What is the World Karting Association? A Brief Intro with WKA President Kevin Williams
This interview first aired on RMWorldTravel, a nationally syndicated radio show, on July 31st, 2021.
As the largest sanctioning body for kart racing in North America, the somewhat uncharacteristically-named “World Karting Association” is where young drivers get their start and hone their skills before moving into sports car and open-wheel racing.
I was lucky enough to have the chance to talk with the President and International Liaison of the WKA—Kevin Williams—and share a brief look into the wide spectrum of karting as part of my automotive-themed Open Road segment on RMWorldTravel, a radio show heard across almost 500 stations nationwide.
LISTEN TO OUR INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN WILLIAMS HERE
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RJ CAREY: Hello again, everyone. Welcome back to Open Road here on RMWorldTravel. I’m RJ Carey, and for the next few minutes of today’s broadcast, we’re going to take a step back from sharing automotive news, vehicle reviews and the other things that I like to do with you. Instead, we’re going to connect with Kevin Williams of the World Carding Association. But first, this portion of the program is sponsored by CarShield com.
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RJC: Now, we want to head straight to our show hotline to talk karting with Kevin Williams, who is the President of the World Karting Association. The WKA is the largest sanctioned body of cart racing in North America. Karting as a sport is where almost every modern day race car driver tests their steel and starts out. I guess you could say it’s akin to what Little League is for the MLB, for example. Last year’s Indy Car Series champion Scott Dixon got his start in racing in karting. Lewis Hamilton, and the entire Formula One grid for that matter, also started off in karting. The WKA is crucial to developing [American] drivers who will one day win races such as the Indy 500, Le Mans, Daytona, I could go on and on. But, I won’t. Anyways—Kevin, hello and welcome to the Open Road here on RMWorldTravel.
KEVIN WILLIAMS: Thrilled to be here. Thanks for the invitation.
RJC: Thank you very much. Now, I was just mentioning it during your set up. I think it’s easy to forget that race car drivers… they don’t just start driving at the pinnacle of the sport overnight. It’s easy for some people to gloss over the years of dedication it takes for drivers to climb through the multiple levels of individual racing series’. Now, can you tell me some of the basics on karting and why it’s so important to motor sports?
KW: Absolutely. You know, just about every professional race car driver you see in the media, on television started in karting, and in fact, many of them, from the United States, started with World Karting Association. It not only teaches you the foundations of motorsports but it also teaches you the foundations of some life skills, how to take care of your car, how to be part of a team, and how to be on time because the race goes without you if you don’t. Those types of things are great learning tools and learning assets. Plus, a lot of travel is involved too, and people get to see what it’s like in other parts of the world.
RJC: Absolutely. And racing as a sport has changed so much over the years, and frankly, even every day it changes. Back in the fifties—besides soapbox derbies—there really wasn’t much room for younger participants in motorsports. Not to mention at the time, racing was just so incredibly dangerous. So how has karting changed that? And what are—just a few—some of the safety improvements that have been made over the years?
KW: Advancements with the FIA—which is the world sporting organization and has been extended through the World Karting Association—and safety have been fantastic. There is extremely low, low, low rate of injuries, even less fatalities. But to be a race car driver and advance in the sport you really have to start in karting these days. Similar to baseball, you gotta start in Little League, and all of those types of sports.
KW: But the safety has been one aspect…I trust karters on the track more than I do [other drivers] going down on the highway in my own city.
RJC: You’re not the only one who shares that opinion… absolutely. So as President of the World Karting Association, what are some of the events that your organization supports and, specifically, even some events that you enjoy and recommend yourself?
KW: Well, you know, it’s very important to have partnerships and good partners throughout the season. We do that through our very good partners at Daytona International Speedway, where we start our year and where we have many kart events for this year. We also have partners at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Both those organizations—and different organizations, tracks, et cetera— are very well known. Everybody knows about them, sees them on TV. But, they’re also extremely good community partners, and that’s what we try to do when we go to a certain destination. We involve ourselves with the visitors and authorities in those cities when we come to town to participate in their programs as well. So not only are we good partners and customers, we also expect them to be the same as well.
RJC: Right. That really is the best way to do it. So to everyone out there listening, if you’d like to find out more about karding and the World Karting Association, you can stay up to date with events and races, ticket info, and a whole lot more at worldkarting.com—and remember, that’s “karting” with a “k”. Kevin, thanks again for being on the show with me today. Enjoy your weekend.
KW: It’s my honor. Thank you.
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To find out more about the World Karting Association, please visit worldkarting.com.