Ep. 12: Tom Kutscher on the State of Karting and SKUSA's future with Chris Ortenburger


(James McMahon) #1

KP Podcast #12! Listen to Tom Kutscher interviewed by Chris Ortenburger. Lots of interesting stuff in here.

Help us make the podcast even better by rating it and join the discussion below

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Give it a listen and let us know what you think. Thanks to Chris for allowing us to bring the interview to your ears.

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SKUSA Uncensored WinterNationals 2017 "Tomversation" with Tom Kutscher
(mike kuper) #2

I dont race SKUSA events. I like to go watch Supernats but thats about it. I am interested in what “big Change” is in store though. It seems at least in the western states SKUSA formats are eventually adopted by clubs.

(Charles Skowron) #3

I really enjoy watching these “Tomversations” as some people call them.

In a sport that has so many rote, stale Press Releases that come off fake, if they reveal anything at all. It’s refreshing seeing them speak their mind and not hold back, even if you don’t agree with everything they say.

But damn, this one was even more intriguing than usual. Especially starting at the 8th minute when they dive into the deal with Stock Honda, and how their numbers aren’t what they normally are. (Pretty obvious to see.) Best thing about that part was admitting that the concept of Stock Honda has strayed far off from what was originally intended. It’s resembling the old Built Moto days with competitors constantly stretching their motors for more HP, and breaking them.

Then they hint at the possibility at a new shifter engine package: KZ? But they kind of criticized that package in the interview, when everyone was running the class years ago, and engine builders were commanding top $$ for highly worked on motors (which ironically, heralded in Stock Moto into karting).

Vortex Rok? Would SKUSA introduce a competing brand to their series, when they’re an IAME importer? So IAME then?
If they moved away from Hondas one day, I’d prefer to see them go back to a KZ format, rather another Spec engine for shifters. But he also mentioned that the engine, whatever is picked, has to be “perfect”, and “it has to be the right motor”. Sounds more like it would be one motor package…if they ever do change.

Near the end of the video, and Mike above alluded to. Tom stating that “…Things are going to change.”, “we’re in an expansion mode”, and “we’re going to hire some key people”. This wouldn’t seem like such a big deal if the USPKS didn’t post an ominous tweet yesterday and tagged “SKUSA” on it, same day the interview was released. They both run IAME…

And Ortenberger teased about the possibility of expanding, and new regional series… tied to the above?

Then there were all the great bits throughout the video with them being frank and honest about certain things in karting right now:

-On how it’s gotten so expensive and Kutscher admitting he’d probably buy a boat before buying a kart right now, because he can “…see all the stuff going on” .

-That the growth of the sport would come with growing the club level. (Which is true)

-How we, “…are worse than a bunch of old ladies at a knitting session, yapping about who did who…” (very true).

-Best line might have been the part where he admitted that “the American racing scene is pretty weak” right now (very, VERY, true). In a sport full of slick-talking salesmen talking about how rosy everything is and “future stars of motorsport”, this is exactly what I’m referring to when I say the video is a refreshing watch among the sea of PR blurbs.

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(Tyler Shepard) #4

Theres a few IAME choices they could use. Screamer, X30 shifter, X175 super shifter. I imagine the X30 might be a good balance between power and reliability

Also, Billy Musgrave has been running the X175 tag at LAKC, which I believe is the tag pro motor he mentioned.

(Charles Skowron) #5

I saw that they were trying out the 175 TaG engines when looking at LAKC results recently. Interesting motor.

Still, as far as shifters are concerned, if SKUSA ever did make a change, I’d rather see them go to a KZ format, rather than drag shifter racing into the single make engine wars that plague TaG right now, (which Vortex has already fired the opening shot with their Rok Shifter). But I guess financial considerations would mean a spec engine from IAME instead.

The irony of all this is, supposedly, KZ shifters are apparently on an upswing in Europe (can someone confirm this?). Italy apparently has a couple new classes for KZ, Germany has an extra one as well.

I’m adding gasoline to the old debate again, but I know that, despite the changeover to Honda in most places, there are still a lot of KZ/ICC stalwarts out there that would love to race that engine again.

Which makes what is happening at Go Pro Motorplex next weekend so intriguing. It’s the first round of the expanding Gearup F-Series, and they have both a Spec Honda class and a true KZ shifter class as well. It’s the only series around that race KZ shifters, and I’m seeing rumors that some pretty strong competitors are racing KZ next week.

