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January 31, 2013 News
From the Publisher’s Desk - Looking Forward AND Back
 


Through my job at a professional motorsports journalist and website publisher, I am fortunate enough to enjoy the opportunity of attending big-time racing events from coast-to-coast, ranging from major karting competitions to high-level professional series such as IndyCar, the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am. Case in point. Last weekend, I made the trek down to Daytona International Speedway for my first-ever Rolex 24, and while the magnitude of the event was obviously the initial eye-opener, the second revelation was even more personal and exciting for me. Here I was, at the ‘World Center of Speed’, for one of the coolest sports car races in the world, and do you know what people wanted to talk to me about?

Karting.

It was hard not to bump into a driver on the pre-grid who didn’t get his or her start in competitive karting and they were all eager to chat about last year’s SKUSA SuperNationals, the recent Florida Winter Tour races, the shifterkart they just picked up to train with, or the incredible new facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. “What’s the hot series in karting right now?” was a common question. A strong Canadian contingent was also on-hand, and I spent time talking with guys like Michael Valiante, who is still deeply connected to the sport through his family’s karting operation, Italian Motors.

If you delve further into this ‘karting connection’, you find that they all had another thing in common. Most of these drivers have a shared experience racing on the club level of karting. Yes, they were all preparing to roll off pit lane to begin one of the world’s most prestigious marathon endurance races, but to illustrate the importance of karting to motorsport and to identify racing’s foundation, the simple fact is that they all started at a local kart club somewhere. They may have come a LONG way, but they all spent time learning the absolute basics of motorsports when they were wide-eyed kids running their first races at a local track.

I touch on this simple fact because it’s been a revelation to me of late. Last year, I decided to go back to my roots and put together a four-cycle Honda package to run at my local club, getting on-track with the Masters drivers. I detailed this new effort in a column last spring, and wrote about how much I loved being back behind the wheel at the same club where I got my start. This year is going to be much of the same, going club karting in Ontario and beyond, whenever my travel schedule allows. Yet this revelation doesn’t end with my own participation, however, because throughout the current ‘off-season’, I have pondered how we were going to evolve eKartingNews.ca in 2013. In doing so, I came to the obvious realization that for EKN Canada to grow, the sport and the industry in this country needs to grow as well. It’s certainly a symbiotic relationship. And I think that we can all agree that if we want widespread and sustainable growth, it needs to happen at the foundation of the sport – club racing.

I’ve been a karting journalist for 20 years now, since covering my first kart race in 1993, the inaugural Barrie Grand Prix. And as such, I think that I can admit with humility that virtually every karting journalist in the sport finds him or herself gravitating towards the upper end of the karting ladder when it comes to editorial focus. National level racing gives us, as reporters, a core group on which to focus, one that we can work with to build some aura of stardom for the very talented (and best funded) competitors in the sport. We find ourselves traveling to big races, which are certainly exciting and action-packed. But, in the end, the result of this focus pushes the foundation of our sport – pure club-level karting – into the shadows when it comes to the spotlight of our editorial. I do believe that promoting this level of racing is important, but not at the expense of the grassroots clubs from which a vast majority of us emerged.

As I took this into account, I started jotting down ideas, looking at participation numbers, and finally, we elected to change things up for 2013. This year, we’re going to jump back into the world of grassroots karting in a huge way. We’re going to be working much more closely with karting clubs from all across Canada, providing them with some affordable marketing opportunities, bringing lots of information to the website to promote their programs, and identifying the human interest stories that help describe why karting is such an amazing sport.

Essentially, it’s time to go back to my roots.

During the months that lead up to the beginning of the Canadian karting season, we’re going to be publishing 2012 season reviews from assorted clubs, and we will also be profiling many organizations to give them their chance in the spotlight. Once Canada either thaws out, or dries up, from the current ‘winter’ weather (whatever it ends up deciding to be), it will be the drivers, crews, families and club workers who will move into the limelight on EKN Canada, as we focus on telling the stories of the people in the sport. Race reports will always be part of eKartingNews.ca’s editorial program, so the major club events will be covered alongside the major programs like the Western Canadian Championships, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and the ASN Canada FIA Canadian Karting Championships.

Our small staff here at eKartingNews.ca is really excited about the coming year. It’s time to head back to club racing, don the helmet and gloves a few times ourselves, and start focusing on what karting is all about – the purest form of motorsports, which brings the racing experience to so many people, young and old. Once we get rolling with our editorial, please take the time to give us your feedback. You can always email me directly (rhowden@howdenmediagroup.com) or simply jump into the EKN Canada forums to comment. We're always posting to Facebook and Twitter as well, so feedback there is welcome and encouraged. We've got a new website design in the works for eKartingNews.ca as well, so there's no doubt that 2013 is going to incredibly exciting and productive. We hope that you're all as ready to get back to racing as we are.

Race safe,

Rob Howden
Publisher / Editor-in-Chief
eKartingNews.ca




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