“Growing the sport”

After a notably entertaining post on Facebook last week a group of friends of mine were talking about what it would take to really grow the sport. We always here the same played out arguments about budgets, about things being too expensive, about “it needs to be like Motocross” etc. However I got to thinking and I feel like we may be getting ahead of ourselves with these ideas.

If you put yourself into the shoes of someone who knows nothing about Karts other than they’re cool and you might want to get into the sport, how do you figure that out? Where do you look?

Then from your own perspective, if someone who has no Karting knowledge or whatsoever, how do you direct them? What do you show them?

I saw in another topic someone explaining how much better a job SCCA does of providing prospective competitors with information. I feel like as an industry we aren’t doing a good enough job in this area. Thoughts?

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I followed the FB thread you mentioned. To grow the sport you need to get the people into the karts, then it’s all over, they’ll be hooked.

Once you’re in it, you’ve purchased a kart, the info is out there and easily found. We got into kid karts two years ago with Zero knowledge of karting. We race at Badger kart club. I asked a lot of questions, got very active on their forum and social media.

But the biggest thing is getting infront of people who may have an interest in the sport. Give them an experience that they can’t walk away from.

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Tag me in that will ya? I don’t spend much time in my newsfeed.

I think it depends on how you came across them to think they were cool… Youtube, friend, facebook video etc etc. I think broadly speaking, most folks first physical encounter is with rental karts.

Otherwise I say direct them to KartPulse, have them start a topic and along with the resources here we will guide them through getting started in their locale and help them separate the noise from the signal.

I think it’s a pretty fair analysis. One thing to consider is the resources market penetration (influence across various events) SCCA has at their disposal vs prettymuch any single karting org.

On the other hand, we probably don’t really want just a single karting org doing it anyway because…

  1. There’s going to be a natural bias toward (so that doesnt help the racer or the sport as much as it should)
  2. They likely don’t have the resources to do it with the required focus with everything else they should be doing as an org.

That’s how KartPulse came about. The idea is to create an independent resource and also to “break bulk” on the resources it would take to do a good job of building a place that helps people get racing and stay racing. Still have a long way to go mind you, but each week we’re making progress.

Also @Ryon_Beachner ICYMI

I do think that karting is certainly its own sport, or at least its own form of motorsport. Many of the things that Motocross has done would not be applicable within karting, or at least would create more issues than they would prevent.

However, just personally I am wary to quickly dismiss the assertion that we cannot learn from other forms of motorsport to grow our own. In my opinion, the media industry surrounding Motocross has single-handedly done more for that for that form of motorsport than any other I can think of really. Again, I’m not lobbying for open tires, or whatever. Also, I’m not a motocross guy, although I follow it loosely. But, when something from Transworld pops up in my news feed about a rider spotlight on the guy in the back of the pits at a huge race competing out of his pickup truck instead of a factory hauler, I immediately click on that stuff! That is the crux of where I see karting missing the boat…slightly…there isn’t a story or dimension to the sport that people with only passing interest can latch onto.

To me, karting has so many fascinating people, and stories in it that can be captured. When I was a kid and just starting out in karting, I would clutch Go Racing magazine or KartSport, carry it around in my backpack. I wanted to be like the people in the magazine. And maybe it is because I am older now…but that sort of heroic thing I don’t see get much attention now. I don’t see an intentional or driven effort by karters to present the value of karting as anything other than it’s cheap and fun to race, which of course is true. To me, that limits our ability to reach a wider audience, as those that love racing are already involved in some form or another…

Others in this thread are right–you get someone in a kart, and they are hooked. The costs are inescapable to a certain aspect, but a 206 is still plenty fast and very very fun to compete with others in.

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For me, the biggest thing to note from MotoX (aspects of) the attitude and culture. I’m not too big into the scene, so this is just what it looks like at a distance. Basically, if you ride… you’re cool. Give 100%, that’s enough. I see the same thing in drifting too.

In karting until recently you’re not cool unless you race “such and such series” or race such and such class etc etc. I think a lot of that stems from the sport being whored out as a stepping stone to “professional racing”. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s a part of our ecosystem. I just never understood the overemphasis on it when if one is thinking anyway objectively about growing the sport.

So the KartPulse attitude has always been not about grassroots (believe it or not). It’s simply “karting enthusiasm\interests”.

  • Wanna do the protour or KZ at the super nats? FUCK YES.
  • Wanna play with vintage stuff? SICK!
  • Love going to the local track, beating 20shades of piss out of your buddies in a 206 and enjoy a beer at the end of the day? You the real MVP.
  • Don’t want to race at all and would rather tinker at test days, bacardi cola: Do it.
  • Want to do something amazing with your kids? We found your home, homey.

Our message is simple:

Get a kart
Figure out what is going to be fun for YOU
Go do it
Tell your friends.

I know I’m on a bit (Lot) of a tangent here, but once I’m in a place to articulate what’s in my head, I have to roll with it…

Whenever I brainstorm about karting or KartPulse I draw from all kinds of things, I think poor @Eric_Gunderson and @DavinRS can attest to this. From the YMCA to swimming clubs and even girl scouts there are all kinds of small nuances and takeaways to be had… The challenge is executing on them.

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Been talking with Patrick Newton lately, he’s started what I think is a good initiative in Norcal

Pay, turn up, do some laps, get a time.
Simple, affordable, low barrier to entry. Fun

In short, it’s accomplishing what’s called in the startup world as “getting the customer to the ah-ha” moment.