Karting is an exhilarating sport that almost anyone can get into. There are karts for kids, adults, and even electric karts for those who don’t enjoy noisy petrol engines! But getting into this sport is much more difficult than many people realize. You might therefore be wondering how to get into karting.
8 key tips on getting into kart racing are:
- Start by watching karting racing
- Visit your local race track
- Practice in rental karts
- Chat with other drivers
- Buy the essential gear
- Practice as much as possible
- Enter your first competition
- Map your career path
While these steps might seem quick and easy, the reality of executing these steps is much more difficult than you might expect. If you want to get into karting, you’re going to need some free time, access to a race track, and a lot of money!
What Age Can You Get Into Kart Racing?
Believe it or not, you can get into karting at just about any age. You don’t have to be over 18 or under 35 to start karting. There are kids that start karting as young as three years old, and there are some drivers who still race karts at the age of 40+. This just shows that karting does not have an age limit, and you’ll always be surrounded by people who share your passion for the sport.
The majority of drivers who are now in Formula 1 started karting at an extremely young age. It’s common for these drivers to start driving karts between the age of three and six. While you can start later and still make it to Formula 1, it only becomes more and more difficult the later you start your motorsport career.
On the other hand, there are drivers who start karting well into their adult life and still thoroughly enjoy it. There’s nothing stopping a 30 year old driver from racing with other drivers in the senior category (which has a minimum age restriction of 15). Many older drivers tend to enjoy karting more because there is less pressure on them to win races and prove themselves.
Unless you’re trying to make a career out of motorsport, it doesn’t matter what age you start karting. Drivers who aim to race for the rest of their lives need to start at a younger age, but if you’re just getting into karting as a hobby, then you can get into it at any age!
How Much Money Do You Need To Start Karting?
Karting is one of the most expensive sports that you could choose to do. In your first year of karting, you can expect to spend at least $10,000 on your karting journey. This includes buying your own kart, tools, equipment and safety gear, and spending money on consumables such as tires, fuels, and lubricants.
Overall, karting is always going to be expensive, and it’s not just the first season that’s going to cost you a lot of money. While the expenses do decrease after buying all the bigger items, you’re still going to be spending money on keeping the kart running and keeping it maintained.
The main problem with karting is that you need to spend a lot of time in the kart to practice and improve. However, you also need to spend money to get it running and to keep it running out on track. Between fuel, tires, and maintenance, it can become costly keeping your kart running just for practice or testing.
If you’re entering into competitions the costs simply keep adding up. You will need to pay race fees, buy a brand new set of tires for each round of racing, and spend even more money on fuel and maintenance. On top of that, you will need to update your chassis and safety gear every few years to remain compliant with the rules.
But you don’t need to be a kart racer to enjoy karting, and there are plenty of ways to start karting cheaper, with the foremost way being picking things up second hand. But if you do want to race karts, it’s going to be an expensive journey.
How Do You Become A Kart Racer?
There is a big difference between kart racing and karting as a hobby. There’s an even bigger difference between rental karts and racing karts. Understanding these differences is crucial if you’re getting into karting, especially if you want to start racing!
Rental karts are the slower karts that have 4-stroke engines. These karts are much slower but more reliable, as they are used all day by different people, so they need to be durable. These karts can be used for racing, but it’s not ideal. Rental kart racing is popular in Europe, especially for endurance kart races.
Racing karts on the other hand are much faster, and these cannot be rented out unless you find someone who is willing to let you use their kart. Racing karts typically have to be bought and owned by the driver (or their team). You will also need to maintain and transport these karts yourself since you own them.
Racing karts normally have 2-stroke engines, and they are much faster than rental karts. If someone is talking about karting or kart racing, then they are most likely referring to these karts.
Getting Into Kart Racing
Now that you understand the key difference between a racing kart and other types of karts, you can start looking into how to get into kart racing. This is where it becomes much more difficult than rental karting, and you’re going to have to fork out a lot more cash to support kart racing.
