On the last weekend of January, Offenbach am Main in Germany was once again the centre of the karting world. The classic IKA Kartmesse trade fair hosted the world's largest kart exhibition for the 28th time, although in this new decade, the exhibition presented itself on a slightly smaller scale than in previous years. For the first time, the fair only opened six instead of seven halls.
“Economic reasons led to the closing of hall A4. Due to its location, this area has always been unpopular with visitors and consequently with exhibitors, too. Therefore, we had to react for 2020. But we have new plans for the future: Hall 4 is supposed to become a home for esports. This field is booming enormously and it makes sense to give this discipline a platform at the kart fair. The decision of the DMSB, which has recently recognized sim racing as an official motorsports discipline, shows that this sport is gaining more and more acceptance,” explained IKA junior director Marcel Fuchsberger.
The spatial reduction, however, did not seriously affect the trade fair offer, which still represented a broad, international mixture of the karting industry. Overall, the fair made a more compact impression, but the essentials were to be found on a total area of almost 9,000 square metres with almost 140 exhibitors, which included almost 70% from international origin. All sectors of the industry were represented: racing, leisure karting, tools, clothing, equipment and accessories. With over 480 brands, there was a lot to discover on a tour through the exhibition halls.
The field of leisure, indoor and rental kart was represented widely and is clearly growing. The offer included everything the sector has to offer: a variety of different karts, circuit equipment, track-building-systems, timing technology, software solutions, display systems and much more. This segment, in particular, attracted a noticeably international audience, which can be interpreted as a sign of the continuing, positive trend in this field.
On the other hand, there was the racing division, which could not match the extent of the heyday of karting in the 1990s and 2000s. Nevertheless, kart racing was sufficiently represented: OK and KZ engines, single-brand options or engines for club- and hobby-drivers were found on every corner. Along with that, several electric engines, such as the new E20 by Rotax were in the spotlight. Accessories, tires, spare parts, tools, the huge field of clothing with overalls, helmets, gloves and safety equipment completed the vast range. And of course, chassis were not missing either: CRG, Kart Republic, FA Kart, Tony Kart, Kosmic, Jesolo, Intrepid, TBKart, Sodi, Praga, Formula K, Maranello or Kosmos could be checked out at various stands – including many of the homologated Mini karts.
Many options for the “bigger” motorsport such as the new touring car Junior Cup, the Chevrolet Cruze Cup or the DMV BMW 318ti Cup, attracted interested drivers. The fastest racing car was to be found with Dörr Motorsport, where a 400 HP McLaren 570S GT4 set an optical highlight.
Consulting and the exchange of information are still very popular during the IKA. At many stands, manufacturers and consumers were eager to discuss innovations and trends. In particular, the motorsport associations such as the DMSB, the ADAC, AvD and the NAVC answered many questions and provided facts and news about the different karting series such as the DKM, DEKM, the ADAC Kart Masters, the Rotax MAX Challenge, the Rok Cup and the Kart Trophy Weiß-Blau or the GKC 100.
In addition to the actual exhibition, there was also a program: presentations, conferences, autograph sessions, promotions as well as the AvD prize-giving ceremony and a gaming area in the foyer provided visitors with many alternatives.
After two days of trade show, IKA director Botho G. Wagner concluded: “Like the entire industry, the IKA is changing. We have been working hard to break new ground since last year. Closing hall 4 was not easy for us, but it was a necessary step, at least temporarily. I don't think it harmed the fair’s atmosphere, contrary to my personal fears. Overall, we have experienced two well-attended days of exhibition, which probably will match the number of visitors we had three years ago. Equally, we got a largely positive feedback from the exhibitors. With new topics and concepts, we aim to improve the IKA in the future and keep up with the times. I am sure that these efforts will already be reflected during the 29th edition of the IKA Kartmesse on January 30th and 31st, 2021."