Random, slightly unconventional thoughts on Growing the Sport of Karting


(Andre Molina) #64

I would say the GT looks better, but you were moving faster. :wink:

My parents live in Clarkston, a Troy suburb (where Waterford Hills is at) so I’ve been thinking of dipping my toes into road racing so I can consolidate family vacations with racing action. How’s the scene over there in the Michigan area?

MIS is a bit of a hike…

(Albert McCracken) #65

Seems pretty good as we have a lot of road racing guys around here. Strangely enough we don’t race on Waterford Hills because they prioritize car events over us, or so I’ve heard. Funny because Waterford is so small and technical that it’s often referred to as a “big kart track”. I’ve been trying to get a chance to run my kart there at a private open track day but no luck yet.

I have done one family vaca/race so far and it’s pretty great, especially if you have friends that live near the track and then they can come see what it’s all about!

(Dom Callan) #66

Dat kerbing though… looks like it would at the very least destroy your kart if not outright flip you.

(Aaron Hachmeister) #67

10? I knew there’s a couple small tracks that I’ve heard of but never thought about going to, but that’s a lot more than I figured. I guess being in the Midwest means we have more space for tracks.

Maybe the other thing about accessibility Dom was talking about isn’t a lack of tracks, but little awareness. I knew of 5 of the tracks on that list: Badger, Shawano, Road America, MRP, and CHMP. I’d vaguely heard of Sugar River as a rental track but not for competition racing. People just don’t know what places are around them.

Your locator is a great tool, but the target demographic for that, people with no clue what karting is, aren’t going to be aware it exists. For people with less track dense areas around them, I could see it being really hard for them to know what to do.

This has come up before, but there’s just not much awareness of kart racing here. That’s one of the biggest problems in my mind towards getting people into racing. KP is a great help towards making that easier, but it’s difficult to tell people about and have them follow through on getting here.

(Tyler Shepard) #68

It would at the very least be fantastic if my local* tracks would be kind enough to let people know they’re open for practice sooner than 7pm the night before so us drivers could plan ahead.

*local is 2.5 hours minimum travel time for me.

(Emmanuel Baako) #69

I’ve re-read this entire thread, and boy are there a number of issues.

  • Too many sanctioning bodies competing against each other.
  • Too many classes.
  • Lack of accurate information.
  • Lack of content. No Advertising / Marketing
  • Tracks/clubs need more funds or barrier to entry is maybe too low.
  • Costs are ridiculous compared to other sports.
  • No chance of winning when the same fast guys win or outspending everyone else.
  • 206 is great, but not everyone wants to race in the slowest class.
  • Karting community not connected. No ladder system.

Can we narrow some of these to the things we can actually make an impact on as a community and begin tackling that?

We have no control over sanctioning bodies, number of classes, location and accessibility.
Individually, we do have some influence when it comes to sharing accurate information, generating content.
As a group, I think we can begin approaching our local clubs and tracks with some of these findings. We can also influence our competitors to consider consolidating classes. Most people want to have fun. If we can show where the fun is, they will join.

Let’s get some thoughts on how to address some of the issues we CAN effect change on. I’m not blind to the notion that this could be a futile effort, but it won’t be for a lack of trying.

(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #70

So what you’re saying is that we should get more people to join the KP forums, so they can see where the common sense is? :wink:

I like this idea. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Jim Maier) #71

This is a great thread. It’s so obvious what needs to be fixed in karting. Getting to that place is not so obvious. A day of practice for us costs $500+. Races way more than a grand. And we are cheapskates in the 2 cycle world we race in. People that hire mechanics and fly to races will easily triple what we spend.

I think a ladder system would be great, with fewer true national races. I mean, do we really need more than 3 real national races a year? The ladder system would keep people racing closer to home.

Tires could be harder compounds. We would still need to buy tires for big races, but those tires would still have plenty of life and value left for club races.

