Is Kart Racing A Sport? Can Drivers Be Considered Athletes?

Karting is often considered a hobby or a way for kids to drive without getting behind the wheel of a car, rather than a sport. However, karting is very physically intensive, which may leave you wondering if kart drivers can be considered athletes. 

Karting is a sport and drivers need to be extremely fit to perform at their best level. Karting is an incredibly demanding form of driving with heavy G-forces, no power steering, and a stiff chassis that makes the karts difficult to handle. Karting drivers can therefore be considered athletes.

Karting is a demanding sport, even if it doesn’t seem like it from the outside. Most people aren’t aware of the extreme amounts of strength and effort it takes to go through a karting race, especially competing at the highest level. Keep reading to find out more about the fitness of karting drivers.

6 kart drivers racing on a track with grass on either side, Is Kart Racing A Sport?

Is Kart Racing Really A Sport?

The official definition of a sport is something along the lines of “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” By this definition, karting can be classified as a sport because the driver needs to use physical force to drive the kart and race against their opponents. However, there are many people who would argue otherwise.

Many people believe that “driving around in circles” against other karts can’t be a sport. There are often many reasons given to back up this claim, and they usually involve an explanation of how karting is just a hobby, that it’s for kids, or that driving is not difficult. However, none of these are true because karting is the purest form of motorsport where many racing drivers start their careers.

Kart racing is extremely difficult. Although there are plenty of kids who race karts, there are also lots of adults who race karts. Even if you have experience driving a road car, you can’t just jump into a racing kart and compete against other drivers and expect to do well. The reality is that driving a kart is nothing like driving a car, and most people don’t realize that until they’ve driven a kart themselves.

Karting is also much more than just an individual sport. At the highest level, there are teams involved, and the driver cannot compete without the help of their crew. From adjusting the setup to reading telemetry and being coached, the team plays a vital role in professional karting, just like in other forms of motorsport.

Can Kart Drivers Be Considered Athletes?

Since karting can be considered to be a sport, it’s only fair to say that karting drivers are athletes. Many people might disagree, but these drivers need to have the skills and fitness levels to be capable of competing against other drivers during long races. At the end of the day, they’re exerting a lot of physical energy to race against other drivers, which makes them athletes.

Karting drivers might not be anywhere near the level that Formula 1 drivers are, but there are still some huge demands that they need to meet when jumping into the seat of their kart. These demands are not necessarily more or less difficult than the demands that other athletes would face, but they are different. For example, a long-distance runner doesn’t have to deal with G-forces, but a kart driver does.

Each sport has its own difficulties and challenges that athletes need to overcome, and karting is no different. With each kart being essentially identical in many series, the performance difference comes down to the driver in the seat. Winning in karting comes down to skill, fitness, and focus. These elements are key to being successful in kart racing.

Just like with other athletes, karting drivers need to work hard both on and off the track to be successful. Practice is essential to develop your driving skills, and a good exercise and diet plan can take you to the next level in karting, just like in any other sport. The three key factors that make karting drivers athletes are the physical demands, the mental demands, and the skills required.

Physical Demands

Karting is an extremely physically demanding sport. Where a sport like rugby is physically demanding in terms of taking hits and absorbing tackles, karting is physically demanding in a different way. The main factor that makes this sport so challenging are the G-forces, something that’s not found in other sports.

Aside from other forms of motorsport, most athletes don’t experience heavy G-forces in their sport. While the G-forces in karting are still minimal compared to some other racing series, there is still a serious effect on the body of an athlete when they drive a kart at full speed. This effect is multiplied on race day when they need to compete for an entire day with little rest.

The only way to become used to the G-forces is by driving the kart consistently. This leads to the driver becoming “race fit” and adapting to the effects that the G-forces have on their body. Even being out of the kart for a month will cause the driver’s body to lose its race fitness again. This can mean the driver will feel stiff and sore when they get back to racing.

Aside from the G-forces, drivers also need to focus on their strength, from core strength to grip and arm strength. Physical fitness makes a huge difference in driving a kart because it allows the driver to focus for longer and keep pushing without feeling fatigued. If you drive a kart for more than 20 minutes you’ll realize how much of a physical toll it takes on your body!

