Home Forums General Karting Discussion Can an older kart be competitive?

This topic contains 25 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  Eric Gunderson 4 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #24558

    Anonymous

    Disclaimer: I blame Mr. Howden for getting my brain turning on this subject :)

    Some of you may have seen our discussion in the comments section of the LO206 article. Mr. Howden got me thinking… Am I crazy for thinking older karts can be competitive in lower hp 4 cycle class (like LO206 or clone)? Call me stubborn, but I refuse to believe that a guy must buy a new or 1 year old chassis to win in todays karting world.

    I would think the push towards the affordability of these classes would also allow people to bust out there old chassis and come back to the sport. What makes newer karts so much better? When I look at my 2001 Margay and my 2007 Margay, I don’t see a whole lot of differences. Is there more between a 2007 and a 2014? Is the push towards hard spec tires in these classes help the older chassis (that’s what was around when they were designed)?

    I realize “old chassis” is relative, but lets put it like this: Can you win the LO206 class at your local track with a 2007 chassis? Could anyone besides Gary Lawson win the Rock Island Grand Prix on a 5 year old chassis (How old is that kart, Gary?)?

    Just trying to spur some conversation as I help a buddy (brand new to karting) put a new LO206 on my 2007 chassis to get him some laps early this spring.

    Thanks,

    Derek

  • #24563

    Rick Brown
    Participant

    I just won a club championship in world formula running an 04 crg Kali.

  • #24564

    Jimmy McNeil
    Participant

    If your chassis has old style brakes, youre going to be at a disadvantage for sure. If the chassis has a 40mm axle, good luck at a National or even a regional (if the regional has heavy hitters).

    Can you be competitive on a 2007 chassis, absolutely.

  • #24570

    Brian Degulis
    Participant

    I was watching our local news channel and they did a piece on how watching TV makes you fat. They surveyed a number of people and found that those who watched 4 hours or more of TV per day had a much higher percentage of fat people in the group. A non thinking person might be led to believe that if they were reading books or playing video games instead of watching TV they would lose weight.

    So does some of the same flawed thinking apply here? Is it just the newer chassis or is it because the guys with the newer chassis tend to be more dedicated in general? I think we would all agree that a new chassis won’t do much for someone without the skill to drive it.

    Brian

  • #24572

    Kirk Towles
    Participant

    My son Corey races 206 and pro gas on a 2000 model coyote wide track le. He wins locally and just won the Gold cup pro gas money race with Gary Lawson finishing 2nd on his older arrow. So my answer would be YES!

  • #24575

    Mick Gabriel
    Participant

    Chassis won’t wear out if you keep a good seat in it. There’s also a reason they make chassis tables. I run an 08 TonyKart and put it on the chassis table after each season or halfway through the year and keep put fresh seats in it and is very fast.

  • #24576

    Walt Gifford
    Participant

    Ideally the chassis should be made no longer than 6 months before the race.

    FAA certified jet engine and aircraft technician,
    Nicholson Speedway class champion 2001,
    Yamaha KT100 Service Center,
    41 years karting experience

  • #24580

    Lance Duhon
    Participant

    Ideally the chassis should be made no longer than 6 months before the race.

    So I need to buy a new kart every 6 months if I want to be competitive in the 206 class?

  • #24581

    David Cole
    Keymaster

    Ideally the chassis should be made no longer than 6 months before the race.

    So I need to buy a new kart every 6 months if I want to be competitive in the 206 class?

    NO

    The great thing about karting is that it all depends on that movable weight that goes behind the wheel. A driver like Jimmy McNeil and TJ Koyen, or others that race national events or every weekend, will tell the difference in their kart as it gets older. For me, and the majority of the racers in the sport, who are just weekend warriors, won’t tell the difference.

    That’s what is great about the LO206 program, you can start out with a 10 year old kart to fit your budget. But if you have the cash for something new, go for it. The engine will still perform the same on either chassis, so it comes down to what the driver and mechanic can do to make the entire package fast.

