Just going off my own experience. Others may be different.
More importantly though, please don’t misinterpret anything I’ve said as being “pro-this engine” or “anti-that engine”. I was just explaining that cost is an issue regardless of what you run. Sometimes it’s upfront, sometimes it is in maintenance/etc. on the backend. I’ve been a member of the SCCA for nearly 30 years and cost is an issue there too. What they do well is provide an inclusive environment that allows you to compete on the same day with many different levels of budget through different class structures.
One of the problems with karting is the confusion caused by the “pro-this”/”anti-that” mentality. Yes, I’ve heard the “lawnmower” jokes when we ran the LO206 and I’ve heard the “wine and cheese” jokes regarding Rotax. Traditionally, we make it really hard for newcomers when we promote this “us vs.them” thinking because it adds all kinds of uncertainty and that keeps people from getting involved. I get enough of that from watching our government…
My perception is different than Roger’s in that I believe we’ve already changed this thinking in Colorado and we’re ready to take this thing to the next level. I think most of us believe the LO206/Clone engines are great for grassroots, club racing, and just plain getting started – I don’t think anyone wants to see them “go away”. Gone are the days of spending $1500 on 50cc Comer motors when we are just trying to see if the kids even like karting. We all get that dropping $3500 on a Rotax motor is a tall order if you just want to try it out and develop your skills. At the same time, if you want to race nationally, the Rotax and SKUSA classes are great – can’t say enough good things, these are clearly the way to go. Given their reliability, Rotax motors are an exceptional value on this level. My point is why can’t we have both? Why can’t a Masters group running clones share the same race track as a Masters group running TAG – maybe competing for separate class wins during a single race? The ALMS runs all their races this way. So do the SCCA/NASA groups. So do the PPKRC and GJMS club series.
If we truly believe this, then we need to make it easier for people to get started and guys like Les to continue racing at whatever level they are comfortable with. And we have to support each other (i.e. let’s be happy for guys like Scott who are out there racing and beating the Max Papis’ of the world AND the guy who wins the Wednesday night series at Unser). What we clearly need is a ladder system that promotes karting at any level and increases participation across the board. Something like:
– Rentals (There is clearly a large audience here…)
– Rental racing (Indoor/Outdoor, Weeknights, Sharing the same race day as a Club/Regional series, good for the track owners too…)
– Club racing (Cadets, Juniors, Seniors, Masters, Shifters… any chassis/engine with some form of rules/safety regs
– Regional/National racing (with appropriate sanctioning bodies, etc.)
In some respects, we’re at a low point regarding kart racing if we compare participation levels. However, the number of people in Colorado actually driving karts in a given year is probably at an all time high if you include Unser and all the rentals at the tracks. There are people who are interested and even more that don’t even know they’re interested… yet.
Make people Aware of the ladder, Promote/Market the ladder, Educate & Support people as they move up and down the ladder. Support the tracks and local businesses that support us.
Passion… (that’s Tony’s job)
Safety… (that’s everybody’s job)
Leave it better than you found it… (our government could learn from this one…)