Let's compare kid kart racing to NASCAR.
Now obviously there is no horsepower comparison what so ever, but there are a couple of points I want to make to keep some new kid karting parents from getting all wrapped up in trying to find the best engine and chassis out there that they can possibly find and afford. Just because an engine or a chassis has won a Regional or National event doesn't make it worth 2-3 times what a used chassis or other blueprinted engine is. Share a quick story with you, I have been in contact with a gentleman that spent over $3,000 (not a typing error by the way) for a Comer C51 motor because it was advertised as setting the fast lap time at a National event. He was truly excited with his purchase but when he got it and bolted it on, he found it would not get out of its own way, his practice motor was faster and revved higher. (He sure does feel like an idiot now, and I feel for him a bit). What he forgot to consider is all of the other factors that got that engine to set the fast time at that particular event. As a matter of fact, now that I think of it I am in possession of a WKA National race winning engine, and I guess I am sitting on a gold mine. Sounds GREAT doesn't it. Now, let me tell you the rest of the story. The event was a WKA Gold Cup race in Charlotte, NC and there were only 4 kid karts in attendance, for one of them it was their first kart race ever, another one of them popped a chain midway through the feature and the third karter, made contact with lap traffic and spun with two to go.. Did I lie to you telling you it was a National winning motor?? Of course not, but did I really give you an honest reflection of that motors capabilities? Not at all. My point is anyone can market a motor to pretty much be anything they want it to be. Unless you are physically there and buy it as it clears tech, you will never know exactly what you are getting and that is where trust comes in. You have to ask yourself who do you trust? I am not saying you need to trust me, not asking that at all. What I am asking is that you do some homework and be responsible in your decision making process by not letting advertising scams lead the way. Do you really want to trust someone that all they do is hype up every little thing they accomplish, and use unnamed customer testimonies? Sort of makes you wonder why they won't even brand their engines. Think about it for a second. For all of you that have been to a competitive kart race and looked around what do you see? 99.9 % of the engines and karts are advertised. You see them all Pitts, Woltjer, Fleming, Adkins just to name a few along with my personal favorites Comet and CRP :). If you have a good relationship with your builder, why wouldn't you want to advertise for them? I can only assume that if they had a decal on theirs it would give tech just a little hint to maybe check a bit harder due to their win at all cost approach, or is it because the purchasers realize there may be just a little embarrassment that comes along with spending 2-3 times what an engine is worth?? Just because you have the money it doesn't guarantee you a win, and that is where the NASCAR comparison comes in. You don¡¦t think every single weekend that Dale Jr, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and all the other drivers have the absolute best equipment and pit crew money can buy? Do they win every race? No they do not, not even close. If that was the case they would all come across the finish line 43 wide... Most seasoned racers know for a fact that there are hundreds of other factors that go into winning a kid kart race, and that is what I am trying to convey to you with this message.
Kid Kart parents are notorious for not knowing or forgetting this, when it comes to wanting to see their child succeed. Human nature? Maybe but it should also be human nature to do a little research and make the best decision to reach your goals. Don't just listen to me, talk to people that have been there before. I can guarantee most of them will tell you that have been down the road before there is no easy path, and it sure doesn't come from buying overpriced equipment. Again find someone you trust, talk to them, pick their brain and learn what true racing is all about having fun at the track, dedication and hard work.
Cadet Racing, Moving up or moving on?
I want to address a couple of issues and some questions I have been receiving on moving up from kid karts to cadets or Yamaha Jr. Sportsman. It is true that stepping up to the next level is NOT easy by any means. But if it was easy, wouldn't everyone be racing cadets? It is a huge jump in not only horsepower but chassis tuning ability as well. It is much easier to tune a chassis in kid karts than it is in cadets without question. The speeds that you will reach in cadet will definitely poise more of a setup challenge to you and tuning and scaling will become much more relevant in racing these classes. Even the most seasoned and successful kid kart drivers and teams will often struggle in this transformation. I rarely see, if ever, those that dominated in kid karts move up to dominate in cadets, it usually takes a season just to get up to speed. Before you go bashing me, there are few exceptions. Especially for those that have the 100¡¦s of laps logged in at their home track, but then move them to an unfamiliar track and watch them struggle. A couple of areas cadet parents need to get smart on right away are gearing and carb settings. Gearing was a no-brainer in kid karts (89) and as far as carb tuning you basically had 5 choices of jets and most of the time you ran a 57 or 58. The Tillotson carb is a whole new ball game and it will require patience, good note taking, proper plug and temp readings and learning to use the graph on your MyChron. Even the best built K80 motor in the sport won't run worth its weight if the carb is not tuned properly. Once you have it dialed in, you will know and the lap times will prove it.
