot
"When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."
January 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm #39978
Greg, as a Scotsman I am pretty thick skinned, don’t worry about feeling that you are picking on me. Any of us that actually try to do anything about this are going to take a lot of abuse for our efforts! I actually appreciate your insight.
While I take your point I think that kids should be a part, at least, of the plan. That said how do we increase our exposure to the 20 some demographic. Any ideas? What I largely see is that people have no idea the sport even exists!
Unfortunately motor-heads are becoming a thing of the past!
January 6, 2015 at 12:39 pm #39981
Over the last 10 years I have tracked junior drivers in the successful KRA program at NCMP and here’s what I’ve seen. Starting with a field of kid karters (say 15 entries), only a modest percentage move up to the Jr. Sportsman (cadet?) level, from there the Jr. Sportsman drivers only seem to have well less than 30-35% move up to the Jr. Class. Then the Juniors move less than half to senior classes. End result over a 10 year period you may see 10-15% of the original group of kid karters spend any time in the senior divisions.
This is because we largely follow the European karting ladder, and this is exactly how the ladder is supposed to work, as the final rung is Lewis Hamilton (only room for one driver).
Most absolutely nutso fact about karting: A 13-year-old can show up and jump into a Junior TaG kart or Jr. shifter that is fully capably of beating a senior-level kart, i.e., the junior kart is stupid fast. But that same 13-year-old can’t run an L206 because the 4-stroke classes have a 16-and-over age limit. This has been true at most of the kart tracks I’ve been to. The net result is if you are a parent on the level of the little league baseball crazies who are convinced that little Kenny is going to be a professional race driver, the opportunities abound, while if you’re a parent who just wants to have fun with a kid who is not at that talent level, the opportunities are much fewer. I have no idea why this has so consistently been the case.
It also means that karting is competing with MX for the talented kids with parents willing to allow their kids to face that kind of risk level. Net result: Not many kids.
January 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm #39984
Dave, Good response. I in no way meant that Junior classes should be eliminated, of course not. All I really mean is that the sport seems to spend 75% of it’s effort on 25% of it’s base. Despite the wording I believe that we are in agreement there.
In the early days of kart racing it was covered by and advertised to the hot rod, custom car, race car magazines of the time. Indeed magazines like Hot Rod Magazine, Car Craft and in particular Rod and Custom were the tide that lifted the karting boat. Without question kart racing sprung from the hot rod world.
Why shouldn’t the sport take a cue from it’s beginnings and begin to advertise and promote articles to be written in current magazines, websites etc. that are catering to that particular demographic.
And yes Dave I’m afraid you are smack on the money with your statement that we aren’t seeing a new generation of motorheads being raised. Heck, an amazing percentage of teen and 20 somethings never bothered to get a drivers license. This may be the biggest problem for all of motorsports eventually.
Rapid Racing Inc.
Vintage B-Stock Pilot
"When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."
January 6, 2015 at 1:07 pm #39985
Jim, we are just bringing the LO 206 into our club, so forgive me I am not that familiar with the regs, I do see that there is a multitude of Junior specs for it with different restrictors and carb mods, does no one run this?
I actually just bought one but for my wife, my boy will be running tag and s5 this year. Frankly I feel it is a great package for the low budget racer. That said we wanted to be doing something at a little higher level, that does not mean that we are not doing it soley for fun. We have no asperations of a carrer in racing just trying to get him hooked on a legal drug for the rest of his life!
January 6, 2015 at 2:33 pm #39989
No right answers, no wrong answers.
I love the concept of trying to get the kids into it, but after almost 30 years around the sport, it doesn’t work, especially these days. As said before, the best kids want to move on to cars, and seem to quit racing altogether if they don’t make it. A lot of the kids racing “like” it, but don’t truly “love” it or “live for” it. When mom and dad stop paying for it, they’re done, and most don’t miss it that much. Even the ones who do love it and live for it, can’t afford it on their own, and have no choice but to get out of it until they can afford it later in life (i.e. I’m describing myself).
As great as it sounds to focus on the kids, very few of them will be racing karts when they’re adults. What I’m saying is don’t ignore the kids, but as a sport we have to be realistic about what history has proven. The best chance to get racers we’ll keep is by focusing on the mid-20’s and older group. These are the guys who decide on their own to do it, meaning they’re doing it because they have a passion for racing, and it’s safe to assume they’ll always have some money to continue to pursue it.
As far as the “top down” or “bottom up” focus, I think it needs to be BOTH working together, not just one of the two.
The good of “bottom up” is that you serve your immediate area’s market in the short term. The bad of the “bottom up” is that each market ends up with a different solution, which creates the fragmentation we have in the sport, that only seems to be getting worse.
