Karting is a Heart-Pounding Adrenalin Rush!! To learn more about it and help determine if it's the thing for you, read on. Information about karting is available by clicking on any of the following topics:
Fastest Growing Form of Motosports
Competition kart racing is the fastest growing form of motorsports in the world. An estimated 100,000 drivers actively race in the United States alone. Kart racing is not only the most popular participant motorsport, it is also the most affordable. Drivers can start at an early age... even as young as 5 years old! By the time these drivers are 18, they have matured into accomplished racers with as many as 13 years of actual experience.
It provides all the fun and thrills of full scale, high performance racing at a fraction of the cost. It appeals to people of all ages and from all walks of life, but especially to those who want the challenge and excitement of competition at an affordable price. Karting provides a place to develop and fine- tune driving skills in a controlled environment. For young racers, karting is a super training ground for teaching responsibility, good sportsmanship and respect. There's a place for everyone… from local levels up to national level competition. Many programs and classes are available so it's easy to feel the competitive thrill right away.
Karting is a Family Sport
Karting has proven itself to be a fantastic family sport. At kart races you invariably see a lot of participation from moms and dads, sisters and brothers… all working together to get the kart (and the racer!) on the track. Kart racing is clearly the best and cheapest "Family Oriented" form of motorsport, with drivers starting at age 5 years and continuing into the sixties and beyond. It is important to note that karting has the highest number of registered drivers of any class of motorsport.
The Premier Source for Advanced Racing Skills
To graduate into the world of high-tech motor racing and to become successful, you must gain the racing skills required… and the best school for this is clearly through Karting. Check the backgrounds of leading drivers in any form of motorsport and you will discover that most of the top-ranked drivers learned their skills in karting before graduating into their chosen field of racing. This is particularly so in "open wheeler" classes such as Formula 1, IRL (Indy Racing League) and CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams)... where approximately 95% of the drivers began their competition driving in karts. As well, many NASCAR drivers have used karting as their stepping-stone to success.
Karting is Budget Oriented
While karting is widely recognized as the most competitive racing available, it is also recognized as being among the lowest cost forms of racing. For as little as $1,500, an aspiring driver can join the ranks of those who are discovering the rewards of karting. Particularly when you factor in the low cost compared to the great amount of track time, there is no better return on your motorsport dollar. Perhaps more important to many people, karting takes less of that commodity more precious than money… TIME! Between-race maintenance on a racing kart is only a matter of minutes or hours compared to days or weeks in other forms of racing. You can be as involved in karting as you want to be, with room for everyone from the weekend racer with one kart and one engine to the dedicated enthusiast with several karts and a trailer-load of spare engines and parts. You can budget as much or as little money and time as you can afford. But the most important thing you'll get out of karting is FUN.
Basic Types of Karts
There are a number of different types of karts, which can be confusing to the newcomer. Some of the more popular types are:
Probably the most popular karting sport, on a world-wide basis, is sprint kart racing, which is what BeaveRun's 8/10 mile Wilson Circuit was primarily designed for.
- Sprint karts
- Shifter karts (also known as gearbox karts)
- Enduro (or road racing) karts
- Oval track (or speedway) karts
Sprint karts are at the root of all karting. Take 4 wheels, a frame, a seat and a motor ... add to it a throttle, some brakes, steering and you have a basic sprint kart. Pretty basic, yet such a good idea that after 45 years and millions of racing miles by tens of thousands, karting is growing stronger and stronger every year.
Sprint karts today are quite sophisticated, yet they remain amazingly similar to early kart designs and also remain highly affordable.
Sprint karting race courses are smaller-scale versions of sports car-type road courses, generally in the range of 1/4 mile to over one mile in length, with an occasional race being held on city streets! BeaveRun's Wilson Circuit, at 8/10 of a mile in length, is among the premier sprint race courses in the United States. Sprinters can also be found on full-length major Road Courses such as New Hampshire International Speedway , Summit Point Raceway, Pocono International Raceway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Daytona International Raceway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Track, Road Atlanta, Road America and, of course, Beaverun MotorSports ComPlex's North Track.
Shifter karts are at the high end of performance within the sprint kart category. While most often designed to compete on sprint racing tracks, they are distinguished from the more typical sprint kart by having a 5- or 6-speed transmission instead of a direct chain drive linking the motor to the drive axle. Shifter karts also tend to have front wheel brakes in addition to the rear-brakes-only found on the non-shifter karts. Needless to say, shifter karts are extremely fast and are not recommended as the entry-level kart. The purchase price of shifter karts is commensurate with their performance, generally in the range of two to three times that of a non-shifter sprint kart. Likewise, maintenance costs can be expected to be higher than for the non-shifter variant. Top-end shifter karts sell new for about $6,000-$7,000.