    Don’t let Rob fool you. He’s done a few races in a 10 year old kart up in Canada, and were just as fast, if not faster, than guys who just went out and bought the latest model. Myself, I ran a 2010 Birel and a 2013 Victory Kart at Rock Island. My pace was about the same in both.

    David Cole - EKN Managing Editor

  • #24582

    Anonymous

    Walt,

    Can you please explain? Are you referencing the fact that chassis manufacturer’s are continuously trying to improve their product? Or do you have a physics reason why a chassis that has sat for 6 months is somehow worse than one hot off the welder?

  • #24583

    Lance Duhon
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Lance Duhon wrote:</div>

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Walt Gifford wrote:</div>
    Ideally the chassis should be made no longer than 6 months before the race.

    So I need to buy a new kart every 6 months if I want to be competitive in the 206 class?

    NO The great thing about karting is that it all depends on that movable weight that goes behind the wheel. A driver like Jimmy McNeil and TJ Koyen, or others that race national events or every weekend, will tell the difference in their kart as it gets older. For me, and the majority of the racers in the sport, who are just weekend warriors, won’t tell the difference. That’s what is great about the LO206 program, you can start out with a 10 year old kart to fit your budget. But if you have the cash for something new, go for it. The engine will still perform the same on either chassis, so it comes down to what the driver and mechanic can do to make the entire package fast. Don’t let Rob fool you. He’s done a few races in a 10 year old kart up in Canada, and were just as fast, if not faster, than guys who just went out and bought the latest model. Myself, I ran a 2010 Birel and a 2013 Victory Kart at Rock Island. My pace was about the same in both.

     

    Thanks for the clarification and thats what I thought.

  • #24592

    Brad Johnson
    Participant

    Talking about the Clone or LO206 and looking at my local area I’d say yes an older chassis can be competitive. That being said, I think I’ve used this before but can anybody remember how old the chassis was when Jordon Musser won his first Rotax Grand National? If I’m thinking of the right race I believe he won on something that was 5+ years old at the time.

  • #24594

    Rob Kozakowski
    Participant

    I’d say the best answer is “it depends”…

    If you’re running the 2-cycle stuff at the SKUSA Pro Tour / FWT / Gatorz level, the newer, the better.  There’s a reason many of these guys have a new (or near new) chassis every weekend – I don’t think it just has to do with deep pockets.

    If you raced those classes at the Regional level, it’s a little less important.  At the club level, it becomes much less important.  The top Rotax racer at my club won a ticket to the Rotax Worlds last year on a rented kart for that weekend.  At the club level, he runs a 5 year-old kart, and wins with his talent – his club kart would be a bit of a liability at the higher level though.

    That said, if memory serves, a few years ago Jordan Musser showed up at the US Rotax Nationals with an older kart, and won.  So bigger events, even in the higher-hp classes, can be won by older karts.

    If you take the LO206, and look at what the class is really focused on, it’s focused primarily on the club level.  In this case, you can absolutely take an older chassis and win with it.  At the club level, it’s mostly down to driver skill.

    Where things might get a bit tricky is comparing WKA rules to other (IKF or ASN Canada) 4-cycle rules, and what impact a newer chassis, or a chassis designed for a 4-cycle, might have on things at the higher levels.

    It’s been proven at the WKA Gold Cups that an older kart can win at the top levels.  In Canada, at the Nationals, I don’t know if you’d see this happen or not – while the karts might not be brand new out of the box, they’re normally pretty new, and designed for a 4-cycle.

    In any event, I think it would be safe to say that a 4-cycle wouldn’t put the same stresses on a chassis as a TAG or shifter would, in terms of fatiguing the frame.

    The biggest problem with older karts is that if you don’t know the history of the kart, you can often spend a lot of money straightening the frame, replacing bent components, brakes that leak, etc.  A lot of the time, it can cost less in the long run to buy a newer kart over an older kart.

