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Karting in the UK - The Future?

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What are your thoughts on where Karting is heading?

Having been back in the seat for the last 6 years, I have seen quite a lot of unrest in the karting community.

The introduction of IKR (Non-MSA Racing)

Demise of Rotax

Boom of X30

Failure of KF/Introduction of OK.

To name just a few!

Going over all the classes available, what's right, what's wrong in multiple discussions over the years, it inevitably raises the question of where is the sport heading?

With current technology, are people less attracted to motorsport and karting? Would they rather sit at home wearing their Oculus Rift playing racing sims than get up at ridiculous times in the morning, after a week of prepping their gear to be on track for about an hour and a half in total?

Are there members of the younger generation who want to put in all the time and effort?

Is Arrive and Drive the future of karting?

Can Owner Driver karting survive but on a smaller scale?

Can it be revived with an entirely new model?

I'm interested to hear thoughts on the issue.

My own personal view is that Arrive and Drive series (Club 100, BUKC, Daytona Max etc) will gain in popularity. There is still a need for drivers to go fast, but without the hassle of owning and maintaining a kart.

Owner driver karting will continue to see strong grids in Cadet and Junior Formulas, because let's be honest, if you want your little one on "The Ladder to F1" you will pay a team to get him/her out on track.

Senior Karting?

I honestly don't know. It may just carry on struggling at club level, with LGM, S1 and the likes staying popular. 

KZ grids may continue to attract the remainder of the senior club grids.

I only have a limited experience of karting, mainly from a drivers perspective. We are hoping to get opinions from individuals from all areas of the sport. Hopefully, some well respected and highly experienced Team owners, Promoters, Drivers and representatives from various organisations.

I'm interested to hear from younger members, as that's what we are talking about here. Where do they see the sport heading?

I don't really want this to turn into a "What we need is these tyres in this class, and get rid of this class" unless it's part of an entirely new model for karting.

Please let's keep it constructive, we are not discussing a "Problem" here, we are discussing where we think the sport will be heading.

If users could give a brief background of their experience, it would really help.

Bio,

I have been racing on and off for 15 years. Started in non-MSA at Woodthorpe kart club in Honda C70 then 100 Clubman, 100 Standard (Water cooled), Senior Rotax at various circuits around the UK and Scotland and now KZ UK in Super 4.

 

 

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Interesting read and you bring up some very good points.

I can speak from experience about younger people being less attracted to karting. My younger brother who is 19 is a big fan of motorsport and really enjoys his online racing games. However, when i was racing at my parents local track, I offered him the chance to have a go in my MAX and his response was a shrug of his shoulders... Like he wasn't bothered.

I have taken him to a local corporate track in the past and he was really good only being slightly slower than myself (which admittedly scared me!). I believe he and many others his age get more enjoyment out of just picking up a controller and within 10mins you are racing against other people from around the world on your favourite race track and in your favourite race car which is impossible in real life without leaving the comfort of the house.

 

Bio

I started karting 3 years ago where I began in Endurance Prokart racing at various UK tracks then moved to Senior Rotax at the start of this season.

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I find it very difficult to see much change in the future of karting, not just in the UK but in Europe also. For positive change to happen I think it would take a sizeable investment by an individual or entity with the financial clout of Paul Fletcher or the Mills family for example. They would have to form a stand alone owner driver kart racing enterprise with it's own set of rules and regulations and especially procedures for dealing with valuable customers like , say, Club 100, Easykart and the now defunct Stars of Tomorrow have made big efforts to. This enterprise would stand on it's own two feet as two of my examples did or be a financial failure for reasons outside of the scope of this post. The model I'm taking inspiration from for this enterprise is NASCAR.

There are no other examples that I can draw on for a more successful motor racing series than that. I'm talking specifically about the organisation of the championship and the promotion of it. There is much that can be learned from how the France family made it what it is. I'm not even a big fan of the racing in NASCAR but studying the history of it is worthwhile for anybody interested. Basically the buck stopped with the top man, what he said went and if the competitor wasn't happy then they would be invited to leave. No transgressors remained unless they completely reformed themselves into getting with the program, so to speak. A bit like how John Vigor runs Club 100 and I have never heard a bad thing said about how he runs his championships by his best customers!

I'll speculate that it may well be possible that in the near future, the most common reason that anybody will do MSA sanctioned kart racing will be to get their license upgrade early enough to do F4 at 14 years old, especially if LGM/X30 tour goes IKR! With the ridiculous maximum weights in the OK classes it is not a stretch of the imagination that the CIK fully intend on their karting classes to be a training ground for junior car drivers....

What I'm about to say may be controversial. I feel that the current way the Kart clubs are structured is a major part of the problem. Until this structure is reformed, reduced or recycled into something else, there will be no change for the better. 

There is considerable fossilisation and rot in the current ABkC structure, despite their best intentions. However what has happened is that they have succeeded in preserving the status quo in an organisational and promotional sense circa 1987 and allowed the sport to have a rough tick over without adding any real value for the competitor/customer.  

The sport is full of rent seekers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking. There is little appetite for change beyond more regulations that at best annoy the existing customer and, as I've seen many times, drive away those senior drivers who enter the sport with their eyes wide open only for them to chose a suitable level of car racing, budget-wise,  than endure the very steep learning curve, intimidating elitism and lacklustre enforcement of driving standards in karting.

There is still I believe untapped potential in karting, particularly the gearbox karting in the UK, however as many have pointed out and I have to agree with them, the simulators/games some people play are making a serious dent in not just our sport but on all motor racing on 2 and 4 wheels. I can see why. It's highly social, very competitive and you can compete on cheap and even used hardware that doesn't have any need for you to get your hands dirty or pay someone a small fortune to do that for you. Also the risks, financially and personally are nothing. I like a physical challenge so doing it for real will always be my first choice, however the enjoyment to spending ratio is stacked firmly against real racing for the majority of the population. Karting like all forms of motor racing will always be enjoyed by those who can afford to do it so it will always be somewhat elitist. As long as there is a market willing to spend money on it, we should be doing our best to provide them with better enjoyment, fairer racing and a consistently positive experience from an organisational perspective. Currently there's not many happy faces in kart paddocks.

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