Can karters educate esports racers about our sport?

Ok, so I’m starting this thread without a strong idea where I want it to go, and I know I’m biting off a big topic, but I’ve had a significant amount of time to think about this during the quarantine period.


One of the topics that I’ve seen a lot in the karting community, is that with the expected rise in popularity of sim racing, that people won’t be as interested in going karting over the long-term. (Especially since learning that a surprising number of popular professional drivers are just getting exposed to esports/sim racing for the first time. I’m still surprised how many high-level drivers had never touched a sim rig…)

Putting the not-insignificant topics of comparable ease of accessibility and low cost of entry aside for a minute, I think there is a real opportunity for karters to enter the esports world, and educate more people about our sport.

I’ve never really been one for rhetorical motorsport “ladders”, so I’m not trying to think of e-sports as the new 'bottom rung" on the way to F1, or anything like that.

I’ve had a hard time thinking about how I’ve wanted to approach this, because of the complexity of the topic, but at the end of the day, I don’t think that this needs to be a zero-sum game. Motorsport has more than enough “X is better than Y, so X must die.” situations.

We sort of had a similar thread like this about a year ago, but I wanted to start a new topic, because I’m trying to think of actionable ways to encourage esports racers to come karting, and vice versa.


Can you elaborate on this sentiment? Where are you seeing this? I am of the opposite mindset, that all of this sim racing will actually lead to far more karters. People are gonna want to do the real thing. Cars are too expensive. Let’s get them in karts!!!

I have a thought on this that I want to share but will do so in a separate thread.

And this. Yes, its fabulous as an entry. But I am more perplexed as to why any existing racer wouldn’t be doing sim training.

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Well, it’ll be a bit of a “choose of your own echo chamber adventure”, when you’re looking for it. So it’s not like it’s just hanging around in one place. So chose your Twitter, Facebook, Discord, Reddit thread accordingly.

Most of the conversation that I’m seeing around the topic goes.

Scenario 1 - (New entrant into being interested in motorsport)

  1. I can’t afford to do any motorsport
  2. I don’t know how to go karting. (Because they don’t come to the Kartpulse forums, clearly. :wink: )
  3. Now I know about karting, but it’s too expensive (and I definitely couldn’t afford car racing.)
  4. I can go sim-racing, because it’s more affordable to start
  5. Oh look, I can race Josef Newgarden on Forza or Lando Norris on IRacing. I can’t do that in real life.

Oh course, it’s not nearly the only one, but it’s the one that got me thinking about this topic to start.

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Oh I’ve been interested in wanting to talk about this topic too. Can’t wait to see the thread on that.

I think too much is made of this. While its cool to maybe get to race against Lando or Max or Charles, end of the day its the racing that sucks you in, not the cool kids.

That’s your perspective. I think a lot of younger kids especially are more interested in getting cool points than actually racing. It’s just a different demographic. People race for many different reasons.

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If that’s what draws them they mostly will not stay. I understand the question better now. It’s more a question of what can be done to create a bridge for casual sim racers to become actual karters.

I think the KK discord and places like this are certainly useful in that regard. The kids who don’t kart are interested in becoming “verified karters” too. Questions get asked. Answers are given that point to actionable things as opposed to “don’t bother unless you are rich” answers so prevalent everywhere else.

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Here’s a practical idea. Use a sim series as a feeder to a real series.
How about a parallel series? Let’s say the Series X has its on track races but also does a virtual series. You’d think there would be crossover if done correctly and mined properly.

It will be interesting to see how many quarantine sim racers will keep doing sim racing as a regular hobby now that we are getting back to real racing again.

Of course many of them started sim racing because it was all they had under quarantine to scratch the itch. I imagine a % will give up on it since they have real racing again, and a % will see that it was a fun secondary hobby or training tool and keep doing it. A % also may go the total other way and say “I can sim race much cheaper and easier than real racing, I’ll stick with that”, and sell their kart.

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In some ways that’s a good thing. There’s nothing better than diversity of choice. I had to quit bigboy racing for budgetary reasons. It hurt like Hell to do so. I can’t imagine what that would have been like without sim. It keeps me sharp and keeps the dream alive. And I won’t be broke forever. At some point they (kids) leave home, right?

