Home Forums General Karting Discussion Another Newbie – Need advice/help on getting started

This topic contains 18 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Sam 4 years ago.

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  • #15479

    Sam
    Participant

    Hey guys,

    I’m interested in getting into karting, and wanted to get some input from people that are in the sport and get some direction on where to start.

    Some background on me:
    -I’ve gone to a couple of local tracks before (I’ve done a handful of days on the outdoor tracks, and a couple of days on the indoor tracks as well), and I get more and more enamored with the idea of getting involved in a series every time I go out.  I’m sure everyone says this – but I’ve never lost on track days.  We did a reverse grid with 6 drivers the last time I went out (I started in last) and I was in the lead within 3-4 laps even after a spin-out caused by another driver in the second corner.
    -I have ridden motocross competitively for the last 8 years.  Unfortunately, I had just made the jump to the B class (one step below pro) before the injuries started to pile up and I decided to walk away from the sport (6 concussions will do that to you).  My wife couldn’t have been happier that I decided to give it up because she couldn’t stand the fear every time I hit the track.
    -I’ve also done my fair share of autocross events in my dad’s Mercedes and my WRX several years back and my times were regularly near the top.  I do, however, understand that things happen much faster in karting than auto-x.
    -I’m 6′ ~190 lbs

    Where to start?
    -I’ve done my fair share of research and it seems like the most common recommendation that I see is to start in the TAG class to figure out the racing craft.  I understand that motocross is not kart racing, but I have a very firm grasp of the fundamentals of racing (line choice, setting up passes, carrying momentum through corners, etc…) from my time on two wheels.  I’ve also read that motocross guys tend to pick it up quicker than the average joe off of the street.
    -So, this begs the question: where should I start?  I’d like to keep the cost below or around $3k for the kart/most of the equipment.  I know that probably relegates me to the TAG class due to cost alone, but I don’t want to spend $3k on a kart that I will outgrow within a year.  Every time I’ve driven one of the rentals, I’ve wanted more from the kart – when I only have to let off in a couple of corners, and actually brake in one corner, it’s just not technical enough for me.  I’m sure that a TAG cart would be faster – but how much faster?
    -What brands should I look for/stay away from?
    -I think TAG and 125? classes are both pretty well supported in Denver, CO, but I’m not 100% sure on that.
    -Is there anyone in the Denver area that would be willing to let me tag along on a track day to pick your brain and learn from you?

    Thanks in advance, guys!

    PS – I’m trying to join a local forum (www.thecoloradokarter.com), but I haven’t gotten approval from an admin to join yet after 3 days of waiting, which is a total pain in the ass.  If anyone is a member of that board and has tips on how to get approval quicker, please let me know.

    #15498

    Juan David Gomez
    Participant

    Welcome to the sport Sam. It seems that you have done some good initial research but as always there are some things that you can’t find out there.

    The best thing is to hit one of your local tracks on a race day and talk to people. Not familiar with the ones around the Denver area but I’m sure someone else can help you on that front. It will be hard this time of year though as the season is pretty much over. Still try to contact someone here who lives close or a local shop.

    TAG is a goof place to start for someone with your experience and it will give you the most speed without going into a shifter for which the learning curve would be quite steep. They have plenty of power to make your drive more technical and at the same time teach you the fundamentals.

    As far as Chassis everyone has diferent preferences but most would be good choices. The general consensus is to get something you can get support from a local shop or someone. You can usually get a good used package for 2k to 3k.

    Hopefully I answered some of your questions. let me know if you come up with more.

    #15500

    Sam
    Participant

    Thanks, Juan!  And thanks for the response.

    I’d love to swing by a track day, but the season is over from what I can tell.  I’d also like to connect with some people before I head out there because I don’t want to be that creepy guy that just wanders up and starts asking all kinds of questions, especially when they’re trying to focus on what they need to do that day.

    I’ve read several times that the shifter kart is a steep learning curve.  I’m curious – what makes that such a steep curve?  Focusing on shifting while focusing on line choice?  Chassis set up?  I’d really like an opportunity to drive a TAG kart and a shifter kart before making the plunge, but I’m not sure how I could make that happen.

    Are there any other major expenses besides initial purchase, gear, and helmet?  I’m expecting to do the top end once a season and bottom end once every other season as well as the typical chain/sprocket swaps.  What other maintenance is common?

    Thanks again for the input.

    #15504

    Brandon Ryan
    Participant

    Hey Sam,

     

    I am new to the sport like you, and also in Florida, but our racing scene here is great as far as comrodery goes. I literally went to my local track one race day, walked around the paddock, and everyone was approachable. Clearly picking the right time to approach is key also. I saw a group doing an axle swap, so I figured then was a bad time to talk to them.

