Karting in Colorado is BROKEN

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    Greg Welch

    So lets try this again, on a day when the government shuts down maybe we all can simply toss some ideas out about how to fix our low entry numbers. NO arguing points, just voice your own opinion and move on, we need to get ideas on the table.

    The bottom line is that we as a community are doing a terrible job of driving new people into the sport. Whether this be because of cost, schedule, time commitments, or a combination we simply are not getting people into the sport and keeping them.

    Even with minimal growth in various series I think it is clear no one has the right answer for entry level karting in our state. The open series and the tightly controlled series have all done nothing to generate the new karter numbers on the broad scale this state needs.

    So hopefully under the watchful eye of the moderators to keep everyone in line, we can toss some ideas out so that none of use have to go race 5 people per class again next year.

    Cory Ross

    Figure out a way to get people to drive more then 20 miles to a track and you would be going the right direction.

    Ray Lovestead

    I’d throw in the idea that people aren’t connected to cars like they used to. Time was you had to work on your car to keep it running. Now in this age everyone is too busy playing video games or watching crap on youtube. I know I watch my share…

    There is absolutely nothing that can be done about that. And I don’t think there is much for us as individuals to do to grab the attention of other folks and push them into karting.

    There.. how freakin’ unproductive was that..

    I do know that every person I know is well aware of my karting obsession and I routinely promote my karting love to EVERY person I meet. So far I have sold exactly ZERO people on the idea..



    Greg, we’ve talked about this in pieces over the past year and it’s a huge concern. There were zero rookie drivers in Rotax Masters or Senior at the Track this year. If that doesn’t raise red flags with track operators throughout the state then we’re in trouble. We need new bodies desperately.

    This year marked 2 1/2 years of me being involved in karting and I remember being frustrated early because there is really no source that outlines the very basics such as safety equipment requirements, general kart tech requirements, what the basic types of karts are and lastly what are the driver requirements to be able to race. I’m probably more persistent than most so I kept researching but could see where someone who was doing basic research would throw in the towel pretty early on. It’s overwhelming. Without the presence of an adult Colorado Karting club, this issue is going to live and die with all of the tracks, including the rental tracks and how it’s marketed. There desperately needs to be marketing information available at any track to market competition karting to the thousands of people that come and drive rentals each year. If you get even 5% to make it to the track with their own kart, that’s 5% more than what we had this year. Maybe part of that marketing includes making available an arrive and drive rental with support for a cost that is appropriate but not unreasonable. Lastly, there needs to be a visible race within Denver that will attract the casual observer, whether that’s Pepsi Center or Mile High or some other venue through one of the local tracks or SKUSA, it needs to happen.

    Ray Lovestead

    I agree with what Russ is saying about rentals. I think there are plenty of people who’d be up for arrive and drive using rentals as the platform. We need to get peoples butts in the seats of the karts to hook and reel them in!

    As far as the difficulties getting into racing goes.. I feel exactly how Russ feels. You’ve got to be pretty stubborn about it and get in there and figure it out for yourself. There are no manuals or how-to’s for all of this. It’s trial and a lot of error.

    ONE large ACTIVE club would do the trick. We need to get to and stick to a level playing field for everyone in the state.

    This same discussion is (nearly always) going on over in ekartingnews.

    Jon Romenesko

    While I haven’t been around this stuff nearly as long as some people here (started racing in 2006), I’ve been around long enough to see several changings of the guard, and (far too many) people come and go. I feel like it boils down to two key issues (there are many, of course, but two big ones); cost and obscurity.

    Cost is obviously the #1, and will likely continue to be. Like it or not, this is a hobby for at least 90% of the racers on the grid. Some may aspire to be professional drivers, some make a living off the sport (track & shop owners), but chances are the guy or girl next to you on the grid has a job/school to go back to on monday, and they’re just doing it for their weekend fun. Seeing as its a hobby, that person is also likely funding things with their disposable income.

    Now, before you shout out “BUT MOTORSPORTS ARE EXPENSIVE AND IF YOU CANT AFFORD TO COMPETE YOU SHOULDNT PLAY”….I know. I thought karting was supposed to be a sort of ‘entry level’ grassroots motorsport, but when you’re looking at a yearly budget that could fund a Formula Ford, 1/4 Midget or similar, it looks a bit silly. Don’t get me wrong, high level karting is awesome and it absolutely has its place, but theres no reason it cant be affordable (relatively) to the weekend warrior.

