Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Junior Formula 101- Stars of Karting

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted December 29, 2008 at 12:47 pm Junior Formula 101

Without getting into the fragmentation of karting in the United States, we will stick to one series; the Stars of Karting. The Stars of Karting series was founded in 2000 by Hollis Brown and Bryan Herta. The late Hollis Brown was an incredible spokesperson for the sport of karting and had more than 30 years devoted to the sport. Bryan Herta, who raced in the Indy Racing League until 2006, can still be found driving go-karts today along with his American LeMans Series efforts. Hollis and Bryan had a long standing friendship prior to creating the Stars Series, Hollis helped develop Herta’s career and was actually a karting sponsor for Bryan in the eighties.

Originally named the CART(Championship Auto Racing Teams) Stars of Tomorrow, the series took off in 2002 under the guidance of Fred Marik, who was the executive director of NAKA (North American Karting Association). The following season (2003), Bobby Rahal bought into the program becoming a co-owner alongside Herta. The duo put a new management team in place and separated from NAKA. The series was sanctioned by the World Karting Association and the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America). The series also brought in Snap-On Tools as a primary sponsor, Snap-on has been a huge asset to the program and remains the primary sponsor for the series today. The new management team also decided to put CIK rules in place in an effort to follow the standards set in European karting. The series officials wanted drivers in North America to race under the same rules and equipment as their overseas counterparts. It didn’t take long for the karting community to take note of the name “Stars of Tomorrow”, the name seemed to create a notion that top level karters were merely there to move up the motorsport ranks rather than being noted as professional drivers in and of themselves. In 2004, the series underwent a name change, the series would now be known as the Snap-On Stars of Karting. The new name seemed to make everyone happy, maintaining the link to the motorsports ladder for drivers wishing to advance, while still proudly representing current karters as stars of their prospective sport. In late 2004, Bobby Rahal, Bryan Herta and current president Paul Zalud announced a new affiliation with the Indy Racing League. Undergoing yet another name change, the series would now be known as the Snap-on Stars of Karting: presented by IndyCar.

The series was initially created to help pave the way for young aspiring race car drivers, providing a pathway from karts to cars, while still maintaining the top tier level of competition in go-karts. In order to keep things simple, I am going to focus on the 125cc ICC Shifter Kart class for multiple reasons. In North America, the ICC class is largely regarded as the top level of kart racing, unlike Europe where the KF1 or the direct drive class of Formula A have long been referred to as the top level in karting. In recent years, North America has had a significant growth to the direct drive ICA program and they are now beginning to put some focus on the KF package as a cost effective replacement, but it is safe to say that the ICC class is still the most prestigious class here in North America. The other reason I’m focusing on the ICC class is that I’m a little biased, if you catch my drift.

The ICC (Intercontinental C) class is a shifter kart class. The karts have a six-speed sequential gearbox and put out roughly 40-45 horsepower. The weight of the kart varies from driver to driver, but the required weight after a race for kart and driver is 380lbs. The horsepower to weight ratio is closer to that of an IndyCar than any other junior formula series we cover. The ICC karts are capable of pulling nearly 3 G’s and a top speed somewhere around 120mph…give or take. The chassis are far more complex than most realize, offering adjustments ranging from caster/camber, front and rear ride height, axle stiffness, torsion bars, various spindle degrees, various wheel compounds (ex. Magnesium, Aluminum), seat struts, seat location, wheelbase, toe…etc. These karts are far from your typical amusement park ride, they are a true racing machine requiring a capable driver and tuner for maximum output. The cost of running the Stars of Karting ICC class ranges from $25,000-$100,000 USD. The latter would make for an adequately funded season as some spend even more. Privateers often spend even less than the fore mentioned $25,000 but are rarely competitive at this level.

After researching the series, I must say I’m extremely disappointed in the promotion of past champions. This is a very prestigious title that should be promoted on the STARS website.

Past STARS ICC National Champions:
2001-Scott Speed (Raced in Formula One, currently racing in NASCAR)
2002-Ron White (Raced in Star Mazda series)
2003-Bobby Wilson (Current Indy Lights driver)
2004-Alex Speed (Stars of Karting)
2005- Alex Speed (Stars of Karting)
2006-Gary Carlton (Stars of Karting)
2007-Gary Carlton (Stars of Karting)
2008-Mike Vincec (Stars of Karting)

**disclaimer** This info was put together using various sources, for first hand info on the series…please visit the Stars of Karting Official Website.

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One Comment

  1. The SpeedGeek on December 30, 2008 4:46 pm

    Nice work with the JF-101 stuff so far. I do try to follow as much of the junior formula as possible, but I think it’s easy for people (myself included) to get bogged down in exactly what series fits where. It was more apparent in the olden days of On Track magazine and what not (when there were less series to follow, anyway), but since then, it’s a real quagmire.

    Keep up the great work. I’m looking forward to future installments!

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