Home Forums General Karting Discussion New guy. comparing costs

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    • #12629
      matthew odonnell

      Hello all.

      I want to try to get a good cost effective analysis on Karting and whether or not a motorsport change is right for me

      For me I am very passionate about racing and have been running autox with the local Porsche club for about 3 years now with my 944 turbo and am a competitive sim racer. I have always had an end game of doing wheel to wheel racing. I have recently bought a 944 spec car ($4000 bought + $500 to be race ready) car as my next step in that goal. I have been doing DEs and TT with it and should be on the track racing within a year.(Need specific club Experience) its going to be costing me about $1000 a weekend and with 8-10 events a years its putting me about 10k a year(with me doing all labor costs which is a plus plus b/c i kind of enjoy it) which is barely doable for me

      I have no love for racing Porsches or Cars or anything really. I just strive for that focus,  adrenaline and drivers high that any form of competitive motor racing can give me, whether its fighting for first or not to be in last. With that said im not into any physical sports i am a gearhead and a mechanic by profession so competitive bowling or tennis isn’t going to cut it for me.

      now for Karting, with my internet limited research it seems karting is a better financial decision but am still more or less in the dark. with that said everything seems less expensive and to an extent i know it will be cheaper for Karting but will it be worth selling all of my car racing acquired stuff and getting into Karting? and please try not to be biased toward Karting but yet that’s like trying to tell someone not to look at an accident on the side of the freeway.

      Also couple more questions

      If you get a Kart how often do you have to get a new one or newer used one. (My 1986 944 spec has been around for 27 years)

      how long do tires last I see there are less expensive that my car ones but am i going to be replacing them twice as much

      And can someone elaborate more on engines. i see some have 15 hour b4 rebuild others 50 hours and one engine was a sealed one that had to be rebuilt by specific person which wouldn’t be something i prefer being that i would want to rebuild my own motors

      And the golden question how much would a 10ish event season cost?

      thanks in advance for any input



      Porsche Driving Instructor, Sim-Racing Expert, Shifter Kart Novice and a Former Marine

    • #12631
      Kerry Matthews

      Hi Matthew,

      A couple of questions for you.

      What part of the country do you live in?

      Do you want to run sprint tracks, (built specifically for karts) or road race on the big tracks?

      I did sprint racing locally in a TaG kart (Touch and Go) for a couple of years until a couple of my sprint racing friends in Reno talked me into checking out road racing at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California.  I’ve been road racing ever since.  Entry fees are higher, but you get more track time.  Entry fees run around $250 – $300 for most road races.  Sprint racing is considerably cheaper in the entrance fee department.  (about $30 – $50)  Not to mention unless you live somewhere like Northern California, where we have several road racing venues within a half day’s drive, road racing will require a travel budget as well.
      A set of tires will last a race day, but some change them for each race.  Depends on your budget.  I’ve run them for 2 races before.  What type of racing you do might dictate what kind of kart you buy.  Road racing is best in a shifter kart, while sprint racing is better in a single speed kart.  (My opinion)  Also, sprint racing seems more sensitive to kart age, as the newer karts usually have the new ‘tricks’ on them to make them a .10 of a second faster, while in road racing it doesn’t matter quite as much, as it’s more of a drafting thing on the big tracks. I’ve been running an older kart (2006)  and run mid pack in it.  The big difference is the speed.  Sprint racing, you will top out at around 65 – 70 mph at most tracks.  Road racing, you’re doing in excess of 100 mph at most tracks.   Although it IS fun to run a road track in your kart and find out you’re 8 seconds a lap faster in your shifter kart than in your Porsche.

    • #12639
      Walt Gifford

      For price karting runs the gambit from very expensive to super cheap. I found a good used frame for $450 and bought a new engine from Harbor freight for $60, I transport everything in the back of a pick up truck and I’m having a ball with it. Some people buy a new $5000 chassis every year and new tires every track session.

      Go to your local track and see what they run.




    • #12640
      Eric Alexander

      Karting IMO is the most affordable form of motorsport there is.  That said, like all things in racing, your budget is what you chose to make it and there are guys spending big dollars to go kart racing.

      I think a big factor in how affordable the sport is to you is how close you live to a track and what programs they run.  My karts are garaged at my local track, and the track runs events basically once a month (if not more).  So a race day is essentially a set of tires ($200), entry fees ($60-$100), and fuel & food.