    I know this sport is an addiction to speed for most, and whats better than speed? More speed! The only problem is that speed costs money (how fast are you willing to spend?). Maybe we need to accept the fact that the fastest, newest thing around isn’t always the answer. Its a bit frustrating that ‘entry level’ in CO has boiled down to a Rotax, which is ~$3,600 for the engine alone. The current crop of TaG engines (Rotax included) are quite quick, and a bit too much to handle for most new guys. Theres absolutely no reason that we shouldn’t have a clone/briggs and a Spec-PRD class, both of which you can buy a new engine for less than half that of a Rotax. A class like that would be just the ticket for bringing people into the sport without insane sticker shock.

    The other big cost in karting is fuel and tires. The initial investment doesn’t have to be huge (i started with a $2500 used kart), but the fuel and tire bills will quickly add up. A harder compound tire that can last (competitively) for at least a couple of races is whats needed. I love grip as much as the next guy, but for a club level racer there is no need for MG Yellow levels of grip. Whenever I run into a curious outsider, one of the first questions is always “how much do tires cost?” When you give them the answer, you can almost watch as any potential interest goes away. Grippy tires have a place in karting – if you’re running the SKUSA PKC, you should be running the same tires as the national circuit – and thats fine, but if we’re talking club-level karting where were trying to bring new people into the sport, we must have a cost effective choice. Otherwise, the new people quickly realize that they’re facing a tire budget that they weren’t prepared for and leave the sport. Fuel, to a much larger degree, is something we don’t really have control over.

    Obscurity is the #2 in my eyes. For whatever reason, karts have always had a bit of an identity crisis. Most people off the street think a go kart is what you can find at Boondocks, not a purpose built racing machine. Either that, or its a toy for kids. Whatever karting has to do to overcome this is beyond my expertise, but the biggest thing is selling karts to the public, AKA marketing. The indoor tracks are great, and they’re the perfect vehicle for this. Greg, I think you guys have the right idea at Unser to have a program that can ‘promote’ people from rentals to race karts. I’d be willing the bet that the overwhelming majority of people are first exposed to real race karts through a corporate event or just an arrive-and-drive at an indoor track. A lot of them have fun, some of them probably want more, and very few of them probably know that there’s something ‘beyond’ rentals. There are plenty of curious gear heads out there, but we need some way to let them know that we exist!

    As Russ pointed out, the learning curve for this stuff is damn near vertical, and that’s a big issue. There are barely any friendly resources online for a new guy, and the best thing out there right now is forums. Forums are great resources, but its honestly a bit old school if you’re a new guy who needs to ask questions and has no idea what to ask! It seems like only the persistent (or the deep pockets) survive in this sport, and the old approach of ‘ask someone at the track’ isn’t good enough anymore when some people don’t have the time or ability to do that. Yes, learning at the track is a vital part of the sport, but its not the only way, you should have an easy way to know before you go.

    For what its worth, these problems aren’t limited to Colorado, but karting as a whole. Just spend a few weeks on EKN and you’ll see that.

    David Fedler

    The people who run our government are broken. Karting in Colorado is simply a secret.

    To me, growing anything requires the creation of a mutually beneficial environment that creates value, manages cost, and results in a lot of fun. There are many steps required to create a sustainable racing “ecosystem” that will result in new participants and more retention. However, instead of trying to eat the whole whale, lets take it one bite at a time.

    Simple things that could be done over the winter to generate 10-30 new participants by April’s racing series include:

    Create Awareness Among Like Minded Individuals: Has anyone ever called the PCA, SCCA, NASA, BMW club, vintage racing clubs, etc. to see if they would be interested in having someone from the kart racing world “present” at one of their meetings? Most “car people” want to get their hands on anything racing related that is fun. If someone from Unser or TTAC presented at one of these groups or offered their facilities for one of their monthly meetings, you would generate awareness. That will get the adults. Tie in closer with the CJKC and kids renting at Unser for growing the youth population (have you seen a birthday party at Unser? Those kids are excited). Could we collectively generate 500 people who simply become aware that racing exists at a well organized level in Colorado? Yep…

    Which could then be followed by:

