November 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm #37268
I’m new to karting, and have a general question on classes. What is more competitive or considered to be a “higher” level of karting, the shifter classes such as KZ1 and KZ2, or the non-shifter classes such as KF1 and KF2?
November 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm #37270
Welcome to the sport
Where in California are you located at? And what are the tracks near you?
Shifter karts may be a handful to start with, as they are brutal to drive, and if you’re new to karting you could get discourage very quickly, especially when you run into carburation problems.
How old are you? How tall? and how much do you weigh?
November 17, 2014 at 6:20 pm #37272
I am located in northern California so the closest track for me is Infineon. I come from a motocross background so I am very familiar with a manual sequential transmission as well as maintenance for 2-strokes. I’ve never driven shifter kart however so I don’t have any idea what its like; I’ve only driven the Rotax karts that they have for the karting schools at Infineon.
I’m 16, 135 lbs, and 5’9″.
November 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm #37275
I think in Nor Cal the 3 top classes are Stock Honda Cr125 shifter karts, Cr80 shifter karts, and Tag karts, not sure if there’s still a class for the ICC shifter karts or open class for 125 shifters.
May be worth giving them a call to see what classes are available, and the quantities of race entry/participants.
You’re right, the MotoX will help you a lot in terms of shifting gears, and multitasking, but with shifter karts you will experience a much faster pace, a lot more shifting up and down, a lot heavier G forces at the corners. Overall things will happen a lot faster, things will come at you a lot quicker, RPM’s will be a bit higher, as these motors like to be on the pipe.
Anyway the speeds are incredible crazy around the corners, and when chassis is properly tuned they are a blast, and lots of fun to drive.
I noticed you mentioned you have driven the TAG karts at Sonoma, just think of it as double the work to drive the shifter karts. And if you’re ok with that, then welcome to the challenge
I would totally start with a Yamaha KT100 clutch kart, then move up to a Tag Kart or a CR80cc shifter kart before jumping straight to the 125cc shifter karts, but who knows? You might be a very fast learner. I just wouldn’t race right away till at least I had 1/2 a season of practice under my belt.
Some of the guys that race at the nationals are pretty much perfect, and almost never miss a beat/shift, they really are accurate drivers, and would eat me alive at my age.
But yeah, contact the track at Sonoma and find out what club runs there and at any of the surrounding tracks, and ask them about the classes they run ( you don’t wanna buy the wrong kart/engine package) Only to find out there’s no class for it, or the numbers of entry are too small.
Those are my 2 cents, hopefully that helps you. Fast Freddy. ;)
November 17, 2014 at 8:04 pm #37276
Thanks for the info, very in depth. As of right now, I plan on doing the 3 arrive and drive series races at Sonoma as well as the Kart Race Course before going out and buying my own kart. But I am definitely up for the challenge of driving a shifter kart. I will definitely keep your advice in mind.
November 18, 2014 at 5:28 am #37286
We don’t race KZ or KF here in the USA. KZ has one race per year here and that’s at the SKUSA SuperNationals which is mostly to draw European drivers over.
In Europe, the single-gear classes have been considered the “premier class” for the most part because it’s a more “pure” form of karting, however, with the failure of the KF rules package, most of the manufacturers switched their focus to KZ so now one would argue that class has the top-level pilots.
But like I said, it’s all irrelevant since we don’t race those classes here. The highest competition you’ll find here are in the national TaG and Rotax classes in my opinion. Stock Moto (our shifter engine) typically gets a smaller turnout for kart count but it’s all regionally dependent.
Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend to any newbie to jump into a shifter right off the bat, regardless of your racing background. Karts, especially shifters, can be especially brutal to handle properly and jumping in too early can not only beat you up and potentially hurt you, but others as well. Not to mention you’re likely to develop a lot of bad driving habits with all that power and no understanding of the finer points of driving a kart. I don’t say this to put you down, but just from years of experience of seeing brand new karters come out on a practice day with their new shifter kart and being an absolute menace on-track to the rest of the drivers, simply because of inexperience.
