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Spec karts offer standardization

October 20, 2003
Filed under Features

One way to stop the fragmentation in the race kart industry and form some type of common bond is through what are called “Spec” karts. In Spec Class events, participants each run with a specific kart, specific motor and specific tires. No modifications are allowed, and each unit is equally setup to provide equal output.
A number of kart manufacturers are now offering Spec karts, but the Rotax Max Challenge (RMC), a race series implemented in 2000 and featuring Rotax karts — a unit of Bombardier Recreation — is arguably the most well-known of offerings. SSC Racing’s Joe Ramos says programs like the RMC are attracting many of the 30, 40, 50 and 60-year-old enthusiasts.
The RMC is organized by authorized Rotax distributors as a national competition in 32 countries on all continents. A 24-race series takes place in every country and leads up to the Rotax Max Grand Finals, where the best two drivers of each national RMC go to attempt to become a world champion. All travel expenses, accommodations and transport costs for the 64 qualified drivers and their karts are covered by the Rotax and it’s sponsors. This year, the Grand Finals take place in Egypt.
Although the RMC sounds like a serious and professional event, the main target group is people who may like kart racing but are turned off by the endless array of available performance parts or the difficult to understand race class structure prevalent in the U.S.
Rotax Spec kart racers routinely reach speeds of over 60 mph on courses that range in length from .40 to .75 miles.
The Rotax circuit highlights the driver’s skill by mandating that all engine work be done at approved shops to identical specifications so that all karts have the same power output. The engine used is the FR 125 MAX with no modifications allowed. The chassis type must be sanctioned by the Rotax distributor and/or Rotax, and the only tires allowed are Bridgestone YGK for dry and YGR for wet use, which were especially developed for the RMC. The 125cc engines are sealed at the shops and racers are not permitted to modify them before races. The chassis of the carts are also identical.
“What Rotax has done with its Spec program is brought the costs way, way down,” says Jim Boltz of the Karting Center at the Lynnwood CycleBarn, a Rotax dealership. “These things are designed to run 50 to 75 racing hours without tweaking. They’re extremely durable, reliable and require little maintenance.
“And that’s what I think is good for karting — bringing it down a level so everyone can have a chance to participate and be competitive without having to break the bank.”
For more information regarding Rotax and its involvement with the karting industry, visit http://www.maxchallenge-rotax.com.

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