David Klaus from Briggs Racing - What is WRONG with karting?

@BriggsRacing Published this today. I reposted the text here with permission.
Give it a read, share your thoughts below.



With the number of times that this topic comes up I feel is worth talking about. While the cost of tires, the lack of leadership and the like all play a role in limiting the growth I take a different view point than most:

Nothing is really wrong with karting except that karting hasn’t changed when the world around us has.

We live in a world where the largest generation by population has grown up in a throwaway verses repair world. Having a mechanical skillset isn’t a necessity and in today’s world we are dinosaurs. I hate saying it but it’s the truth. So how can we appeal to this audience when the ‘old school’ approach is to add complication and complexity through rule changes, approach, and setup so the sales of some are guaranteed by necessity?

I was reading an article where 60% of the millennials surveyed were not confident enough to change a flat tire. Think about that. Yet in the dirt world we are asking potential racers to be chemists or pay someone else to be for you. This same survey showed that only 26% were confident in their ability to change their oil. Again, we are asking families in the clone world to change their springs out every weekend if they want to be competitive. Which builder, which ported head, or color of the rainbow engine is the best? T_hink about the sheer number of choices that have to be made just to hit the track._

Karting is noooot easy. There are no instructions. A generation has been raised to search out YouTube tutorials and forums for information only to end up with opinions stated as facts mixed with pages of arguments and turmoil. GEE, WHERE CAN I SIGN UP?!!

Recently an employee bought a kart to cure his midlife crisis. The very next day he stopped to ask me why Tillett offers 8 different seats and Douglas Wheels 4 different series of wheels and multiple offsets. Hell I didn’t even know there were that many choices, that is probably why I’m getting beat! (laughing). The sport actually used to be easier when your seat choices were black and white (actually clear but I wanted the pun).

My example isn’t to point out companies have been supporting our sport for decades. It is to make a point that easy has become too complicated.

As a leader in the sport our 206 crate engine looked to change with today’s world. Open a box, add oil, gas, and go. Let’s simplify the learning curve, reduce the complexity of options, the time required, and go back to having super competitive fun. The result of 9 years of stability, quality built by hand, and a single rule set are some of the largest fields in the country. That said, we have a long way to go but imagine if we simplified the base of the pyramid just like we have with the engine.

Many might think that I am trying to make everything turnkey which would hurt vendors and families making a living in the sport. I’m not trying to do that except to make the entry into the sport easier. If we grow the sport, as a vendor or club you grow and as racer your costs stabilize or go down. We have to give families looking to get into karting every reason to say YES rather than NO.

The leading entertainment trade magazine estimated that 35 MILLION Americans annually participate in indoor or rental park tracks. What other form of racing has THAT many impressions and that big of opportunity?

The gatekeepers of this sport, including the leading vendors, the tire manufacturers, and series promoters should all be embarrassed. Instead of working together to create a simple, progressive ladder system that could grow our sport beyond its best days your effort is focused on ‘winning’ the throwaway engine importer, tire, or series of the year award. All the while our pool of racers continues to shrink. Instead opening up your eyes you add most classes, increase your cash pay-outs, or put your series on top of another hurting us all.

The 206 sealed engine is our effort to help grow the sport as a WHOLE. It can feed into any ladder system and turn the wheels on any tire compound ran on any brand chassis.

Imagine the health of our sport if we could just convert .2% of those 35 million racers. We would be tearing down apartment complexes to build more tracks.

David Klaus - Director, Briggs Racing

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First impressions:

  1. Why does this reads like he’s screaming at me?

  2. I would also push for that version of “what’s wrong with karting” if my engine package sold like hotcakes, and there is an untapped pool of consumers 35 million deep.

  3. Everyone thinks they know “what’s wrong with karting” and what other people have to do to fix it. But it’s hard to argue that’s the case here since he works for the company that created the most popular entry level package in american karting today.

That said, I agree with most of his points. I think more simplicity is key for an entry level class, introducing people to karting without the complexity and (some) of the headaches. Once they grow out of it (if they grow out of it) they will be better prepared to deal with the consequences of a faster, more complex class.