The reverse is true for the “top down”. The good of “top down” is you eliminate a lot of the fragmentation, while the bad is you might not understand the uniqueness of each market.
Where I think it needs to come together is that we need the “czar” or strong organization at the top to communicate with the groups below, keep the politics out of it, and set a sensible direction that all the local clubs and tracks can buy into. And yes, licensing can make sense, even at the club level.
Others have said it before, but the models followed in dirt bike racing, and snowmobile racing have ensured minimal fragmentation, where each has a strong governing organization at the top with a relatively simple and sensible formula to allow the local groups to thrive.
Make no mistake, SKUSA is strong because there is a czar controlling things. The only problem is that SKUSA is about the high end customer, and Shifters and TAG aren’t the base of club racing.
In my opinion, the worst thing to ever happen to the sport was Rotax Max, which led to the Leopard, then the ROK, then Easykart, and all this TAG mess throughout North America, and the fragmentation it has created. The CIK then didn’t help by introducing the cluster that was KF, which left no alternative to the TAG mess for anyone who wanted a faster 2-stroke.
The biggest problem with the TAG mess is these engines cost a lot, so it won’t be easy to get people to shelf their $3500-4000 TAG engine(s) for the long-term betterment of the sport as a whole. Until we’re willing to do that, I think we’re screwed.
If I was the czar, I’d have L206 Cadet, Junior, Senior Light, and Senior Heavy. Great, cheap, simple, competitive, and fun engine package. This would be the base, and nobody can dispute it’s value to clubs’ growth. (4 classes)
For the recreational 2-cycle guy, I’d offer a single KT100 class, at a Heavy weight. Where I don’t know what you do, is for the serious 2-cycle guy. KF sucks. What I’d want is a return to ICA/JICA at a light weight. What I’d probably have to settle for until the CIK comes up with something good, is to settle for TAG (which sucks). Give weight breaks to different engine packages, and let guys have 4 different engines if they want them – after all, they’re the serious guys. You don’t like it, run the KT100. (5 classes – 2 at senior level, 2 at junior, KT only for cadet)
Then do 3 shifter classes. 1) Stock Honda Light and Masters/Heavy – like it or not, it has been good. And “open”, which basically means KZ, at a light weight. No junior shifters. There’s just not enough juniors running them, even at the SKUSA level, to make it a “must have.
12 classes total. At the club level, run as:
Group 1 – L206 and KT100 Cadet (combined)
Group 2 – L206 Jr and KT Jr (combined)
Group 3 – L206 Senior Light and Heavy and KT Sr (3 classes combined)
Group 4 – Junior TAG
Group 5 – Senior TAG
Group 6 – Shifters (all 3 combined)
January 6, 2015 at 4:26 pm #39995
Rob, was that an offer to become the Czar? People might start voting!!!
A lot of what you are saying makes sense. Indeed the CIK will be returning to ICA direct style next year, a new form based on KF technology. Unfortunately we already have one manufacturer who has released a NON CIK direct drive ahead of finalization of the CIK standards. No doubt they are thinking about the American Market where of course they want us to have different engines that are not equal and cannot be run in the same class. Hopefully as the Czar you will simply say NO and mandate that the manufacturers follow the spec and give us engines that can all be run together competitively at the same weight.
You then have a chance of developing a strong local following with a defined path to your regional and National final. You may even be able to call the final a US or North American CIK-FIA Championship. Of course that would give our drivers some recognition on par with the Europeans and no one wants that.
Now all that remains is to organize our Czar sanctioning body so that we can find a way to get some money out of unsuspecting people and start sending you your check.
Joking aside, I frankly believe that the move today by MaxSpeed group just emphasizes that we really do need some kind of new leadership. What we are getting is absolutely a top down approach. We need to establish what we want and push it back up!
January 7, 2015 at 7:49 am #40025
I’m no czar. I have ideas, but I can’t sell them.
Part of the reason we have the mess we do is because we’ve allowed each group at the bottom to push things up… in about 100 different directions. It’s probably great for the tuners out there, who can be kept busier than ever with all the competing “top level” series’ events we have today, and it’s great for guys with real deep pockets who can afford to race different series almost every weekend. It’s not great for the great drivers with minimal funds, who don’t get much recognition anymore because they have to choose only one of the many now-diluted series out there. It’s also not great for the average-joe karters, who might occasionally want to venture to another track once or twice a year, but can’t anymore because their’s no class or nobody to race against for them at the other track. We’re benefitting the few, at the expense of the many.
