Questions from a Lifer #1 - Marketing and Demographics

Scott M. could answer this. He’s a gent my age in Ohio who does an obscene amount of racing with his brother and new dog, Race. If I am not mistaken his sister runs a rental facility and Scott has his own oval track on his compound. He races sprint and oval, paved and dirt, and probably could tell us how dirt oval and rentals coincide, if at all. I will ask him.

to the best of my knowledge, a dirt rental scene does not exist. i spent from about 2011 to late 2018 travelling the u.s. for work, and i looked for rental facilities on every trip. zero dirt rental tracks, and i’ve been ALL over the place. most popular rental facilities are indoor, with a some outdoor stuff popping up in the south and the west. all sprint themed, nothing dirt. but in general, there are very few kart rental facilities, of any kind.

if you were to walk the streets in pretty much any town or city in the usa, and told people you raced go karts, for the most part, they’d probably associate it with a dune buggy looking yard kart. it’s just not very popular. it’s popular enough to survive, but just in general, no one knows what i’m talking about. i have yet to meet ANYONE randomly that races karts, dirt or sprint.

the dirt scene here seems ok, but having been to a number of races, it’s still kind of a rural, country thing, and largely family oriented, as in your parents probably raced cars or karts, and it just passes down from generation to generation. if your dad races late models or modified’s, you end up doing it, as well. i’d be willing to bet, at least in the cincinnati area, that sprint racing pulls larger fields than dirt.

also, the owner of the local indoor rental facilities is HEAVILY involved in the local sprint racing club scene, he may be the acting president of the OVKA right now and has held that position in the past. he’s very dedicated to growing the sport.

with as spread out as the usa is, and so little exposure to karting, pretty much anything karting related is going to help the club o/d scene. from what it sounds like, the options for rentals are far superior and plentiful in the uk, per capita (is that right?), than in the usa.

There is (or was) one or two indoor dirt rental tracks in Seattle and Idaho called dirt kart. Very tight paperclip setup with electric karts. If I find a suitable location there will be an outdoor dirt rental track in MN

I think it’s worth considering that dirt racing is deeply ingrained in US racing culture, whereas pavement is not.

/edit, looks like dirtkart is no more.

Scott responded:

“Interesting that you asked that question. On FB a memory from 5 years ago just popped up today. Our first arrive and race customer. And it was in dirt kart.

We used to do arrive and race at local dirt track. I’ve never seen anyone else do arrive and race at dirt tracks. We usually charged $50 a night since you generally don’t get a lot of seat time at dirt race. Since local track closed we stopped doing it. Now we just let people run our dirt karts on my backyard track for no cost. Actually having first race of the season on Saturday. All are welcome.”

OK everyone, pile into TJs JDM kart van. We going to Ohio Sunday.

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Looks like they stopped doing this about a year before I met Scott and Dan, cuz I would definitely fork out $50. Their dirt track is a blast.

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This thread keeps getting derailed with the rental conversation that has no bearing on the original question. Not disrespecting but I’ve made it clear that rentals are off topic.
Reading through and weeding through the responses it appears that the best demogaphic for kart racing participation is the 30 through 55+ group. Mostly self financed in one form or another, have some disposable income and typically spend more time in the sport.
These are folks that always wanted to race but don’t have the resources to race cars. From my seat it’s easy to see with the bulk of my clients for the last 40 years in the business have come from this age group,


That appears consistent with sim adoption, too. That’s what I have seen in sim and these are the folks that spend money on things like electronics and I guess karts and cars.There is a large group of adult men with disposable income that have discovered sim racing in recent years, have built up rigs, and are expanding to include actual track day/karting stuff.

Apologies for the rental stuff. The dirt oval aside basically confirms what you said that owner karting can indeed exist and self-perpetuate/grow without a rental scene to feed it.

I’m not sure that a meaningful market study could be arrived at without some serious segmenting. I can only offer my observations of the local sprint karting scene in SoCal. If the question is who is the target market for sprint karting from a sales/revenue perspective then it’s the 8 to early 20 early YO. They are financed by their parents and run under the big name tents and probably spend 5x of what the average karter spends and race 2x times a month. I’d say in SoCal at least 50%, might be as high as 70% of non-adult karters run under a tent. There are very few Dad and Son teams running out of their own pit space. How this looks in other parts of the country in the sprint kart segment might be very different.

The oval and dirt track racing kart demographics will look very different and so will the laydown kart segment. The market is too tiny and segmented for a traditional market study to be of any value. Although, Greg might admonish me, the rental kart (K2) business is large enough for a market study.

