This is a recurring theme of mine, but I thought I’d ask again anyway as I’ve started watching Supercross again this year and it’s mint, and I have the eternal frustration of thinking “ahhh shame we don’t have this in karting”. By that I mean having something worth watching. It’s funny the dirt bike lads still moan about their sport dying, and I have to remind them they don’t know how lucky they are.
but my question is “why don’t you follow top level karting?” or “Why do you follow top level karting?”. By follow I mean in the traditional casual/expert fan sense rather than “oh look a live stream has popped up on Youtube”
I don’t want to pre-empt the answers, but I will anyway, certainly for the first question. Ignore this if you wish to just answer the question free from influence
I have described in the past that I feel the markets trajectory towards single-make helped entrench a certain insularity with competitors so we don’t have the ‘base’ of interested spectators (is this a worthwhile goal to have i.e fans), but beyond that the sport isn’t particularly followable anyway at the top. I do feel however there isn’t a true reverence for top level drivers. Deep down most karters feel they could win if given the chance. I watch Supercross and even there the mid to back of the grid (despite being TOP riders) are seconds off the pace. There’s no denying the top guys truly are the top. In karting I think there’s a thread of “yeah I could do well given the right equipment”.
We also have a multi round European Championship followed by a one-off World Championship race and in addition other one-off competitions (Winter Cup, Margutti) as well as other champions (WSK, CoF) that collude to paint a picture of confusion.
In addition there’s zero investment, unlike with Supercross, to present the drivers (Moto Spy etc…). I can name the top 10 supercross riders and each of their quirks a personalities, yet I can’t name you more than 4 or 5 KZ drivers and to be honest beyond Bas Lammers none of them I really have a idea about. FIA Karting has a dodgy live stream, and maybe a little nicely edited video post event but nothing more really. Obviously with major sponsorship and major manufacturer backing proper content is more worthwhile in the dirt bike sphere. I understand the why
Now one can put forward maybe ‘our’ way is the better way. Relatively speaking the big competitions attract good grids. But coming from the point of view a someone who has tried to push the sport from a kind ‘spectator’ perspective, it’s a shame we don’t really have an avenue for this kind of content. I tried but it was always a waste of time and money. The sport is so fragmented now.
I think F1 absorbs the eyeballs of karters more obviously, and thus if a backmarker F1 driver raced a kart it’d garner more attention than if Iglesias rocked up to your local track. Karting isn’t able to differentiate itself or break the shackles of the ‘ladder’. With supercross the riders are able to garner their own top level respect. No one ignores Eli Tomac because Marquez exists for example.
Now obviously Supercross and the like can attract companies like RedBull, Monster and so on. I think one cursory look at it (as well as MX) and it doesn’t take a genius to see why. I know from personal experience that these companies aren’t interested in the slightest with top level karting from a promotional standpoint. Or have yet to be convinced shall we say. So this will always limit spectator growth (i kinda like this idea of casual fans).
It may well be the case that the days of people watching karting are gone. I am comfortable with this. I’ve tried to get events off the ground, but it will require big investment I don’t have. Alas, it’s still something interesting to explore anyway.