Karting 101 – An Informative Guide
Below is a brief overview of the sport of karting taken from the original EKN website. In the coming weeks, updates will be made to the Karting 101 section to provide the most-current information needed to enter the sport. Until then, please read the following and be sure to visit the Forums section. – EKN Staff
IF YOU ARE NEW TO KARTING…
By visiting the eKartingNews.com site, you have started in the right direction in your exploration of this fun and exciting sport. The site is full of information for kart racers of all levels. Its forums provide an inexhaustible source of knowledge and experience from which you can benefit, and will help you to reduce not only your learning time but also your lap times.
This New to Karting section of eKartingNews.com is dedicated to the novice kart racer, or just to those who would like to inform themselves about kart racing before they jump into it. Here you can find an introduction to karting, as well as several articles about tips and tricks for the beginner in our How to… section. More articles will be added over time. An F.A.Q. provides answers to frequently asked questions. And don’t forget to check out the karting glossary, which is also contained on this site, and which will help you with the terminology of karting and racing in general.
So, sit back and read on! There is no better way than karting to have fun on the track while at the same time learning more about racing and getting more ‘bang for the buck’. No other for of motor sport could provide the same. This page is dedicated to give you the introduction you need get started quickly and easily.
Karting, “the purest form of motor sports,” as Ayrton Senna said, is the fastest growing form of motor sports in the U.S. and is already hugely popular around the world. There are about 100,000 karters in the United States alone, encompassing all age groups, from children as young as seven years, all the way to the more seasoned participants, even well into retirement age. The sport sees competitors of both genders and is truly something for the whole family to enjoy.
While many might participate out of pure enjoyment, for others it is a serious stepping-stone towards a professional racing career. Most current Formula-1 drivers have started racing with karts, and many still drive karts between seasons to keep their reflexes and skills honed. Because it is relatively affordable, it is a perfect venue for learning the basics about competition racing, vehicle setup, engine tuning, etc. All of this while having a whole lot of fun. No other racing vehicle will allow you to get as much seat time with any given budget as a kart!
2. WHAT KARTING IS ALL ABOUT…
That is simple: Just like any other racing activity, the purpose here is to reach the finish line first! The beauty of karting is the seemingly simple nature of these vehicles: No suspension, no differential, no roll-bars, no seat-belt systems. Just four wheels and an engine.
This simplicity is exactly what keeps the cost of karting down compared to other forms of motor racing. It also makes it easier for the novice racer to comprehend the vehicle in its totality and to identify and focus on those components that may be adjusted or tuned for optimum performance. The act of changing the tunable settings on the kart is straight forward in almost all cases, and it can be done without expensive tools or complete pit-crews. However, getting this tuning right for the fastest lap time takes a lot of experience. It is almost like chess: Learning the rules is simple; mastering the game can take a lifetime!
Specifically designed competition race karts are extremely responsive and agile vehicles, not at all comparable to fun karts you may find at fairs or other rental venues. They provide fantastic handling and cornering capabilities and propel the driver around the race track, just a few centimeters (1.5 inches) above the ground. Being successful in the top levels of kart racing requires the same peak physical condition, and mental strength as other forms of racing.
The amazing and exciting driving characteristics, the fun and friendly atmosphere at the club events and affordability, combined with the possibility for a young and talented driver to make this the start to a racing career, are the main factors for the increasing popularity of karting.
3. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GO KARTING?
A relatively modest budget can get you started. How much money you invest initially in the kart is of course up to you. However, as a beginner, a used kart in good condition (and not more than 5 years old with the frame still straight and a bunch of spare parts and tools) is an option worth consideration. Click here for a good article on how to buy a used kart. This can be had for anything between $1,500 to $5,000. For club membership and race fees, you should consider another few hundred dollars per year, and maybe $500 to $2,000 more for spare parts, extra tires and professional engine maintenance for a season (All prices in U.S. dollars). Of course, those costs can be completely open ended and can get more expensive in some classes of karting. As a beginner, these amounts should be sufficient, however, you should also compare prices and options available for a new set-up.
Transporting a kart is also straight forward: The back of a pick-up truck, a small trailer or the back of a van will usually be quite sufficient. Some have even successfully transported their kart crammed into the back of their station wagon, or strapped to the roof of their sedan. As far as a working area is concerned, a shed or small garage will work well. A kart can be stored up-right against a wall, and therefore does not take-up much space for storage. As far as tools are concerned, a good set of wrenches will be most important. A more complete list of required tools can be found in the FAQ.
Two types of engines are used in karting: Two-stroke and four-stroke. Traditionally, most karts internationally were and still are powered by two-stroke engines. In some countries four-stroke karting has been already popular in the past. For environmental reasons there is now also a push on an international level to make four-stroke karting the norm. However, for the foreseeable future, two-stroke karting is alive and well, with most international competitions still being fought out with those small, but powerful engines.
One of the most confusing aspects of karting to the beginner is the vast variety of classes to choose from. These classes are not necessarily internationally standardized. We can only advise beginning karters not to despair. The article about Karting divisions and classes, which you can read when following this link, outlines some of the most common types of karting and classes on an international as well as U.S. level. It also gives some hints on how to choose a good class for you.
Just as a quick summary here: There are special classes of karting for road-racing (long tracks) or sprint racing (short tracks), oval racing, sit-up, lay-down, junior or senior, light or heavy drivers, shifter and non-shifters. In addition, a multitude of different engines is supported with a similar multitude of classes. The best advise for anyone who wishes to get into karting is this: Go to the tracks that are close to where you live, watch the races, talk to the drivers, and you will discover which classes are best for you.
6. AND IN CLOSING…
There are many motivations for why people get into karting: Some want to get a comprehensive start into their racing career so that they can move up to be a future Formula 1 driver. Some like the technology of racing and like to tinker with their own vehicle and just enjoy translating this into fast lap times. Or they simply enjoy a fun, friendly family sport, which teaches them and their kids about fair play in an exciting and competitive environment.
Whatever your reason may be, if karting is what you want to do, this site is for you. The articles in the New to Karting section cover introduction material, like the already mentioned overview of classes and sanctioning bodies, the FAQ and other articles about karting in general. In addition, it contains a variety of technical articles geared towards beginners about the setup and maintenance of karting. Finally, articles about driving tips are also included