What is it about nostalgia that make everyone so fond of it? Maybe it’s the fact that we don’t want to remember the bad, only the good. Well, when were talking nostalgic karting I’m new to the game, so I can only (re)live vicariously through others. Perhaps one of the most celebrated eras of karting were the days of 100cc direct drive karts. This was well before my time, but everyone always nostalgas so hard over it that it had to be great. Why not find out for myself?
If you’re not familiar, this era was the one of the two classes ‘Intercontinental A’ (ICA), and Formula A. It stretched through a period of time in the late 80s and 90s that sort of reflected the general Motorsport mentality at the time; speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed. The formulas between the two classes were similar; 100cc direct drive engines, ultra sticky tires, and no rev limit. Over the years it evolved a bit from air cooled engines to water cooling, but the mantra remained the same – simplicity, speed, competition.
This was the same class of kart that Senna called ‘pure racing’. This was the era that produced drivers the caliber of Jenson Button, Dan Wheldon, Justin Wilson, Jarno Trulli, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Giorgio Pantano, and of course…Senna. If you took the purest essence of what karting is or should be, you would get ICA and Formula A. There was nothing unnecessary on these machines; no clutches, no starters, no batteries, no power valves, no BS.
And the racing was absolutely spectacular.
Of course, the class died out as costs began to skyrocket. The very nature of the unlimited mentality of the formula meant that the guys at the front were pushing the envelope of reliability. 20,000 rpm 40hp monsters that would only survive one race before a rebuild became the norm, and that’s what it took the run up front. Guys would turn up with a trailer full of engines and go through several in a weekend. Obviously, this meant that only a select few with that sort of budget could compete. This paved the way for the long life TaG engines we see today.
Since there is virtually nowhere to race these engines anymore, and there are so many out there, they can be picked up for next to nothing. And, surprise surprise, if you don’t try to rev them to them moon they are (allegedly) fairly reliable. A perfect candidate for a cheap track toy for when I get bored with banging gears.
I found a cheap old TaG chassis, a fresh Vortex ICA from the last days of the air cooled era, and all I need are a few more bits to complete this monster. If all goes well, I should have a track day weapon that will outrun (on the right track) a shifter for under $1500. Stay tuned, this will be a fun project!