    Marketing and Promotion: Tracks that offer rentals should be marketing the racing series. It will create more business for them (more rentals, more parts, more entry fees, etc.). You see nothing at Unser, TTAC, Action Karting, IMI, etc. regarding racing series. Nobody is more thankful for guys like Scott at Unser, Stacy at GJMS, and Jim at TTAC than me. Trust me, I’m not bitching here… But how can someone participate in a racing series if they don’t know it exists. Website advertising isn’t the answer. Websites are for providing information to people who already know it is out there (i.e. I want to race at Centennial in the Racing the Rockies series and need to know when the races are or where the registration form is). Put up a flippin’ poster or two… Of all the people who show up at TTAC, Unser, IMI, Action Karting, etc. could we find 50 who would become interested in racing? 50 people from every 500 who become aware? 10%? Yep… I think Stacy and the GJMS guys do a pretty good job at this with a limited population in GJ. We should be picking their brains! Call the guys at Miller in Utah… they have a bunch of people racing in their series and a smaller population to draw from.

    Those 50 are going to be interested, but they won’t know how to get started. So then it becomes a matter of:

    Education: Offer “getting started in racing” seminars. I used to sit at Shockwave and take pictures and videos of Greg, Jeff, and Doug doing seminars thinking “I would pay for this information…”. Without education and the willing help of all the people in this community, I’d be lost (or at least significantly dumber than I am already). Take it back a step. Gather the names of the 50 people who express interest and invite them to a “how to get started” seminar. Cover the basics. How do I get a kart? What safety gear do I need? What do I do next? Hand out some discounted rental kart passes and racing simulator passes so they have a reason to show. Then invite a bunch of us existing racers to come in and share stories and SELL OUR USED STUFF! I’ve been able to sell virtually every piece of karting equipment I’ve ever purchased (that my kids haven’t broken or worn out…) and if I hadn’t been able to, I sure wouldn’t be buying so much new stuff… Then invite them to the track. Make them our “guest” at a race. Hell, some of them would even bring beer… Some of them would become customers!

    Of those 50 people, could we get 15-20 to at least try racing in some form (buy a kart, rent an “arrive and drive”, etc). That would be a really good hit rate. Would we be happy if we had a 20% hit rate (10 new people)? Yes!!

    To me, that is something that could be achieved and guys like me would volunteer to help. The total cost (aside from time) would be minimal (print some materials, make it look cool, etc.).

    I’ve got a lot of other ideas around building this ecosystem and leveraging the great work already done by the CJKC, the track owners both here as well as in Co Springs and GJ, and guys like Scott Falcone (racers who have stepped up and made things happen). Those ideas are for another day but all are based on the theory that the days of “I’m pissed at him and he’s pissed at me” seem to be over.

    Greg, guys like you and Scott F. can lead the charge. Business owners like Scott, Brad, JIm, JB, and Stacy will support you if what you do supports their businesses and makes them more money. It’s not complicated to at least raise awareness, promote the sport, and educate new people over the winter.

    Don’t try to solve it all at once. Think big, start small, and be ready to scale up rapidly.

    We all win.

    Annie says I have to go now…

    Greg Welch

    Now this is starting to move in the right direction… keep it up!

    Jon Romenesko

    Dave has some great ideas, especially in the marketing department.

    I wonder if any of the tracks would consider starting an arrive-and-drive racing program. Unser Racing does does league nights, which is some of the most fun, competitive racing that i’ve done in a long while.

    Hold a multi race event in the rental karts, where people can just show up and qualify for an A or a B main (depending on lap times). Hold pea-pick qualifying, random grids, reverse grids, etc to keep things interesting. Maybe prizes (free rental/test & tune session) for the top 3 at the end of the series? Hold it on a weekday evening (Wednesday? Thursday?) so that people don’t have to give up precious time on the weekend.

    Promote the hell out of the races to everyone who shows up to drive a rental kart, let them know that theres racing out there that they can do without a large investment or wrenching. Hold the ‘finale’ during a club race weekend so the racers can see what the ‘next level’ is like, maybe a Saturday so they see everyone practicing, but it doesn’t interfere with the club race weekend.

    Just a thought. Rentals -> arrive & drive -> club racing seems like a natural progression to me.

    [email protected]

    Great thread Greg, and strong replies throughout… especially from David.

