The words “Go-Kart” might inspire memories of family vacations and slow, boring laps in a dilapidated car on a really small track.
Let me disabuse you of that notion.
Go-Kart racing is as close as you can get to professional racing without a massive investment of time and money. It might be something that kids do (or something you did as a kid), but the children’s version of Go-Kart racing is quite a bit different than the enthusiast version seen above.
If you want to get started in Go-Kart racing, here’s what you need to know:
1. Find your first go kart
- Don’t buy a fixer upper
If you know you want to race, you’ll need to avoid old-school fun karts, which are old machines that aren’t suitable for racing anymore. You might think that you can save money by buying an old machine and fixing it up, but race standards are stricter than you might think, and getting an old kart up to snuff can cost a lot.
- Go for second-hand kart, but make sure that it’s complete
If the seller tells you that the kart needs brakes, axles or other special parts, go the other way. Buying specialty parts can often cost as much as the kart itself.
- Sometimes a dealer is the way to go
Often second-hand sellers advertise ‘race ready’ gear, but often they are selling because they themselves are looking for newer gear. Getting the newest gear has its advantages. It works better and you can use it for longer.
2. Safety first
Once you have your kart, make sure that you get the appropriate safety gear. You’ll need the following:
- Full-face helmet
- Skid-resistant driving suit. If you don’t want to throw down the $600 it will take for a full suit, you can star with getting a skid-resistant jacket.
- Neck collar
- Driving gloves
- Driving shoes are optional but they’re not as necessary as the rest of the list
3. Watch go-kart racing in action
Find the local go-kart races and go. If you’re interested in racing, nothing beats the education you can give yourself through simple observation. If you want to see the best tracks in the world, consider visiting these tracks:
- Extreme Karts in Auckland, New Zealand
- PTT Speedway in Bangkok, Thailand
- Skotkart in Glasgow
- K1 Speed in Florida
4. Ask questions and get training
Often at go-kart races, you buy a ticket that allows you to scope out the karts and talk to the racers. Ask them for tips on getting into the sport. They can also recommend tips for getting more training and what races are good for beginners. If you don’t want to invest in a go kart yet, many tracks offer the option of using their karts for a fee.
5. Practice and train
Hit up your local track and go as often as possible. Just going through the motions of driving around the track will prepare you mentally for the race. Many racers also recommend getting into good shape in your down-time. Being in good physical condition will help you as you prepare for the anxiety and stress that can take a toll on your body.
6. Bight the bullet and enter a race
You might feel like you have to have everything right in order to enter your first race, but the fact is, no matter how much you practice, nothing will prepare you better than going to actual races and participating. Even if you don’t perform perfectly, you’ll start to see the ins and outs and gain confidence every time you race. You may even be surprised when you start winning.
Go-Kart racing is a high-adrenaline sport, and just like every sport, it takes preparation and practice to excel. If you take the appropriate steps, you could be closer than you think to your goals not to mention a great time!
Guest author Jeff Kane is a power sports and off-roading enthusiast who writes for Kenzie Powersports.