I get the feeling it’s going to be a big turnout. Not only am I curious to see how many show up, but WHO shows up.

And if it does turn out to be big in both respects, is it big enough to catch the attention of the heads of some national race series out there…

(Bill Holt) #9

Just listening to old cast’s at work. I really hope that Skusa go with the 175 Super Shifter (if anyone has any news on that it would be great).
@C.Skowron I think a 1 make class is the way to go, it is the only way to guarantee any sort of parity between engines, and prevent an arms race type situation between karters for which engines do best, and hopefully then prevent mega dollars being spent.
Time will tell I guess, nearly at the super nats and next season so an announcement cant be far off.

(Eric Gunderson) #10

I recently saw a video on another social media platform that seemed to suggest certain teams and manufacturers are being asked to test the IAME 175 Shifter platform. So far, comments seemed to be pretty complementary. Is the 175 THE answer for SKUSA? Maybe. More importantly, it doesn’t seem like a terrible choice.

(Aaron Hachmeister) #11

I’ve been told so many different things recently: USPKS going to an IAME shifter next year (I doubt it), SKUSA picking up the KA100 (also doubt), SKUSA going to an IAME shifter platform (very plausible), or even SKUSA dropping the shifter stuff altogether (no.). To me, being a total outsider, what would make sense in my mind is running what’s currently S1 Pro as a full KZ class, open development of the engines, all that good stuff, and have S2 be like the spec KZ racing they do in England, but with IAME KZ instead of Vortex.

I know SKUSA and USPKS are becoming friendlier, so I’m not sure what surprises they have in store for us together

(Ryon Beachner) #12

SKUSA will go to a single make IAME sourced shifter platform with similar performance to the Rok Shifter. Expect castings and the engine itself to be based on the Screamer line, but things taken back a step for reliability, and repeatability. If you’re curious what the rule package would be, it’d mirror X30. Who knows, you may even see a butterfly carb. Also worth a think, the Rok Shifter list price is $3600 less cooling system. SKUSA is definitely going to feel a need to bring whatever they dub this new platform to market with a price competitive with this, especially since it’d be a disaster if they didn’t match or better the expense levels of the Honda.

For those of you still on the Macho-shithead175 bandwagon, the “Super” Shifter was less than “super” last weekend in Le Mans and was reportedly plagued with seizures all week.

Also, the Super X30 should be considered a dead player at the moment. It failed miserably at LAKC after they (LAKC) attempted to shove it down everyone’s throats, it backfired, and hurt entries in X30 Senior and now the club is recovering after they finally agreed to can the class. Not the debut that I see persuading Tom to bring it to prime time.

(James McMahon) #13

or did they just try it and put some effort in? Define shoved it down…
Sounds like IAME might have work to do on the shifter, but this isn’t their first rodeo, I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

The Rok shifter looks like great value on purchase price, it’s hard to fault it in that area. Maybe it’s a loss-leader for Vortex, who knows.

(Bill Holt) #14

@Ryon_Beachner I have also seen some of the comments about the super shifter in Le Mans and hopefully Iame can fix any issues. I would note that the final still had a full grid so either the problems were easy to fix or Iame just opened the factory doors and shipped out new ones…
My understanding of the 175 was not that it had more power than KZ, but they had traded the extra CC for more engine longevity and better drive-ability with the aim of having a similar speed shifter class that was more affordable. If a manufacturer is willing spend their own money and time to research it, then I’m all for the bandwagon.

(Ryon Beachner) #15

For sure, if IAME is willing to put in the R&D and it doesn’t end up being “user financed”. By all means, but there’s certainly X30 owners who feel that that platform needs a couple fixes before it could be called bulletproof.

(Ryon Beachner) #16

The largest class at the club was X30 Senior end of 2017, and on certain weekends they would have a “pro show” and pay out to this class.

Begin 2018 they removed X30 Senior as a “Pro Show” class and made “X175” (what they called it, because using its actual name would make sense…) the “Pro Show” class. Meanwhile 3 people had engines when this was announced, and they eventually peaked to I THINK as high as 8 including “X175 Masters”

This would have been perfectly acceptable if they would have consulted the members, teams, shops, or anyone really and it got a favorable vote, however it didn’t. A majority of the teams/shops opposed it, and from a membership perspective I think the entries spoke for themselves. I won’t bother mentioning the other conflict of interest as it’s over now.

(James McMahon) #17

Yeah I’m not a big fan of the push for “Pro Show” deals. It just smacks of hype and we gotta get the basics down first.