Karting is one of the most accessible forms of motorsport for the grassroots racer. There are so many people that I’ve met who wished they could experience the track in some fashion, and had no idea that they could race a competition go-kart.
However, the largest challenge I’ve heard from people is that they’re not sure how to get started. So, I’ve put together a quick list of five easy steps which I hope will get people pointed in the right direction. (In the hopes to not make the article too long, I’ve put in links to other articles I’ve written about karting, as well to make the searches easier.)
Warning: Once you get involved in karting, it’s going to be too addicting to stop!
1) Find out where the nearest kart track is to you
The first thing that’s recommended is get an idea of the number of tracks that are within driving distance of you. Kart tracks are normally pretty small facilities, so there can be a surprising number of tracks in one’s local area. There are several online karting directories, such as the KartPulse directory, which can tell you where the tracks are located and provide directions.
2) Purchase a go-kart
Once you have an idea of where you can go racing, it’s time to purchase a kart. Purchasing a race kart is much like purchasing a car. You can either go through a private sale or go through a dealer. Fortunately, there are several places that a racer can go to purchase a kart, like a dealer site or a public sale or a classified forum. However, if this is your first time purchasing a kart, you might not know what questions to ask to make sure that you’re getting the best deal.
I could spend an entire article just discussing what the appropriate karting budget should be. It’s highly dependent on what class of kart you get into, and how frequently you’re planning on racing. Depending on your class of kart, an average used kart can cost between $1500 – $6000. However, the performance envelope in what you’re purchasing is quite huge, between a 10hp LO206 to a 45hp+ six speed shifter kart.
For your first kart, I would highly recommend looking at used karts so that you can use more of your budget on consumption costs, rather than spending everything on a brand new kart. I’ve written another article with more particulars about how one can purchase a kart here on KartPulse.
3) Purchase a starter kit of tools and personal safety gear.
One really nice thing about karting is that it doesn’t take a set of super complicated tools to maintain and tune it. Although there are several kart specific things that you can get once you get a handle on things, I’d recommend getting the following tools and equipment just to get started.
- Kart stand
- Metric socket set between 6mm and 22mm
- Metric T-Handle Allen Wrenches between 3mm and 8mm
- Open ended wrenches between 6mm and 15mm
- Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers
- A magnetic tray for bolts and nuts
- An EZ-UP tent
- A portable table
- A few storage containers for odds and ends.
Additionally, you’ll need to get some personal driving safety gear. Before you head to the track, make sure that you have the following personal equipment. (Note: Yeah, I know I’m cheating adding two facts in one bullet, but I wanted to keep it to five. ;))
- Snell-Approved helmet
- Ribvest- Super important!
- Karting suit
- Racing shoes with thin soles
You can find this equipment at several places, but here are some examples.
4) Determine how to transport your kart to the track
Now that you have your kart and tools, you need a way to get it to the track. Fortunately, the size of a go-kart makes it easy to transport in a number of different formats, from the roof of a car to a full-size trailer. I’ve written a more detailed article about some examples of how you can get your kart to the track, here on Build/Race/Party. Take a look, and then go onto step five.
5) Go to your first practice day.
Now you have everything that you need, it’s time to get to the track and start practicing ! Start meeting people, and you’ll make some good friends who you can gain tips from. I’ve written an article here about some tips to have more productive practice days, here on my personal blog, StartingGrid. Here is a summarized version of the list:
- Get a setup book for your kart, and use it often. –
- Set a simple agenda for your practice day, and always follow it –
- Focus on the process of what you’re doing, not just the lap times you’re running.
- Feel comfortable with trying new things with the kart setup, even if it makes the laptime slower.
- Have fun!
Competition karting is some of the purest form of racing that I’ve experienced. Nothing will provide you with a more immersive experience with a race track than a kart. It takes a good amount of preparation to get ready, but once you’re at the track, it makes everything worth it.
Remember, this is just a quick list to get you started. If you have any questions or would like more details, feel free to reach out and ask anything you can think of! Have fun karting!
— Author’s Note: Davin Sturdivant (@relaxeddriver on Twitter) has over eight years of racing experience as a Solo II autocrosser and a competition kart racer. As more articles appear on Build/Race/Party, you can also read more race-craft improvement articles in more detail at his personal blog, StartingGrid.org.