Home Forums Autocross / Solo 2 Looking to Move from car to Kart. Help please!

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    • #79478
      Matthew Brown


      I have searched the interwebs far and wide about shifter karts, racing karts and prep. Have found that this site has the best combination of information, informed opinion and reasonable classified section. So here I am.

      My wife has stated that she would be willing to autocross, however she does not want to do so in my Miata. So I am looking for a Kart, budget is about $3000 all in for safety equipment, trailer, one Kart and tires for a season. Am I out in left field with expectations, I am quite mechanical (two engine swaps, full suspension switch twice, body work, minor electrical work) and not scared to get hands dirty. Could I get a decent used chassis, a good engine and be running with that budget?

      I am 6′ tall, about 200 pounds, wife is 5’11” and around 135-140. We would ideally be able to do a single kart to start with. Have a minivan as a tow vehicle/support vehicle and a two car garage for storage/working on Karts. Schedule is to be going full season in 2020, maybe with some other racing aside from Autocrossing for me.

      Any suggestions on what to look for, what to avoid would be appreciated.

      Thank you in advance.

    • #79486
      Alan Sheidler

      For 3 grand total, you won’t get anything that will be anywhere near competitive, or that won’t be in need of a ton of work and additional $.

      I’d expect to spend at that much, or at least $2500 on a complete kart that would be ready to run.  Then add in the trailer.  A set of new tires should run less than $250, shipped to your location.  Another expense can be specialty tools for karting.  Your best bet would be to find a setup from someone who is getting out of the class, or the sport.

      But my biggest reservation is the apparent belief that stepping into autocross in a shifter kart might be a good idea.  Although easily the most speed/performance per $invested, a kart is at the same time one of the most difficult to drive and maintain.  Not trying to scare you away, but if your wife is uncomfortable with the idea of autocrossing a small car like the Miata, then she will absolutely freak out in a kart.  If you want to spend a couple of years in a clutch kart like a Rotax, or even a DD2, that might be a way to get in.  But a 6-speed CR125 or IC engine in a kart means doing a lot of things at once, tough for even an experienced autocrosser.

      Oh, and make sure that the local club has an acceptable venue that won’t break both the machine and the driver, and that karts are allowed.



      Found this setup, might be something to think about?


    • #79492
      Rob Kozakowski

      My thoughts…

      $3,000 for a “newer” shifter to go racing with would be tough to find.

      But for autocross, you can probably get away with an older kart… which “can” save you money and allow you to find what you’re looking for if you’re patient.  I say “can” save you money because while some older karts have been well maintained (what you want), many haven’t, and by the time you get them prepped, you’re often better off with a newer kart from a cost perspective.

      I don’t know much about autocrossing with karts, but several reasons why I would suggest an older kart are that I don’t think they require updated bodyworks and bumpers, and you might be able to get away with engines, and engine accessories (pipes, silencers, airboxes, carb, etc) that aren’t legal anymore in some of the karting orgs, etc.

      As long as the brakes and the engine are solid and nothing on the kart is bent, you should be ok to autocross.

    • #79497
      Matthew Brown

      Thank you guys for your input. $3000 is my working budget currently, I scour craiglist locally and classified sections of sites (this being one of them) looking for reasonable deals.

      I am holding the same rule here that I do with my Miata, take my budget and that becomes the “goal” however it isn’t hard and fast.

      Locally we have only Junior Karts who run, so I am not worried about being competitive at a national level at all.

      My wife has had many folks in her life die or nearly die in roll overs, including one at a track day. So she is scared to even go for ride alongs at autocrosses in the Miata. But she loves just going cruising in it, or spirited mountain drives. Her driving the miata at an autox is right out.


      What should I look for when considering shifter karts? Is there a resource that ranks each brand and their good and bad points? What is a good balance of affordable and powerful for engine? I know these are subjective questions based on opinion, but google phrasing only gives me so much information. I would prefer boot on ground info.

    • #79531
      Morgan Schuler

      Have you looked at http://www.thecoloradokarter.com and the forum on there?

      The best kart for a newbie is one that is bought from and supported by a local shop. The local kart shop is your best resource for questions, parts, and is invaluable to someone starting out! Find out who supports and sells what in your area.

      In ascending order of price and power: Shifter engines are Stock Honda (CR125), Mod Moto (125cc modified dirt bike engines) and KZ/ICC (purpose built for karting, mostly Italian made). In relative terms, Stock Honda would be the most affordable to own/operate and easiest to tune.

    • #79588
      Patrick Roth

      I appreciate what you are trying to accomplish and there may be options but I disagree that a shifter kart is even remotely a good option for someone that has safety concerns and is not an experienced autocrosser.  I spent 5 years autocrossing before I got into karting (been karting 7 years) and decided a few years ago to take my shifter autocrossing for a day just to have some fun.  While I had fun, it was extremely rough on the kart and was somewhat terrifying.

      The autocross course was at a “nice” parking lot but even the smallest mismatches in concrete not only damaged the bottom of my chassis but I also had to constantly catch and correct as the kart bottomed out.  Manhole covers and drain grates suddenly became terrifying as in a car you are worried about light poles… well… in a kart there are a lot more things to worry about avoiding.  At the same time this is all happening at a pace that is dramatically faster than any single car out there (I was 3.5 seconds faster than that fastest mod car out there and probably 6-8 seconds faster than a street legal Miata).  I honestly don’t know if I could’ve caught the kart in time to not hit something if I hit a slick spot or a hub came off or some other failure (keep in mind I consider myself an experienced autocrosser AND karter).

      I’m also reminded of an incident a few years ago where a young girl died at an autocross because of some failure on her kart.  I don’t recall specifically what the failure was but I’ve had throttle’s stick on me (the cable unraveled in the sleeve) and I’ve seen people with brake failures.

      I love karting and push this sport at any chance I get but in this case I think you should steer away from it.  My wife and I both autocrossed and she was never comfortable enough to drive the Porsche that I raced but she still had a ball racing her VW Beetle! :)



    • #79678
      Matthew Brown


      Thank you for your response, looks like we may go another route for a dedicated autocross car than a Kart. You brought up many things I had never thought of, and I bottom my miata out at times if I take a certain aspect of one of our lots wrong.

      Looks like we will go to A-Modified and I will be firing up the welder instead. Thank you!


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