Tent programs?

I’ve seen you guys mention “tent programs”. What’s that?

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So you know when you go to a big race and there’s big trailers with team names on them? Those are tent programs.

A tent program:

Provides a custom level of service to racers under the tent.

Services include:

Sales of karting equipment (teams usually rep a couple brands)

Kart prep, transport, storage

Kart mechanics trackside

All the parts necessary for everything

A group of folks to race with “team”.

Fuel/tires/mounting

Coaching/analysis

These race teams have mostly paid customers. Some big teams have sponsored drivers. (Guys like Norberg etc).

TJ is running one these days under his flag, I think.

Some teams like RPG compete at highest levels. Most tent programs follow a series or two. For example my guy Jerry would do all the f-series, gearup, Florida winter tour (skusa), and the Nats. Also worlds if son qualified.

The tent guys usually have a cozy relationship with race director as they essentially “service” the series racers with consumables and general repairs. The two have a symbiotic relationship.

It’s basically “luxury” karting for old lazy dudes like me or, in the case of the top programs, a business for folks looking to race seriously at higher levels and who are cool with paying for that kind of help.

My 2c. Others will have other thoughts.

In my case a tent program meant showing up at track Saturday am and kart was ready for me. Tent program meant getting third in final after blowing my engine in prefinal because Jerry is tight with John who lent Jerry his spare engine and got it mounted in 15mins.

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To elaborate a bit more on Dom’s notes…

Most shops/teams have a big tent at races to provide service to their customers. A tent program is essentially the shops or teams providing direct personalized service to racers who want help and want to pit under the team/shop tent.

These services can vary widely. Some people just want a nice spot to pit and be close to the shop if they need parts or advice. Some people need in-depth help tuning the kart. Some people want a dedicated mechanic/tuner to help them 1-on-1. All things a tent program can provide at different costs.

The full-on service would be a complete arrive-and-drive program with a team/shop, so you’d have no overhead costs. You simply show up in your gear and everything is ready to go for you, managed and prepped by the team. You rent the kart, engine, pit space and sometimes even the consumables are all on your invoice at the end of the weekend. Typically this is for guys who don’t want to have to buy a trailer or work on their stuff or store their kart, so they just can focus on showing and racing and not have all the overhead of actually owning anything. Of course this can be the most expensive route too.

And then as Dom noted, generally most tent programs have the shops “team” drivers racing and pitting under the tent too to provide a good data reference or to help guide the paying customers/less experienced drivers.

The main benefits of pitting under a tent with a team/shop like that are not only the convenience and availability of instant help or parts when you need it, but also having those known good drivers who can provide really powerful data and chassis knowledge throughout the weekend. This is part of the reason a team like RPG is so good. They have a handful of top-tier drivers all providing data all weekend, so it’s much easier and quicker to find what’s fastest for each corner and each session.

Of course this all costs more money, so it isn’t the answer for everyone.

I worked/raced for the Innovative Performance team as the “team driver” helping out and driving under the tent program for several years. Now I am working as driver coach/chassis setup guy under the Franklin Motorsports tent program. So that’s another benefit to a program like ours; you get dedicated personnel like me, where after every session I’m watching on-board footage to point out good and bad with each driver, I’m overlaying and comparing data between our drivers and finding what is working and what isn’t.

But like I said, every team is setup differently and the services they offer may vary.

Very well explained. In our area, there are really 2 categories:

  1. Full Arrive and Drive - You show up with safety gear and no kart
  2. Tent Space - You bring your own kart

Both have the varying level of support and options that Dom and TJ describe.

Interesting concept, something I haven’t seen (I don’t think) at the Cup Karts Lo206 races, but I’ve never been to nationals. I heard at SSKC you can pay like $300 per day to park “under the tent” with TB Kart and receive some sort of additional support. What that supposrt is, and what they provide exactly is unknown to me. I’m sure its a bigger thing at high dollar 2 stroke races.

Big races like Grands is where it is most common. Tons of factory support their. Giant tents for days!

This may also be a 2 stroke thing: we have tire changes between practice and pre. Also, 4 stroke seems more reliable since it’s not spinning at 16k.

Of course some of those monster 4 strokes that are running at 30hp are another story.