I currently race Rotax, but admit to having no love for it. That said, in Canada, where our ASN is pretty strong, we have a lot of consistency across most of the country, with Rotax and L206 (I also race the L206 and love it) being the standard for 2 and 4 cycle racing, respectively. Although clubs have the ability to add additional classes locally (shifters, Honda 4 cycles), the clubs are based around these 2 engine packages, which can be raced anywhere, from the club up to the National level. Again, while I don’t love the choice of Rotax, at least it’s clear what you need if you want to race, with consistent rules everywhere you go.
In Canada, “overall”, I think the top down approach has been beneficial, with much less fragmentation than in the USA. We actually have National Champions! In my opinion, we’d be better off in Canada if we had a better option than Rotax for 2-cycle, but what that better option would be is far from obvious right now, especially when Rotax is so prevalent and everyone has so much invested in it.
January 7, 2015 at 9:03 am #40031
Canada is in the ideal situation. They have one sanctioning body, two distinct engine programs, and one national championship.
Unfortunately we don’t have that singularity in North America. We have 5 major sanctioning bodies that are all pushing different packages and all have different plans for the future. None of them are going anywhere, anytime soon and they are all fighting for the attention of the same 400 or so national racers. Thus our strategy has to be modified accordingly.
I disagree with Rick’s “<span style=”color: #444444; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 21px;”>Part of the reason we have the mess we do is because we’ve allowed each group at the bottom to push things up…” statement. All 5 of the mentioned sanctioning bodies in North America make their decisions independent from the bottom of the pyramid. I also find it frustrating that we keep looking to Europe to show us the way. We have a different economy than Europe, a different culture than Europe, and a different karting scene than Europe. Our answers to finding success and numbers in karting lies within our own borders.</span>
We have 316 million people in this country. USPKS or any other series can brag about how they have a whole 170 entries, but the reality of it is that every karter, kart shop, club and sanctioning body should be scratching their heads trying to figure out why there are only 170 and not 1,700… I’ve already voiced my opinion on that solution in my earlier posts, so I won’t bore anyone ;).
Keep in mind too that the FIA, AMA, etc. are all big organizations with big annual revenues. Karting bodies in the US are a couple of paid staff members and a lot of devoted volunteers.
January 7, 2015 at 10:29 am #40036
A czar needs to be able to execute the ideas based on what’s best for the sport’s ecosystem as a whole. Someone who’s objective and data driven but at the same time balanced with good instincts for the industry. Someone else could do the “sales” part. In fact, that might be best.
So we’ve had suggestions of top-down and bottom-up approaches… To me, that says the real problem, is a communication one.
January 7, 2015 at 10:38 am #40037
What we have here is a failure to communicate!! Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke.
Rapid Racing Inc.
Vintage B-Stock Pilot
"When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."
January 7, 2015 at 7:02 pm #40070
I don’t disagree with much being said here as to areas of concern. One thing though, the history of IKF and WKA and even today, their focus has been on the grass roots, with some different tiers (club, regional, national). And while having a limited list of “national” classes, they have offered local clubs, track operators and series organizers, the latitude to add “option” classes that suit their geography and clients. The dynamics of the engine blizzard that has been happening, and the economic downturn, clubs and tracks have suffered with membership issues, and have “turned down” their programs, left the organizations and gone to independent insurers, and the racers that have remained may or may not be going after the higher level events.
There is that core that is running the SKUSA, ROTAX, Florida series and those programs have held up, kept that hard core following, and have even some growth of late, but this isn’t the local clubs and weekend racers that we need to build the sport again.
Another issue I have seen is the complexity of the sport. When I hear a person ask “how do I (or my kid) go faster?” and the answer is “Hire a tuner” then to me, something is broken at the grass roots level. I see directions happening that may improve this area – the clone was a symptom, and the LO206 may be a piece of the answer. The 2 stroke clutch market is still a mess. That is where something needs to be done to refocus that sport. I know when we started through the levels, the KT100 and HPV100 were just about all there was – and with the different exhausts, made it a progression from junior to senior.
January 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm #40101
I understand why people have positive things to say about a Briggs 206, it is a great engine very reliable. I do not understand why someone would go from a sealed class to pro gas and bypass the WF, which is essentially the same amount of maintenance as a 206 but more HP. Seems as though KT100 would better than going the Pro-Gas, it’s not going to be cheap to have an engine rebuilt to different specs.