Not sure how to control costs on engines. I learn more every day about this, and that it simply costs a lot to win. I have a hard time giving into this so we are often under equipped.

We need fewer classes. My 8 yr old can race 5 different kart/engine packages. Why? Its too much. Should just be a 4 stroke option and a 2 stroke option.

Tire brands… do we need so many brands of tires? How much do these tire manufacturers really give to the series to run their tires? I’d rather pay a more expensive entry fee and use the same tires for every series.

If all these promoters would come together with a uniform set of rules/tires/engines etc it would quickly build numbers for all of them.

(James McMahon) #72

Most of these things are out of our control and are a result of organic capitalism and clubs/tracks going what they feel they have to. I don’t think they can be impacted in a practical sense em masse.

I’m planning whipping up a mind map at some point. I have so many notes over the last four years it’s crazy…
Here’s two things I brought up earlier that I think are practical…

(Emmanuel Baako) #73

I think #2 should be a huge focus for the next few months. Let’s start gathering input in a new thread for that.

Re: #1, we should absolutely LISTEN!!! However, do we find that most people know what they want?
I think back to the example that everyone wants to be in something fast when they first start. @DavinRS has pointed out on a number of podcasts how he has to convince someone that they want to be in a 206, something low cost and affordable.

(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #74

^^^ Also don’t forget the fact that 206 lets people experience karting at an affordable level, before they decide if they want to deal with the frustration of two-stroke. If the kart is difficult to understand and frustrating when they first start, then they are likely going to shelf it for something else sooner.

On the tool front - I’m always on the fence when some of the online tools, etc, because frankly most karters than I talk too aren’t familar enough/comfortable to be using online tools in a way that would be of value to them. I think that they had a sensible community of people to talk to online, they’d be more likely to engage with that than a widget.

Plus it’s hard to get an ROI for the person building it. Something simple always seems to work better.

(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #75

Also I will say that I’m less for a ladder system, and really more for models for clubs to have more viable business. I think, unless someone is willing to make a formalized regional organization, and figure out how to have a pricing model that would be basically between club racing and SKUSA, the ‘ladder’ is a hard idea to define success for.

(James McMahon) #76

When I say online tool… I mean something super simple (experience wise), essentially a survey/navigator. Something in typeform for example. This would be for later stage/more committed folks of course.
The challenge is connecting everything on the backend so it actually delivers on it’s promise.

Obviously I’m bullish on our forum member’s ability to (sensibly) guide folks through getting started in a way that works for them. But we’re still facing a stigma of forums being another overwhelming resource of conflicting opinions and the fact that they likely will have to make a new topic which is a resistance point too.

As a middle ground, I think this concept is a good one… (Mentioned it in another topic)

Incomplete site aside… The concept is good and marketable…

It’s basically a landing page that offers three 206 arrive and drive choices in Plain english. Simple and fun. No rules to worry about etc etc etc. Pay, drive, fun.
What I really like about it, is that it get’s the person’s butt in a seat and moves them right to the “ah-ha” moment. Or to the “meh” moment (which is good too) and is a good process for “qualifying leads” for owner driver (or arrive and drive) karting

Could we expand on this concept more? Where would be the hottest places to start?

(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #77

Personally, if we’re going to get into a tool discussion, I’d want a separate thread topic for that.

(James McMahon) #78

That’s fair, I’m a topic all of my own :laughing:

(Phillip Kopp) #79

Thats how it was in my days. I started karting in club racing a Briggs. Moved into IKF regional races, then National races. Then 2 strokes, more competitive club racing, IKF racing, then nationals and then international. It was a great system! Many of the most talented racers from the US started in or raced Briggs and almost all of them did club races from beginning to end!

(Rob Bone) #80

Trying to get a AKRA 2018 rulebook was very hard. The AKRA website has a phone number and physical address, no email. I called the number, got an answering machine and told to leave a message. I finally found the book on a supplier website for $10, shipping was $8. The rulebook is maybe 30 pages, could be shipped medai mail for $3.99.

