Purdue University officials announced this week they have reached a three-year agreement to be the exclusive engineering and technology partner of the World Karting Association. As part of the deal, WKA will sanction an electric go-kart race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Purdue racing gurus are hopeful the affiliation can hasten the development of a professional electric kart racing circuit.
People in racing see the use of electric cars as an important vehicle for expanding the sport's fan base. The Formula E, a professional circuit featuring electric Indy-style open-wheel cars, was founded in 2012 and has attracted some big-name participants including team owner Michael Andretti. The series had its inaugural championship in Beijing in September 2014 and also has staged events in U.S. cities including Miami and Long Beach, California.
The growth in electric car racing has caught the eye of IMS officials, who met with Formula E executives for introductory conversations last year, leading to speculation the series could some day race at the famed Brickyard.
Since 2012, the Speedway has hosted an annual electric go-kart race in conjunction with Purdue, and the school’s deal with the WKA could help grow that event.
The WKA will become the sanctioning body of the annual evGrandPrix (electric vehicle grand prix) at the IMS starting with the 2017 season. Purdue Motorsports will manage the educational aspects of the race, and the WKA will manage race operations, said Danny White, Purdue’s director of motorsports.
Adding an electric karting division to the WKA circuit is a priority, he said.
“Purdue Motorsports will work with the World Karting Association to see how we can assist in the addition of a professional electric division to WKA karting,” White said. “We are honored to work with this group to expand the future of evKarting worldwide.”
The university and WKA will work together to create programs that promote science, technology, education and math (STEM) and build the fan base for electric karting, White added.
The WKA sanctions national, regional and local kart racing events every week across the United States and is an affiliate member of the Automobile Competition Committee of the United States, a liaison to the world sanctioning body for racing, the FIA.