     

    Also if you are like me with that dear in headlights look, they all seemed to know I was new to the scene if you will.

     

    Expense from what I hear, is all dependent on how far, and competitive you want to be. You can do the bare essentials to get by with just racing, but you will see it in your results I feel. Or you can treat this as your own race team and go all out. Same with any hobby though the biggest expense is the initial plunge. I have heard from everyone running at my local track that Rotax is the cheapest overall after the initial plunge.

     

    Others argue shifter is cheaper after the initial, or leopard. I believe it is as expensive as you make it. If you want a new chassis every year, a fresh rebuild every so many races, clearly this will be more expensive, but you will also see more consistancy.

     

    Shifter curve seems so great because it is the closest thing to an F1 car as you will get iwth a kart. You have a hand clutch for initial first gear, you also have front brakes as well as the one on the rear axle. A 6 speed tranny that you have to manually shift 20-30x a lap, all while trying to hit the perfect mark, and be in the right gear.

     

     

    #15526

    Jim Derrig
    Participant

     I’ve read several times that the shifter kart is a steep learning curve. I’m curious – what makes that such a steep curve? Focusing on shifting while focusing on line choice? Chassis set up?  

    Everything happens faster and there’s more “everything” to do.  My Skip Barber instructor said the next step up from a shifter is a full Indy Car.  If you think auto crossing a WRX has made you ready for the next step below an Indy car, then by all means get a shifter.  😉  If, on the other hand,  you suspect that you possess a somewhat lower level of skill, start in a TaG or even a 4-stroke.

    #15528

    Sam
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Sam wrote:</div>
    I’ve read several times that the shifter kart is a steep learning curve. I’m curious – what makes that such a steep curve? Focusing on shifting while focusing on line choice? Chassis set up?

    Everything happens faster and there’s more “everything” to do. My Skip Barber instructor said the next step up from a shifter is a full Indy Car. If you think auto crossing a WRX has made you ready for the next step below an Indy car, then by all means get a shifter. 😉 If, on the other hand, you suspect that you possess a somewhat lower level of skill, start in a TaG or even a 4-stroke.

    I’m not sure if it’s the WRX that has me ready so much as the motocross. I’m used to banging through gears while setting up for the next section. Having 50+ horse power between your legs and doing 50+ mph through a jump section (while shifting), things tend to happen pretty fast.

    #15552

    russ Jolly
    Participant

    Shifter karts…

    As above stated there is more of everything and needs to be done faster. The hard part in my opinion is being smooth.  Banging through gears, and hitting apexes are not to hard but getting through consecutive corners with all that much more going on is where the challenge comes from. If you get to the high levels of shifter karting like S2 S1 it becomes that much more important. I would say start in TAG then once you feel confident enough move to shifter kart.

    #15557

    Sam
    Participant

    Seems like TAG is the way to go then.  I’d love to do shifters, but I certainly don’t have the experience that you guys do to argue that point.

    So, if it’s TAG, which package should I be looking at?  I want what everyone else does – fast and reliable.  Thoughts?

    Thanks again, everyone.

    #15560

    Brandon Ryan
    Participant

    From my research the Parilla Leopard with MY09 (not sure what this is, but it sure is popolar lol) seems to be the popular motor in tag.

    #15744

    Jim Derrig
    Participant

    Sam,  must have missed the MX reference in your bio.  Yes, MX is good training for karting.  A few people claim karting is a step down.  A lot of TaG and shifter guys seem to be MX guys who got tired of breaking bones.

    Brandon, a “MY09” is just the designation for the most recent version of the Leopard (model year 2009).  The revisions are reliability oriented and performance between the years is the same.

    #15755

    Ray Lovestead
    Participant

    Sam

    I’m in the Denver area and have had a race at every track this year.  I can tell you that the Tag groups are consistently the most attended classes right now.  Most every race had 10-15 people racing.  Pretty exciting stuff.

    The shifter classes vary from 5-10 people.  Racing at the track at centennial is the most competitive on the front range.  Grand Junction probably hosts the most talented (probably start an argument here!) group of folks.  IMI is my home track and has the most laid back atmosphere.

    I run shifter and I love it.  Right now I’ve got some transmission trouble that I’m fixing, but when I’m up and running I’d be willing to let you take my kart out.  Give me a PM.

    Ray

    "Karting Expert Since 2015"

    #15756

    Brian Degulis
    Participant

    Sam I all you’ve done is rentals a TAG kart will knock your socks off It’s a good ride. You can start in shifter. I did but it will take much more seat time to be competitve and safe in a racing format. It’s OK for me because I have a local track to practice that’s available 5 days a week plus I’m in FL so the season never ends. Definetly try to rent or borrow a TAG Kart. After that the decision will probably be easy. If you ever get down this way I can set you up.