Hell, even an older racer now, I like the ability of having another way to network with other racers globally. I may not have raced an F1 driver yet, but it’s nice to have another way to compete and talk with other racers, especially in series that are beyond my current means.

For it to be a positive sum game don’t we need two players acting mutually to affect that outcome? karting itself is multiple players and I don’t see how sim racing (in general) benefits from karting being successful. I agree it isn’t a zero-sum game, but I don’t think there’s multiple factors that need to be considered here. It’s not a 4-box game, it’s a game of 100s of players.

Karting used to be the only choice 30+ years ago. I’ve met plenty of people through the years who said to me they didn’t really enjoy karting but it was the only choice they had. We now have sim racing and a plethora of car series (which 99% of junk imo but hey ho). Throughout karting’s life, as a homogonous lump, we have allowed exterior factors and exterior players dictate the narrative of the sport. We were successful primarily because we were first to market with cheap and easy racing. Later on the ‘racing ladder’ thing came in and provided a good number of younger drivers looking to get a career out of motorsport. We have totally neglected actual real self-promotion, mainly because we are a nation of tribes, not one single entity.

Karting gets millions of dollars of free exposure every year. Whether it be from F1 coverage, LeClerc streaming, youtubers etc… But all of this doesn’t come from karting.

The reason is there’s very little interest in promoting karting. Far too segregated and fragmented for that to be a real possibility. There are exceptions of course, but generally speaking I don’t see karting being able to benefit from a positive-sum arrangement currently

Now, I think Davin you’re right to say can karters educate simmers (though we get a bad rep online coz we’re often nutjobs in racing scenarios). As word of mouth is probably the strongest hand we have, and karters themselves the best promoters currently. I am not overly positive we can benefit from the sim surge though.

interesting little graph (the karting search is non-specific, but interesting nonetheless)

Remind me in 12 months to ask you to post this again. I suspect that the curve for sim stays slightly higher. Finds a new base. Can’t predict karting itself, personally, not close enough to it.

this graph seems self explanatory to me. global pandemic limits outside activity and people look to other outlets. I’m not sure it shows more than that, though.

I’m guessing the sim line boost is racers who can’t race doing the next best thing. I’d expect karting to return to almost normal, some will give it up though and stick with Sims, sims will drop down but many like me will carry on sim racing, after returning to the track.

One way I can see some crossover from I-racing to Karting, would be if you can get a track, Shop or Club to sponsor an I-race series culminating in a Prize for a Real Kart Race. Get their butts in a real seat and experience the sensation of being on track and feeling what its really like racing a kart.

This could work on a local level, which is why I suggested a Track, Shop or Club sponsored series. Travel would be at the winner’s expense, Ideally no more than an hour drive from the event. Kart Owners would be excluded from the Grand Prize, but encouraged to I-race for competition. Owners could volunteer their time and materials to support the winner at the event.

I think once at the track and interacting with many of the local Karters, they might see how approachable and affordable getting started can really be. I am not saying you should throw a first timer into a Shifter, but a LO206 would be a good “Get-Your-Feet-Wet” experience. It also happens to be the lowest of entry and operating costs available for karting today. They may even find someone selling a second or third hand rig at an affordable price. I do not believe everyone who wins will get hooked, but they may tell their experience to someone else that decides to take the plunge.

Someone who feels karting is out of their reach may not tell anyone, whereas someone who learns karting may be within their reach may tell several others.

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Karting can’t compete with sim’ing on accessibility, convenience, & cost. The money issue is a no-brainer, but accessibility is also important. Football, baseball, etc have always been popular in part because thy are accessible, & therefore relatable, & a person is usually pretty invested in, & committed to them by the time they are earning the income to afford karting. So, unless they caught the gearhead disease relatively early in their lives, odds are that they might not become interested later in life when they can afford it.

Convenience is becoming an issue, because as many aspects in life get easier, it feeds a general expectation of being catered to, to the point that breaking a sweat & getting one’s hands dirty is too much effort when compared against sitting in a VR sim rig in the convenience of your home. Of course, financial & physical accessibility are facets of convenience.

I guess you have to be interested in it for more than just the driving/racing experience, which is what sim purists are about. I like building & working on the karts. I’m even enjoying remodeling & setting up my trailer for hauling the karts. It’s the whole driving/working/fabricating/owning experience for me. But then, I came down with the sickness decades ago.