The good news is there are plenty of people at the track that will help you along, most of us know that when it is all said and done it's the drivers race to win in the first place, but that is an entirely different topic all together. If you do not have folks willing to help, you are racing at the wrong track. The best advice I can give you is grab a decent chassis, and a blueprinted engine and get the seat time, this will pay dividends. Get out there on those practice days every chance you can get and just let them drive, drive, drive. Don¡¦t go putting your young 8-9 year old out there and expect them to be running up front with the seasoned 11-12 year olds. It will make their adventure not so much fun. Explain to your driver there is a ladder that they must climb to get to the top, and right now they are on the bottom rung. The other good news is, all those parents that have been cheating with their kid kart engines and having their child lap everyone not even using the proper driving line. Well, that is now going to come back and bite them. For those of you who have been running legal and learning the proper line, passing in traffic and the craft of racing, well that is going to pay dividends for you now.
Just a bit of advice to Karting Parents.......
Identify skills early on. If your child wants to participate in kart racing, be realistic about their ability. If they are is just within the age requirement, make sure that they are able to physically handle themselves. Maybe do a test drive or a few practice days in a borrowed kart and see if racing really is for your child.
Don't blame yourself for your child's talents or failures. Disappointment may stem from your own youthful dreams or your sense of personal responsibility. Encourage them to try their very best in a positive manner and support them even when that isn't good enough to win the race. Sometimes the only way to do that is by lending a sympathetic ear. Later, offer to help them practice their skills or go over things like driving line, trail braking etc...
Prevent burnout. If kart racing starts to get in the way of schoolwork or simply having fun, then it may be time for your child to scale back or take a break. Ask your child if they are too tired or if they think they are working too hard. Discuss your concerns with the child, and help your child set priorities.
Stay positive. Don't be hard on your child if they lose a race or fail to qualify. They are bound to to have their bad days, no matter how often they practice. Focus on their efforts, NOT the final outcome. Every finish is a victory if you make it seem that way to the child.
Set a good example. Good sportsmanship starts with you the parent. If your child spots you kicking and screaming at the track, they learn that it's acceptable for them to do so too.
Let kids be kids. Your child needs time to socialize. Unstructured activities with their peers give them time to recuperate from the pressures of the competition and other things like school.
We here at CRP are responsible for developing the most important part of the kart racing equation. Sure having a good motor is important and having a chassis properly tuned for that day's racing conditions is a huge advantage, but the most important part of the equation is that young boy or girl sitting behind the wheel of that machine.
I will tell you without hesitation I do not claim to be "the world's expert on these engines (Comer C51)" like some folks falsely do, and I haven't attached myself or my Company to one particular chassis manufacturer then bolted on a couple high performance parts and try to hype it up and claim it is the best ever. Honestly, I could care less what brand chassis you choose to own, if you do not have it set up correctly it is not doing your driver any good to begin with. There are truly many great chassis manufacture's out there.
Karting, as with most challenges in life, are so dependent on the mental state. I would say 80% of karting is mental. The focus and concentration needed to be at the top of your game in any sport is what we like to focus on. We teach kids how to be a great winner and how to accept the fact that it isn't always going to happen. I can only assume if you are taking up this sport that you have your child's best interests in mind, I can assure you I do as well.
One thing, I can tell you that no matter what "Team" you decide to try and be a part of, we at CRP are doing what we do for the right reasons and anyone that has ever dealt with us or been a student can attest to that. I would challenge some of you others out there that claim to be in the sport for the kids. to take a long look in the mirror and think again, because if you truly are your words and action clearly are not showing it......