David, if you really want to do this, find two kart shops in the area and have a discussion with them. And find a track where you can watch. Most karters will be willing to talk at the track so long as they’re not thrashing a kart to ready it for their next track session. Besides finding a chassis, you’ll have to figure what class to run in and that will determine the type of engine to run. The minis, jr, cadet kart are all for those under 16.
My advice would be not to consider a shifter kart. They look cool but will be way over you ability to drive safely in competition. A Yamaha KT100 would be a good place to start. Your kart shop will know the class situation in the area and be able to make recommendations. Find a class that has good participation. That way you’ll have a wealth of knowledge and spare parts to draw from. If you can, buy a kart and engine package from the same shop. You’ll get more support from them that way.
You’ll find complete kart packages here in the classified section. I would prefer buying a kart that I could see and feel. Kart will bend, so you might have to have it straightened. Look for anything bent or excess wear on the bottom side of the frame rails. Your first kart may not be perfect, but the first kart will be a learning experience. Good luck.
LAD Specialties customer / tony kart / rotax / kt100