Don’t worry Matthew, there’s a few fat-asses amongst us, even if you’re not. In terms of physical demands, kart racing, especially 2-cycle or shifter sprint racing, will require more from you than any car racing that most of us will be able to afford.
I grew up around amateur (club and regional level) car racing (dad and uncle both raced) and while I’ve had the option and opportunity to try cars, I really have no interest because compared to kart racing, it feels slow, it’s less competitive, and it costs more.
There’s nothing wrong with amateur-level car racing – as I said I grew up around it, and I genuinely enjoy being around it because I love cars. That said, it generally caters to a slightly different person than kart racing does. The vast majority of them just love cars and want an arena to drive them to their limits. Some people in cars either don’t know or don’t respect what karting is (i.e. toys for kids, or they think it sounds cooler to tell their friends they race cars than karts). Others have tried kart racing and found it too competitive for them – they prefer the more laid-back atmosphere of the car racing – I’ve also seen a number of these types who were back-markers in karts, but were stars in amateur-level car racing when they could spend their way to the top, which isn’t as easy to do in karts because you still have to have talent.
For me, the biggest benefits to kart racing are as follows:
- If you have the talent, there will always be a level (club, regional, or national) you can run competitively at within YOUR budget. For example, I found a great deal on a lightly used 3-year old Rotax Max kart that I rn at the club level. Not everyone finds deals like I did, but if you are actively looking, the deals are available to get you into the sport for very reasonable money. I’m sure I can run this kart for another 2-3 years and still get about what I paid for it. I have a tiny little utility trailer that was given to me by a friend that easily pulls the kart behind my vehicle. It’s not pretty, and I’d like something fancier, but I’m operating within MY budget, and it works for me. My entry fees and club dues (our club has a new track, so they’re higher than most places) were the biggest part of my budget this year at $100/race for 8 races that I ran + $500 club membership. I spent more on that than I did on fuel to/from the track, and parts and consumables on the kart (tires included). While I know I could be a bit faster if I spent more on tires, ultimately, the guy who beats me is doing it because he’s a bit better than me. The point being, you can be competitive and have lots of fun for very little money if you can keep things in perspective. In my case, that means admitting that I’m in my mid-late 30’s, I have kids, I have no dreams of going to F1, and all I want to do is have fun because I don’t care about a plastic trophy. Go into cars, and someone else can spend a lot of money to make your 20 year-old car uncompetitive. If you want to be competitive, your route to the top is spending more money in cars. In karts, it’s practicing, learning to tune, and becoming a better driver.
- The racing in karts is close and feels fast. We try to avoid unnecessary contact, but you will do a bit of bumping just because the racing is so close and competitive and because everything is happening so fast. Normally the worst case is you might end up with some rubber marks on your sidepods and nosecone. That close racing doesn’t happen in cars because when you bang up a car, it generally gets expensive to repair it.
- A kart takes up very little space in my garage (and I don’t need a big tow vehicle and trailer). This keeps costs down, and it keeps my wife happy.