    I’ll again state most of you don’t know me, but I’ve been around racing for 50 years last June. Raced karts in 1977-78 in Wisconsin, and in Colorado and beyond 1981-83, 1986, and 2001-02. I’ve also done much PR and related work in racing since 1975 so have seen the block and sprinted around it.

    A couple thoughts not addressed here so far, least not in these terms (we all know that hard tires would solve a lot… why that goes on is indicative of sport-wide oversight):

    1). HOOK THE NEW GUY!…
    In any economy and especially now, dropping an easy $10K on a reasonable setup and assorted bits and gear is a hard sell without the driver knowing what they’re in for. Spending less typically means losing, and few want to pay big for that. Has anyone observed the connections of success vs. longevity? How can everyone band to help the slow newbies instead of only the fast?

    I came into karting for similar reasons as David, falling desperately in love with racing at the right time for me, so it was natural. I did well straight away so it held my interest and justified expenses. But racing is waning everywhere and especially racing that relates to karting — meaning, road racing. I know some shops are offering arrive-and-drives and that’s a good start to a fix. But does a prospective racer know that’s available? Is it offered at no profit with the idea that real money might come later?

    We need young racers, and let’s face it, a late-teen to early-twenties guy faces obstacles I didn’t when starting in 11th Grade, paying my own way, in the late ’70s. Especially when in my early 20s, I had liquidity that’s tough to have now, with kids having big school debt, struggles to get paid well, high rent, and maybe most critically, not enough resources to add kart storage and specialty parts and tools and transportation to their fiscal cliff. Leading me to…

    Some of this goes on now of course, but maybe a group of dedicated tuners could help those who’ll otherwise never find speed. The investment would pay back in spades, IMHO. The only reason I was able to race again in 2001-02 is because Brad stored my karts and made shop resources available so I could race. It was great and got me to spend money that’d otherwise gone to other pursuits. I’d have been the Invisible Karter everyone wants at the track. My options otherwise were to buy storage, make a shop of it, buy a trailer, and add cubic dollars of other things not needed when storing at a track.

    I don’t know how realistic it would be for all tracks to build levels of arrive-and-drive programs that include those wanting to work on their stuff, but with personnel at hand for the education. Maybe offer the kart with storage, X number of tires and fuel, and $Y in credit towards general maintenance needs. And offer FINANCING, as I had to procure at 20 when it was easier to finance something so foreign to the banks. Without monthly financing, I couldn’t have raced some of the years I did.

    Let’s face it, this is a sport appealing to the ego on some level. When that ego is deflated, people quit. It’s all about reward vs. investment in my view.

    Best of Luck to All.

    Craig Mansfield

    :usa: Yea on bringing in new karters. We also need to take better care of our karters who are in the sport now so they will stay longer with a bigger enjoyment factor.

    What I have done in the last year in KART RACING FOR HEROES

    Three race series
    T shirts for racers
    Pancake breakfast for all drivers fathers day races
    Special placques for drivers
    Ninety five new drivers in rental kart team racers
    Press coverage of these events and media races
    Paid track owners for the use of the rental karts
    Business cards with event info
    High lighting the stress release of karting
    Open class races

    We would like to make next years series even bigger for the HEROES and the local karting community.
    A mini state series 3 – 5 tracks
    Prizes for class winners and high light special efforts by drivers or crew

    We need help to make this bigger and better your thoughts

    Craig Mansfield
    303 242 2929

    Eddy Wyatt

    Hello Craig

    I’m planning on running a limited karting schedule next year as we are making a move to NASA Racing in 2014. However, you can count on me for continued Kart Racing for Heroes support next racing season. Thank you very much for all you have done to bring the karting community together, recognize our Heroes, give them the opportunity to team build, relieve stress and put focus and raise awareness on impaired driving prevention. Have a Great Winter.

    Additionally, best wishes for Greg and All for continued success growing Colorado Karting in the future.


    Roger Miller

    Guys its purely cost and bang for the buck, and a lot of other stuff.

    PPKRC is doing everything you are all talking about, it takes all the other clubs and tracks to do the same thing. There’s a reason why folks get out or don’t even enter karting, Cost and Bang for the buck. NASA has gotten it right, they include everyone, they created classes for everyone, they understand that not everyone as a huge check book. They train entry level drivers, they have programs for just about every level of experience and Check book. They market their program, they have rules that make sense. The drivers respect each other and appreciate the track owners. You can run what you have to driving very high performance race cars all at the same event. The Race fees match the level of racing/driver/experience. They party/eat “together” at the end of each day of racing. The actually help each other regardless of skill level with driving tips.