      Garaging the kart at your track is a big plus IMO.  Hauling the karts, while easy enough, increased my trackday expenses by over $100+.  Also the loading and unloading added time on both the front and back ends.  Now I drive a fuel efficient car to the track for $30.00 in gas, fire the karts up and go karting.  Just FYI.

      A set of tires is $200.00.  You’ll want a new set for a race weekend to be ultra-competitive and managing tires is part of the sport.  But then those used sets are good for track days and practice.  And there are some guys who run sets for more than one race weekend and still have fun.  And some club events mandate tire set usage over time to lower costs.  Again, check with your local track and see what they offer.

      I think maintenance costs are relatively inline with car costs considering the size of the kart (meaning its a lower operating cost than your 944).  But there are times when you’ll find yourself with sticker shock over some spare prices.  I guess that’s true for all motorsports.

      OK, all that said, karting is a very pure motorsport experience.  75% of everything involving tuning and maintenance you can do yourself.  That makes it a very hands-on and personally rewarding experience.   And of course when on the track, the handling and power-to-weight ratio is unreal.  The speed and agility of the kart is a real rush.  The tire slip angles are wide and pushing the limit is forgiving –  although smooth is fast, of course.  But for someone like yourself, looking to push your focus, concentration, and be competitive, karting is very accessible.

      You say you’re spending 10K annually for race your 944.  I spend half that as far as operational costs.  And that includes $2500 for the garage space.  That puts me at the track (not racing) about twice a month minimum – some months up to five times.  Race, say half a dozen times a year, and you’ll add $2000 to that figure – give or take.  So depending on how close your track is,  how much you head to the track – and whether you haul or garage your kart – your annual operational costs might be anywhere from $3000-$7000 for a budgeted karting effort.

    • #12664
      Michael Rutter

      Honestly I got into the sport believing I could be cheap and affordable but it honestly depends on

      1. What class do you plan on running? (Shifter, TaG, Yamaha, Briggs and Stratton, etc.)
      2. What are your long term goals?
      3. What level of racing do you plan on running? just club or nationals/regional events?
      4. Tires are king, how fast do you want to go?
      • tires really depend on what class, shifters run super soft compound tires for maximum grip.  most TAG classes run he Bridgestone YLC or MG Whites these are intermediate compound tires.

      On the subject of new vs used, it really is about the level of racing, club or local racing usually you can be competitive with used chassis.  If you buy used, for the love of god buy a one or two year old kart and inspect it bring a kart shop owner a long with you.  New chassis the best on the market is probably the OTK signature karts (Tony karts, FA, Kosmic) The only problem with karts like these is the damage an inexperienced driver can do, smacking into a barrier or other kart could take a large portion of your Budget out of your pocket.

    • #12666
      Michael Rutter

      Also about engines it depends on the class, and your level of racing.  At nationals/super nationals it is every weekend of racing.  Usually these rebuilds are relatively cheap $400-800 for a full rebuild.  at club we run our club motor until the others start kicking us usually around 6 hours.  I’d also like to remind you we usually run fourty five minutes for two racedays.

      Engine blueprinting is a necessary.  There are hundreds if not thousands of motor builders across the nation.  Which one?  Again it depends on the motor, yamahas are most likely Woltjer or Comet.  Leopard or TAG is CKT and Comet.  Shifter,  Swedetech, CKT, there is a number of different builders across the nation.

    • #12729
      mike wu

      as a budget racer that has done both for a limited time, my vote is for karting.  I did SCCA club racing for a few years, and my costs were similar to your plan, about $1000/weekend.  Due to costs and logistics, I only actually raced I think 6 weekends in 2 years.  And this was running mostly at the back of the pack in one of the low budget classes.

      This is my second year in sprint karting and the cost of everything to get in to the TAG class- used chassis, new prd motor package, paying someone to set it up for me, parts, was a little over $3000.

      Of course everyone’s budgets different, but I can say for me I’m spending $150-200 per club race day.  that breaks down to roughly $40-50 gas and tolls to the track (95 miles away unfortunately), $50 entry fee, $30/day tire wear,  $30/day on engine wear and other parts wear/breaking and occasional crash damage.  1 gallon of gas or less (w/oil) – $10-12.  For tires, I did 6.5 days (probably around 30 heat cycles)  on my last set of YLB tires and only noticed a slight drop off after 20 or so heat cycles.  Maybe as I get better I’ll notice more.  I haven’t done an engine rebuild yet but I’m planning on a top end after 10 hours which I think will be $300-400.

