I didn’t know where to ask this so here we go. Skip Barber has the Road to Indy and is probably watched by Team USA for scholarship opportunities. Karting has stuff, I’m not too sure. I was very motivated to go with Skippy but the cost for the required classes doesn’t get me as much in seat time as a kart. Which is best to progress a 16 year olds career?
Let’s just say I’m not the new kid on the block with no experience in a car. Honestly i don’t know how much knowledge drivers come into the sport with but i can guarante I’m not completely clueless when it comes to what i need to do. I think it’s just honeing the skills really. Sorry if i sound a bit overconfident in my abilities but that’s where i stand ability wise.
Having raced both karts and Skip Barber (at around the same age as you), my opinion would be to start in karts. Like you said, you’ll get more seat time in a kart for less money. This will let you develop skills like race craft and consistency so you’ll be able to focus on learning to drive the car when you make the move to Skip Barber. In addition, making a big mistake in a Skippy car can easily double the cost of a race weekend (which isn’t cheap to begin with). It’s much cheaper to put a new axle in a kart than a new rear end on a Skippy car.
On top of all that, when I used to race Skip Barber they did an annual “karting shootout”, which I’m assuming they still do. Anyone under a certain age who raced a kart in the past year could show up and participate for about the cost of a normal Skip Barber race weekend. The top three finishers received credit towards future races, and the winner was awarded a fully paid season in the Skip Barber national series. Not too shabby.
I did the skippy 3-day school and that is how I heard about karting. Basically, everyone who showed up with karting experience kicked butt on everyone else.
There were more students than cars, so we went out in shifts. During one interval of downtime I was standing next to one instructor when the fastest drivers in the other group went by, all packed together and racing. The instructor radios another instructor and says “I see the karters have all found each other as usual.”
I asked a few question and was told (1) seat time, i.e., practice, is just as critical in auto racing as in any other sport, you don’t expect to pick up a basketball for the first time and go straight to the NBA and you shouldn’t expect to get in a race car and be ready to driver it correctly, (2) the best way to get seat time is karting, and (3) by the time you progress up to a shifter kart, the next performance step is an Indy car, i.e., a shifter is harrier than an Indy Light.
On top of it all, karting is WAY cheaper than the alternatives. No wonder the F1, Indy and even NASCAR drivers drive them in the off season. It’a really a no-brainer to start with karting.