Tent Programs - Racing with a team


(TJ Koyen) #1

I’ve had the privilege of working as a driver coach, mechanic, and tuner within a tent program for the past few years during my off-weekends. I’ve always thought that we offered a good program with knowledgeable tuners/coaches, reasonable rates, and most importantly, plenty of fun times and laughs.

That being said, I’m always looking to improve, whether it’s my driving or coaching, so I’ve got a few questions for you:

  • Have you ever been in a team/tent program? If not, why not?
  • If you have, what things kept you coming back each weekend or had you bailing mid-way through the season?
  • What do you look for in a team/tent program? Is it all about results or do you just want a cool place to hang out at the track? Maybe it’s just more convenient for you?
  • What are “reasonable rates” for a weekend with a team for you?

I know lots of us are father/son, dad/lad setups. My dad and I were wrenched all our own stuff for most of my life, I just happened to have a good friend in Scott Kopp who has had a kart team the past few years which is why I’m under a tent now. Of course there is a lot of pride and bonding that goes with doing it all on your own, but one thing I really have loved about the tent program is the camaraderie of having other racers around you all weekend, spending time with a second family and getting to know and laugh with others.


(Dom Callan) #2

TJ
if you want to know what Jerry at Kartworkz charges me, I can go over that with you. I guess you’d call it a tent program. Basically we show up at the track and drive. Jerry does all the hauling, prep, storage trackside repairs etc. also some light coaching but nothing formal.


(Dom Callan) #3

As far as what I am looking for, the ease of the program is #1. Also, having a place to hang out and talk/learn is really nice. Also, we are learning about how karts work (and break often). It’s all good and adds immensely to karting experience. It does get expensive though.


(Daniel Agee) #4

Back in 2007 running IKF Region 11, I was unofficially under a tent. I pitted with the owners of a shop and got some help tuning from them. I never paid any tent fees, but I did order 95% of my supplies from them. I enjoyed pitting with them, but then I went to college and was away from karting for a while.

I’m definitely in the category of budget, club racer, but I’m a dreamer. I’ve long had the thought of looking for a team for the convenience of it all, having someone store, transport, and maintain a kart for me so I don’t have to worry about all of that. There’s a lot that I’d love to do and try, but with a 3 year old and a baby due in September, there’s not much time or money for karting. I’ve been afraid to ask in the past, because I’m worried it might be one of those, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” type of deals.


(Joël Perras) #5

As someone who doesn’t have the ability to store and transport a kart but wants to race in club and regional events, I love the idea of team/tent programs where a full “arrive & drive” is offered, possibly with multiple configurations (e.g. lo206, rok, rotax max, etc.).

However, it’s like pulling teeth trying to actually find teams that offer this, not to mention getting their per-year/event rates, at least in Eastern Canada.


(Dom Callan) #6

I think, realistically, it’s $1000 a day. Well maybe 750 but figure another 2 for tires.


(Jim Maier) #7

Might be $750 for the teams with logo’d tableclothes. I am a cheap bastard and could not stomach fees like that. We race with Nitro Kart and do their tent program. It is all steak and no sizzle. I still get the father/son privateer experience there because I do all my own wrenching. But Nitro hauls the karts, gets them unloaded for me, then I take it from there. Between each session we go over our thoughts on setup with the driver and Nick Tucker. Then the kid goes inside to review data and video with a dedicated driver coach. Then the coach and Nick will do a more thorough review of data and make final recommendations for the next session that I implement on the kart. The comraderie having so many other drivers, mechanics and dads under the tent is great. Plus everybody freely shares info.

The whole arrangement takes the guesswork out of setup, and leaves the driver coaching to an expert. I get to focus on keeping the kart on the track. It works for us.

Most events are catered too so that those of us that forget to eat get fed. All of these things go into making a great tent program.

If you like the sizzle, espresso machines, matching flooring and $1000 fees there are plenty of those tents too!


(James McMahon) #8

I’m glad you brought this up TJ, because sometimes running under a tent can be seen as being at odds with the father/mom/son/daughter setups, when often it’s not at all. L

There’s a lot to be said for having to not deal with transporting the kart, having a tent over your head, access to quality tools and personnel.

I’ve run with a team, but it was literally a team/group of us that shared costs for transport etc. I traded IT work on the owners primary business for kart rental/transport/verbal abuse :joy:


(James McMahon) #9

Another option that might be workable for some (sorry to Segway a little here)…

Storage and or maintenance at your local kart track. That’s what I’m doing now. Mostly storage, because you have to drive to have maintenance :joy:


(Dom Callan) #10

I am used to speaking x2 as I run karts for me and my son. So, 1000 a day is about right for 2x rental, support, transport etc.


(Joël Perras) #11

My ideal would be: I buy the kart & engine(s), and it gets stored/transported/maintained/setup on local & regional track races. That would let me front-load some of the cost (and hopefully reduce the race-day fees), and have consistent hardware across the various races that the team attends.


(TJ Koyen) #12

Great info guys. Cheers.


(Nik Goodfellow) #13
  1. Yes I have, from factory teams, to large national teams, to local kart teams, to one mechanic and driver in a pop awning.

  2. Almost always budget, occasionally BS level. After a few years in karting you develop a fine nose for BS so these days I tend to spot it before I hand over any money.

