As we inch closer to our Canadian season getting underway I wanted to take a moment and reflect on a topic that has been discussed quite a bit across the country but with very little being done about the chatter: event formats.
It has become the norm for major events, whether they be international blockbusters like the Florida Winter Tour or regional competitions like the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship to utilize the lacklustre club racing format of Qualifying, PreFinal and Final and repeat again on Sunday. In my opinion these race weekends have become very boring and status-quo and for events that are requiring massive focus and big dollars to compete in, this format needs to change. More bang for a drivers buck is required for our sport to grow in Canada and beyond and it can start with jazzing up our race events.
Last year the ASN Canadian National Karting Championships switched it up and once the format was clarified and confusing rumours were dismissed, the format was very well received. The same can be said about the championship finale round of the Florida Winter Tour where the series ditched the two-race weekend for something similar to what is seen at the CIK World Championships, albeit with a twist. With the exception of the progressive starting grids for the heat races, again it was very well received, the racing was elevated in many of the categories and when it was all said and done, only one winner in each category was awarded, as it should be.
Too much emphasis over the past half-decade or so has been put on giving everybody as many chances to do well as possible and it’s taken away the pure feeling of being the sole victor on a race weekend that started mid-week and culminated with a celebratory podium appearance, one that was not shared with a fellow competitor who also earned the feat only a day earlier.
For 2015, I really feel the ECKC and other major karting events in North America need to introduce a new race format to breathe some new life into each event weekend, but also some new competition. Give racers more racing opportunities instead of countless practice and solo laps.
Races don’t need to be long, especially heat races. There is no question almost all the ‘racing’ happens within the first three laps and the final three, so why run 15 or 20? Or a 12-lap PreFinal for that matter? Make them quick an desperate, forcing the drivers to attack or be attacked, always on the offensive and never just sitting back until it’s go time.
A change in format can also create some strategy when it comes to tire usage, where it doesn’t become mandatory to start each day with a new set of tires, but instead allow drivers to choose when they utilize the 6 or 8 tires they have available on a race weekend. Again, adding more excitement. The Western Canadian Championships did this last year with two sets of tires available for 3 race days and it was awesome to see the mixed strategies, some working out and others not so much.
While we feel only one driver should win in each category, if two races are required for an event, one idea would be to run two short heat races instead of the PreFinal with the grid determined by qualifying position. Inverting grids and forcing drivers to actually race is another idea, although at the premier level of our sport the leaders should not be penalized for being fast.
Finally, I will not go into whether or not a PreFinal needs to be included in every race weekend, especially following a round of heat races, but it would be great to see the organizers do something new for a change, especially considering 3 of the 4 tracks are on the schedule for yet another year and there hasn’t been much change on the ECKC front since it’s inception.
Using the poll and the comments section below, please let us know if you would like a new race format introduced at the ECKC and other major racing series for 2015 and beyond.
See you at the track very soon,