SKUSA to Employ Pushback Bumper to the ProTour

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safety

(James McMahon) #1

What are your thoughts on this ladies and gents…?
Here’s a topic on the pushback bumpers themselves:

Continued on-track contact motivates move to increase driver safety

TEMECULA, CA (March 16, 2018) – The Superkarts! USA Pro Tour put its first race in the books during the first week of March in New Orleans, and while the race was deemed a success on many levels, continued rough driving and poor racecraft was again a topic of discussion. With the unfortunate trend continuing, SKUSA organized a meeting with a small group of key industry members that quickly grew into an unofficial team owner meeting, and from that gathering came a consensus to implement the pushback bumpers system for the five IAME categories, beginning at the second event on the schedule – the SpringNationals in Phoenix on May 4-6. Internal discussions have been ongoing since the end of the Winter Series and this meeting with SKUSA’s teams was the tipping point. SKUSA places safety as their ultimate priority and after continued rough driving in NOLA, they have elected to follow the requests of much of their customer base to make this move. All IAME racers in the Micro Swift, Mini Swift, X30 Junior, Senior and Master classes will be required to run the pushback bumper in Phoenix and beyond.

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“We’ve had significant discussion regarding the quality of the racecraft and the increasing level of contact in our IAME classes, and while I had hoped that investing in manpower and the video marshalling system would be sufficient to alter approach of our drivers, it simply has not been enough,” admitted Tom Kutscher, Superkarts! USA owner.

“I was hesitant to employ the pushback bumper system because I wanted to put the racing into the hands of our drivers, but the action at our Winter Series and the WinterNationals has shown us that this will simply not work. I’m happy that we were able to meet with our team owners to gather their input and we put it to a vote. Our customers voted to bring the system into the Pro Tour, so that’s what we’re going to go. This will obviously be a work-in-progress to determine the penalty structure for the system, and we’ll release this information once the decision has been made.”

Over the last two years, SKUSA has invested time and over $70,000 into staffing and video marshalling equipment to better officiate their events, although even with a steady stream of penalties being handed out through the Winter Series and the weekend’s events in New Orleans, the rough, disrespectful driving has persisted. Starts have been a particular issue, and SKUSA is looking to evolve their starting procedures to lessen turn one contact, which will also be addressed by the pushback bumper system and its penalties. The SKUSA officiating staff is currently in discussion in regards to how the penalty system will be presented, although early indication points to an aggressive, not eligible for protest time penalty to begin the approach.

The ninth annual SKUSA SpringNationals will begin with practice on Thursday, May 3 at the Phoenix Kart Racing Association in Glendale, AZ. The change of venue from Sonoma to Phoenix was announced during the SpringNationals and the final track configuration will be announced in late April. Details regarding the event is available at the SKUSA Pro Tour page.

For more information on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com and be sure to follow the Superkarts! USA Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.


(Michael Zahorski) #2

Since your asking for thoughts on it. I can see why they are doing this in the IAME classes, especially in the younger classes. I’ve seen enough pictures where front bumpers are all dented in from the hard bumping that goes on. However, on the flip side, it doesn’t take into account the cause of the bumper being pushed back. If you’re left with no where to go when people spin, or stop suddenly, then your bumper gets knocked back, and you get a penalty. Those classes are so close, that everyone is looking to get every little advantage, but I’m not sure push back front bumpers will create better race craft and better racing.


(TJ Koyen) #3

As I’ve said on a million other similar topics/comments/posts across the internet, I’m all for this.

I drove the system all last year and it works.

Is it a band-aid for a bigger problem? Yes.
Does it seem to go against the purity of karting’s DNA? Maybe.
Does it clean up the racing and keep people from sitting in the infield with mangled karts? For sure.
Does it help on the starts? Absolutely.

The bumper still allows some wiggle room on contact and doesn’t dilute the racing at all.

@Zebug regarding your comment about the bumper dropping when you’re trying to avoid a wreck; true, this is an unfortunate side-effect. I view it similarly to any form of “higher-level” racing though. In any open-wheel car you’re going to be massively penalized by mangling your wing if you hit someone, even if it’s in avoidance. It sucks, but thems the breaks.


(Michael Zahorski) #4

Definitely agree that it’s just an unfortunate side effect, but it could teach you to look ahead more and/or be more reactive.


(Chris Anspach) #5

For us newbs out there, does someone have a pic with the bumper “dropped”? I totally understand what it is, just cannot find a pic of one when it is dropped. I am new, but it kinda sounds like a good idea to me. I mean I can see where small tight tracks are hard to pass on, and that sucks, but at the same time if you are ahead of someone, and they can just ram you off track (a la nascar), then what is the point. To me I think it is comparable to front wings in F1.


(TJ Koyen) #6

Don’t have a photo of it dropped, but it doesn’t really look any different. It doesn’t drag on the track or anything, it just falls into another slot on the bracket and wobbles a little bit. It’s actually hard to tell if the bumper dropped or not until you get to the scale line.

The metal bumper rails tighten on the rear portion of the bracket, and when the bumper is pushed in, the whole thing drops into that stepped bottom part of the bracket.


(James McMahon) #7

Let’s not confuse dropdown with pushback bumpers. Dropdown bumpers were scrapped after testing.

The end goal of both types is same, but the implementation is different. Dropdown essentially was an experiment that was, well, dropped due to unintended safety consequences (Front wheels coming off the ground, with loss of steering).

Pushback is the system that is on offer now.


(Michael Zahorski) #8

@tjkoyen Until now, I really haven’t had direct experience with the push back bumper. However, I bought my daughter a brand new kart this week, and it came with the push-back brackets. The first thing I noticed was that, when it’s in place and secured, it is much harder to knock back than what I thought or expected. That tells me that it would take a much bigger hit to knock back than what I initially thought, and so some of the incidental contact shouldn’t cause it to knock back.

Now to see what happens when she starts racing with it and what actually happens.