    Guy this has been beat to death for many years, It about providing what the drivers what and need and doing it together at the same race on the same day. Quit dividing the masses and bring them together. PPKRC had it right, follow their model and you’ll bring back the drivers and attach new ones.

    There’s really no reason to have so many clubs, organizations with so few Kart Drivers, you really don’t really see this with any other motorsports.

    I like others had a great time in karting but finally returned to the big stuff, and found it to be more cost effective then karting.

    Roger Miller
    Former President, PPKRC

    Now a driver with NASA and having a lot of fun at a price I can afford!

    Tony LaPorta

    Wow Roger, you bring up GREAT POINTS! :clap:

    Lets look at that paragraph where you compare NASA to the lowly sport of karting.
    “They include everyone” Exactly! FInally someone brings it up. I cant tell you how many times Ive gone to kart races in Colorado (or across the country now) and have been excluded or shunned. Karting is VERY exclusive and you are only allowed into most groups if you know the secret handshakes.

    “They train entry level drivers” I remember my first kart race.. NO ONE worked with me at all or gave me any advice as to race procedures. At my first race at IMI I asked a track worker what to do (as I had no idea) and he told me I was on my own cause “This is karting! And everyone here hates you!” I thought this was the typical experience and headed out anyway figuring Id learn as I go.

    “They have programs for just about every experience level” Another solid point Roger. If only karting had a class structure to follow… Something based on a drivers age/weight. The classes could start with the letter “S” and numbers could be added on to the “S” to signify level… I don’t know, something like Pro racers could be S1, Semi-Pro racers could be S2, Novice races could be… I don’t know S3… Im just spitballing here, obviously the IDIOTS that run karting could never come up with a class structure that sophisticated.

    And my FAVORITE point you highlight in your argument….
    “They party/eat together at the end of each day of racing” Again I think back to all my times as a driver, and now even an announcer that I have aimlessly and hopelessly walked the pits at the end of each raceday looking to share a meal with the racers and teams around me only to be locked out or forcibly removed from their pit stall upon entering. I certainly don’t remember a SKUSA race four years ago at a particular Southern Colorado race track where the promoter/series director/race director PAID to cater a FREE BBQ for all racers, teams, family in attendance. All those racers, and parents who have invited me to their pits for a beer after a day of racing over the last couple of years obviously only extended the offer of a brew because they knew/know I am not of legal age and do it only to taunt me. Or better yet, they probably offered me the adult beverage in hopes that I do drink it with them at which time they will take a picture of me illegally ingesting alcohol and then turn the evidence into the authorities because thats just the type of people in karting.

    Roger, you have brought great points to this thread which was started to FIX karting. I wish you and your positive insights the best in the obviously far superior world of NASA racing. Us karters will remember you fondly while we stay here in the dark ages, beating dead horses. :bang

    Tony LaPorta

    Eddy Wyatt

    For many of us who have been in karting and motorsports for many years and specifically Colorado Karting, some of these comments/inputs on this thread come as another episode of Ground Hog Day. All great ideas restated. Having the opportunity to work with many tracks, shop owners, series organizers, sanctioning programs and racing teams, I can honestly say that what the PPKRC tried to do for Colorado Karting in the last 3 years covered much of what is being suggested on this thread. Regrettably we failed at getting the program supported state wide.

    Maybe now that these recommendations/suggestions are coming from new/other sources it may actually get the necessary support to get implemented in 2014. Good luck to everyone on what you all decide.

    For whatever it’s worth, in addition to the commitment I have made to the Kart Racing for Hero’s events, I plan to commit to entry level state wide series next year.

    Really, like the Arrive and Race (rental program) idea. It worked well at SBR in 2013 and would, in my humble opinion, be something that with the proper promotion, help bring new folks into the sport. The obvious real challenge is to get support from the track operators/owners who have rentals to make it happen, unless someone steps up with a fleet of karts to integrate into a series.

    Thanks Greg for getting the conversation started again and all who have provided positive on-topic input. Good Luck!


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