I go to a track that is well known around the karting community, yet each year, I do not know what chassis or what engine I will run. The rule changes are what killing grassroots karting, the 206 is a great engine but it is not much fun when only two other lightweights are circle around a heavyweight. Within a class you have several other classes, light, medium, heavy, senior ect… I feel as though the manufacturers are building everything for those that are running nationals rather than supporting the grassroots. It is hard for me to believe that as spec as karting is there is no way to equalize the chassis for local racing. I understand that Margay has a 206 package, if I told someone local to join karting and spend $4k to race 3-4 people of those 3-4 people they are in a different weight class so they are faster. They would run to the kart rentals and spend a fraction of the price and not worry about anything other than having fun.
January 9, 2015 at 11:49 am #40150
<span style=”color: #444444; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 21px; background-color: #efefef;”>Paul Hir Wrote: “I understand why people have positive things to say about a Briggs 206, it is a great engine very reliable. I do not understand why someone would go from a sealed class to pro gas and bypass the WF, which is essentially the same amount of maintenance as a 206 but more HP. Seems as though KT100 would better than going the Pro-Gas, it’s not going to be cheap to have an engine rebuilt to different specs.”</span>
From my point of view (having seen it first hand), the problem with World Formula (in WKA Gold Cup at least) is that it flopped when it was first introduced, mainly because engine builders had no interest in promoting it. One or two guys showed up with them, mainly just to score chassis and class championship points. The performance was great IMHO, and they never seemed to break. Back then the economy was much better, and racers were perfectly happy with their alky animals that required $400-$800 rebuilds every race or two. Once the economy took a dump, numbers were thinning and everyone was complaining about the cost. Steve Baker then came up with the Pro Gas concept, which was very controlled, yet left room for engine builders to do a little to try and win support from the engine builders. We have ran competitive in the junior division of Gold Cup (finished 2nd in points in 2014) with a pair of used Pro Gas rental engines we bought from Baker for $600 each. In 2014 we raced 4 national weekends, 14 local race weekends, and 4 or 5 test days splitting time between those two engines. I freshened each engine once during the year for a total of around $600 for both engines. Considering the performance level, I think that is an amazing deal considering the time we put on the engines.
Unless it’s changed, Baker will convert your LO206 engine to Pro Gas for around $500. And LO206 engines make really good Pro Gas engines, because the blocks are seasoned nicely so when you do the little machine work that is allowed, it tends to “stick”.
My point from the beginning is that it’s all about timing. If Briggs had introduced with the LO206 AND World Formula just before the clones were introduced I think we would all be racing on LO206 and WF. Briggs was reactionary with the LO206 concept, and thankfully it’s finally catching on. We raced the clones for 3-4 years and really came to hate it. It was luck of the draw to get a good one, and then towards the end cranks started breaking, sidecovers constantly came loose, it just seemed like it was a matter of time until your good engine got wasted.. (I do still have one good one though :) )
In the case of 4 cycle racing what needs to happen (and this is coming from someone who is a “4 cycle” guy) is the goofy bumper-car full bodies and laydown seats need to go away and everyone needs to get on karts that look the same (ala Canada). Our sport is just way too fragmented all around, and the “4 cycle” body work and laydown seats are really holding back 4 cycle sprint karting in the US right now.
On the 2 cycle side, the engine (and resulting class) of the month club is killing it, unless you are a big tent big $$ guy. $3500-$4000 for an engine is just too much if you have to buy a different one every year.
January 8, 2015 at 3:04 pm #40105
I would agree that new kart prices seem absurd….to those who haven’t priced out what it would cost to build their own…
Having said that, why are we pushing new karters into new packages? I started karting with a $500 Tony//Kart Esprit (1998 model) in 2002 with a 1997 $300 Haase Titan ICA. I raced club level ICA at BeaveRun at a better performance level than TaG for about $1000 once I added in the cast-off tires from the 2001 STARS event at the same track…
The NUMBER ONE factor that influenced me beyond cost was this: I had a good friend who took the time to help me go karting by pitting for me, even though he was an accomplished karter himself. He answered my (sometimes stupid) questions, made sure I was where I needed to be when I needed to be on raceday until I got used to the format, and served as a mentor.
The focus on cutthroat instead of friendly competition is what is killing karting, IMO. That, cost, and complexity. Get an air cooled Komet or KT with 2 disc low-engagement clutch, a chassis with nerfs and only numberplates, and a helping hand in the pits, and I bet you’d have a winning formula for growth.
2014 Praga Dragon / IAME KA-100
January 9, 2015 at 6:29 am #40130
I just wanted to clarify a point I raised earlier regarding licenses. As Mr. Deering points out there is no point to having a license to race at a local track. However under today’s formula, a guy can race 1 or 2 races at his local track… heck, he call pull his new kart out of the box … and race at most of our top national events. Promoters have no way of knowing the talent level of the racers and racers have no clue whether the guys next to them going into the corner have any race craft knowledge.
