Having the kart build is pretty essential if you want to be racing competitively in the go-karting world, and even if you aren’t, the quality of top brands isn’t up for dispute! Through the course of this article, I’ll talk about the best brands out there for kart racing.
So, who are the top racing go-kart manufacturers? The top racing go-kart manufacturers include:
- Tony Kart
- Margay Racing
- Top Kart
- Birel ART
- CRG Kart
These manufacturers are listed in no particular order, because each one has their specific areas in which they have an edge on their competitors. But, overall, they each deserve a top spot in the karting industry and are all of fantastic quality! Let’s jump right into what each brand brings to the table.
To best understand this European powerhouse of a manufacturer, it’s good at look at their long history from which they built this prestige of theirs. I won’t give you a lecture, readers, so sit tight and don’t worry! Have a look at our full feature piece for the full story of Tony Kart.
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People talk a lot about humble beginnings, and Tony Kart certainly had those! They started as a vision from Antonio “Tony” Bosio back in 1958, and have grown worldwide since that point. Their instantly recognizable green chassis are a vision of reliability and racing pedigree, even today.
Having a kart built by Tony Kart is to invest in this long and rich history of manufacturing. They were one of the first brands to introduce a kart racing team. Backed by them, and using all of their products, they took the European and International scene by storm.
Of course, all products made by them will be imported to the US from Italy; where they’ve kept their base of operations in the same tiny town since Tony Kart was born in Bosio’s backyard workshop!
Because of this, you’ll find that Tony Kart chassis are some of the most expensive on the market.
And while you can certainly race go-karts on a budget, let me tell you now that products in the wild world of motorsports aren’t expensive for no reason at all.
That extra cash you spend on Tony Kart products will give you a kart that meets the brand’s two powerful buzz words: performance and quality. Everything they design and hand-craft in their Italian factory is made with this in mind, and they have in-house kart drivers to test everything on tracks before it ever makes it to metaphorical shelves.
Chances are you’ve heard of Tony Kart or seen flashes of striking green chassis at race tracks. Their brand recognition is instantaneous and almost instinctive at this point, which really speaks volumes of how consistently excellent their products have been over the years.
In order to be the best, you really need to make investments into a chassis that will carry you all the way to success. A Tony Kart chassis isn’t infallible, because nothing is, but they’ve taken a lot of the guesswork out of what makes a solid, competitive kart through the conception of their kart racing team many years ago.
All that remains is to take the plunge, invest in that racing green, and see the results out on the track coupled with how quality feels beneath you while driving. You can’t get more prestigious than an Italian-grown racing pedigree!
Notable Tony Kart Chassis
- The Tony Kart Formula model was made in 1991 and became the poster kart of the racing team that was founded under Tony Kart
- The Tony Kart Racer chassis, made in 2004, is still in use to this day! The Racer has won the most amount of titles in Tony Kart history
- The Tony Kart Extreme chassis was owned by an Australian racer, James Courtney, and it had a revolutionary 50mm axle. After his victory in 1997, Tony Kart made every kart afterwards to this blueprint
From international to checking out your home turf, Margay Racing is a much-beloved and highly competitive kart manufacturer found in St. Louis, MO. Their journey into the karting industry started way back in 1964, so they have a long history too!
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They didn’t begin by building chassis, unlike Tony Kart, but they instead built a hugely successful quick-change gearbox specifically designed for go-karts. Back then, the company was known as Mar-Kart and quickly became a well-known name in the growing kart industry found here in the US of A.
When a kart building company known as King Kart went up for safe, the founder of Mar-Kart swooped in to buy up and combine everything he’d built, making way for full kart manufacturing in 1968.
They quickly started to re-invent huge parts of kart racing and how karts were built, as seen with their “Sidewinder” kart released in the 1970s. This was the first production kart where the engine was mounted beside, not behind the driver. And what do you know, to this day we still see this style of kart as standard!
Since ground-breaking kart designs as these, Margay started to build a reputation for themselves which remains constant and highly thought of today.
The sons of the original founder entered into kart racing with Margay karts, and this really established the brand as more than just a kart producing company. They started to be regarded as competitive, and before long, they became a staple US kart racing brand, hence the introduction of ‘Racing’ to their name.
