Fragmentation, Decline or Rebirth. What do you think?
I’d like to firstly congratulate Rob Jones at the MSA on becoming their permanent Chief Executive, a great guy with a strong background in karting can only offer positives for all of us. The title is a familiar culmination of questions I am asked with reference to where we currently are with ABkC/MSA karting. Unfortunately it could well be all of those before we get better! I’ll come back to that later but since December when I was elected to the role I have spoken to over 500 people in the sport, from indoor karting, to drivers, to Dad’s to teams, to Club Committees… you get the picture. Sometimes the question comes out “Colin are you the right person to lead the ABkC?” No I’m not!! Why not? Because I’m just a driver, a karting Dad, someone who at this stage has no desire to play the politics involved with the sport (I have enough of that in my day job!), someone who wants to see EVERY club with full grids and to see our sport recognised as a sport in its own right and not a stepping stone.
Taking a 4 month sabbatical from my day job that pays the bills has been eye opening but I wanted to put as much into learning what is wrong and what needs fixing within our discipline, but during that time I’ve had to develop an incredibly thick skin to those who wish to carry on as we always have and cannot see the struggles and challenges facing many smaller clubs. But the clubs voted me in as obviously they wanted change, more of the same apparently they did not, but I am more than happy to hand over to anyone with less of a vested interest in the sport than mine, my vested interests are to see numbers grow, to see clubs survive and prosper, to see drivers, officials and Dads leave the track having fun, to see the clubs unable to cope with the amount of interest that could be generated, to see the UK continue to win abroad… I care passionately about all aspects of our sport from that first indoor karting venture, that struggling club committee wondering how they can survive this year, the National Championships, the guys who just want to race and have fun, the people who can’t race because then need medicals etc.. I believe in reality, the reality of where we are is that there has been a fantastic job done in certain areas by the MSA and the ABkC over the years that most people are unaware of, but some truly terrible feet dragging in others and those are the ones that have now come home to roost and we need quick and decisive action.
Without clear quick and impactful decisions we can only head to fragmentation which may not ultimately be a bad thing but be under no illusion that Non MSA/IKR racing is continuing to grow whilst MSA numbers continue to fall, we need to provide better customer service or risk what we currently recognise as MSA/ABkC becoming the minority. Anyone thinking this is not impossible should look no further than Microsoft versus IBM, mid nineties IBM/Lotus dominated the spreadsheet market with a 95% market share with a product called Lotus 123, along came Microsoft with Excel, a product not so good at the time but it gave customers what they wanted, a simple to use spreadsheet and user experience, the rest is history as is Lotus which IBM finally retired that brand in 2013. Many parallels can be drawn from the business world as to our current situation, our shop window must be better targeted but when we finally get them into the “shop” make it easy to buy something!
During my interview in last month’s Karting magazine, I talked about fragmentation, decline and rebirth. This column gives you more food for thought and I’ll report back next month. Meantime email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org