Home Forums General Karting Discussion Seeking opinion – Is a 15 yr old safe in a 125 shifter kart?

This topic contains 22 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Chuck hurlbert 5 years, 11 months ago.

  • Author
  • #12937

    Dave Rutter

    I am seeking opinions from those with greater karting experience than I. My son raced his rookie season in Yamaha Jr, and had pretty good year. He ran club sprint races and a few street races; he ran one Tag street race at the end of our season, 15 or so races in all along with 10-15 practice days. He was lucky enough to drive a couple of Honda shifter karts at practice days and now wants to make the jump to racing a shifter kart next season. My question to you fathers out there – is it reasonable to move right from Yamaha to Shifter with one season experience? We plan to attend Jim Hall’s school in the spring to help him along in whatever he drives next year.he is a pretty big kid, drives with confidence and did great on his test drives. What say you?

  • #12942

    Brian Degulis

    Your his dad so you know his capabilities better than anyone on this forum. You have doubt or you wouldn’t be asking. If your not sure then don’t. Or get him enough seat time on practice days to eliminate your doubt.


  • #12946

    Matt Dixon

    Age has nothing to do with it. My son was in one at 13. If he was safe in the Yammie he will be safe in a shifter.

    Ability will determine if he is fast.

    If your worried about it they have awesome braking.  Or you can put an S5 restrictor and an airbox until he can keep it under him.


  • #12948

    Billy Musgrave



    ^Watch. I believe Adam’s 13 years old in this.


    Give your kid a challenge, and watch them rise to the occasion. Don’t be scared.

  • #12992

    Dave Rutter

    Thanks for your input – I am concerned with the leap from Yamaha to Shifter – the increase in speed potential is pretty huge. Most kids work their way up more gradually, but we got started late in the game, with this being his rookie year.

  • #12993

    Matt Dixon

    Understandable Dave as I mentioned you can restrict it to get him used to it.

    The exhaust resricter

    <span style=”color: #000000; font-family: ‘.HelveticaNeueUI’; font-size: 15px; white-space: nowrap; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(26, 26, 26, 0.296875); -webkit-composition-fill-color: rgba(175, 192, 227, 0.230469); -webkit-composition-frame-color: rgba(77, 128, 180, 0.230469);”>http://www.skusastore.com/mobile/default.aspx#P37552</span&gt;

    and a 2 hole airbox will knock about 12 HP off it and bring the kart down to about TaG Sr times


  • #12997

    Walt Gifford

    Machismo never ceases to amaze me. What are you thinking putting a 15 year old in a shifter kart, don’t do it.


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

  • #13000

    TJ Koyen

    My personal opinion is you’d be far better off climbing the ladder slowly and moving up to TaG or something, but only once he’s mastered Yamaha. Meaning being a front runner regularly. As soon as you move up, you’re handed more variables to deal with, especially with a shifter. Even moving to TaG, you’ll have to develop a little different driving style, learn new chassis tuning techniques and the competition level will be higher.

    I’m always an advocate of moving up classes only once you’ve shown you’re capable in the class you’re in. Once you plateau, then move up. But he’s your kid and it depends on what your/his goals are in karting. If it’s to eventually be a top-level driver, I suggest moving up slowly and learning each step of the ladder. If it’s just to have fun and drive something fast then you can do whatever you guys want.

    If you want to go shifter, it’ll probably be fine from a safety standpoint, just make sure he has plenty of practice before racing. Stuff will be happening exponentially faster and he’ll be far more busy in the kart so it’s a lot to take in and get used to. The leap from Yamaha Jr. to a shifter is immense. It’s like just learning to crawl and then challenging Usain Bolt to a sprinting contest.

    Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
    Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com

  • #13002

    Greg Wright

    My opinion, too big of a jump too soon. I long for the days when a driver had to be 18+ before jumping in a shifter kart.

      Don’t discount the increase in costs, they will also be a big jump.


    Greg Wright

    Rapid Racing Inc.

    Greg Wright
    Rapid Racing Inc.
    Vintage B-Stock Pilot
    "When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."

  • #13004

    Matt Dixon

    TJ has great points and my boy did climb the ladder. But the question was is it safe, and I stick with if he was safe in the Yammie he will be safe in a shifter.

    No one should race over their head but to drive sure.

    As for cost, after initial purchase I spent way more in TaG then Stock Moto.


  • #13008

    Roberto Perez

    <div class=”d4p-bbp-quote-title”>Dave Rutter wrote:</div>
    My question to you fathers out there – is it reasonable to move right from Yamaha to Shifter with one season experience?


    In my opinion, he should work his way up through a bit more..  I think moving to Komet  or Tag would be reasonable. 

    just my 2 cents..

  • #13010

    bo rougeou

    I remember it being a steep learning curve for the driver and me.  Looking back, I would have held off.

  • #13013

    Dave Rutter

    It’s not a machismo thing – I’m seeking information from parents who have walked this path before – been here, done that. My son has driven shifter karts a few times and absolutely loves them. He drove them well, good control and dealt with the speeds well within his limits. This is not a father pushing his kid into something he’s not ready for – this my kids’ idea!! I’m in the information gathering mode only , in order to make the right decision.

  • #13014

    Billy Musgrave

    I was going to just let this go, but it’s too ridiculous. People, get out of the 1970’s already.


    Dave, your kid’s already driven one and is asking to do it. Give him the chance, and he’ll be having more fun than he’s ever had before, while developing himself as a driver at an incredible rate.


    As a fun fact, I started driving shifters when I was 15, and before that I drove a TaG for about 4 days. It’s not about machismo or anything like that; just give your kid a challenge like this and watch how fast he matures as a driver.

