Facebook power!

Other than being a fanboy, I’ve not actually done much in support of the TKM class but the Facebook group for drivers/dads/mechanics has taken off *way* better than I could possibly have hoped. It was never about numbers although 450+ in four months is good going; it’s about the breadth of people getting involved: from Super One to IKR to…even Tal-Ko (albeit indirectly). It is clear that the TKM community is very passionate about their class. Of course I beat the harder tyre drum from time-to-time but the most satisfying thread so far was seeing Tal-Ko ask drivers what changes they would want to see in order to boost the Super One entry numbers. It even looks as though it may have made a difference 🙂

I still think there is much to be done in support of the lower echelons and it remains to be seen whether Tal-Ko can come up with a reason for drivers to contest some of the ailing club championships (hint: costs). Now back to the tyres…

Promoting TKM

TKM doesn’t get a lot of publicity. I’ve always found Tal-Ko very helpful but their marketing campaign consists almost entirely of bigging themselves up when their team does well or when there is an opportunity to dispel some of the paddock gossip, be that proving that the Tag engine is as strong as its Direct Drive counterpart or the big bearing crankcase performing as well as the older small bearing equivalent. It’s a shame because it’s almost the perfect class: the engine parity is renown, there really is only a couple of tenths between most of the engines, and it is by far the cheapest class to start with 20+ years of engines out there on the used market. There is a lot to shout about and yet nobody does.

MSA numbers for TKM have dropped again with the rise of X30 taking a good chunk of the elite TKM drivers and IKR has been biting little pieces off of the budget end of the market. To give credit where it is due Tal-Ko have indentified Honda Cadet drivers as the Junior TKM entrants of tomorrow and have opened up the Festival to them. Hopefully they are rewarded with a good sized grid, we’ll soon see.

I’ve been mulling things over for some time and sent my thoughts to Tal-Ko last month. For me, TKM needs to establish itself as the undisputed budget class. Cheap entry to the class is one thing but, with tyres good for only two race days, engines needing a rebuild every ten hours and parts priced up there with the best of them, you can see why Rotax owners would quite rightly argue their case. Little can be done with regards the engine rebuild time, consider it the cost of such good engine parity but the tyres are another matter. The softer Maxxis New Age slick tyre was apparently introduced in response to driver demand for a grippier tyre and to enable to TKM to take on Rotax. X30 has rocked up and clearly displaced TKM as the Rotax beater. It is time for Tal-Ko to have a rethink; to take the class back to it’s roots. Imagine a set of tyres that cost £99/set and that were good for five races – now that’s a headline grabber. The harder tyre mandated for all five races of the series has been a hit at Clay Pigeon IKR. I think it would be a hit for MSA TKM. With cheaper tyres, I’d forgive Tal-Ko on the engine parts pricing! Can Tal-Ko afford to do something like this? One might question whether they can afford not to…

So what about promotion? I’m just one bloke who loves the class but I’m not going to be able to turn things around on my own. With that in mind, I yesterday created the Formula TKM Owners Group on Facebook. It was a spur of the moment thing, who knows whether it will fly. Hopefully it will engage the younger drivers who couldn’t care less about the mainstream karting forums. If we can get people discussing the class and sell how enjoyable the class is maybe we can turn things around. It’s worth a try at least!

Ahh, the exhaust cloud of a decent TKM grid...

Ahh, the exhaust cloud of a decent TKM grid…

 

Catching up

A rather poor effort on my part has meant a lack of blog articles of late. I blame the Karting Dad Facebook page for the most part – it’s very easy to type in one liners and move on (although I do recommend it for the little things that don’t get written up here!).

So what has been going on in my world? I’ve really just been trying to get everything sorted for the new season. I’ve mentioned before my deliberations over what to do with our chassis, in the end I decided not to get it blasted and powder coated – it just didn’t seem worthwhile. I also came to learn that it (what I thought was a 2010 EVR) was really a 2009 EVR! If you’ve been here a long time, you’ll remember that my original 2009 EVR was suspected to be a 2008 EVXX! There is a lesson to be learned here – remember, you can always ask Strawberry when they imported a chassis. So with two 2009 EVR chassis (I was given one in 2013 that was bent and that I had straightened but never used), I have decided that I’d quite like to test them against one another. We won’t be replacing either anytime soon so I might as well see if Junior finds any difference between them. I sanded, primed and sprayed both (after breaking the nozzle on my first can of OTK paint and covering the lawn) – and they look pretty good unless you get up close so good enough for me at least.

No - this is not the Strawberry Racing paint shop...

No – this is not the Strawberry Racing paint shop…

The ‘spare’ has also gone to the welders to get the front torsion bar welded in. In the meantime, I’ve built up the chassis that we used at the back end of last season and it’s pretty much ready to go. I was hoping to get to the track at the weekend but Llandow’s owner/driver availability can be patchy, especially at weekends and they were mostly full with arrive/drive bookings.

No bodywork - the extremists would approve ;)

No bodywork – the extremists would approve 😉

We’re also sweating on our MSA licenses after my tardiness in getting them sent off – the MSA quote a 15-day turnaround and we needed them 14 days from the day of postage! Fingers crossed…

Costs since last post: £28 – 2x OTK spray paint plus something else that escapes me! £20 – wedge for OTK steering boss; £15 – Strawberry Mychron/Alfano support for OTK wheel.

Total spent this year: £235