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Old Dog, Old Tricks - Musings On American Road Racing

Published By James McMahon     January 14, 2019    


As this is being written it’s been over a month since the Mid-Ohio adventure and I have to say the glow hasn’t worn off yet. You couldn’t knock the grin on my face off with a ball bat.

Once again I have to give major kudos to AKRAChampionship Enduro Series and the Dart Kart Club for proving conclusively that the roadracing community must finally learn to work together and pull together if we are going to not only save but grow kart roadracing. 

The results are unquestionable and this has led me to start a campaign to help this important, unique and distinctly American segment of kart racing in these United States. Bear with me while I share some thoughts, observations and possibly insights into how to accomplish the resurgence of kart roadracing.

First of all (observation coming), my experience at Mid-Ohio driving a Vintage Margay Enduro courtesy of “El Patron” Dean Axe took my mind back to a simpler era. The lack of bodywork produced an entirely different sensation, more raw, more of a sensation of speed, not to mention it was a whole lot easier to work on. Being able to not only actually see where you’re going but being able to see the track streaking underneath you is enlightening to say the least.

While I certainly have no issue with full bodied karts, indeed I was one of the earlier roadracers that began to seriously experiment with aerodynamics. What I am suggesting would apply to both laydown enduros and dedicated sit-up sprint racers.

What if we as a sport try to promote a change in the definition of a class and give a weight break to those that choose to go “naked”, or for those that are squeamish about exposed front wheels (I’m not one of them) a simple, bolt on nose similar to what is used on modern sprint karts with the sole purpose of protecting the front wheels. I’m not suggesting a new class, just opening up the rules a bit.

This would make it much easier, much less expensive and would furnish that aforementioned “Raw” experience without sacrificing safety or competitiveness.

I firmly believe that one of the obstacles to racers becoming involved with the more traditional roadracing divisions is the fact that these days people just don’t have the time, the resources or the skills to properly build a full bodies roadracing kart laydown or sprint. We need to make roadracing specific karts as simple to set up as a modern sprinter, bolt on the engine and accessories and you’re good to go with much less hassle, money and time.

Next we need to petition both WKA and IKF to listen closer to the needs of the roadracing community and to stop treating us as little more than a nuisance. AKRA seems to get it, obviously CES, Dart Kart, Michigan Kart Club and KART do as well, I think it’s time for the two oldest karting organizations to remember at least some of where they came from to begin with. If you study the history of both WKA and IKF you will find that roadracing (enduro) was a major force that helped them to grow through the years.

With the dearth of karting media these days we as a community need to ring our own bell as often as possible. Write into the karting forums, share on social media, tell everyone that will hold still what they’re missing. Thankfully is in our corner and I know that their heart is in the right place.

If you aren’t already a karting roadracer here’s some reasons that you should be.

1) Track time, over the Mid-Ohio weekend I was on the track for over three hours and didn’t run every session.

2) Unique and often beautiful venues many of which also host major racing events that you have undoubtedly watched on the tube.

3) Speed, there is something magical about achieving some real velocity. Add 30+ MPH to your average sprint racing speeds.

4) Add a whole new aspect to your racing experience. Strategy, tire preservation, real drafting, and endurance can really flesh out the the thrills of competing compared to the normal ramming and jamming that happens at sprint tracks across the country week in, week out.

5) See what it’s like to have drivers respect one another without beating and banging . It’s kind of nice to not go through a case of brake cleaner every week trying to remove the rubber marks from the bodywork.

This article is just scratching the surface of what needs to be done to bring the image of kart roadracing to the public consciousness. There will be more to come.

I welcome your feedback, comment below with your views and suggestions.

Offers of an IndyCar ride can be sent directly to: [email protected]

You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!!!!!

***Greg Wright is the owner and operator of Rapid Racing in Clermont Indiana, a full time, full service kart racing supply since 1983.***

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