      Other factors – I generally find in karting the racing is a little bit closer, the environment a little more friendly, and it’s actually a little more – exciting – 110mph in a 25 year old beater was not that exciting, 60mph in a high performance kart more so.

      I think this is a pretty fair comparison, budget club car racing vs budget club karting.  Sure you could spend more in karting traveling and running national events, but then you’d have to compare to running grand am or something.


    • #12733
      matthew odonnell


      Location? southern California Orange County. so the tracks i have near by is Cal Speedway, theres one in orange and little more out there in riverside

      Sprint or road? I think I would prefer sprint tracks b/c I like a more technical track

      Class? well I was hoping to use this thread to narrow that down. the general advice is not to start with a shifter cart so I will listen to that and go with a single speed one but i want a class where i can rebuild my own motors to differ some of the costs and b/c i enjoy that stuff. so with all that said what is the most competitive single speed open motor Class

      Long Term Goals? well my micheal shumacker and lewis Hamilton days are behind me so i know im not going pro. long term goals are really for my kids to be successful when i have them and i would like to really know the ins and outs of the sport to give the best shot at being good

      Level of racing? start at the club level and if im winning and have the funds move to region and national in theory


      Walt you said you just bought a motor from harbor freight.do you not have to run a specific motor or just anything under the class specific CC Rate

      What is engine blueprints? is that like its dino stats?

      Drivers Weight? i see some classes have a drivers weight minimum how is weight added to the lighter drivers

      Eric you said 75% of all tuning and Maintenance can be done by the driver. what is the 25% that Cant be Done.

      Also $3000-$7000 :) :) i wouldn’t keep my Kart at the track so the would neglect the racing cost

      that’s it for now


      Porsche Driving Instructor, Sim-Racing Expert, Shifter Kart Novice and a Former Marine

    • #12741
      Mike Clark


      Blueprinting is making sure the engine parts are correctly cut and assembled within specs and tolerances to give performance and reliability.  Some of it is crank alignment, port timing, CC’ing the head. etc. Some is not worth doing yourself simply due to tooling cost. This in no way diminishes that there is skill and knowledge involved that has value.

      Weight is added by bolting on weight.

      My suggestion of find a class you can run locally and take it from there. Every class has a downside. Usually it is either cost or performance. Having a full grid probably helps with the fun and learning. Talk to some of the guys in the class you are considering. We run some hard tires so tire cost is good for us in a local spec class. Most of the expense is fuel/oil, race fees and kart upkeep. Upkeep is mainly engine, clutch, chain & sprockets. Local spec classes are great if you just want to stay local. Our tracks configuration changes often so that is a plus for me.

      Chassis tuning is the big issue. This is where you will gain & lose most of your speed. Spending a little on some stuff to get the kart to fit you will need to be considered as well as some pit equipment if it doesn’t come with the kart. Chain breaker and clutch tools are specialty tools I needed. Most other tools are basic. Maintenance is a lot of cleaning and checking. Staying on track makes life easier. Leaving the kart at the track can be a pain in terms of accessibility & I live 10 minutes from the track.

      The bang for the buck is in karting. I was going wheel to wheel for less than the cost of licensing in a car. Probably $3K to make it to the first race. Some items can be borrowed at first too. The g’s pulled in the kart and the amount of turns is where the karts are fun for me.


    • #12743
      Andrew Pachon

      Thanks to all who have added info and input for a fellow newbie.




    • #12751
      Nathan Thibodeaux

      Living in SoCal gives you a lot of choices regarding tracks and engine packages to race:

      CalSpeed in Fontana

      Adam’s Kart Track in Riverside

      Apex Racing in Perris

      I would recommend the KPV/HPV which is a 100cc air cooled engine.  It is a  high quality, very reliable, high revving two stroke (14,500-16,000+ depending on the pipe).  Though a little slower than a 125cc TAG, the maintenance time and costs are a lot less.  This allows you to focus more time on the two most important aspects of kart racing: driving and kart setup.  I personally race this class so, admittedly, I’m slightly biased.

    • #12758
      Rob Kozakowski

      Go and check it out.  As great as everyone is on here, you’ve got to see it for yourself to know what you’re getting into.

      The good and bad of karting is the choices you have… fortunately, it sounds like you’ll be able to find something to fit your budget if you focus on club racing and maybe the occasional regional race.