Huh! Well that’s interesting. Sounds like it could get Real Expensive, Real Quick!! :astonished:
It would be interesting to be able to get some coaching, and help in understanding the data my datalogger provides. But I don’t have a camera yet. Nice to know about. I can see where it would benefit the 2 stroke classes more than the 206 class, with respect to consumables and carb tuning. I imagine they go thru a lot more fuel, tires, etc than the 206 classes would. I’m still a noob at this, so it’s all DIY right now. Haven’t done a race day yet. Not sure I’ve gotten enough seat time yet to be comfortable with 15 other guys on track. Hell, I don’t even have a rolling kart stand yet, just a couple sawhorses!
Thanks for all the info, guys!

Anyone knows Tent programs in the Miami / Orlando area?

Everyone has to start somewhere.

True, and at the very top you’ll see some front runners that are not running from tents too. You’ll have to look hard, but they are there.

Gotta do what works for you.

That should he easily answered because of Florida winter tour. A ton of teams go down for that. Just moving this up so doesn’t get lost in shuffle.

AJ Myers Summer Nats performance a few years ago is one of my favorite high level karting stories. I get that he is AJ Meyers, but pitting out of the back of your truck between all those giant semis made for a pretty cool story.

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That’s who I’m thinking of, could not recall his name. I think Stepanova was another one. Turned up at NCMP for the protour with the kart on the roof of a minvan and came home top three… At least that’s my recollection.

Do we have any teams for @Pippen_001 ? I was going to say OGP but the track is closed… Maybe the team is still going?

He also was the one who won Rotax Grands on a “worn out” Tony Kart he bought for $900 the weekend if the race after he couldn’t figure his kart out on practice day.

I remember Kotyk pitting out of an open trailer pulled by a Miata and being on the podium at WKA races.

I don’t think the OGP team exists anymore either. Stephen what races are you looking to participate in? Usually a team/tent program has a series they regularly cater to.

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A bunch.

Parolin North America
JC Karting
AKT Racing Team
Zanella Racing

and countless more down in Miami. There’s a lot of teams in South Florida that make a living doing weekend day arrive-and-drives for novice drivers in race karts because it’s a better business model than driving up to Indiana for major races.

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Stepanova Nekeel. Bad mf wheelman. Although to be fair he usually ends up under a tent since he’s good enough and connected enough to get ‘help’ (sponsorship) like AJ. For a while he ran under RPM, and most recently with Crosslink.

The biggest thing tents are is convenience, peace of mind, and the perception that you’re not getting ‘outsmarted’ by being on your own.

There’s absolutely value in coaching, having an expert // seasoned veteran in the sport make setup calls for you, and in some cases, a nice catered lunch and full cooler within arm’s reach at all times.

That said, you definitely don’t have to be under one to win or be competitive.

I always tell people you could spend X amount of dollars on 10 races by yourself learning the sport to run up front or 1-2 races with a team and run up front. Difference being that in the case of pitting with a team, it’s like a drug – you still need it to get that high. But getting there naturally on your own, that’s longevity.

That’s the beauty of the spec racing that American karting is fixated on at the moment. You can buy the same engine and chassis Ryan Norberg, Brandon Jarsocrak, Connor Zilisch, AJ Myers, or whoever and run out of your own pickup truck. When they beat you, it’s not because their stuff was really that much better – it’s just that they are badass drivers and know how to tune their instruments.

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Yep. Jerry got me j3 x30s from nats. Basically getting a blueprinted broken in motor that is as good as one could hope for. Also slightly used since it was at nats so a good deal.

But, you don’t have to be a under tent client for that. At least with Bonanno and Jerry. You just have to ask em when nats rolls around.

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TBkart
Orsolon
Urace
Piquet Sport

Are a couple others. A friend used ANSA when he went to Homestead.

“Ansa was super helpful and friendly and urace as well” -Ethan.

For me personally, I’d like to get some coaching, telemetry, lead & follow. Basic chassis & engine tuning knowledge.

Something have the training in a weekend, followed by the following weekend a local race.
All this Arrive & Drive since I don’t live in the US, but I’m willing to fly over for two weekends to learn the way it should be.

Thanks for all the list of Tent programs, I’ll look into them.