You may have seen me at the SDKA race – I have GP #8 in the shifter class.
We don’t have a shop in SD right now, but there are many brands supported in the region – Acceleration Karting (LV) is a big CRG dealer, the Musgraves are doing really well with Tony Karts, Full Throttle in OC is supporting Arrows, etc. Get a copy of Go Racing and you will see the ads. Right now, you pretty much can’t go wrong with a new CRG or Tony, and I wouldn’t hesitate at looking at Intrepid or Arrow. I’d suggest going to an LAKC race – you will see samples of all the major chassis, and there should be reps from the various shops.
WRT ceramic brakes, I have them and I’m very, very impressed with them. Very little service so far (and I’m running both SDKA and the NCK road racing series), great stopping power, and light. The major downside is price if you crack a rotor (I run skid rails on the rear underframe, to prevent this).
GP’s come out of the CRG factory (really, the only unique part of a GP is the frame), but right now there is little support in the western US; their distribution network seems to have fallen apart a bit. In terms of resale value, CRG’s and Tony’s would probably be the best bets.