Pro Model question

Just curious…

Marketing in comp karts sorta confuses me.

My background is skating. In skating the “pro” moves product.

So, for example, if I was OTK and I hired Norberg as a driver, he’d have a pro model. We’d market that model and it would sell based upon the public’s desire to be as cool as Ryan. Ryan would be paid on the units sold.

I have noticed that the drivers don’t really seem to matter all that much from a marketing standpoint. I get it that they can’t make pro models for each pro like in skating, not enough of a market.

I can’t help but think if there was a Senna kart, it would still sell like hotckakes today.

Why did this never happen?

The Fernando kart and the LeClerc karts don’t really fit the description, exactly. While they are leveraging their names and success in F1, they don’t actually race karts anymore.

I am referring to pro models: ie I am buying the exact geometry, hubs etc, that Pro X drives.

To summarize: skateboard team: big name members get pro models. Rookie team guys get “team” boards (whilst in development).

I grew up skating too, and the concept of a “pro” model is something I think about with regards to karting from time to time. When my dad owned DeepSeat, I tried to get him to make me a “pro model” seat based on my input, but we never got around to it.

What would be a “pro model” kart though? In skating, it’s generally a size and just a specific graphic on the bottom that dictates a pro model. How would that resolve for a kart? Specific components or development components that a certain driver might prefer? I don’t think that would be very cost effective for such short runs.

Also, there WAS a Senna kart, though I’m not sure it was ever sold to the masses. No Reserve: 2009 Tony Kart Ayrton Senna Edition for sale on BaT Auctions - sold for $7,800 on July 14, 2020 (Lot #33,880) | Bring a Trailer

Hey guys, Ryan here… for 2021 me and the fellas at intrepid have tweaked the design to be more front end compliant under braking and looser on exit (making this up).

Basically, sell the handling

Depends what you mean by pro model. Karting is a sport where no one really watches the elite level so the concept of ‘pro’ isn’t as set as in other sports. Karting is very insular. Iglesias could waltz into any paddock in the UK and barely anyone would take a second look. I suspect the same would happen in America. For most people the concept of karting even having ‘pros’ is alien.

Our ‘big names’ are F1 drivers, hence the embarrassing grid of " Kart" sticker kits.

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Agree with Alan. I bet 95% of the karting public can’t name more than 5 active pro OK/KZ drivers and what team they drive for. There’s no marketing power there.

If you go up to Joe Karter in the paddock and say “have you seen the new Puhakka Special Edition Pro Model?” He will look at you and say “what the f*ck is a Puhakka?”

Plus drivers swap teams quite a bit.

Petr Ptacek of Formula K speaking to Racebox - Interview: IPK CEO Petr Ptacek on Formula K’s World title, IAME’s arrival & how karting must cut costs – The RaceBox

" Usually, the impact of winning the World title or being in front during FIA Karting, WSK main events, or the new series Champions of the Future, do not affect the general sales. It improves a little bit in the category but the total figures don’t change much. So that’s also one of the reasons why we are thinking to save money on KZ because it’s a very very expensive category and we do something more for our kids and for our loyal employees. So, we’ll make the decision soon but I actually support more the idea to leave the KZ category after the title."

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Yes but… there are and have been big names that command respect. Never seen a pro model for an active pro. Retired pros like Gary? And the ex f1 guys, yes.

Bit of a leap of faith given how small our market is. But, what’s the risk?

Why havent we marketed personality? So and so is our team pilot. Let’s leverage that however we can rather than just be like so and so rides for x.

Gary’s done well, but that’s him going it alone and you’re buying into the whole thing with him - team etc… But the F1 driver karts are just sticker kits of established brands. It’s kinda meaningless from that perspective.

What you’re talking about really is why karting pros have so little notoriety. I kinda get what you are saying, but in karting there isn’t a clear distinction between Am and Pro. It’s very murky. And if we add in F1 thing as well that really take all the limelight in driver notoriety.

Also, people buy karts to win, and generally aren’t really into the ‘edition’ thing all that much. It’s pretty much “will it make me faster” and that’s that. Though I say that, there’s other psychological herd mentality games at play. But alas a digression.

Good point but maybe also a blind spot. Most of us will never see a pro grid. Most of us just dream of being great. We are selling magic and dreams. We completely ignored “lifestyle” purchase reasons. Not to mention, well if it works for Ryan…

I have never met one karter whose sole undeniable ambition was to be the world’s best karter. That’s half your problem. As a complete sporting contest, karting doesn’t function that way.

I think it’s also important to note that skate culture is far more pervasive into the sport itself than karting. There is a certain aspect of industry specific culture in karting, but there isn’t the “lifestyle” support like there is in skating. I think that has an effect on how “amateur” karters don’t necessarily “want to be like the pros” like you see in skating.

But, that’s a choice of sorts. The industry decided not to focus on promoting their drivers as personalities. Some would be good at it.

Heck I’m wearing Alan’s sweatshirt as we speak! He’s got opinions and a personality and I support his madness, for example.

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What’s the stage for the kart drivers though? Skating has skate videos, actual media output that promotes the athletes, apparel, lifestyle goods, and if someone is good enough, they end up being a celebrity here. Karting doesn’t have any of that. Even high-level motorsport can struggle with this.

I think in general, this concept is very American-minded, where we view things as entertainment and we like big personalities and star power. The Europeans probably have a different mindset.

Til rok. Instagram. YouTube. Kartpulse.

As it stands I see very little difference between skaters and karters from an existing promotion standpoint.

Skaters rely and have always relied on media. It’s the nature of the beast. You film your line. It gets put in a video. That segment gets out in you tube or whatever.

The eyeballs you draw.

Yes, bang on the money… but there are exceptions.

We see in the 90s 100cc culture we have a ton of admiration and emulation of iconic karts. Button’s DSD/Tecno from 96/97 season is iconic. Orsini’s Swiss Hutless… mega. Get any of the iconic 80/90s karters out and people watch and engage. That’s all we pretty much talk about, so there is a ‘lifestyle’ thing there, just like skating. Skating of course isn’t so competition heavy like karting, and thus will have a greater influence in the culture ranks, but delve into any hisotric page and it’s just pages of people talking about old drivers and iconic designs. The impulse is there.

The potential is there I think. But karting is a tad… homogeneous. That doesn’t help things.

You’ve probably just forced me to commit to something in 2022 with these words :slight_smile:

I think the general public could appreciate watching a clip someone tre-flip a 10-stair, and go “holy sh*t!”

But the same public would have a hard time appreciating a clip of a big lock-up overtake from three kart lengths back. Karting just isn’t as jaw-dropping to watch.

I still remember watching Tony Hawk doing the 900

I’ve never skated in my life. :slight_smile:

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Why would I want the kart of the guy that I’m trying to beat? I want something different that I can maybe squeeze a quarter of a tenth out of to beat that pro…

No amount of pro marketing in the world would make me buy the signature kart… Maybe I’m not most drivers, tho.

There is that. I honestly don’t feel like big racers are godlike and out of my wheelhouse totally (they are of course but self delusion is a powerful drug).

What I’m trying to say is I “dream” I can get good. It seems reachable. There is a reason why we feel this way, something about the sport that equalizes things somewhat in a way that’s hard to define. It is not insane to look at motorsport and then look at pro racing and say, hmmmm I bet I could do that, with enough time, money and practice.

Switch flip k grind down a triple kink rail with a shove it out are not happening in most people lives, ever.