This is consistent with my journey into owner karting in the northeast. Without any prior knowledge of motorsports and no one to guide me, I ended up having to fly to California to do race karting instruction. Sim racing g was easy to get into. Plenty of online resources.

i think the target demographic, realistically, is men with the most disposable income. so typically, that’s going to be men fairly established, i’d say 30-60. after that, the target would be the youths, so they can hound their old man into financing their karting. for the disposable income bros, it would be interesting to see if that’s more blue collar guys or white collar. if i had to guess, i’d say it leans more towards tradesmen, hvac guys, plumbers, fabricators, mechanics, stuff like that. i think the white collar dudes might be a little more intimidated by the mechanics involved than a tradesman.

when it comes to the youths, at the clubs in the cincinnati area, you’d be pretty hard pressed to find any driver under 25 who isn’t at the track with their parent(s) providing most support, or with a tent program ma and pa paid for.

besides just providing the support, dudes in the 30-60 age range with disposable income typically like to do fun stuff, enjoy their motorized toys, etc., and have the money (and most times, the health) to comfortably pursue these interests.

kindof related, but i have a 19 year old son, who i’ve told i’d help get a kart on the track for him, if he wanted to give it a go. he likes karting, and is halfway decent indoors, but his big pushback is he doesn’t want to spend all day at the track. the days are too long for him, i guess. so he hasn’t taken me up on the offer.

Not sure how common it is and if they still do it, but NTK (north texas karters) held events where club members and local shops had a “open house” at the local track, where they had simple presentations showing how the sport works, the classes, financial commitment etc. Anybody can signoff (I think it was free or for a super small fee), and after the presentations they would have an on track demonstration (if I recall, a shifter and a X30), then let you try a real kart (4 stroke) for a couple of laps. I thought it was a great way to bring people into the sport, explain the basics and give them the opportunity to ask questions


There are a couple of clubs that do that in the midwest, as well. It hits a small audience well, but often has low attendance. Still gotta get people to the track to do it.

With major cities nearby and the like, my area seems to be mostly white collar guys. The blue collar guys are present too, but they are older fellas. (Ie 40+). The younger guys present more suburban/urban in their clothing, cars, etc. Not a lot of country out here, plenty of tradesmen though. This is purely anecdotal based upon my f-series and other league experiences.

Also blue collar/white collar is hard to distinguish in some ways. It would appear that a successful contractor, for example, makes multiple times earnings over a college educated middle manager in a white collar urban job. So, I’m not sure which is the group to pursue as clients via marketing. Probably both!

generally, it tends to be correct, but around here I see executives and lawyers on track, some of them wrenching hard too so I don’t think it applies to everybody. The real difference there is ability to handle free time. A plumber or in general small business owner has an option to build time into their schedule. They will lose money, but can build time, they have the option. White collar type of jobs have the means but not the time, so probably the end result is more reflective of that than being intimidated by the mechanics

I actually just went googling to find the name of this facility because I was going to mention that rental kart ovals do exist only to come to the same conclusion - DirtKart is no more. Bummer!

I agree with this 100% except for the part about the kids pestering their parents. I don’t think the kids would even know about it unless a parent, relative or friend introduced them to it in the first place aside from a small percentage that stumble across it on the internet.

If you want to understand the blue collar vs white collar mix, just look at auto racing. I think it follows much of the same mix. Even in auto racing you have white collar guys wrenching on their own stuff. Sure, their are more white collar guys that can afford to pay someone else to wrench for them, but it is not unheard of.

Going back to the Kids Thing. Kids are not really a demographic. They do not have the funds necessary to compete in Karting. At least most of them don’t. So, that still leaves you with the roughly 30 to 60 year old market that is footing the bill. Those are the target. Owner, Team, Arrive and Drive…who is paying for that experience? That is what matters!

I have to disagree with this part. I think it’s more about the culture. Skate Boarding and Moto Crossers have more of a Party atmosphere to them. Where as Karting has become more about the outcome due to the declining interests making it so. I bet if you ended a Karting weekend with a Music Concert or Food / Cocktail Social Gathering, it would change the culture significantly!

I think this only applies when younger ones are involved. Most ot us older folk are always willing to help out our competitors for the hopes of better racing. The young folk and their financiers want results to justify their investments. You cannot compare the two.

To me, it seems more about awareness. Sure rental karting has its place, but owner karting is so much more. Most rental kart facilities are not geared toward promoting the owner karting experience. However, their are a few that facilitate both! In these few cases I believe there is room for growth. I once called on a K1 Indoor Karting facility for information regarding their owner carting line. I got corrected very quickly that the two are separate entities!!!

I would not call it a bias or a parasite. Instead, in the U.S., I would call it a gateway into a realm that was not known about before. Sort of like if you can swim the length of the pool, then the diving board is now open to your experience. You find out there is an Art and a Grace to it rather just hurtling yourself off a higher platform!

I think we’re agreeing here.

A kitte demographic info I thought was interesting:

This is my channel data. So basically karting/sim karting.

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We’ve been getting 6-8 kids competing in juice box on a typical kart day.

Ooof. Well Justin pointed out elsewhere that rental facilities make about 25k fri-Sun (the two he mentioned). That’s gonna make track rentals a luxury. I should be more thankful for busted-ass rental leagues existing.