Who’s at the heart of karting
In Part 2 of our World of Karting series, we focus on the engine manufacturers and electronics suppliers around the world.
IAME company, defines itself “The heart of kart” and somehow this is true. Bruno Grana, the founder, used to work in Moto Parilla. He fell in love seeing the first kart built in 1958 and just a year later convinced Mr Parilla to enter the karting World. Later he created Komet, a brand completely dedicated to kart, together with his colleague and friend, Cesare Bossaglia, whose book, “Il motore due tempi ad alte prestazioni” (Two-stroke high performance engines) is something incredible which should be read by two stroke engine enthusiasts. In 1968 Parilla and Komet joined into IAME, “Italian American Motor Engineering”, showing a strong relation with the US. IAME actually exists since kart was born, the oldest company in the karting World still at the centre of the scene today. With its 28 World titles and presence Worldwide IAME produced today around 6000 engines, with potential of 9000 with more than 30 engine variations.
IAME engines throughout the years have always been recognized for and extremely high quality of materials, precision in production and consequent high reliability.
The history of IAME is strongly linked to Italsystem. In 1946 Giovanni Parilla founded the Moto Parilla company, which designed and manufactured successful motorcycles. In 1959 the first rotary valve engine for karting was designed by Giovanni Parilla with the contribution of Cesare Bossaglia, a mechanical engineer. The US version of this engine was named “Thunderbolt”, the Italian translation is “Saetta”. In 1962 Saetta Company was created, which manufactured go-kart engines, with Giovanni Parrilla as the managing director. Results in competition and commercial areas exceeded expectations from 1962 until 1968, when Giovanni Parrilla retired and the company closed. In 1970 sons of Giovanni, Angelo and Achille Parrilla founded DAP to manufacture go-kart engines. In 1979 DAP began to manufacture go-kart chassis as well. In 1980 DAP designs a go-kart chassis that revolutionizes the technology known at that time, creating a new a reference: the Greyhound. In 1991 Achille Parrilla founded “Italsistem”, to manufacture go-kart engines, winning a year later the Formula A European championship. In 1995 Italsistem wins Formula A and Formula Super A world championship. In 1997 Italcorse is born to manufacture leading-edge kart chassis. In 1998 Italsistem built the world’s first front rotary valve engine.
Vortex, part of OTK Group, forged its reputation within the motor-sport arena as a workshop for the preparation of race engines. During the 1990’s Vortex expanded its capabilities, and became a factory which was able to design and manufacture winning engines.
Activity first began during the 70s when Giovanni Corona created a two-stroke engine for motocross use and laid the foundation for numerous victories and huge success in competitions. It was realised that the engines used in karting have important resemblances to the two-stroke engines used in motocross. The key affinities were outlined by Corona who once said “… The engines used in motocross and karting have very similar characteristics. In both applications it is vital to have a lot of power at low speeds…” In the early 90s, Mr. Corona brought Vortex into karting, and not before long Vortex began to conquer the international karting scene. Working together with long time partner Tony Kart, Vortex gained many victories and enjoyed the taste of success. During the late 90s, Vortex Continued to grow and within a few years Mr. Corona, together with his partners, was able to invest in an advanced technological structure for the company, and additional personnel. Today Vortex is strongly linked to Tony Kart and partially owned by the latter.
Vortex has launched in recent years a successful single-brand category, the Rok, with its 5 different classes: Mini, Junior, Rok, Super Rok and Shifter Rok.
Based in Pesaro, on the Adriatic coast, is another incredible Italian engine producer, TM. It all started way back in 1976 with two friends, the pioneers of tm, Claudio Flenghi and Francesco Battistelli (or rather “Mr Engine” and “Mr Frame”). Thanks to the excellent quality and high performance of their motorcycles, TM became in a few years a force to be reckoned with.
At the 1977 Milan Motorcycle Show TM was to gain unexpected success that would urge it to move its premises from Flenghi’s small workshop to a new and well equipped factory located in the Pesaro. It was in exactly this period that the Serafini family stepped in to become part of the organization. The philosophy that has always distinguished TM is without doubt the choice of materials, which must always be of the highest quality, and the workmanship, even defined by some as “obsessive”, not to mention the high performance of the engines used on the standard bikes, in many cases far superior to those of the most prestigious competitors. Today TM has an incredible range of engines and up to 14 motorcycles in Enduro, Motocross and Supermoto. In karting TM is a leading engine designer and builder with KZ and KF classes engines. TM sells engines and motorcycles all around the World, from Europe, to US, to Australia to South America to Asia.
There are many other Italian engine manufacturers are on the market such as Pavesi, expert in the design and production of 125 cc engines with clutch. Motori Seven, born in 1978 and also producing engines for Mini GP. Seven in present in Europe and US. CRS was created in Montecchio in 1997, thanks to Gilberto Frattesi, technical expert and owner. Other firms are DeBei and SGM engines, also producing the Velox chassis.