Now if I want an SCCA road racing rulebook, that’s over 1000 pages w/ GCR and all classes, it’s free online with monthly updates for Fasttrack information. I can download the PDF, find out all the safety gear and other stuff I need to get started in one place. Trying to determine what safety gear and other items I needed for karting I had to piece together from multiple sources online.

I’ve been an active member of SCCA for 17 years and I find getting into karting frustrating, but I really want to do it. How do you think it’s going for the person that is just kind of interested? How many have just given up?

(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #81

You’re right. Raising awareness about the sport is a huge issue that we face in trying to grow it.

Making people understand how accessible it can be it super tricky, especially if one doesn’t have the local support to be kept pointed in the right direction.

(Bryan Hall) #82

I started to write a book here, so I’ll limit this post to just how I selected a club / home track to get started…

First off, I’m 51, still have kid college bills to pay, but needed something to replace car road course track time to get my adrenaline rush. I have followed racing (Indycar, F1, WRC) for a long time, crewed some RA rally races, ran SCCA autocross, rallycross, and many high speed driving days. Kart wise I had gone several times to our local indoor track to have fun. While that was OK, it was quite expensive and used some else’s equipment you could not really get to know well.

My son pushed me to think about joining a kart club. I looked around online, found a site that listed tracks in Oklahoma, and I noticed there were basically two within less than two hours’ drive from home.

The closest one, Oklahoma Motorsports Complex, is about a 40 minute drive from home. I went to watch the local club racing there, and then rented a kart to try my hand. It was fun, but the rental was very heavy and thus really slow out of corners (especially with me in it vs. my son). Then there was the track. It had large cracks running across the surface every 20 feet or so. After 30 minutes on the track with my son, my wrists were killing me. If I could have done something to minimize that issue, it would probably have been OK. I then looked at costs. The environment there is very businesslike. They are in it to sell karts (Intrepid importer), set them up for you, etc. No problem with that, and I’m sure there are many $$$ to play people at that track looking at the fancy trailers.

For OMP a yearly membership is either:
$50 with no practice sessions included, and $25 a day (and I knew I would need quite a bit of this)
$400 with unlimited practice, when they are open and not busy

The other option was the JPR track in Tulsa that the TKC uses, about an hour and a half drive on a toll road, making it less convenient and more expensive for travel. I think JPR used to rent karts as well, but no longer does from what I can tell. So I went with my son to watch a TKC race, and we really enjoyed it. It was definitely less commercial and more family oriented IMHO than OMP. The track also looked to be in much better shape overall, and without all those cracks. Ron Pattison the TKC president does have a kart shop, and sells mainly tires on race weekends. But he isn’t pushy and you can tell he genuinely wants to see more people in karting by selling used karts and parts at very reasonable rates.

For TKC:
$200 for a yearly membership, which comes with a key to the track gate so you can go practice whenever you have time (awesome).

Race day costs with one helper for either location are a wash at about $50.

You can probably guess I went with TKC. It’s more of a drive (and expense) to get there, but I felt more comfortable right away. That said, there are some things that would help me out (and other newbies). Hopefully I can help get them integrated into our club:

  1. Online registration with a small discount for pre-registering (and paying). This helps give organizers a general idea of the number of people showing up and what classes they run. It also helps speed up the check-in time considerably.

  2. A schedule of events. Not so much time certain as that can (and often does) change, but order certain so we know when to watch for the practice runs for our class, qualifying (if needed), and for the two heat races.

  3. A list of local area sources for race fuel. Seriously, unless you are running something that takes pump gas, this isn’t as easy as you think to track down.

  4. Suggested practice days and times for your class. Running in a non-competitive atmosphere with people who can give us new guys setup and driving tips is invaluable, and really helps builds a club atmosphere (IMHO).

My $0.02

(Emmanuel Baako) #83

I’m actually going to put together your suggestions for my local kart club, which is lacking in some of those areas.