I would agree that Dave’s viewpoint is slightly biased, but a lot of what he says has merit.

My biggest issue with karting is the community constantly bashing the sport and predicting doomsday constantly or questioning what’s “wrong” with the sport.

I love going to the track and having fun and driving and hanging out with my friends, the entry fees are reasonable, the officials do the best they can, most programs are run fairly efficiently, series are offering great prizes, competition is great… If people would just stop sitting behind a keyboard trying to articulate their gripes and go to a damn race track instead, I think everyone’s attitude in the community would improve.


Yep. That irritates me to no end.

Agree with TJ. I wish more people would focus on what value the sport brings, rather than telling me what’s wrong with it. I didn’t really leave with any action items, besides “buy a 206”, and that does seem pretty biased.

I love me some 206 as a entry level way into the sport, and also a simple way to have fun, but I also wouldn’t label it as the solution to ‘fix’ karting. That’s just implying that the other classes are bad.

Karting really needs an more organized knowledge base, so that people understand better what’s going on. (cough Which is why we’re fixing our website cough)

Part of the sport’s charm is it’s complexity. People need a way to just better understand it, rather than simply reducing things to paint by numbers.


See, I don’t really buy the whole “untapped market” thing. I started out in indoor karting a few years ago so I was one of those untapped people, and a lot of my indoor karting buddies still are. I found that karting has MANY barriers to entry:

The often talked about issue of “what engine do I run”
Cost (kart, kart stand, safety gear, tools, trailer, entry fees, tires etc)
You need a track close by
You need a vehicle/ trailer to transport the kart
You need a basic level of mechanical knowledge, otherwise you’ll be fixing the kart instead of racing
You need somewhere to store the kart
Traveling can be annoying

And so on and so forth. My point is, it’s not like there are 35 million people saying, “man, if karting was just more/less X, I’d be there!”. Going racing (any type of racing) takes, time, money and most of all, the desire to do it. It takes effort. You have to REALLY REALLY want to do it, because you love it. Few people love karting enough to put in that type of effort.

This brings up what I believe is one of the most significant issues in karting: The unacknowledged separation between people who want to race for fun, just as a step up above sport/rec karting, and those who either see karting as a stepping stone to cars or want to run competitively in pro events (I know Davin has talked about this a lot). Essentially, in many areas the notion of club racing is either gone or has been transformed into a training ground for the stepping stone/pro crowd. This current setup scares people away because they feel like they don’t belong or they’ll never have the money to be competitive.

Many of my indoor karting buddies have looked at the barriers to entry and have decided that indoor is enough for them. To engage these people to go outdoor, I think what needs to happen is something like the Ignite series becoming a nationwide thing, with the option for a reasonably priced A&D alongside owned karts. Make something specifically targeted to the “for fun” crowd. 206 is a massive step in this direction but a lot can still be done. I’ve run the numbers and it’s a tough sell for a civilian like me, but I think if a manufacturer really wanted to engage those 35 Million, it could be done.


I like the idea of the B/S motor package, but it makes me shudder here in Australia. We have just introduced the KA100 and I will be pretty annoyed if this was introduced into what I think is a pretty crowded class structure. With somewhere between 5-7000 karters here I can’t see how it would fit.
I believe it would basically make my class (KA) redundant over night.
@tjkoyen comment is spot on. If half the people who are bashing the sport, in any country, would just shut up for 5 minutes and go racing we wouldn’t have any problems.


I think there is room for LO206 and the KA. That’s what we are trying to sort out here in the States at the moment. The Briggs class is booming in popularity and gets great numbers at a lot of events. The KA is still very new to us, but from the looks of it, the KA is quite a bit step up from LO206, so I think they both serve a different purpose.


The nice thing about the 206 is that is has basically made a spec four-stroke engine across the country, for the most part. In my perfect world, I’d see a similar thing happen with KA100 and then X30 as you’d move up the single speed ladder, where basically there is a single mainstream engine, with a few exceptions (IE: Rotax, and then probably Stock Honda and Rok for the shifter stuff)

I don’t want to turn this thread into a side tangent on the KA, because we already have another forum thread about that, but personally I do hope that does that model makes sense.