My recommendation to all newbies is to start in a single-speed class, at least for your first year. If you have racing/mechanical background, you maybe will have an easier time adapting to the learning curve, and you can always move up to shifter once you’re comfortable. I think I speak for all experienced karters when I say this; we are only expressing our concern because we don’t want you to jump in head first, spend lots of money, and get frustrated when the shifter is a little too much to handle. We’ve all seen tons of people come into the sport with the exact same notion; running shifter immediately, only to see them spend less than a year struggling with driving the thing and then selling it and never coming back. If you start lower on the ladder, it’s easy to move up, and you’re less likely to get fed up with it right away. Keep in mind that driving is shifter is basically like driving a tiny IndyCar. Everything happens so fast. Not often do you find a guy who is capable of jumping into an IndyCar with no experience.
Just some thoughts. Good luck!
Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
November 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm #37314
Thanks for the advice TJ, and others. Now in terms of classes, are they based on age and type of kart, or by skill level? Or maybe both? In motocross for example, there is “A”, “B”, and “C”, where “A” is the fastest class. There are subclasses within A, B, and C for bike type and age. How does it work in karting?
November 18, 2014 at 7:29 am #37287
You should get into a shifter as soon as possible. At 16 you’re getting a late start on a Formula 1 career.
FAA certified jet engine and aircraft technician,
Nicholson Speedway class champion 2001,
Yamaha KT100 Service Center,
41 years karting experience
November 18, 2014 at 7:31 am #37288
double plus to everything TJ said. He’s a national level driver and knows what he’s talking about. TaG karts are plenty fast enough. AJ Almendinger will be at the Supernationals this week and he’s driving TaG, not shifter.
November 18, 2014 at 11:21 am #37301
AJ is running TAG Senior and S1 so yes he is running a shifter also.
November 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm #37317
At 16 years of age you qualify to race with the big guys
I would strongly suggest to start with Yamaha KT100 at the Senior class , or a TAG class with Rotax, Leopard, etc 125cc class.
I urge you to give the local track a phone call, or send them an email to see what’s available to you.
All of us here at the forum are from many different states ( Nation Wide )
But also have racers from all over the world. So every state, every town in the same state may have totally different classes from anything I could recommend to you. That’s why it is so important to contact them and see what they run there, and how big the class is.
I downsized on my shifter karts ( we had 4 of them ) because there was no class in my town ( local track ) and I also liked the club here where they ran spec Yamaha KT100, not to mention I’m getting older, and shifter karts are brutal to drive at sprint tracks, even with my years of experience.
It all depends what club you wanna race in.
NorCal kart club has a nice mixture of venues that include shifter karts 125cc and 80cc, along with the TAG karts. And the do a lot of big track races (Road Racing), which involves racing at big tracks where Indy Cars, and race cars run.
But once again, You need to contact them, as there are way too many classes for us to give you a good advise.
If I were you, I would go to that arrive and drive program that you already are scheduled to do anyway, and while you’re there, I would totally talk to people and ask them about the club, the types of karts and engine packages you should run, and the ones that are more fun and enjoyable to do that will suit you.
And once you do your first arrive and drive event, a lot of your thinking is gonna be different from our recommendations here at the forum, and will also open your eyes and may decide that you like a different engine package or a different class.
I can tell you form a personal experience, I’ve ben driving tons of different karts, engine packages, many different chassis manufactures, and when I made the change from shifter karts to KT100’s, I thought I was gonna dominate the competition! Well let me tell you I GOT MY BUTT KICKED LEFT AND RIGHT. As it was a steep learning curve for me, but I got better at it with more seat time, and tuning my kart differently, and changing my driving style. I will honestly say that a KT100 will really teach you how to drive.
My 2 cents. Fast Freddy. ;)
November 19, 2014 at 10:44 am #37343
Classes are divided up by a combination of age, weight, and engine package. Most of this is denoted by the class name, for example, “Komet Senior Heavy”. This class uses the Komet engine, is a senior class so it’s for ages 15+, and is “Heavy” meaning the weight is higher. This is a class that would cater more to heavier drivers who are at least 15 years old. There usually is a “Komet Senior Light” class to go along with this, which would be the same engine and age, butwith a lighter weight for smaller drivers.