  • #24599

    Walt Gifford
    Participant

    Walt, Can you please explain?

    I was jokin’ you can win with almost anything. You don’t need magic chromalloy. Get any kart and put in the seat time to tune yourself to it. Just don’t forget the fun factor.

    Gif

    FAA certified jet engine and aircraft technician,
    Nicholson Speedway class champion 2001,
    Yamaha KT100 Service Center,
    41 years karting experience

  • #24613

    Andrew Simmons
    Participant

    To be honest, I would have to say that sometimes an older kart can be faster than a newer kart since you may have put more time on that chassis that you know how to setup to race over a new 2014 chassis will take weeks and months to get the setup exactly where you want it. I guess a new powdercoating  smell can be all worth something for a newer kart.

    Kart Parts Depot

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    Alabama Synthetics/SRS Motorsports
    http://www.alabamasynthetics.com
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  • #24729

    Oliver Kell
    Participant

    There are a couple things that i think you guys are overlooking.

    1. CIK engines, chassis, and tires are homolagated for six years at a time, on a three year cycle.

    2. Many chassis have remained essentially the same.  For example I have a Road Rebel. My understanding is that the chassis is virtually identical to a RR fifteen years ago. The accessories have changed, for the better, but the chromolly frame is what it was then.

    3. Once again, going back a while, didn’t Jordan Musser (please excuse me if I got his name wrong) come out of nowhere and win Rotax in about 2002 with a TonyKart that was mid ’90s and had been sitting for years?

     

    There may be some exceptions. I know a TK dealer brought in karts used for one round of the world championships at sra, and there was suggestions it may have been a softer steel (ie not chromolly).

    Things may also be different if you’re looking at a 30 or 28mm chassis.

     

    Hope this helps

    Oliver

    • #24799

      Chris Jennings
      Participant

      Oliver, you are correct about Jordon.

      Jimmy explained it well above.

  • #24777

    John Matthews
    Participant

    Drivers win races.

    John

  • #24850

    Oliver Kell
    Participant

    Oliver, you are correct about Jordon.

    Jimmy explained it well above.

    For some reason I didn’t see his post. My understanding is that TK’s were pretty stiff at that time, so it being a few years old might have worked in his favour. Having said that, his kart was significantly older than the TK I had at the time, which also was ancient.

  • #24916

    Gary Lawson
    Participant

    This is definitely a question that cannot be given a definitive answer because it is yes and no. It is very dependent on the specific make and model of the kart.  Some karts could be said to have a “shelf life” in that they will flex out depending on the tubing that is used. Other karts (usually on the stiffer side) seem to almost never wear out as long as you keep the components in good shape.  My kart is an 08. The axle in it is a few years old, having been replaced when it was bent. The spindles were both original until last year at rock island when I wrecked in qualifying after hitting a piece of lead at the apex of the right hander. The seat is original and in the same position from 08. Rear bearing were run multiple years from original and since replaced with SKF ceramic bearings. This model arrow did not have the gusset on the rear cross member from the factory and did crack in 09. I found the crack before it broke completely. Rewelded and also put in gusset. No problem since. The left seat strut cracked 2 years ago and had to be rewelded. Around that time the steering upright cracked at the top where the shaft bolts in. The upright is removable and I replaced it. Lastly, the frame cracked at the right front a few weeks ago at the jacksonville race. The kart wasn’t handling as well as usual so I started looking and found it. Welded it up and picked up the time I needed instantly. So anyway, through all this I still feel this kart is just as good as a new arrow. 2 years ago I was curious myself and went to test it against a brand new kart that was the exact same year and model that I had sitting around. Same engine, tires, and exact same setup. Everything was exactly the same and the karts ran within a tenth of a second on a track over 1 minute long with the older kart being faster.

