Become the next Formula One champion by racing a Go Kart
Go Kart racing is one of the most affordable and accessible motorsports there is. The vast majority of professional racing drivers, including Formula One drivers, started out racing go karts.
It doesn't matter if you are young or old, male or female, there is an opportunity for you to enjoy the thrill that comes with racing at speed, wheel to wheel with other competitors.
Racing go karts is seen as a development sport that feeds into many other forms of motorsport. The main reason for this is it teaches all the fundamentals needed as a racing driver. Some of these include:
- Car control like acceleration and braking
- Cornering techniques
- Kart setup
- Mechanical knowledge
- Race craft like overtaking and drafting
How to get started
In this article we will discuss the basics you need to consider when starting out in the sport, step by step.
Find a club
There are thousands of go kart clubs around the world. We would suggest looking up the governing body in your county, listed below, which should contain a directory of local clubs close to where you live.
- United States - International Kart Federation (IKF)
- United Kingdom - Association of British Kart Clubs (ABKC)
- Australia - Australian Karting Association (AKA)
Find out when your local club meets and get along to a race day. You will find the club members are a great source of information and advise. They will be able to explain the different classes and race types, assisting you to narrow down which one you might compete in.
Get a License
Before you can start to race, you are going to need a license. Usually these are based on grades. i.e.
- E Grade - Practice License
- D Grade - Provisional License
- C, B & A Grade - Competition License
How quickly you progress through the license grades will depend on you completing a certain number of races in different events, as well as demonstrating your aptitude to abide by the rules, regulations and safety aspects.
When you apply for your first license you will usually be given an operations manual for the type of racing you will be doing. This will cover the information you need to understand before getting on the track. There are some other good links in this post for karting and racing manuals that will provide excellent information on all aspects of racing go karts and race craft in general.
This is a fantastic source of information for beginners in Go kart Racing
Buy a Go Kart
Now comes the fun part!! Buying your very own racing go kart.
Go kart's usually come in two different engine types:
- 2 Stroke Petrol Go Kart - these are the most popular type and can range in power from 6 to 28 horsepower. They are used in all the main go kart events. Engine sizes will vary depending in class entered.
- 4 Stroke Petrol Go Kart - these are mainly used for endurance go kart events
For your first kart, you should really have a talk with the members of your local club. They will assist you with choosing the right kart configuration for the type of racing you will be doing. Most classes have engine restrictions in place and when you are starting out you will only be able to race in the lower horsepower karts.
Consider buying a second hand go kart to use as you get familiar with racing and learn the ropes. Once you are more confident and know what you are after, you can buy a new kart that will be exactly what you want.
Go Kart Classes
Buy Safety Gear
Racing can be dangerous and you need to ensure you are protected as much as possible before heading onto the track. Some of the equipment you will need to buy is:
- Racing Suit
- Racing Gloves
- Racing Helmet
- Racing Boots
- Neck Brace
These are all mandatory items and you should invest as much money as you can to ensure are buying quality gear. Most of this equipment is required to meet certain standards and certifications before being used on the track.
You can find some excellent articles on all of this safety gear at:
More detailed information on go kart parts
Stock up on Spare Parts
Go kart parts are unfortunately a necessity when you go racing. Over time they have the potential to be costly, but if you maintain and service your equipment regularly, it should limit the amount of replacement parts required.
Obviously the more you race, the quicker you will wear out things like tyres. It's always good practice to have a couple of spare sets of the tyres allowed in the class of racing you are competing in.
Engines would have to be the most expensive bit of equipment to replace. You can generally keep spares of things like spark plugs, oils and coolant, but if your engine has a failure, you are going to be up for a rebuild or a replacement.
Again, speaking with the members of your club will give you some insight into the types of go kart parts people usually carry.
You can find some more detailed information on go kart parts here:
Racing go karts is a fantastic sport and can lead to a career in motorsport racing, or can be just a very rewarding and challenging hobby. You can learn the fundamentals of driving both on and off the track and you can develop a good solid understanding of the mechanical components that make up a race car.
Use the resources outlined in this article to find a go kart club close to where you live and spend some time attending race days to build you knowledge of the different events and go kart classes available to you.
Spend some time talking with the members of the club to find out the best way to get into the sport, either by purchasing a second hand kart and learning the ropes or maybe they might have a hire kart available for you to use initially until you know exactly what kart you want to buy.
Good luck and see you on the podium !!
Go Kart Guide