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Karting in the year 1977: a history

JANUARY 1977

Our reflections on the World Champs at Hagen revealed some of the behind-the-scenes rivalry between the five drivers in contention for the title. The CIK announced that the European Championship for 1977 would remain a team event and was not open to anyone that had finished in the top 10 in the World Champs in the last ten years or was over 29 years old. A new ‘Coupe d’Europe’ championship for individuals was introduced.

FEBRUARY 1977

We investigated which firms might benefit from the demise of engine manufacturer McCulloch. Austria’s Tony Zoeserl won the first CIK Asian Champs which was incorporated into the 10th Hong Kong Karting Prix. We visited the premises of the makers of Star Kart. F1 driver Jody Schekter was pictured at the Essen Motor Show sitting in an 8 wheeler Taifun kart with rear wing powered by four Komet engines!

MARCH 1977

Doug Henline’s superb water-cooled special and Lynn Haddock’s self-built championship winning reed valve engine were featured in a look at the American scene. We examined in detail the DAP Corsair T81 100cc motor imported by John Mills and reviewed the gearbox-equipped motors at the Racing Bike Show. Licence figures in France and the UK were found to be very similar with 4021 in the UK and 4179 in France.

APRIL 1977

The major news in this issue was that 17 year old Felice Rovelli of Italy was awarded the World Championship title following an Appeal to the FIA, 19 weeks after the championship at Hagen in Germany. Leif Larsson of Sweden had originally been crowned champion. A feature covered the range of karting opportunities for youngsters including schools karting, RAC racing and engines from Radne and Rowena-Stihl.

MAY 1977

The Hermetite Zip team of Buttigieg, Gange and Hines locked out the podium at Cadwell Park. We visited Zip to see their latest products and stumbled across some tyres from a new manufacturer devoid of any identification markings. A couple of months later they were revealed to be Bridgestones. The running costs of 250cc Yamaha twin cylinder motors were said to be far lower than those for an old type single.

JUNE 1977

Sweden’s Lennart Bohlin, Poker/Yamaha, won the 250 class at Jyllands Ringen in Denmark from Martin Hines. The RAC Kart Committee invited comments on the proposed regulations for 1978. The London KC team beat one from St Omer in France at Tilbury. Very few of the French team spoke English, none of the Brits spoke French, but after an evening in the pub the race meeting the next day was hailed a great success.

JULY 1977

Mike Wilson, Zip/DAP/Bridgestone, at his first CIK senior event, was the sensation of the Jesolo Euro Championship round, winning two finals and finishing 3rd overall behind Andrea De Cesaris and Felice Rovelli. The first round of the European Team Champs for Formula Europe at Fulda in Germany was poorly supported with only five teams attending. The Italian team, all using DAP motors, came out on top.

AUGUST 1977

Lennart Bohlin, Star/Yamaha, won the World Cup at Morecambe. The entry in the 250 International and 210 National classes required ‘D’ Finals. Photos of Mike Wilson’s giant killing DAP T70TT were published. Zip Kart revealed their new 100cc rotary valve motor and the existence of Bridgestone kart tyres, The Hoddesdon based company had also just sold a batch of Zip/Yamaha 250s to King Hussein of Jordan.

SEPTEMBER 1977

David Coyne on a Zip/Parilla won the Estoril round of the Euro Champs beating future F1 driver Andrea de Cesaris who led after the first three of the points scoring races in Portugal. The main topic of conversation centred around the Zip (Bridgestone) tyres, one driver even offering his wife as part-exchange against a set! The 250 International races at the Isle of Man were won by Colin Olden. Practice started at 5am!

OCTOBER 1977

Mickey Allen won the 100 International RAC Champs at Rye House in front of 20,000 spectators and a 10 million ITV audience. We examined the winning kart and engine. Jackie Brown (Junior National) and Andy Cowgill (Junior Britain) were the other victors. The RAC Champs at Felton were won by Ian Williams (100 National) and Paul Browning (100 Britain). Martin Hines, Zip/Yamaha, won the 250cc CIK Euro Champs.

NOVEMBER 1977

After an Appeal, Mike Wilson was given his deserved win in the European Individual Champs third round. At the Brignoles 24 Hours the British team of Malcolm Paul, Roger Moth and Les Lilley finished 3rd using Zip/Parilla TT22s. On returning to their hotel in the early hours they were greeted by the landlord brandishing a shotgun! Moth threatened him with the plaster cast on his arm and eventually everyone went to bed.

DECEMBER 1977

Felice Rovelli, BM/BM, won the World Champs at Parma after victories in all three finals with Mickey Allen taking 2nd place each time on a Sprint/Sirio. The prizes were particularly lavish and we remember the racing as some of the finest we have ever seen. The victors at the RAC Champs at Rissington were Dave Buttigieg (250 International), Dave Cullimore (250 National), Steve Elmore (125 National) and Roger Goff (125 International)