When karting dad Chris Kardashian decided he wanted to jump into series promotion to support the sport that he and his son loved, he did so with a focused ideology. Kardashian bought the Route 66 Sprint Series from Mark Coats in early 2023 and, armed with the program’s passionate race staff, he promoted his first season with a focus on providing an affordable series aimed at family fun. Chris’ slogan of ‘Great Tracks, Great Racing, Great Family Fun!’ is the mission statement for the four-race series, which kicks off the May 3-5 weekend at New Castle Motorsports Park. Now heading into his second season at the helm, we caught up with Chris to both look back at 2023 and aim forward to 2024.

eKartingNews.com: Chris, thank you for taking the time to chat with us ahead of the season opener. We are just over a week away from starting the 2024 Route 66 Sprint Series and I’m sure you’re raring to go. I want to start with a simple question that may have a more in-depth answer. You are getting ready to start your second year as the series owner. How much different do you feel this year than you did last year at this time?

Chris Kardashian: Last year certainly was a blur and quite stressful because I did not know what I did not know. I felt that we had so much to learn and in a short amount of time, but we got through it all and things went remarkedly smoothly, in large part, because the Route 66 Sprint Series team remained mostly unchanged. The team came together and executed, and I will forever be grateful to that group for their unselfish commitment to the series. I would be remiss if I also did not give a shout out to Jill Dean who took over as the Operations Manager and Rick Jump, our Technical Director. They were both my right and left hands and that is not an exaggeration. With that said, I think I should feel much more relaxed this year because we have done this once already, but we are all very busy planning all the details that take place behind the scenes to make an event successful and we are constantly looking at those things we can add or improve on. Check back with me in 2025 and ask me the same question. Maybe I will be on vacation laying on a beach somewhere at this time next year (laughing).

EKN: It’s easy to imagine that the first year of ownership was full of challenges. That said, you put your stamp on the series with new programs, so how much do you feel you want to change this year from last year?

CK: I feel like I should have a comprehensive and in-depth answer to this question, but I really don’t. For the most part we are going to stay the direction we mapped in 2023. We said in 2023 that we were going to be focused on making regional karting affordable, focus on the family experience – i.e. family fun – and place an emphasis on respect both on-track in driving and off-track everywhere else.

We drove a lot of costs out of the weekend for racers and their families by eliminating Thursday practice and starting practice on Friday afternoon. With our pre-sale registration program, if a racer signs up for two or more events, the entry fees are actually reduced from previous year entry fees, and we have taken steps to reduce others costs such as fuel costs and limits on tires for practice and racing – the two sets for the entire weekend including practice. All of these cost reduction initiatives carry forward in 2024.

On the family experience, we are definitely staying the course with our Fun Zone for the kids and our Saturday evening cookout and games/competitions for all racers, their families, teams, and mechanics, etc.. Stay tuned for additional details on some of these ‘Family Fun’ activities in 2024. Rumor has it there will be a dunk tank at our July 4 weekend event at Whiteland Raceway Park and there will be an amazing Fireworks display at Whiteland Raceway Park following the conclusion of Saturday’s racing and evening festivities.

EKN: Chris, I know that providing a super positive racing atmosphere and culture is important to you and cleaning up the racing at the Route 66 events was a major goal for last year and the future. What are your thoughts on the racing last season?

CK: We witnessed some of the closest and cleanest driving seen anywhere in many years at all of the Route 66 events last year. When I bought the series from Mark Coats in 2023, I reflected on some of my own experiences as a race parent with series other than Route 66 and what I heard from other drivers and teams as well. The majority of the time, when I heard someone leave an event upset or say they were never going to give another dollar to a series again in the future, the reason behind the frustration was because of rough driving, a lack of respect by certain drivers for their fellow racers, and the lack of penalties given for rough or dangerous driving. We all know how difficult it is for race officials to see every driver infraction. I do not believe the solution to the elimination of rough driving or a lack of race craft is through additional penalties (although we certainly are not going to refrain from handing out those penalties), rather, the solution must come from a culture shift on-track where the drivers are changing their behaviors. We did witness a significant improvement in the category we refer to as ‘Driver Respect’ in 2023 and we will continue to promote this culture change. I do not think it needs to be a paradigm shift, rather just a willingness to be respectful to your fellow competitors who likely you will be playing a game of ‘Bags’ with a couple of hours later. Hopefully our message through this interview will also encourage racers and families to join the series for an improved experience.

So, in summary, you asked earlier what we may change in 2024. The short answer is…not too much. We will build on what we started in 2023 and stay focused on our mission – Great Tracks, Great Racing, Great Family Fun!