  3. I invariable go arrive and drive, so I’m looking for value for money, data sharing and a safely fully prepared kart. I’ve seen teams that provide arrive and drive and the kart is breaking down all day because it wasn’t prepared or wasn’t prepared well.

  4. Ohh interesting question. So I’ve found through years of karting that teams give different prices to different drivers. Its more apparent at nationally competing teams and some are open about it (for example I don’t think anyone thinks Norberg is paying for his drive). I think it will entirely depend on the product you are receiving, I happen to be fairly knowledgeable about karting so i don’t really want to pay someone for info, I’d rather just pay for the kart and engine rental (and tuning bits) under a tent, so about $500 for a 3 day weekend at a regional event in a smallish no BS team. That would probably go up to $1500 for a big team at a regional event. Then a smallish team at a national event might be $2k and big team might be $4k, then something like Supernats I’ve seen prices ranging from $2k to $20k.

Additionally I’m pretty sure the $20k was someone being ripped off through a middle man and I think I may get better prices then most because I come with an expectation that I’ll be fast (perception is everything lol). Certainly when I was younger I was riding on the cash from other drivers.


(Dom Callan) #14

To add: since I’m new to the sport what im really paying for is the knowledge of what to do when things go wrong. It seems pretty much every race weekend I break something and I don’t have the knowledge to know wether the part has failed is a one off or part of another problem. There are multiple races this year where I would’ve been DNF. If it wasn’t for Jerry getting the kart working again between sessions.

In an ideal world I’d have karts stored at the track but as we race at multiple locations that doesn’t really work for me. But if it did, I could pay as I go sort of thing when I need help.


(Michael Zahorski) #15

I have not yet been under a tent. It’s been father/daughter time during the races. There have only been really 3 reasons that we have not been under a tent. The first is budget, as we have been doing what we can without spending that much extra. Second, she hasn’t shown a willing to want to listen to someone else (let alone me) until recently. And the final reason is that we just started regional races last year and only ran 4 last year, and 2 so far this year.

I can see some great advantages from working with a team, assuming your driver is willing to listen and try. I’d like the team to know that each person is different and adapt to them, rather than try to make the driver change completely. For them to have patience and try to get to know the person they are working with, so it is easier to connect and get results.

As for cost, I can’t speak to that since I don’t really know what going rates are for different teams.


(Tony Zambos) #16

Michael,
For the time being, I’d keep doing what you’re doing. Focus what she thinks is happening behind the wheel. Discuss with her the option of one weekend under a tent or with a tuner to see if there is interest. Feedback from an experienced racer can’t hurt. The important thing is to enjoy the time with you child.


(Xander Clements) #17

First thing I’d say is to clear with @NikG, about the top 10-15 ranked X30 drivers in the SKUSA Pro Tour and the top few shifter drivers are getting help, whether it be from a partial discount to a fully paid for ride.

But nothing in life is free.

Their value usually stems from both having the ability to run up front and make the team, engine builder, chassis, or whatever product they’re receiving look good. If the tent fees are covered along with tuning services, then the idea is for them to be a good data point for the team’s other drivers to judge off of, as well as coaching other drivers. You’ll find most mid-size to major teams in SKUSA have 1-2 “lead” drivers like this.

It’s nothing to get angry about, they just provide value in other ways than monetary. And they work, too. You’ll see them all there from set up day to Sunday night building up and tearing down the tents, karts, and putting away equipment. If you want to find out who is getting help from a team, see if they are helping the team build up / tear down or not and 95% of the time you’ll find your answer.

As for value to TJ’s question, in the first national “season” (3 USPKS races and 1 club race) I ran in 2014, I pitted with a small team and got a substantial amount of coaching and my dad and I got tuning help. A big plus was the fact that the club we were at pretty much disintegrated but there was no regional series to step up too, so pitting with guys who knew what they were doing eased the cushion of the jump. We transported our own kart, but did so in my parents’ minivan and not our small trailer, which saved probably $200 on the long distance races up north, maybe more since we were driving from Georgia.

I’d say most of KartPulse has grassroots racers and not necessarily the clientele the big teams feed off of which is “I’ll pay you xxxx dollars because I’d much rather show up to the track stress-free and my time is more valuable than that nominal tent fee (whether it be working and making double that in the time they save or just having money to blow)”. But, for the grassroots guys, it’s a mix of coaching and just a second set of eyes and ears to bounce set up ideas off of and really help “coach” or oversee the tuning side, so no goofs or slip ups happen like forgetting to tighten a lug, motor mount, etc.


(Michael Zahorski) #18

Tony,
Thanks! That’s what we are doing and having fun doing so. Enjoying the time with each other. Regardless of whatever she does, or how much better she gets, I’m happy to spend time and support her with this.

However, a few races back she finally expressed interest in getting some coaching. So this fall we will schedule a day to get coaching with Alan Rudolph at his academy. Also, Alan is doing a search for a Mini Swift driver to race under his tent next year, which she expressed interest in doing so. We put her name in the running, so now it just depends on what Alan is looking for. If he’s looking for someone that he can develop and show off his coaching ability, then we have a good shot. Basically, she’s starting to realize that she needs some professional help, which we will get her.


(Ryan McGuigan) #19

I just had my 6 year old out for his first lesson in his kid kart with Alan today. He did an outstanding job teaching and was really good to the boy. Very patient, playful, and good meaningful instruction.


(Michael Zahorski) #20

So that was your son that was posted on the Facebook page as a new racer. Very cool.