Often known as lay-down karts, enduro karts are specifically designed to race on sports car-type courses of 1.5 miles and longer. Enduro racing, or "road racing" as it is frequently known, is the long-course version of karting. If you've always had the urge to experience the high banks of Daytona, or Laguna Seca's "Corkscrew," or Road America's "Thunder Valley," or BeaveRun's Turn 7 on the North Track, then Enduro racing might be for you.
In enduro racing you'll be using all the basic karting techniques, but with a couple extra considerations - like aerodynamics and endurance. At first, racing a kart by laying almost flat on your back might seem a bit strange, but, after a few laps you'll find that this wind-cheating, center of gravity-lowering posture makes for better lap times and better personal endurance. You'll need the latter because enduro races last anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour.
Enduro karts are very fast, with typical speeds being in the 95 MPH range for piston port 100cc stock motors and up to 150+ MPH for 250cc super karts. Due to the high speeds, enduros are not recommended for karting novices.
Oval Track Karts
Oval track karting (or "speedway karting"), whether it's on dirt or asphalt, is run on short oval-shaped tracks of approximately 1/10 to 1/4 mile in length. The tracks may look simple in comparison to a sprint track, but they offer quite a challenge. "Sideways" racing action on specially built oval karts, sporting all the wings and fairings most full size sprint cars have, replicate in many ways the popular Friday and Saturday evening speedway events so popular throughout the country. As is traditional with oval track racing, the direction of travel is counter clockwise.
At BeaveRun, a tri-oval configuration is built-in to the Wilson Circuit and oval track racing is conducted on the asphalt in counter-clockwise direction. The tri-oval track length is 3/10 of a mile and the asphalt is 26 feet wide.
There are two distinct forms of oval karts: An "off set chassis" with the driver situated off to the left side rather than in the middle (as this kart will only have to turn left) and having wider tires on the right side than on the left; and, "champ karts" having a roll bar, safety belts and the general look of their full-size oval-track race cars.
As in other karting divisions, there are Speedway Karting. Divided by engine type, as well as the driver's age and experience, there's a place for just about anyone who wants to race. Among the least expensive forms of karting, oval track karts cost about the same as a good sprint kart.
Karting Classes in General
Karting's many classes divide the competitors by age, experience, type of racing equipment and weight… the goal being to have classes that have close competition based primarily on driver skill rather than physical advantages.
Young people may start karting at the age of 5 in the Cadet class, this taking them through to 12 when they move into the Junior category. Ordinarily, 11 years is the earliest age that a driver may move into the "junior's" but they must move into this class at age12. Once a driver reaches their 16th birthday they are considered to be a Senior.
Within a particular type of racing equipment here are two fundamental engine types that form the basis for nearly all kart racing classes… 2-cycle and 4-cycle. The 2-cycle motors vary in size and performance, generally within the range from 50 to 250 cc displacement and from comparatively stock to highly modified. Within the 4-cycle category, they range from stock engines of five horsepower up to alcohol-burners that are highly modified.
Weight is an important factor in karting performance, largely due to the high proportion of the driver's weight in comparison to overall weight of the kart and driver. In order to enable heavy racers to be competitive with light weight racers, separate classes are frequently created and adjustments can also be made by adding ballast weights to the lighter karts.
Race Classes for Sprinters
Sprint racing is sub divided into direct drive and shifter categories and then each of these is subdivided into a number of classes according to the rules adopted by the organization sanctioning the race event. The World Karting Association (WKA) and Shifter Karts USA (SKUSA) are among the larger kart sanctioning bodies in the United States. Age, engine type, weight and other factors go into the overall class structure set forth by these organizations. Local clubs and race tracks also set forth their own classes to fit the circumstances of their particular group of enthusiasts… such is the case with the race series being conducted by the BeaveRun Karting Center.
The difference between sprint classes is highly correlated with cost, with the more sophisticated karts having higher costs for chassis, engine, tires, etc. The end result is that competition within the sprint classes couldn't be closer, as you will often see packs of sprinters running nose-to-tail for an entire race.
Race Classes for Enduros
Like Sprinters, Enduro karts also are broken into classes according to age, weight and engines. Unlimited, the fastest of all Karting classes, use two-stroke engines up to 250cc with six-speed gearboxes and reach speeds at some tracks of over 130 mph. With over 20 classes at the larger events, there's likely to be a class to suit any interest, budget or level of experience.
If you are just getting starting in karting, the first problem will be selecting the class in which you want to compete. This decision should not be made by selecting the best second-hand bargain you can find. Instead, come out to BeaveRun MotorSports ComPlex or go to your local circuit and find out which classes are well supported. This is probably the circuit where you will race, and it is best to join a class which will provide interesting competition over a range of skill levels.
