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Endurance & Enduro Karting: Here’s The Difference

Endurance racing and the closely related cousin nicknamed ‘enduro’ by racegoers, are not to be taken lightly as something to enjoy as a get-together with friends. At the age of 15, I took part in my first endurance karting race, and it was obvious that it is an extremely difficult career.

Endurance kart races typically last around 90 minutes with karts typically reaching around 50 mph/80 kph. Whereas enduro racing features karts where the drivers lie horizontally alongside six-speed engines that can max out at roughly 90 mph/145 kph.

What really sets these two kinds of difficult races apart is accessibility. Most kart tracks will host endurance race events on a regular basis, but enduro races are niche and you will only find these events on road circuits. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the two.

What Is Endurance Karting?

Endurance karting is a branch of karting that consists of 90-minute races with drivers racing their karts at speeds of up to 50 mph, or 80 kph. Endurance karting is quite tough both physically and mentally, and the races are much longer than normal sprint kart races.

As I mentioned before, no matter how tiring and sometimes painful endurance kart racing can be, there’s no doubt that it’s a great thing to do with friends. Many circuits like to organize team endurance races where you’ll have two drivers that switch to whittle down several laps.

After hitting the age of 15, I was finally at the minimum age requirement for the ‘grown-up’ karts and therefore, qualified to race in the endurance team events that our local track offered every other week. Racing for years before this meant that I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on this new steering wheel, and my dad was happy to oblige.

We signed up as a pair for the team race and turned up on race day with all our gear. Having been regulars at kart tracks since I could walk, I was ready to “wipe the floor” with our competition. My dad had done these endurance races before with friends of his, so I was feeling especially confident.

Donned in our own suits, gloves, and boots and carrying our own helmets, we devised a strategy to maximize our chances of victory. Surely the best option was to share the race load, so we decided to each race 25 laps at a time to whittle down the 100 laps required.

Watching all the other racers in their borrowed gear, just happy to be there, I couldn’t help but feel that we totally had this in the bag. However, I quickly realized this race would not be easily won. It turned out that while we placed 2nd in the race, second only to the main-stay buddies who attended every race since they began, the podium place was hard-won.

This event was far harder than I’d ever expected. I’d been in sprint races since I could remember and never found something to be so exhausting. Of course, that’s because most sprint races consist of 20 laps maximum, especially at younger divisions. With all of us in the same type of kart, there was also far more close racing than I’d been expecting.

So, while I’d been expecting a 1st place victory, the 2nd place medal around my neck felt just as sweet. Not only that, but we’d had a great time! If you brush aside the stressful driver swaps that is. Not even my bruised ribs (this event had me begging for a rib protector) ruined the fun of the event for me.

What Is Enduro Karting?

Enduro karting is a branch of karting in which racers lie horizontally in a streamlined kart with a powerful engine. Enduro kart racers may reach speeds of up to 90 mph, or 145 kph. Enduro karting races typically last 30-45 minutes.

There’s something very mesmerizing and exciting about the enduro race category, even if you aren’t a motorsport fan. I’ve never taken part in these races, but I have watched my fair share and you never shake the amazement intermingled with restrained terror for the drivers on the circuit.

The only time you can turn up at an enduro race without gear is when you’re spectating. There’s no such thing as casual enduro drivers, and they all have their own karts, trailers, tools, marquees, etc. The parking lot at the circuit is often full of that equipment.

You likely wouldn’t see so much professional equipment around at endurance race events. That doesn’t necessarily mean that endurance races don’t have a professional side, but it’s far more common for endurance events to be available for all, regardless of professional level, as they are very accessible to the general public.

No matter how small the enduro event might be, the atmosphere feels practically bursting with tension and incredibly professional. Observing the drivers get ready to race is a joy all its own, and you can’t help but feel awed by what they’re about to do.

For spectators, it can be frightening to imagine being in the racer’s place. The intensity of enduro racing is like no other, even for those watching. Spectating enduro karting can be infinitely more exciting than any normal sprinter or endurance event.

Perhaps it’s the added respect you feel for those who lay down in their karts to blitz through the drive of their life, but I just couldn’t help thinking that the spectators were the only ones who could properly enjoy this rendition of karting. The racers must be incredibly brave considering they are flat on their backs being propelled around a road track at roughly 90 mph/145 kph.

Final Thoughts

The best descriptions and definitions of go-karting are grounded in personal experience, with many ways to experience it. Endurance karting is your typical sprinter race with people of various skill levels participating. Whereas enduro racing is a much more intense, faster type of karting.