Aside from the money involved, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind if you want to get started in karting. There are some things you can do to make it much easier to get started in karting, especially if you’re brand new to the sport. Karting is a difficult sport to get into, so it’s important to follow the right steps to make your journey into sport as smooth and as easy as possible.
KEY POINTS•There is no lower or upper age limit in karting
• It is a very expensive sport to get into
• There are big differences between rental karts and racing karts
8 Key Tips To Get Into Kart Racing
1. Start By Watching Karting Racing
The first thing you need to do is watch kart racing! It might sound like an obvious one, but many people leap into the karting world without even watching races beforehand. It’s important that you watch kart racing before you jump into the sport because it’s completely different to other forms of motorsport like Formula 1 and IndyCar.
First of all, there’s a massive difference in how karts work compared to the much bigger cars used in other racing series. Watching karting races will help you to spot these differences and understand how you can approach kart control, racing lines, and even overtaking. We often learn through imitation, so go and watch the best karting drivers and start taking notes.
It’s also important to keep in mind that karting race events work differently to other forms of motorsport. While many motorsport events are spread across an entire weekend, karting events normally take place over one day. From practice to the final, you should become familiar with how the race weekend works before you get started in karting.
The best way to become familiar with the process is to head down to your local race track and watch an event live. This will give you an idea of how drivers go through scrutineering and how the entire race day process works. If you can get an idea of what to expect before you get to a racing event, you’ll feel much more relaxed and confident about the entire process.
2. Visit Your Local Race Track
You should then visit the track on a non-racing day. This could be any day of the week except for a Saturday (which is when karting races usually take place). Ideally you would visit the track on a day when drivers are testing with their racing karts.
Many drivers will head over to the track on the same day for practice or testing, which allows them to rent out the track together and get some great practice in. This will give you the opportunity to get up close and personal with the karts. This allows you to see the difference between racing karts and rental karts.
Seeing videos and pictures of the karts is one thing, but seeing them in person at the track is entirely different. You’ll get a better idea of how fast and ruthless racing karts truly are. This will help you to make the final decision on whether you want to jump into one of these karts to race.
3. Practice In Rental Karts
But before you even think about getting into a racing kart you need to try out rental karts first. Although they are much slower, the handling and racing lines that you need to use in rental karting are very similar to those of racing karts.
The more time you spend in these rental karts, the easier you will adapt to racing karts. The benefits are that rental karts are much cheaper and stronger than racing karts, which means that you can spend more time in them, and there aren’t massive consequences to crashing them.
Rental karts can still be used for practice even when you have your own racing kart, and it’s a good idea to use them as much as possible. Sometimes it can be extremely helpful to change perspective by driving a slower kart, and it might help to bring you a breakthrough in your lap times or overtaking.
4. Chat With Other Drivers
It’s crucial to talk to some of the drivers and parents around the track while you’re there. Whether it’s during a race day or simply while they’re out there practicing and doing testing, chatting to some of the people at the track will give you a better idea of what it’s like to be karting in your local area.
You can also find out more about the costs specifically related to your local area. While you can estimate the costs of karting in general, the reality is that every area and region is unique, from the costs of getting spares to variables like fuel prices.
You can also get a better idea of where you need to go to buy your karting equipment. Sometimes you need to buy something online and pay an expensive delivery fee, and other times there’s a karting shop nearby that you can visit to find things at a cheaper rate. The best way to find out about this is by talking to people who are already in the sport in your area.
While talking to drivers and parents you will also get a better idea about the championships that you will be driving in. It’s the perfect opportunity to find out more about what you’re in for. Whether you want to find out who the best driver is or when you need to head to the track for practice sessions, have all of your questions ready!
5. Buy The Essential Gear
The next step is to buy everything you need. As I mentioned earlier, it can become incredibly expensive in your first season. It’s easy to spend over $10,000 in your first year, so it’s crucial that you set a budget and stick to it. Saving costs wherever you can will help you a lot in go-karting.
