Random, slightly unconventional thoughts on Growing the Sport of Karting

$55 member/$65 non-member. But I’m sure GoPro is much nicer, especially the bathrooms. At SimRaceway/Sonoma/Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It-Now, it’s $110 without transponder for the Sanzaru series, but it’s probably the nice facilities in NorCal. But everything there at Sonoma has a very corporate feel to it. Even HPD track days there are over-priced and and a whole different (wealthier) crowd. I

$45 for members at Grand Junction Motor Speedway. Just curious, I used to road race motorcycles and we had contingency sponsors at the club race level. For example, VP Race fuel would payback to those running their decal and fuel and finishing in the to 5. Manufactures would pay back, again, if you ran prescribed decals and rode a bike two years old or newer. I dont claim to have any knowledge of the Motorsport business but I felt that Tire, fuel and motorcycle manufactures were competing for my business. This model had manufactures of lets say tires, not only building a competitive product, but paying the end user back some of their money if they finished high enough. I dont think something like this would work at the club level but how about at the state or regional? I guess it is more of a motorcycle thing because I believe most open wheel racing has a spec fuel and tire.


The idea of funding a marketing campaign by raising entry fees, in the attempt to help grow the sport, is ludicrous.

Creating an even larger barrier of entry for karters certainly won’t attract more of them to the sport. Even if you consider an awareness campaign created from it to inform the public of karting, which, despite what some think, most of whom are already aware of.

Besides, it’s not just bringing prospective newbies into the sport that is the only problem. Anyone who’s been in karting long enough knows that just as large a problem is retention. Growing things wouldn’t be as much of a challenge if we could actually keep the many karters that leave after the standard 2 or 3 years.

Incidentally it just so happens, a few years back, my (relatively) local kart track tried raising entry fees, albeit not for purposes of funding a marketing campaign…


Entry fees jumped from $85 to $135. Pit passes and practice fees were raised as well. Looking at the discussion in the link above shows the news wasn’t very popular when it was first announced.

And the fact that, in 2017, the entry fee is back down to $85 again, suggests how successful the increase was:

-C. Skowron

Well we’re certainly not going to grow it (retention or new) if we continue along the path where most tracks and clubs are struggling. So where’s the middle ground? I’d say broadly speaking for a sprint track, $30 is on the very low side. $85 (especially in 2009, using your F1 example) is up there for sure.

It’s not necessarily just funding a “marketing campaign” but also about making resources available to improve things like tech (BIG item that comes up regularly). Not to mention internet presence for many of these clubs and tracks is tragically 1990’s ish. Is there a guarantee that these specifics would be addressed? No. But I think it’s generally agreed that most clubs and tracks are under resourced.

Also, my observation is that generally, racers take the tracks for granted and it’s reflected in budget spends on entry fees. When you think of karting as a ecosystem, the percentage that gets spend on entry fees is very small. Racers think nothing of spending 100’s on tires or even more on motor work, yet, the track/venue is the only reason we can race. That’s the high order bit. You can race for at least a while on old tires and learn to work on your motor if you have to. Building your own (sprint) track, that’s a challenge on a different level.

Each situation is unique and there’s obviously an inflection point where the value for a racer gets diminished. To be fair, F1 kinda had it’s own thing going on that makes it different to other typical karting venues.

Retention is a problem, but a more complex one in some ways. Worthy of it’s own topic. If you want to start it I’ll happily join in… You might have noticed a lot of KP content is geared toward retention in terms of mindset and approach. Sustainable racing, sustainable racers.


There are some contingencies out there. Hoosier I believe do some. I’m not aware of any for fuel, but that’s not to say they don’t exist. The tendency seems to be to spec as much as possible (probably for simplicity) at the local level. The outcome is that there is no competition or incentive to offer contingencies once the club\track signs a deal with a brand for fuel or tires.

I think to start, there needs to be a definition of what “Growing the Sport” means. Is it getting as many people as possible into the sport? Is it a common template ladder/rules system across all regions?

I’ve often heard or read of people saying in the UK that the sport (karting) has more participants then it ever has. They are just not the participants we consider. So in the UK they have MSA license figures which have been dropping over the last 15 years. But arrive and drive series like Club 100 or Easykart (think its called something else now) are thriving and the advent of independent karting (sometimes called non-MSA) isn’t doing too badly either and then not forgetting the indoor kart market. The indoor kart market must be thriving because all those circuits wouldn’t be there if they weren’t making money.

So its really about how you consider it. There 10,000’s of Rotax Max engines somewhere, i suspect mainly in the leisure market (i.e. turn up at a track rarely and do a couple of laps before the ribs break).