Their products fall into what I’d call a middling price point, and a huge boon of their production is the fact that all chassis and parts can be found here in the US. No expensive import fees or shipping costs; it’s all right here!
They’re the perfect brand for kart drivers at all levels of their career, with a special focus on intermediate competitors trying to break into higher categories with multiple racing features on their latest Brava chassis line.
Notable Margay Racing Chassis
- The Margay Sidewinder, mentioned above, was the first production kart to include the engine mounted beside the driver as opposed to behind
- The Margay Brava 125 chassis is a purpose-built design for the immensely popular 125cc kart racing series. Since they were first made, the Brava chassis models have won Margay the most success in their career as a kart manufacturer
- The Margay X2 model is iconic for its design based on European karts, bringing the success of karting overseas to American soil
Another home-grown brand, Top Kart has become known as a great and rather competitive entry-level manufacturer that keeps prices to an affordable level for the standard American kart enthusiast.
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Solid builds, good foundations and a kart that’ll last. These things are great ways to describe Top Kart chassis and as a company, they’re far more down-to-earth on a lot of things that European brands really aren’t.
Top Kart was founded and remains based in Indianapolis, IN; a place probably best known due to its world-renowned race track on the doorstep, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was placed here with good reason, and all of the energy and racing excitement from that venue have influenced all that Top Kart does, and has done for the last 40 years.
Starting back then, the founders of this brand were in a competition to define themselves as a worthy manufacturer in the go-karting sphere. They needed something to set them apart from their fellow US competitor, Margay, and found just the ticket when it came to raw passion for the sport.
They took this and made Top Kart into the full package for kart drivers. When you purchase a Top Kart chassis, you don’t just buy the kart itself and go off to race alone.
You gain access to driver coaching, video analysis services, kart maintenance for the lifetime of the vehicle, and a whole list of other amazing things that truly define the ‘family’ vibe that Top Kart was going for.
Whenever you go to a Top Kart tent-manned race, you’ll have access to all of the above and more! They also understood that buying a kart is quite the investment for some, and have an arrive-and-drive program complete with coaching and advice for new drivers to give more insight into the sport.
The biggest thing that defines this brand, as you can probably see, isn’t just the chassis and kart. They created a community, a support network, and overall made a true team feeling for anybody who chooses to invest in them.
Notable Top Kart Chassis
- The Top Kart Carter model is dubbed the ‘Economy’ chassis that they produce, and it is currently one of the most affordable brand-new builds that can be purchased in the karting world
- The Top Kart MSTEM3 EV is a ground-breaking premier chassis designed to encourage STEM involvement in the US by inviting high school and collegiate students to learn through fixing and tuning it
- The Top Kart SR30.2 is a premier race chassis that has seen many iterations over the years, bringing Top Kart their most notoriety on the track
Let’s take a trip across the pond again to look at this Italian manufacturer, who turned a family nickname and one man’s joy of anything with an engine, into a worldwide brand with which Formula One drivers are affiliated!
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The company was founded by Umberto Sala who was working as a manager for a car and motorcycle shop near Milan. He wanted an outlet for his love of motorsport and karting was getting big in Europe back in the late 50s, so he joined the metaphorical race simply for the fun of it without lofty ideas.
Soon enough, his son became involved as the test driver for the karts he made, and before long, Oscar Sala was placing highly in kart races throughout Italy. This was how Birel really became known in the rat race of kart manufacturing!
Back in 1974, however, was when the place of competitive manufacturer was secured for them. They teamed up with the engine manufacturer, IAME, to make a kart racing team that quickly took the European and International scenes by storm.
Ever since that point, they’ve followed a rather close blueprint for development similar to Tony Kart. Unlike their fellow Italian kart brand, however, Birel ART took steps in the late 90s and early 00s to assist and guide amateur karting enthusiasts.
This was achieved by their release of the EasyKart, cheaper than their otherwise pricy set of chassis and parts, to encourage new go-kart drivers into entering the sport. This chassis birthed a whole new racing class, and three different series developed in Italy with other divisions in America and the UK.
All of a sudden, a go-karting company with prestige not unlike Tony Kart became far more attainable.
Formula One drivers such as Daniel Ricciardo and Robert Kubica became involved with Birel during their karting careers, and started their own product lines for excellence within competitive karting, making the manufacturer a perfect combination of accessible and professional.