The best way to save a chunk of money is by buying a second hand kart. Buying second hand can be risky, because you never truly know what kind of condition your kart will be in. But if you can find a good, reliable second hand kart from a seller you trust, it could be your cheaper ticket into the sport.
Safety gear is not an area where you should try to save money. You need to buy good quality safety gear for karting because you are so exposed to the elements. There are no seatbelts, and the only thing separating you from the tarmac is your safety gear. Buying mid-range gear is your best bet.
In terms of tools, you can get away with investing into the essentials to save some money in your first season, but you should still plan to buy the rest of the tools and equipment that you need in the following season. There’s nothing worse than running up and down the paddock looking for tools and equipment!
6. Practice As Much As Possible
If you want to get into kart racing, you need to practice as much as possible. Karting is a difficult sport to master. If you’re just starting out, you need to get used to the speed and the handling of the karts. The only way to stop those nerves you get when jumping into the seat is by spending more time getting to know your kart and driving it around the track.
Unfortunately, practicing in karting is not like practicing football or athletics. Every single minute you spend driving your kart is going to cost you money. You will need to fuel the kart, fit it with new tires, and keep the sensitive machine maintained.
You also can’t just practice karting anywhere. You need to be at a circuit with your kart and all of the equipment it comes with. It’s quite a hassle to get better at karting, so it’s definitely something to keep in mind before you start your karting journey.
7. Enter Your First Competition
Entering your first competition is a big step. You’re going up against some of the drivers who have more experience than you, and maybe even better equipment.
If you’ve had enough practice and you spent some time watching them race, you will be ready to start racing. Don’t expect to be the quickest on the grid right from the start, and it’s okay if you’re right at the back to being with. The most important part is learning and having fun with your racing.
You’ll always be nervous sitting on the grid or heading out on to the track for qualifying. This is completely normal, and all the other drivers are nervous too. As long as you stay focused and give it your all out on track, the results will eventually come your way. Remember, your first season involves a steep learning curve, so make sure you learn every possible lesson along the way.
8. Map Your Career Path
Finally, you need to make sure that your karting career is going somewhere. Even if you’re just getting into karting as a hobby, it’s a good idea to map out some goals and aspirations that you have as a driver. Whether that’s to race on a track in a different country or continent, or to race in a prestigious championship.
Mapping out your karting career gives you something to work towards and it makes the journey much more meaningful. While you still need to focus on where you currently are with karting, it’s a great idea to think of the big picture and tick off some achievements along the way.
If you’re looking to make a career out of motorsport, mapping out your career path is critical. You need to have a plan on how you’re getting to the series you want to race in, and you need to have a backup plan for each step that you’re planning on taking!
Can You Get Into Kart Racing If You’re Not Rich?
Motorsport in general is considered the sport of the rich and famous. While that is true, karting is the cheapest form of motorsport, and it is possible to get into the sport even if you’re not from a rich family. Some of the best Formula 1 drivers, such as Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, came from average families that didn’t have a lot of money.
Nevertheless, kart racing will still cost you a significant amount of money. Even after your first year of karting (when you’ve bought the kart, safety gear, and other expensive equipment), it’s still going to cost you money to keep the kart running and to keep it maintained.
It is possible to start karting without using any of your own money. If you can secure sponsorships or join a kart racing team, you can cut your costs, or even race “for free.” However, finding sponsors is extremely challenging, even for experienced drivers who have spent years in karting.
Can You Get Into Kart Racing As An Adult?
It’s possible to get into kart racing as an adult. Many people think of karting as more of a kids’ form of motorsport, but there are plenty of adults who race in karts. Drivers can even go up to the age of 40 and over in some cases.
The official karting World Championships also have a ‘masters’ class, which is reserved for older drivers and removes the lighter and therefore often faster young drivers from their class. Many other championships also offer masters classes, and this is ideal for those who are older than the average karting driver.
Getting into kart racing can be challenging. Not only is it an extremely expensive sport, but it’s also very exclusive. You need the right equipment, the right skills, and you need to follow the right steps if you want to make your karting journey a successful one.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.