When BRP started its kart engine business in the 1980s, the company dominated the market because of its extensive experience in high performance 2-stroke engines. Rotax engines won the most kart racing titles.
In 1995 with extremely tough market competition the Company needed to make a strategic decision – either move ahead with the kart business or stop completely. To fulfill the customer’s needs, it was necessary to develop a completely new engine technology: easy to handle, less maintenance, technical continuity and durability – all this to keep the costs for the sport under control. The company decided to move ahead and set standards by launching a new engine concept in 1997, based on its extensive experience of 2-stroke technology for recreational applications: the Rotax 125 MAX engine.
In 2002 BRP launched the 125 MAX DD2 engine with direct drive (no chain) in combination with a two-speed gearbox (operated by means of shift paddles on the steering wheel) to continue its pathway towards low maintenance as well as challenging products.
Today Rotax is owner of the most successful single-brand (engine) Championship around the World, the Rotax Max Challenge.
Established in 1976 and based in Cernusco sul Naviglio, just near Milan, AiM is today a world leader in motorsports and race data acquisition technology, electronics, instrumentation, dataloggers, digital displays, lap timers, stopwatches and gauges for performance and racing vehicles. AiM has set new standards in many application fields: from kart to car, from bike to dragster and Formula1 raceboats.
AiM products combine the functions of traditional tachometers (tach / RPM gauge), temperature gauges, pressure gauges and lap timers into compact, high performance, easy-to-use instrumentation.
Among a wide range of products, consolidated market leaders are the MyChron systems – a milestone in kart and junior dragster worlds – MXL, the most popular datalogger among racers of all series around the World, SmartyCam, the only on-board camera with technical data overlay!
Unfortunately not much history on the books for this important data acquisition systems manufacturer based in Nivelles, near Bruxelles. Alfano chronometric system company produces high quality data loggers, chronometers, tyre control systems, and all relevant sensors. Alfano is today in the karting World a strong competitor of AiM company.
Cosworth and Pi Research
Since it was formed in 1958 by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, Cosworth has become the most successful independent engine manufacturer in history as well as one of the market leaders in performance electronics, with a string of driver and manufacturer titles to its credit in a wide range of formulae with impressive performances in Formula One, IndyCar, Champ Car, WRC, sportscars and MotoGP.
Cosworth began life in a small workshop in London in 1958. However, things quickly grew and a move to larger premises was soon required. The company moved to north London, where it began working on the development of the Ford 105E engine. Cosworth actually achieved its first victory when Jim Clark took a win in the Formula Junior category in his Lotus 18 at Goodwood in 1960.
By the mid 1960s, the company had moved to Northampton. In 1966, Duckworth signed a contract with Ford to develop a new three-litre Formula One engine, and the legendary DFV was born. It got its first taste of victory in 1967, when Jim Clark again provided the maiden victory at the Dutch Grand Prix. The DFV, in subsequent development guises, went on to dominate the sport for 15 years and clinched 155 race wins during that time.
A host of famous names benefited from Costin and Duckworth’s approach in Formula One. Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, James Hunt and Nelson Piquet all took championships using Cosworth engines during the 1970s.
Cosworth’s success continued through the 1980’s and 1990’s in a range of championships around the world. The Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth and XG V6 powered Mondeo both won the World Touring Car Championship and the Zetec-V8 F1 engine powered Michael Schumacher to his first world championship title. In North America the DFX and XB engines dominated the CART/Indy formula leading to Cosworth receiving the Queen’s Award for Export achievement in both 1986 and 1992.
This same period witnessed the spectacular growth of motorsport electronics and the establishment of data recording and analysis as a cornerstone of modern high performance motorsport. In 1987 Cosworth’s electronics division was founded by Tony Purnell under the name Pi Research. The company initially focussed on providing electronic instrumentation for race teams and racecar manufacturers wanting to improve the quality of their data from wind tunnel testing. The extension from wind tunnel data gathering instrumentation to on-car data acquisition systems was the natural progression – and the Pi Research “Black Box” was born.
Used extensively in the North American IndyCar Championship, the Pi Research Black Box was the first electronic dash display and combined data logger to be used in professional motor sport
Following further rapid expansion and several relocations, 1998 saw Cosworth’s electronic division move to its current home – a purpose-designed facility just north of Cambridge in the UK.
At this time Pi Research acquired Pectel Control Systems to complement its data acquisition technologies with world-class engine and chassis controllers for a wide range of motorsport customers.
Intercomp’s is an American company based in Medina, in the State of Minneapolis. Intercomp produces RFX™ Wireless Scale Systems, Chassis Setup Equipment, Shock, Spring & Torque Testers, Gauges, Pyrometers, Racing Software, Dynamometers, and Engine Tools. RFX Wireless Weighing Technology is the most advanced wireless weighing technology of its kind and has been used by champions in all forms of motorsports. NASCAR’s Top Three 2008 Division Champions won on Intercomp Wireless Scale Systems and 11 of the 12 racers in the Cup Championship Chase use Intercomp Wireless Scale Systems!