Valid question that I’ve caught myself asking too.

Yes. Both retention and new racers.

Indoor is surging with investment for sure. I think I added 6 or 7 new indoor tracks this year alone to the directory. With a couple more announced recently too, so probably nearer 10+ now. In the Minneapolis metro, we went from two indoor tracks, to four in the last 12 months.

There are so many reasons, maybe dozens, why someone may quit karting after a short time in it. Some of the reasons are pretty obvious, but others seem so small, so insignificant, so petty even, no one would think of them real factors, but add them up and they can be enough for someone to stop.

If I start a new topic on retaining existing racers, I’m thinking it might spiral out of control, and in a hundred different directions, with all of the possible reasons brought up on why racers stop racing.

C. Skowron

@C.Skowron, would be an interesting thread though. I can see it now - 300 posts on “The most trivial reason you have heard for leaving Karts”. Could be quite entertaining!

True, people come up with all sorts of excuses.
But these things can be tackled in groups to identify patterns and go from there.

Guys, people will come up with a variety of excuses to quit anything. It’s human nature, when you don’t want to do something anymore it is easier to come up with an excuse instead of explaining to your friends why you “just ain’t feeling it”.

1 Like

My 2C worth and not limited to karting. Passion, excitement and challenges retain people in whatever they choose to participate in, I believe that is human nature. For instance, I’ve been a pilot since I was 12 years old and at 53 I’m still flying. True, there may be times that life has imposed a “break” from my passion but I always find my way back.


1 Like

I think i’ve said this somewhere else before (on this forum or in a message). There’s TOO much information out there. Back when i started you had to go your local track and you had to go talk to people. You found a used kart through ads in the circuit washroom or the track store and some local guy might help you look at the kart. But for the most part you didn’t know enough to be fast anyway and knew it so you bought what you could and went racing.

It was only once you were hooked that you realised how deep the pit you would be throwing your money into was.

Nowadays I bet we lose most people before they even go to a track, reading forums or watching SKUSA. If they do read the internet and are still interested then they go to a track and are often confronted with expensive massive haulers with a driver or two under the tent, if they make it past that then they have to find someone to talk to (who isn’t trying to rip them off) and then negotiate the ridiculous number of classes or tire types.

Or they can go to their local indoor circuit and get 90% of the pleasure.


I’m a bit of a newbie to karting, but my son has run a briggs kid kart for 2 years, and my nephew is in his first year of 206 junior. I’m not sure how money helps you find the smallest advantage in a class with pretty strict rules. To me it’s time in the seat and testing. It’s finding the best set up for your track and driver. To me that’s air pressure, kart scaling, chassis set up, gear ratio. We run the YDS tire, so new tires isn’t really making anyone faster. Engine maintenance is simple, even for simpleton like me.

The only issue I see with the 206 is if your track doesn’t tech. Because you can cheat, even with a sealed motor. But that will be ab issue for all classes at a tech-less track.

Just my opinion.

1 Like

I go indoor karting from time to time as a way to get my fix. The problem is it’s ultimately sort of unsatisfying in that the clientele generally are just folks looking for fun. Nothing wrong with that but it does make it frustrating when you are trying to get fast lap times and have to contend with general cluelessness and bumper cars. I prefer lap days on a real track by far because people generally know what they are doing and try to make way for each other. I really don’t see indoor karting as able to hold anyone’s interest long term. It’s just too silly. But, it does expose folks to karting so that’s good.

1 Like

A lot of places have leagues where the level is much higher.

You’re exactly the type of person clubs ahoulsngo after. Make their presence felt at indoor places and give you a way to transition from indoor karting to racing.

We have a great tech director who works closely with Briggs and has been the tech director for national events. He’s told me some of the things he has seen. Guys play with timing, decking the heads, finding a way to spiral the air into the chamber for more power, etc etc. And these are guys running brand new, top of the line, 206 specific chassis. All fine and dandy when done at a regional or national level, but I don’t see it as a way for clubs to attract new racers. Eagle Kart Raceways posted something last week about changing how they’re going to handle 206s because of such issues.

Lastly, I will probably catch flak for this, and I understand 206 is a great value, but why are guys like Joey Wimsett and Austin Elliott, some of the best karters in the nation and shifter and TaG champions, respectively, in Skusa, why are they racing 206 in CanAm?

I’m really only assuming but i’d think there are two reasons.

  1. The racing is pretty good when you have 20+

  2. They can’t afford to race the other classes you mentioned.

I’d race briggs but I’m too heavy and theres no real masters class here. So i’m stuck with one off Rotax or TAG masters races.

1 Like