      I noticed you said you’re not into physical sports.  Not sure what you mean by that, but trust me, karting’s much more physical than you think.

    • #12763
      Mike Clark


      Chassis tuning can also consist of changing ackerman, front/rear ride height, seat location and even moving any added weight around. You can also stiffen the front/rear of the chassis on some. Track width front/rear is also an option. Rear axles can be tuned for stiffness as well as rear hub widths. In short it can be a big ole can of worms. Documentation is a good thing. Gearing for a particular track is also another thing you have to do.

      Going see it is better. Nothing like a ride in one either. It is not quite a car and can take some getting used to. Some stuff is similar and some a little counter intuitive to a car driver. It is also not like a concession kart.

      One thing is karts are very individual to the driver. So that is hard at first. It is not like I can jump in your kart and have it work for me.

    • #12773
      Jimmy McNeil

      Theirs a race at cal speed on the 27th, I hear theirs going to be some heavy hitters there.

      Would be a great race to check out.

    • #12835
      James McMahon

      Matthew if you can try to avail of that race Jimmy McNeil mentions. It really sounds like you need to get to an event to help your decision along.

    • #12847
      matthew odonnell

      i really made myself out to sound like a fat ass by saying im not into physical sports. lol Being a United States Marine i can assure you that that’s not the case.

      thanks for the tuning input mike. vehicle dynamics and tuning is almost have the fun for me.

      I did notice that race coming up but i have an autox that day with the PCA and i am the equipment chief so i have to be there but i might be able to bail out in the middle of the day to come check it it

      Porsche Driving Instructor, Sim-Racing Expert, Shifter Kart Novice and a Former Marine

    • #12860
      Rob Kozakowski

      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:

      1. 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.
      2. 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.
      3. 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.
    • #13108
      John Matthews

      Hi Matthew,

      I’ve done both and they’re both great.

      If I was in your position I’d schedule one or two less weekends with the car and get a used clutch kart. The F100 group seems to be growing in So Cal and you can run practice days or race pretty cheap.

      If you sell the car and go with just karts you’ll probably miss it sooner than you think. If you get a kart and keep your car you can do either and more seat time will make you better no matter what.

      That is unless you have someone telling you that you have to choose ;-)


    • #13118
      matthew odonnell

      Cheers to you too john.  i got lucky with my better half she likes the racing stuff aswell and sees that karting can be a good cost effective option.  although she does heckle me about having 3 sports cars(M3(Rachel), 944 Turbo(Princess) and 944 spec car (Amber)) and i am coming to the realization that one of those would have to go if i got into Karting(simple not enough garage space). but to get rid of one would be like choosing one of your kids to sell to an orphanage…

      So to be better prepared if the time comes which  kid to sell. rachel cant go she was my first born. so it would be between the 944s. Princess is our nice car to go out in and is almost in too good of condition to get rid of. but she is costing me the most in insurance and repair costs. Amber is costing me nothing to keep and would like to keep around if i find that karting is not for me. but i dont actually “Need” her

      thanks for your post Rob i found it incredibly helpful and it put things in a better perspective.

      Porsche Driving Instructor, Sim-Racing Expert, Shifter Kart Novice and a Former Marine

    • #13268
      Paul Kish

      Have you looked into Oval kart racing?  Have you looked into dirt Oval kart racing?

      It will increase your options of where you can race.

      There’s everything available Oval racing from low hp to high kick in the pants UAS (Unlimited Allstars) racing.



      Brake, Insert 'arc', Turn, Accelerate

    • #13354
      matthew odonnell

      Paul: I cant get into oval racing at all i have tried but no sparkle there. As for dirt, never really gave it much thought…..well that was enough thought, the more lateral Gs  the better.

      Im afraid it might have to be the turbo.  wont really need it as a third car when i get a tow vehicle either and i would rather play with my toys then look at them.

      Porsche Driving Instructor, Sim-Racing Expert, Shifter Kart Novice and a Former Marine

    • #12752
      matthew odonnell

      stop mike your turning me on with all that blueprint talk :)


      What does chassy tuning consist of? just alignment toe/caster/camber


      well it looks like im going to have to make it out to an event.

      Porsche Driving Instructor, Sim-Racing Expert, Shifter Kart Novice and a Former Marine

    • #13342
      John Matthews

      Sell the turbo.

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