EKN: You and your team certainly took the reins on the Route 66 series and made it your own. If you look back at 2023, what do you focus in on as the true highlights?

CK: Maybe I answered some of this question in the above, but I will certainly say what we were most proud of is the comments we heard day in and day out from so many people:

“We really like the weekend format with more time between the races and longer races.”

“We love practice starting Friday at 2:00 so we don’t have to miss as much school and work.”

“Why don’t other series put a tire limit on the weekend like you have done?”

And, “We had so much fun at the Route 66 events this year!”

That is all any of us needed to hear to know we were building something people were enjoying and wanted to come back to. Along the same line as the comments on the fun people were having at Route 66 events, I would add this; the number of parents who personally made a point to tell me “thank you for the Fun Zone” was amazing.

Their message was “Our kids used to stay in the RV or under the tent all day and played on their phones or tablets and now, I never see them. They are out all day playing in the Fun Zone. Please do not get rid of the Fun Zone!”

Plans are in the works to further enhance the Fun Zone Family Experience.

EKN: Getting such positive feedback is proof that your ideology is sound. If karting is supposed to be a ‘family sport’, everyone at the track should be enjoying themselves. Speaking of that, I’m sure all of your Route 66 families are ready to get to New Castle on the May 3-5 weekend to start the season. How are entries looking and what are you hoping to see to start the 2024 calendar?

CK: I think that may be a three-part question. We certainly hope the racers and their friends and families are having fun racing with Route 66. I am open to feedback from racers, families, and the teams on other ideas on how to improve the overall weekend. My contact info is posted on our Route 66 website and I welcome people to reach out to me during the week to share their own experiences or thoughts on how we can improve the weekend experience.

As I think all promoters know, a high percentage of racers tend to register the week of the event so we will see where kart count ends up at the end of the week. We again ran our pre-season sale for racers to sign up for multiple events with a discount for signing up for two or more events. The registrations from the sale were strong so we are excited to see everyone at the opener at New Castle Motorsport Park.

Regarding our goals for the start of the 2024 season, we would like to see further growth in the 206 classes and additional growth in some of the 2 cycle classes. Many people may not realize that nearly 40% of our entries in 2023 were 206. That is a great balance, but we would like to see additional growth in the 206 classes. We have made the classes affordable, have tire limits on MG tires that can be used for racing and practice, and have a rule set that is consistent. Additionally, we have an awards package for our season top performers, including free engines to our champions. We have a close relationship with Dan Roche of Briggs & Stratton, and I know he supports our strategy to be a regional series that promotes both 4 and 2 cycle racing.

There are two specific classes I am paying close attention to in 2024: Kid Karts and KA Masters. In 2023, we made the Kid Kart class a championship class – racing for season points and championship prizes. We award them with the same event and championship trophies as the other classes. For consistency amongst the racers, we introduced a rule set that allows for a single engine platform utilizing the Briggs 206 motor. In 2024, we are allowing both Kid Kart chassis and Cadet chassis. We have also discounted the entry fees for the Kid Kart class. We were committed to the Kid Kart class in 2023 and we are again in 2024.

On the KA Master front, given my age, I would like to keep this group involved in the weekend racing. How about you and David join us at an event in 2024 and race KA Masters? Let’s make the Route 66 KA Masters class the Masters class to run in 2024. I’d like to give a special thanks to Kevin Kullman as well for partnering with Route 66 to promote this class. He is working hard to drive entries in the class. As you may have seen, we are also awarding a free IAME KA100 engine to the KA Masters Champion. In fact, all of our 2 cycle class champions are eligible to win free engines. So, whether the racer is young or “older” and whether they like 4 cycle or 2 cycle, we believe Route 66 is the right place for them and the entire family.

Lastly, stay tuned for additional details on our upcoming 2nd race at Whiteland Raceway Park on the July 4 weekend. We will have an extraordinary event highlighted by great racing and a weekend truly dedicated to fun for the entire family. In addition to our traditional Saturday Evening Cookout and games, we will be adding more Family Fun Activities. And as we discussed earlier, given it will be the 4th of July weekend, we are planning on a spectacular Fireworks Display.

EKN: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Chris. Is there a final message you’d like to get out to the community before you guys go green for 2024?

CK: If you are interested in Great Racing where the emphasis is on Driver Respect and Race Craft and you want to experience racing at some of the Best Tracks in the country, then please come join us at New Castle Motorsport Park May 3-5, or any of our other events in 2024. If you have questions, look me up on our Route 66 website and send me an email or give me a call. Bring your entire family and plan to eat well and playing late into the night after the conclusion of the days racing.