  • #13015

    Curtis Cooksey

    I agree with Billy! Put him in a shifter it is way less dangerous than many other things that 15 year olds do. I would be more scared racing against an adult with less racing experience.

  • #13028

    Jim Derrig

    <div class=”d4p-bbp-quote-title”>Dave Rutter wrote:</div>
    My question to you fathers out there – is it reasonable to move right from Yamaha to Shifter with one season experience?

    Without knowing the driver, this question cannot be answered with any degree of confidence.  And if it can’t be answered with any degree of confidence, then it is irresponsible to answer it “yes.”

    But we’re racers so its part of our make up :)

    I’ve raced shifters against 15 year olds who I trust on the track more than most 40 year olds.  I’ve raced shifters against 15 year olds who were fast as heck but were totally out of their element in terms of race craft and handling traffic.  Medical science says that until our early 20’s the part of our brain associated with making rational judgments is not fully developed.  That’s an average and there are many exceptions.  But playing the averages and considering only one year of experience, I’d say the question should be answered “no.”  Besides, TJ is dead on about developing technique slowly and with patience.

  • #13038

    Rob Kozakowski

    I remember the days of having to progress up through different classes before being allowed to race in the “big” classes.  I honestly don’t know that it did much “good”.

    Is your son comfortable with racing a shifter?  Are you comfortable with it?  It seems the answer is yes, given he’s tried it and you seem to think he did alright.  In that case, I’d say why not do it?

    I understand the argument of getting good at one thing before moving onto another.  That said, most kart racers don’t have the time or resources to get real good at kart racing, which means that most guys running shifters should probably not be doing it if you apply that logic.  The problem is that this sport needs bodies, and if the choice is running a shifter with a smile on your face before you’re really “ready” or getting out of the sport, why not go shifter racing?

    Now, I wouldn’t recommend you sign up for the Supernats with no prior experience.  Be sensible, do a bit of practice and testing, run some club races, and if you’re doing alright, then you can consider whether you want to move onto regional or bigger stuff.

    And there’s no reason you can’t become good in a shifter if you “bypass” the other karting.  Like anything, if you put in the time and effort, there’s no reason it can’t happen if you have the talent.  The learning curve WILL be steeper and it might take longer, but there’s no reason it can’t happen.

  • #13054

    James McMahon

    I haven’t read the thread, but I think in short, if you have to ask the answer is no, not yet.

  • #13091

    Tom Grisham

    I agree with Matt D. and Billy M., both of whom have a  lot of experience on this issue.  If your son is safe in a piston port class, he will be safe in a shifter, even if off the pace at first.  Matt’s son races SKUSA’s S5 class, and even though the motors have some restriction, he would beat most unrestricted adults.  My 13 year old daughter also races S5, as well as TagJr. and, honestly, the shifter class is way less prone to accidents and bent parts.

    One only needs to go to a motocross track to see what a 15 year old–or a 10 year old for that matter–can do.  As in karting, most adults can not catch them.  Do not let anyone tell you he is too young just because he has not reached 16 or 18.

    Karting is way safer than motocross.  If your son is off the pace, he will simply be behind most of the action until his speed picks up.  Absolutely, if you and he are comfortable with it, then go for it!

  • #13106

    John Matthews

    My best driver was 15 when he started in a shifter.



    He was super mature and laser focused on everything it took to be the best driver he could be. He actually won the money to buy the kart from winning the F1 Sim Championships the year before so he had a very clear idea of what he was getting into. He also had the confidence to approach me on his own and ask to drive for me because I was running a series he wanted to be involved with.


    Now if it was my kid….

    No way. Even though she’s smart and confident I would want her to spend a bunch more years getting good at clutch karts before moving up (quick disclaimer: my 15-year-old plays volleyball, she likes driving karts but doesn’t race). Bad habits with driving are easy to form and hard to get rid of. Learning how to drive smooth is just plain hard when you have to make 50 shifts in a minute and a half lap and you’ll never be truly fast if you’re not smooth as baby do-do. Also, like any sport karting requires a bunch of practice if you want to be good. I don’t have any idea what your finances are, but I bet if you’re asking this question you’re not on the path where your kid will be running  Indy Lights like these two.


    Unfortunately being a dad sometimes means holding your kid back so they can get the experience they’ll need for the future. If your son is determined to race shifters he’ll find a way to do it regardless of what you say. But, be aware that running with the “fast guys” at your local track on a practice day and being competitive anywhere it counts are two different things.

    I’m sure you’ll make the right decision but I would discourage moving him up after only one season in junior karts unless he has the motivation to not only drive a shifter but also wrench and help pay for it.



  • #13107

    Brian Degulis

    Give him enough seat time in a shifter on track days and you won’t have to ask if he’s ready you’ll know. Make sure you know before you let him compete. He’s got plenty of time no reason to rush it. BTW my son is 13 and runs a DD2 and an Aixro and he’s fine with it but running and racing are 2 diffrent things.


  • #13163

    Chuck hurlbert

    You learn far more about racing and kart tuning the second year. If you change classes you leave that experiance on the table. Ask me how I know…

    He is 15, keep him his current class for next year. During next season figure out where he wants to go.

  • #13012

    Dave Rutter

    <div class=”d4p-bbp-quote-title”>Walt Gifford wrote:</div>
    Machismo never ceases to amaze me. What are you thinking putting a 15 year old in a shifter kart, don’t do it. Gif

    <hr />

    <div class=”bbp-reply-signature”>40 years karting experience
    FAA Jet engine mechanic
    Yamaha KT100 service center</div>
    <div class=”bbp-reply-signature”></div>
    <div class=”bbp-reply-signature”>!</div>

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