    Back in 96 I had a top kart that was 28mm tubing that I raced in jr. The kart was very fast for about 1 year. After that it only ran well for a short time if it had new tires. The kart was so soft the RF would gradually bend up from the counter clockwise track we raced at.

    I have had similar experience with margays but they last much longer. Many have run margays for 5 years or more and they are as fast as they were new. Eventually they start to break like the arrow at the rear cross member and then other places. The frames become very soft and corner weights will change significantly from session to session.

    Tony Karts and the rest of the OTK karts I would have a difficult time buying used because they are so soft that if you bend a front end component the frame will also need straightened. I can’t really attest to them being flexed out because I don’t know if I’ve seen one straight long enough to get to that point. You will hear many talk about the big teams replacing the OTK karts after every race or two. On the other hand I know some that have taken good care of their karts and have won big events on Tony Karts a few years old. Granted these karts weren’t raced 20 events a year for 3 years, but they had significant time on them.  I would however, be very skeptical to think that an OTK kart could handle the amount of races my arrow has and still be as fast.

    In general, many of the Euro karts have a tendency to be very soft. You can’t argue the overall success of the OTK line and many manufacturers appear to be following suit in frame design and construction. Simply look at the frame layout of the OTK kart and then compare to a Top kart, Birel, Praga, etc. Paint them all the same color and you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart.

    Overall frame design of many manufacturers does not vary much from year to year. I would guess if you found a 4 year old tony kart brand new in a box the only differences from a new one today would be basically cosmetic.

    I apologize my post wanders and is pretty unorganized, but I hope you find it helpful.

  • #25262

    Mick Gabriel
    Participant

    To anyone who still thinks an older kart can’t be fast or OTK is only good for two races, we just got back from Kershaw Man Cup and won saturday and second Sunday with fast times both days in TaG against newer top karts and tony’s with an 08 frame that has two years of use on it……

  • #25411

    Braian Garcia
    Participant

    My answer would have to be yes. I’m currently running a 2000 Easykart that I bought 4 months ago. It had very little use before I got it, or maybe it was just repainted or something. Since I bought it, I’ve been running with no lead on it on the same set of tires I bought the kart with and I was able to run with many guys at the track who have brand new karts. This weekend there at my local track, the spring series started and I had to make weight. We slapped on 50 lbs of weight and a new set of MG Yellows and hit the track in the TaG Sr class. I was able to qualify 3rd and finish 5th keeping up the pace with 3rd and 4th for most of the race until I tired out. An old chassis can definitely be competitive at the lower levels, but I can’t comment on whether it could be at higher levels.

  • #25819

    Eric Gunderson
    Participant

    If you take enough time, and enough attention to detail, assuming you invest in things such as tires and engines (which will make any kart faster), you can probably win at most levels aside from national levels. Most people buy a new kart and new equipment because it is simpler–it’s going to be faster on average out of the box. The older the chassis, the less ‘user friendly’ it probably is, and the harder it is to find a fast-time-spot setup wise.

    ericgundersonracing.com

  • #24571

    TJ Koyen
    Moderator

    Chassis will wear out eventually. I’m not a metallurgist so I don’t know what’s happening to the tubing, but I know the kart will start to feel different and react less and less to adjustments.

    You can still be competitive on a local or regional level with a chassis that is a few seasons old but it would be pretty difficult to go to a big race with an old kart. I’ve seen karts that are 1-2 seasons old, maybe 3 at the max, do well at big races with the right driver. It’s tough though.

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  • #24591

    Greg Lindahl
    Participant

    A talented/experienced driver can do very well in quite old and “experienced” equipment.

    Use your $ to work on your driver first.

  • #25013

    Greg Cavouras
    Participant

    The fact is that there are relatively few “older” karts that have been set up and maintained properly.

    Many people mistake “worn components” for “worn chassis” and rather than squaring/aligning their old chassis and replacing the typical wear items (eg: kingpin bearings) they buy something new.

    A well prepared/maintained chassis that’s even several seasons old can easily win club races with a good driver.

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