Racing a go kart is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get started in motorsport racing. Nearly all Formula One racing drivers came through the ranks of the sport, starting with a go kart. Racing go karts gives new drivers a great introduction into concepts like car control, cornering techniques, kart setup, mechanical knowledge, as well as developing the quick reflexes required when driving at speed, wheel to wheel with other racers.
Racing go karts is a sport for all ages, it doesn’t matter if you are 7 or 70, male or female, you can still compete at various levels based on your ability, age and weight class.
Getting Started Racing Go Karts
We have put together the following guide to help cover the go kart basics you should know in order to start in the sport. This is only meant to be a high level guide and we will be providing more detailed information over time on more specific topics.
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Find a Go Kart Club
There are thousands of go kart clubs around the world offering various types of kart racing. Some will be affiliated with the sport’s governing bodies and abide by the rules and regulations of that particular go kart discipline.
- United States – International Kart Federation (IKF) , World Karting Association (WKA)
- United Kingdom – Motor Sports Association (MSA) , Association of British Kart Clubs (ABKC)
- Australia – Australian Karting Association (AKA) on the behalf of FIA and Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS).
We would suggest going to websites of these groups (click on the name) and search for a club in your area.
Get your License
Once you join a club you will normally require a license to compete in your first event. When you apply for a license you will normally receive a manual which covers the rules, regulations and operations of the governing body you are joining. As you progress through the different competition levels in the sport you will need different license types to demonstrate your ability and aptitude to compete in that level.
The license classes differ between countries but usually follow a grading system. i.e.
- E Grade – Practice License
- D Grade – Provisional License
- C, B and A Grade – Racing License
To progress through the license classes you will need to qualify by doing a certain number of races in different events and sometimes finish on the podium a number of times.
Buy a Racing Go Kart
When you go to buy a go kart, they generally come two main types:
- 2 stroke petrol go kart – These karts are the most popular for mainstream go kart events. Depending on the class of racing you choose will govern the type and size of 2 stroke engine that is allowed. Junior classes range from 6 – 11 hp and Senior classes range from 11 – 28 hp.
- 4 stroke petrol go kart – These karts may not be as popular as the 2 stroke version, but there are plenty of clubs around where 4 stroke petrol go karts are used. These karts are often used in endurance events.
Before purchasing a go kart you should really spend some time at your new club, getting to know the different classes and events to find out which ones are suited to you. This will determine the size and type of engine to buy and may save you from a costly mistake. Make sure you spend time talking with the members of the club. They will be able to provide invaluable advice on all aspects of racing go karts.
There is usually a second hand go kart market within the club and it would make sense to buy second hand for your first go kart, until you know exactly what you want and can buy a brand spanking new one.
Get some Safety Gear
Racing go karts can be a dangerous sport and you definitely want to protect yourself as much as possible prior to getting on the track. Items like a Racing Suit, Racing Gloves, a Racing Helmet, Racing Boots and a neck brace are all essential items and we have created a dedicated page on the site for you to get more information on these items.
Types of races
- Sprint races are the most common form of go kart racing. This type of race is on relatively short tracks with plenty of twists, turns and straights.
- Enduro or endurance go kart events are where a race can go for 24hrs, with pit stops, driver changes and refueling. Karts are usually powered by two 6.5 horsepower four-stroke engines. These races involve a lot of strategy and planning
- Oval racing is most common in the United States and involves go karts designed for racing on the same oval circuits as Nascar and Indy Car.
Stock up on Go Kart Parts
One of the certainties with buying a go kart is that there will always be a need for replacement parts. Obviously tires are going to wear with use and need to be changed to keep the grip levels required to be competitive. Engines will also need to be repaired or replaced over time. Most racing classes require a single make (control) engine, so these should be easy to source but could be expensive.
Other items to be aware of are the frame of the go kart which could get stress fractures or get bent in an accident, wheels or rims for the tires and replacement clutch systems.
We will be adding more information on go karting to the site over time, if you would like to see something specific included, please let us know via the contact page.