    Brian

    #15758

    Sam
    Participant

    Sam I’m in the Denver area and have had a race at every track this year. I can tell you that the Tag groups are consistently the most attended classes right now. Most every race had 10-15 people racing. Pretty exciting stuff. The shifter classes vary from 5-10 people. Racing at the track at centennial is the most competitive on the front range. Grand Junction probably hosts the most talented (probably start an argument here!) group of folks. IMI is my home track and has the most laid back atmosphere. I run shifter and I love it. Right now I’ve got some transmission trouble that I’m fixing, but when I’m up and running I’d be willing to let you take my kart out. Give me a PM. Ray

    That’s very generous of you, Ray! PM sent.

    #15759

    Sam
    Participant

    Sam I all you’ve done is rentals a TAG kart will knock your socks off It’s a good ride. You can start in shifter. I did but it will take much more seat time to be competitve and safe in a racing format. It’s OK for me because I have a local track to practice that’s available 5 days a week plus I’m in FL so the season never ends. Definetly try to rent or borrow a TAG Kart. After that the decision will probably be easy. If you ever get down this way I can set you up. Brian

    So the tag karts are considerably quicker than the rentals are, huh? Well that’s good to know. Are rotax karts two speed? I feel like I’ve read that somewhere.

    Fortunately I’m pretty close to a few tracks myself – The Track at Centennial being the closest. I know it’s $45/ day, but I’m not sure if you can just buy a season pass or not.

    I truly appreciate your offer, too!

    #15888

    Todd Kageals
    Participant

    I’ll throw in my .02.  I started last year in a shifter.  I wish I had started in TAG or Rotax.  I primarily run on the big courses but I run at MMX (GoPro Motorplex) in N.C. too.  At the sprint track, the TAG/Rotax karts are every bit as fast as the shifters.  Both types of karts post almost identical lap times there.  The difference is LOTS of guys are fast in the TAG/Rotax karts where there are only a few guys in the shifters who can run with them (I can’t).  On the road course, the shifters post better lap times.  The single speed TAGs have to compromise acceleration for top speed and vice versa on the road courses.  Even so, the TAGs are still fast (WAY faster than rental karts).  If I could do it all over again, I would start with a Leopard.  I know some guys who left shifters for the stock Leopard class because the racing is better (more guys can drive them fast enough to be competitive).  There is a two speed Rotax motor called a DD2.  It’s cool because it is direct drive (no chain) and has paddle shifters.  I rarely come across one of those though.  Good luck.  You are going to have a blast no matter which one you choose.

    Todd

    #15922

    TJ Koyen
    Moderator

    Going from a rental to a Leopard/Rotax is huge jump up.

    It’s kind of like going from your normal riding lawnmower to attempting to mow your lawn with a Camaro.

    At first, things will feel like they are happening waaaaay too fast and you’ll probably have a few offs or spins, as we all did, but you’ll eventually adapt.

    Starting off in a single-speed kart will make your learning curve much easier and make you a better driver quicker. Learning to conserve momentum is a valuable skill that can get lost easily if a newbie jumps into a shifter immediately and has all the power in the world at his disposal. I’ve been to many-a-club race where my slightly above mediocre driving prowess and measley 20hp Komet has outgunned newbies with shifters and twice the horsepower. That isn’t a boast on my part (maybe a little), it’s mostly to say that you need to learn how to apply the power properly before you jump into the deep end, and the best way to do so is to learn on something slower that requires you to be buttery smooth in your driving. Not to say you couldn’t handle a shifter, I don’t know you or your skill level well enough to make that call, but in nearly every situation, I’m of the school of thought that newbs should start in the slowest class that will keep them entertained and work their way up.

    And as stated, Rotax’s DD2 engine is the 2-speed Rotax. Kind of a cool concept that isn’t super popular. A bit of a niche thing. Stick to something you can race anywhere with decent competition and you’ll be much happier in the end.

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    #15928

    Brian Degulis
    Participant

    There are lots of DD2’s around here but for some reason you never see them show up to race. That’s a shame because it’s a great ride. It’s the perfect middle ground between TAG and a shifter for performance plus no chain or chain maintenance and electric start with the typical Rotax 50 hour rebuild interval’s.

    Brian

    #16607

    Leo Ahearn
    Participant

    Sam- I PMed you here – am local to your area – happy to give you a crash course on karts, getting started in karting, and the local scene.  Maybe some seat time in a real kart too 😉

     

    Leo.

    #16649

    Sam
    Participant

    Sam- I PMed you here – am local to your area – happy to give you a crash course on karts, getting started in karting, and the local scene. Maybe some seat time in a real kart too ;) Leo.

    Leo, thanks for reaching out and it was really great talking with you.  Keep me updated on this Saturday as I’d love to meet you and see you in action!

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