I’m not sure that we have room for another class when KA and 125 classes are struggling here. In our country areas at least.
In an ideal world I would agree @DavinRS but I don’t see where the xtra 10-15 competitors per meeting are coming from.

The article does seem a little self serving in certain places, but it still brings up some good points.

But I have to shake my head at the folks who say “If be people would stop complaining and start racing again, we wouldn’t have a problem” . The ones sitting on the sidelines, griping, it’s those gripes about the sport that are the reason they’re watching, and not racing. Some gripes may not be legitimate, others definitely are.

Sometimes there’s a bit a myopia, especially at the national level, from ones who are racing that if things are looking fine from within their paddock, everything is peachy then.

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I can’t agree with this part of the statement hard enough. Sometimes I feel like there is a disconnect from the racing that people enjoy at the national level, compared to the local and regional level. It’s like if it’s fine at the top, everything is fine.

I’d love to see the 206 as an “Arrive and Drive” setup that most tracks have, and then we go KA, X30, etc. from there. I put more money into actually transporting my kart than I have into the kart myself, so easing people into that would be useful. If we used the Margay Ignite spec formula, too we could have consistency everywhere for the beginners. That is, admittedly, a big investment for the tracks but the ones that I’ve seen with rental karts or arrive and drive stuff seem to do very well in it

There’s stability at the top level now with solid engine packages and manufacturer support, there’s now LO206 which is growing grassroots and entry-level karting at an amazing pace, my local club entries are up and they have a super healthy kart count in Yamaha classes, competition is high, entry fees are reasonable, used equipment can be found relatively cheap… What more do people want?

The only legitimate complaints I can see is that its complicated to understand the structure of the sport to a newbie and that it costs too much money.

I agree that it can be tough to figure out how to actually get into the sport. That’s a legitimate weak point of our industry.

The cost argument will never die. Karting can never become cheap enough. It will always be an expensive hobby.

Editor’s Note: What I have to say here is a thought, not an answer :wink:

So I think that one element here, that is going to vary depending on location, is going to be the health of club entries and if there is healthy competition in the fields. For example, TJ gave an example of how his area has healthy Yamaha fields, which has good racing. That’s great!

However, in contrast, in the PNW, we struggle to make good headcount with fields. We get excited with races have 7-10 people, when I’ve easily seen races in TJ’s area double that. That comes down to so many different factors that can’t just be solved with a single answer. (How popular is karting in your area? How many tracks do you have? How many clubs can actually work together and not sabotage each other, etc.)

So depending on how vibrant the karting is in your area, your excitement/level of griping will vary.

Lol Davin if we only double your kart counts that’s considered a bad day :stuck_out_tongue:

However, you have a valid point in that it varies from location to location. Yamaha is only run in the Eastern half of the us, mainly Midwest, but TaG and shifter is way bigger towards your area. I do not think that the type of engine has a whole lot to do with popularity. If that were true, 206 would be killing Yamaha in kart counts, but I can’t think of a single place that can gather almost if not over 30 karts in 206, although some may exist. TJ and I are just lucky to be around an already well established track with a good following.

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Lack or entries or abundance of entries obviously isn’t indicative of karting’s health overall, but what I’m saying is that some areas are doing it right and karting is thriving. Other areas it’s struggling. I’ve heard your complaints about the quality/quantity of racing in your area Davin, so in order to address that, maybe we need to look at what the contributing factors to those issues are. Are there conflict of interests? Not enough local support? Mismanagement of clubs? Incorrect class offerings for the demographics?

Dousman is close enough to two major metro areas (Chicago and Milwaukee), so obviously the population is a big factor in the success of karting around these parts. The rules packages have generally been stable and the club entry fees are very reasonable. Most track workers are volunteers as well, so everyone is pitching in to help make it succeed for the most part.