Rotax has wisely addressed this problem by making racers compete and excel in regional programs before running in national events. SKUSA has some minimal license requirements for limited classes. Some local tracks make newbies put a big X on the back of their helmets. But pretty much everywhere, you just pay your membership and go race.
If you leave karting and go race cars, you need to qualify for a specific license regardless of the series. If you leave the US to race karts elsewhere in the world, you need to qualify for a license. But here ACCUS (the FIA’s agent in this country) has abdicated any control over karting so there are no national guidelines to assure that drivers have the necessary training and experience to be safe and qualified racers before moving up. If you were racing at a major national event, wouldn’t you like to know that the guys next to you had the same skill level and weren’t just some clown out for a joy ride? That is the point I was trying to make.
January 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm #40151
Roger, I have been following amateur road racing series such as NASA and SCCA as long as I can remember, and they require a license. The past 3 years I have been following and racing in Chumpcar/Lemons, and although they do not require you to have a license (just pay a membership fee), the racing is cleaner (my opinion then NASA/SCCA) and they don’t tolerate BS. I don’t agree with a licensing system, because it just brings more unneeded bureaucracy. Karting is already complicated, Oval racing seems to understand simplicity perhaps karting can follow.
Darrin, I agree that if the 206 would have beaten the clone it would be a whole different ball game, 206 is certainty gaining traction, but I think people feel the clone sting in my region (In addition to other issues track related). Kt100 has become the class and I requested KPV/HPV clause in the rules with a higher weight class, I plan on running a KPV, although I will miss the simplicity and reliability of the 206.
January 20, 2015 at 11:19 am #40744
I didn’t read all of these posts. I just glanced over Mylaps for the Cal State Champs. I am not much into sprint racing any more, but that seems to be a lot of different classes right there! Must have took forever to run them all?
January 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm #40777
The Cal State Championship was a Sat/Sun event is why it looked like so many classes. It was an enjoyable race to be in and to watch. It had a few glitches, but over all – a great event.
I know that there were some good drivers holding out to see the class sizes (as they always do) and some less experienced guys thinking it would be over their head. I believe you’ll see double the entrees next year.
Let’s hope so! CSC is a good event for pros and amateurs alike.
January 20, 2015 at 2:23 pm #40779
You can view some updates on the WKA Facebook page.
January 20, 2015 at 2:46 pm #40780
Gold cup entry fees are a third of what us 2 smokes pay. Why is that?
January 20, 2015 at 5:38 pm #40791
I do understand why kart prices are what they are. We build our own oval chassis and if people price out the parts and then figure in the labor to bend up and weld up the frame and then powdercoat or paint it, people would understand the price that the manufacturers charge. Its like buying fold up kart stands for $300 – 400, and I hear people complain, why is not $150. If you built one or priced out the steel, the wheels/casters, then figured the time and the welding, the paint/powdercoat, you would know why.
I saw someone say 4 cycle bodywork is holding things back, I find that crazy, in a LO206 class on a sprint course CIK and Gold Cup bodywork differences are so small in my opinion. They can run together and around here often do. There are an awful lot of older Gold Cup bodied karts out there and if you want to grow the sport with an entry level LO206 class you should not limit the bodywork. See the above conversation regarding the high cost of a new chassis! If you did that in the Midwest you are likely cutting out 45-50% of the karts available in some of the areas.
I run about a half dozen Vintage Karting Association events a year for fun. The VKA is experiencing in my opinion many of the similar things that modern karting is experiencing: How to interest people, especially younger people, in this case the under 35 crowd. And how to find people that work on their own stuff in particular the older motors, many of the chassis are simple, but take skill to build or rebuild. I’m in my 40s and rarely are there more than a handful of people younger than me running at the events that I attend. And I’m not so sure VKA as an organization really cares, there must be something about becoming an acronym in karting that deafens the leadership to the average karter.
Bug - Alley Kat II - McCulloch - Coyote - B&S LO206
January 27, 2015 at 10:55 pm #41204
My Son (Indy Sandoval Kart #88 KPV4 )and I made it to that race, along with Orville Wright, Chris Weson, Dale Cheeseman , Tyler Coffman, Steve Coffman, Tate sansers and Rusty Sanders
All of us guys from Bakersfield ca.
And yes, you’re right what an awesome and fun event! Nice and clean starts, and lots of talented drivers. They all drove a hard earned race! Good event CANT’T WAIT TO DOI T AGAIN!!!! Thanks for posting, buddy.
You guys should come out in February for our 1st race of the season.
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