Several classes are available for 5 to 12 years old, including 50cc kid karts designed expressly for the 5 to 7 age group. At age 8, racers can decide if a two-cycle 80 cc cadet strikes their fancy or maybe they're more inclined towards a Briggs and Stratton 4-cycle that burns racing alcohol . Two of these 4-cycle classes are offered, both having metered restrictor plates to limit top speed depending on experience of the racer.
For senior drivers the selection of a suitable class must take into account three variables. First is your budget. How much are you able to afford to purchase an outfit and how much you are able to afford to keep the outfit running? Second: How heavy are you? Although each class has a minimum weight limit, which the complete outfit plus driver must exceed when weighted at the end of each race, Many of the very top direct drive 100cc drivers are built like jockeys, few being more than 5 foot 6 inches tall and most are under 140 pounds. Third: If you have ambitions to become a 100cc kart champion this is the specification you need to meet. If you just want to race for enjoyment, taller and heavier drivers find that 100cc/125cc karting is still great fun and there are classes for the "bigger" drivers. However if you still have 'being a champion' as your target, shifter and four-stroke karting are more forgiving in terms of height and weight. These classes use larger capacity engines and adding a gearbox also narrows the differential between the small and large driver. One other advantage of the shifter classes is that, if you have ambitions to race on sportscar race circuits, you are developing technical skills highly transferable to that form of racing.
The next most important point is to determine the restrictions for the class you have chosen. The clubs produce a regulation booklet known as the Gold Book (MSA Kart Class Regulations). Within this booklet are listed the classes that the majority of clubs and the major championships follow. Take care when buying second hand as not all of the older karts conform with today's racing regulations.
Having sorted out the classes worth entering, the next decision is how much are you prepared to spend?
Budget for Getting Started
Kart racing is not simply having a chassis and an engine. The rules insist that a driver has a certain standard of crash helmet, racing suit, and gloves. You will need a good tool kit and you will require a number of rear axle sprockets (which determine your gear ratio and are varied for different circuits), wet tires for those occasional days when it rains, and so on. The faster and more complex the outfit, the more you are likely to spend to keep it running.
Chassis:||new $1200 - 3000||used $500 - $1500
Engine: 4-cycle|| $300-$1000
2-cycle||$600-$1500|| used $150- $600
Helmet full face |
(Snell 95 or higher)
High-top Shoes|| $30-$120
Abrasion Resistant Racing Jacket |
or Driving Suit
Ear Plugs (recommended)|| $5-$10
Kart Stand|| $40-$150
Spare Parts|| ~$250
Keeping it Safe
There are some risks associated with any type of motorsports. Tracks and drivers are always concerned about safety.., Drivers must have the proper safety equipment, including a suit or jacket, an approved helmet, driving gloves and a neck brace. and. You will be asked to sign a waiver of liability when registering.
Karting Governing Bodies In the United States
Kart racing in the United States is sanctioned by several organizations: the World Karting Association (WKA), the International Kart Federation (IKF). KART, SuperKarts USA! and a few other smaller organizations. The WKA is strong in the eastern states, IKF is strong in the western states, KART is strong in the midwest and SuperKarts USA! Is organized exclusively for shifter karts.
Each of these organizations have their own rules and classes, but have some cooperation on the homologation of engines and technical inspection procedures. All of the organizations have an elected board of directors, or trustees, who make and approve the rules and regulations for the conduct of the members and requirements of the equipment. In each of the organizations, the racers are members and the tracks are sanctioned. Either clubs or track owners apply for sanction. In some instances, the club conducts the race on a particular track, and sometimes the owner conducts the race without a club. The track sanction does not give the tracks any input into the program. It only means the track can conduct races under the rules of the sanctioning organization.
The Wilson Circuit at BeaveRun is sanctioned as a Master Track by the World Karting Association (WKA). WKA establishes rules and procedures, sets standards by which to sanction tracks, and conducts annual championships for various types of karting. There are over 10,000 active members and 150 tracks nationwide.
The various race series conducted by the BeaveRun Karting Center will be governed by WKA rules. For more information, contact WKA at http://www.worldkarting.com or by calling (704) 455-1606.
Links to Additional Information About Karting
Karting is a popular sport throughout the world. To learn more about it, please follow any of the links provided below.
Karting Sanctioning Bodies:
Stars of Tomorrow
World Karting Association
National Kart News
If you have any questions or comments directly for the BeaveRun Karting Center, please email us at: [email protected]
Karting Information with a Local Flavor
For those interested in discussions about karting in the Tri-State area you may view John Evan's Message Board at: http://pub70.ezboard.com/bracingohio
Opinions and statements posted by participants on John's Message Board do not represent the opinions or position of BeaveRun MotorSports ComPlex.
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