Karting as a whole doesn’t have an issue I don’t think. Trying to wrangle in the community when it’s spread out among such a vast area as the US is next to impossible. Then couple that with conflicting business interests, human error, and a whole host of other factors and of course you will have pockets where the sport struggles. The sport isn’t designed to cater to every single person and it never will. Karting is a product. And just like any product, it will cater to specific markets. The unfortunate truth about karting is it’s simply too niche, expensive, and complicated for it to work in every market. Minnesota Vikings apparel sells like sh*t in Wisconsin. That doesn’t mean that Minnesota Vikings Apparel Co. has a problem, it just means that the product doesn’t suit that particular market.

It sucks for those who are stuck in areas where karting is struggling. Sorry my dudes, I feel for you. Not sure how to fix it in every market.

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Haha. When it comes to the PNW specifically - Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes. I’m actually planning to go to the IKF Conference this year, just to see if maybe I can add some different viewpoints. The amount of politicking is one of the reasons that I haven’t gone in years past…but I can wear a KP hat there so :stuck_out_tongue:

But that’s a tangent for another day.

You raise a good point, well several, but still. I think I may have talked to @Terence_Dove about this in a podcast. The size of the United States makes it harder to have concentrated efforts of success per region, just because the country is so large. So the sport can be thriving in one area, and limping along in another.

I guess all I’m landing on is that normally when I hear people talking about whether karting is doing well or dying, I always ask what part of the country they are fun. That’ll normally drive the rationale of their response.

I liked David’s article, although at times I felt like he was yelling at me.

Was it at times somewhat of an echo chamber for how amazing the 206 is? Yeah…but then again, he is kinda right, objectively it’s one of the main drivers for new blood into the sport lately.

Regardless, it’s not necessarily so much about what is wrong about karting that is going to lead to change. If we can find ways to do things better, cheaper, more easily, with greater competition parity, especially at the local level, whether 2 or 4 cycle, then do it! The one thing I wish Klaus would hilight more is the need for the local karting community to decide to actually support local clubs and series. If you want to have 5 guys under your tent and be famous that’s great! But just know that by doing that and only serving those customers you let the majority of karting wither on the vine…ethically and financially.

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It would almost be more appropriate to do a What is RIGHT with karting?

But while we’re on the topic for me from a relative outsiders perspective;

  • No overriding ASN makes it very difficult to have a countrywide unifying vision for the sport. So you end up with competing commercial operations (SKUSA, ROK USA, Rotax, Briggs) vying for karter money adding to the complexity of entry. This is then compounded by local dealers pushing their individual engine or the next big thing and further compounded by different tire manufacturers. When i was growing up country wide (admittedly the UK is much smaller) the “spec classes” had the same regs (chassis, tyres, engines rules) because an ASN set them that way. I don’t think its possible to rely on commercial operations to think of the entry level customer first, the problem is 'muric is not very enamored by country wide “agency” controlling what they do.
  • I tend to agree sort of with one point. There isn’t a good way of transitioning people from indoor or rental karting to owner karting, but to do that effectively would require a national entity (see above point).
  • The internet has not helped, all the time. He uses an example of tillet seats to show the complexity. Pre-internet you just went to the track and got what you got and found out about different seats later. Now you research on forums until your head explodes at the potential complexity of it all. I have no answer for this, you can’t force people not to do research. I can compare it to motocross, it seems super simple to me (because I’m not involved) but I bet if i did research I’d start getting intimidated by changing ratios and picking tire compounds etc etc. However they get round it by usually having a stock option, which brings me to my next point.
  • Could we learn from other similar sports. Motocross is probably the best example, it is wildly popular and the bikes are not cheap. Is it because they are relatively easy to buy (shops everywhere)? Is it because they have a stock option? How could we implement a stock option (VLR?), do we need an ASN to bring in a stock option, could someone like SKUSA bring in a stock option, they have the financial might and influence. Club 100 is another British based series that could be copied, 115cc piston port stock engine and chassis and tires that you arrive and drive all provided by the Club 100 organisation (https://www.club100.co.uk/) . This could so easily be done with the KA100 by SKUSA. Club 100 is wildly popular in the UK. It could be a cheap entry level totally provided by SKUSA that offers an entry level at their Protour and Cali Tour series. They can then franchise it out to different regions.

I have more thoughts but its lunch time.

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