Karting classes vary a lot from region to region. You might find one engine package is much more popular in your area than the others and if you were to travel out of state, it might be the opposite. As Freddy mentioned, going to your local track and talking to a local kart shop would be your best bet to get information regarding classes and kart packages for where you live.
On a national level, the popular classes in the several different touring series use a variety of engines.
United States Pro Kart Series (midwest and eastern based national series) is a more traditional class structure, using the Yamaha KT100 engine for several classes, but also using TaG engines like the IAME Parilla Leopard.
SuperKarts USA’s national Pro Tour and regional ProKart Challenge (west coast national and regional series) race the Stock Moto package for juniors through seniors and also offer TaG classes that use the IAME Parilla Leopard and IAME X30. Although in 2016 they are going to be only allowing the X30. SKUSA’s class structure is a ladder system for Stock Moto basically. You start as a junior in the S5 class, then when you’re old enough you graduate to the S2 class which is their “semi-pro” division. After that you can run the S1 class, or the “pro division”.
The Rotax Max Challenge series use only the Rotax built Micro, Mini, Junior, Senior Max engines, along with the Rotax shifter, DD2.
If your goal is to someday race nationally, it might be worth keeping some of these series in the back of your head so you can figure out what engines you should be running that will be legal where you race in the future. That way you aren’t jumping from engine to engine depending on where you run.
Of course, the classes offered at local club-level racing are a bit of a free-for-all so that’s why it’s best to see what’s popular in your area.
Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
November 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm #37365
Alright thanks, I will definitely keep some of those series’ in mind for the future. I will most likely start with the Redline Series at Sonoma. Although I’m not sure I’ll be racing any SKUSA events anytime soon, I checked out their website and I’m intrigued. Are the California Pro Kart challenge events always based in Southern California, or are there sometimes more in Northern California? I checked the 2015 schedule and noticed that there is only one Norcal event, the one at Sonoma.
November 19, 2014 at 11:09 am #37346
November 19, 2014 at 5:58 pm #37369
Race those events you’re planning to do first
And see how you like it, ask the people at the track about all kinds of classes, ask the people at the track, in the club, engine builders, all other racers, and see what their opinions and thoughts are.
Then come back and check back with us again.
You have plenty of time to decide future racing classes and you will also have new questions.
Right now concentrate on your upcoming event, and after that we’ll focus on what’s next.
I do care about new people getting started in the sport, and I really wanna help as much as possible, but these questions are way too advanced for now.
Please don’t be offended, but approach it this way first, and then we’ll have something to talk about. Fast Freddy. ;)
November 19, 2014 at 8:35 pm #37375
Alright, point taken. I’ll take it step by step.
November 19, 2014 at 9:26 pm #37379
My advice is to remind you that just because you are driving a faster kart, doesn’t make you a faster driver. I use to have the same thoughts. Coming from motoX background, BMX, cars, etc….. I always grew up with a dad that use to walk around saying “you can never have enough horsepower”.
My advice is to rent a kt100 or KPV for a regional event and see how you do, but be prepared to be humbled. The power of cars and moto can get you out of mistakes. The 100cc karts are PURE driving. I have learned a ton going down from TAG to f100, including that I still have a lot of work to do.
November 19, 2014 at 9:37 pm #37381
Alright, understood. It seems like the popular opinion is that its best to start in a TAG or kt100 kart.
November 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm #37384
Josh, the other cool thing is that you can run 100 class, learn to dial in your chassis, etc. then when you want to move up to TAG (which is a pretty big jump, probably about like 125 to 250 in moto), you can simply take the motor off, sell it, and throw the tag on. You will already know the characteristics of the chassis and don’t need to buy a whole new rig like you need to in moto. Good luck!
November 21, 2014 at 8:49 pm #37538
Well thats convenient, I will keep that in mind thanks Rod.
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