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Karting in the year 1978: a history

JANUARY 1978

There were a record number of engines applying for CIK homologation at a time of world recession. There were models from the USA, France, Germany, Japan, Britain (Hewland, Zip, Fieldhouse-Upton and TKM) and, of course, Italy. We reflected on what had gone on behind the scenes at the World Champs at Parma. In a team match against Holland at Shenington, GB won 100cc and Juniors but lost the 125cc event.

FEBRUARY 1978

Mickey Allen, Deavinson Sprint/Sirio ST50, pocketed £3000 for winning the Hong Kong Asian Champs from Toni Zoserl, Howard Heath and Roger White. We examined Steve Elmore’s Zip TVM/Yamaha YZ which, for two years running, had won the 125cc British Championship. Doug Staplehurst filled us in on the endurance racing scene, British teams having won 5 of the 8 major events held in France in 1977.

MARCH 1978

A group of 31 enthusiasts travelled from the UK to South Africa for the British Airways Champs. The party consisted of 10 of the British 250 Team, 20 friends and mechanics and the Team Manager. Many motors with gearboxes suitable for karting were displayed at the Racing & Sporting Motorcycle Show at the Horticultural Halls, London. Two readers wrote in with their experiences of 100 Britain and Junior Britain.

APRIL 1978

The radically different French MTS motor, with its stepped piston, was banned by the CIK as it was deemed to be supercharged. South Africa beat Britain in the 250cc series raced at Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban. 125cc engine manufacturer PCR started to make 100cc models as well. We featured the Highfield Monokart, a monocoque bodied kart initially developed by three Hertfordshire teachers.

MAY 1978

100 International had 66 entries at the opening Green Man Champs round at Rye House. Mickey Allen was the winner. John Mills jumped into the River Lea to save a child who had fallen in. Barlotti introduced a drag-free braking system. We had features on the 50cc Schools class and Zip Kart’s two 100cc motors, the 48 and 50. After a year’s absence, kart racing returned to a resurfaced Tilbury.

JUNE 1978

We were privileged to have a behind-the-scenes viewing of the Tal-Ko factory. It came as quite a surprise to see how Alan Turney ‘a very ordinary youngster’ had developed into a ‘skilled craftsman’. Our article on the MTS engine resulted in correspondence both for and against the CIK view that it was supercharged. An article on kart bumpers featured a topless model perched in a Can-Am bodied Zip!

JULY 1978

Little Rissington successfully fought off closure and attracted 219 entries for its re-opening meeting. Fulbeck had 252 entries for the second round of the Green Man Champs. There was an article on tyre hardness and also coverage of Terry Fullerton’s wins in three major overseas events in New Zealand, Italy and Switzerland. The new surface at Tilbury reduced lap times by as much as 3 seconds.

AUGUST 1978

Lennart Bohlin (Star/Yamaha) of Sweden won the 250cc BIA World Cup at Morecambe for a second time at an event which attracted over 33,000 spectators. The GB team of Mike Wilson, Mickey Allen, Martin Smart and Terry Fullerton won the European Champs at Hagen in Germany. Stephan Deheul, Doug Staplehurst and Harry Lawrence won the Paris 6 Hours (held at Le Mans) on a Saxon/BM.

SEPTEMBER 1978

There were 400 drivers at the school champs at Wombwell. We published photos of the new Starkart factory at Morecambe and part 3 of our detailed series on tyres. Terry Fullerton (100 Int.), Kurt Luby (Junior Britain) and Jackie Brown (Junior National) won the RAC British Champs in pouring rain at Fulbeck. The RAC Kart Open Day was packed out with delegates, a far cry from the previous year’s poor turnout.

OCTOBER 1978

There were 326 entries for the first Silverstone Kart GP, sponsored by the Daily Express and Hermetite. GP winners were Steve Elmore, Owen Jones, David Griffiths and Paul Elmore. Dave Buttigieg won the 250cc European Cup at Hamburg. Protests by two drivers downgraded it from the European Championship. Kurt Luby, Dave Evans and Mickey Allen won the Green Man championship titles.

NOVEMBER 1978

Lake Speed of the USA, Birel/Parilla, won the World Champs at Le Mans, an event plagued by arguments over Bridgestone tyre availability. Future F1 drivers Stefan Bellof and Ayrton Senna took part with the latter finishing 6th. Mickey Allen was the top Brit in 5th. Dave Buttigieg won 250 Int. at Oulton Park. Jean Pierre Knops (Belgium) won the European Champs for Formula Europe at Nivelles from Emanuele Pirro.

DECEMBER 1978

Toni Zoserl won the Pacific Champs at Sugo in Japan, Ayrton Senna came 4th. The 250cc Goblin-Suzuki of John Sichel took part in the Bodiam hill climb and achieved 26.4s, making him 6th fastest. The fastest time of day was put up by Roger Willoughby in a March with 24.03s. Kurt Luby (Junior Britain), Dave Evans (Junior National) and Mickey Allen (International) won the six round Green Man Champs.