Notable Birel ART Chassis
- The Birel Targa became the flagship kart for this manufacturer in the 1970s, securing them many racing titles with this chassis
- The Birel NO35 was designed as the world’s first-ever endurance kart chassis, made to be ran over long periods of time in grueling races internationally
- The Birel S11 is the latest iteration of their award-winning KZ racing series kart, renowned already due to its long history of improvements and innovations
CRG is yet another Italian powerhouse kart manufacturer whose name has become more and more well-known overseas. They don’t have as much of a well-fleshed out origin story as some of these brands, but their name is recognized immediately by anybody in the world of karting.
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Of the group, this brand is actually the ‘youngest’, being founded in 1986 as an evolution of a smaller company, Kalì Kart. Because of being developed later, after the initial karting boom of the 50s and 60s, CRG have benefitted from years of having gathered research on the market and what people are looking for from their karts.
In spite of being the young whippersnapper of the kart manufacturing world, CRG has reached a high level of respect from those within the karting sector. A lot of Formula One drivers raced in CRG colors during their early years, such as Lewis Hamilton, and have continued a partnership to keep creating great innovations.
Above all else, CRG focuses on diligent market research to fill gaps in the market. They fall comfortably between premium kart manufacturers such as Tony Kart and Birel ART, while staying on the more accessible side like Top Kart.
A huge selling point of this manufacturer above the others is their striking color schemes. Sometimes, karting can be a sea of blues and greens, so seeing racing oranges and blacks is a welcome, refreshing sight!
They’re a noticeable brand due to this fact, and you’re more likely to be picked out of a crowd for talent if you are seen to be racing something different.
Every product developed by CRG has been done after extensive customer feedback collection, to better improve their chassis in accordance to what people will actually use; not what the top-level pros might fantasize about. There’s a huge difference sometimes, where lofty dreams don’t quite correlate to what is possible in reality.
A blend of practicality, award-winning race pedigree and that level of competitive edge you want when racing karts. That’s what makes CRG.
Notable CRG Kart Chassis
- The CRG Maranello range was a collection of karts designed and used during the 1990s, bringing the manufacturer a great deal of success in various International titles
- The CRG LH range of karts were designed in conjunction with Lewis Hamilton in 2009, and with his feedback on karting as a whole, the chassis collection soon became iconic
- The CRG Dark Rider Evo 15 is one of the newer karts designed by this manufacturer and is notable due to its specific design to run alongside Rotax engines, making it a highly competitive machine
How To Choose The Right Manufacturer For You
Now, it might be difficult to choose between all of these amazing manufacturers! All of them have their own unique selling points and differences, so it’s best to break those down and consider what will be the best for you personally.
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If you’re first starting out within the world of kart racing, you want to find a sturdy, reliable chassis that will take a lot of knocks and scrapes. Not only that, but you want something that won’t break the bank.
In that case, Top Kart or the EasyKart range of Birel ART will be your best choices. Both companies have made a specific effort to introduce means and measures to help new kart drivers on their beginner journey, and their chassis are designed as such.
On the other hand, if you’re within the pro levels of kart racing and are looking for the next rig that’ll take you to Nationals, you will want a chassis built for speed, aerodynamics and the perfect melding of driver and machine.
Something such as that will be best served by Tony Kart and the Formula One driver ranges by Birel ART. These manufacturers have a history of racing pedigree with their racing teams, and with first-hand experience, they design karts that are best suited for the highest levels of competition.
Intermediate levels are a lot more flexible, because either end of the spectrum will work well for you as you improve as a driver. I’d certainly say that CRG would be a great pick for this time of your career, due to their stand-out designs and perfect balance of accessibility and competitive chassis.
No matter which you choose, consider your own experience beforehand and also take a look at your personal budget.
Investing in an expensive Tony Kart chassis as a beginner might be a tad unwise (especially if you crash/spin a lot, as you often do at that stage), and perhaps choosing a Top Kart in pro circuits wouldn’t be prudent if everybody else is using premium-level brands.
Always do your research before reaching a decision, and make sure to pick something that you’ll have fun with!
There we have it, readers! A run-down of the five best kart racing brands in the industry, broken down and hopefully de-mystified for all of you out there who were struggling to choose.