Mental Demands

The next factor that karting athletes need to deal with are the mental demands. Karting is just as much about mentality as it is about physicality. Driving for extended periods of time is extremely difficult as your body and mind begin to tire. You’ll notice that you start to lose focus and drift off into your own thoughts and get distracted. This effect is accentuated in karting.

That’s because karting is much more physically demanding than normal driving. When your body starts to become tired, your mind will struggle to focus and is more likely to get distracted or give up on the task at hand. That’s why it’s important for karting drivers to be strong both physically and mentally if they want to compete.

Mental toughness can help drivers to focus more and for longer periods of time. This will give them an advantage over the course of a single flying lap, and over the course of a longer race. It’s crucial for drivers to remain focused and concentrate on the race that they need to compete in. 

Karting drivers also need to have quick reaction times. This is something that can be trained and perfected as Formula 1 drivers often do. Karts might be small, but they’re incredibly fast, and things can change in the blink of an eye, making fast reaction times key. For example, if a driver doesn’t have quick reflexes, they might struggle to avoid incidents in front of them.


Karting drivers are also athletes because they need skills to perform at their best. Technically, everyone can drive a kart, but to drive a kart fast you need to be very skilled. It’s a careful balance between using your feet and your hands to get a kart moving around the track as fast as possible.

Driving is a skill, no matter what form it takes. From karting to driving a road car on the highway, it takes a lot of practice to perfect this skill. Drivers need to spend time and effort learning how to drive their karts, just like how soccer players need to learn how to dribble, shoot, or tackle. 

Karting presents several different skills that drivers need to learn. The first is, of course, driving the kart. Simply getting it around the track without crashing or making a mistake can be considered a skill. Then there’s the skill of being able to drive fast, which involves lots of different separate individual skills, from cornering to overtaking.


• Karting is a sport and the drivers can be considered athletes

• Karting requires a lot of mental and physical fitness

• Kart drivers also need to be incredibly skilled if they want to succeed

How Many Calories Does Karting Burn?

Karting can burn up to about 700 calories per hour of driving, but this will vary depending on a lot of different factors. Considering the fact that events can consist of many hours of driving in total, that’s a lot of calories that can be burned by professional karting drivers. Overall, the mental and physical demands of karting can take a huge toll on the drivers, just like with other athletes.

To put it into perspective, jogging for half an hour burns approximately 199 calories and swimming burns around 200 calories for every half hour. If you’re driving a normal car, you’ll be burning around 80 calories every half an hour. So, as karting burns around 350 calories per half hour, it can be more intense than running or swimming!

Karting is extremely demanding, both physically and mentally. There’s a lot going on in a go-kart, and drivers need to make sure that they’re fully focused and giving it their all when they’re in the seat. But it can become extremely tiring, especially during long and hotly contested races.

This is why kart drivers need to be extremely fit and have a great diet. Without these two elements in place, drivers will become too tired during events and their performance will drop significantly. It’s always clear when a driver is starting to get tired towards the end of the race as they slow down massively in the closing laps, just down to how mentally and physically drained they may be.

Why Is Karting Called The Purest Motorsport?

Karting is considered the purest form of racing because it is all about racing. There are no politics or regulatory debates involved in kart racing. It’s all about the driver, their kart, and how they work together as one machine. Kart racing is pure racing.

Karting has always been considered the purest form of motorsport. Formula 1 drivers almost always start their careers in karting, and no matter where you go, racing drivers always have a love for karting like no other form of motorsport. It will always be the purest form of motorsport there is, no matter what type of kart you’re racing.

The type of driving that you get in karting is also unlike any other, leading to many referring to it as the purest form of driving. There’s no power steering, no suspension, and even no seatbelt. In most cases, the bottom of your seat is scraping on the tarmac as well! It’s the most authentic driving experience you can find without interference from computers and driver aids.

Ayrton Senna is the one who always referred to karting as the purest form of motorsport. The man who made it all the way to Formula 1 and became one of the most famous drivers in the history of the sport was still passionate about karting, which says a lot about the sport as a whole!

Final Thoughts

Karting is a sport, and the drivers are elite athletes that need incredible strength and focus to perform at the highest level. Karting might be considered a hobby or a sport for kids by many people, but at its peak level, karting is one of the most exhilarating and addictive sports in the world