If your memory of go karts is something similar to the bumper cars you rode as a child, then think again. Think fast and think precision handling on any go kart track and you are getting the right idea. Racing go karts is not only a cheaper and less risky alternative to Nascar-type racing, it is a great way to learn and improve driving skills before advancing to the auto racing circuit.
To get started, just visit a local go kart track in your town. You can then rent a kart for a few hours or for a set number of laps and get on with testing your driving skills. Driving a go kart is not very different to driving a car, except that the gokart has very good acceleration and cornering ability. Of course, proper safety measures must be taken before and during participation in a kart race.
Let’s talk about a couple types of racing karts; namely the Sprint and Enduro:
Sprint karting uses a shorter track and the technology used is less sophisticated. Go karts are downgraded slightly for this type of racing. The circuit is usually 3/4 mile and the racing format is a series of short length races, normally for just a few laps to qualify for a final, with a number of point scoring calculations to determine the overall winner. It is usually three qualifying heats and a final race for trophy positions. Each race is usually 15 minutes or less. The key to success in sprint racing is excellent passing skills, the ability to get through traffic.
Enduro or endurance racing is a longer version of the sprint-type of racing. These races can last for an extended period, typically anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, but there are some events such a Le Mans which run a 24 hour endurance kart race!As a result of the longer time on the track, the karts used in endurance racing are built to be tough and durable. Speed, though important, is not as important as it is in sprint races. It is more like a marathon where the driver makes regular pit stops for fuel, maintenance and a change of tires. Enduro karts run on the same sized road courses as full sized cars. Generally speaking, reliability, consistency and pit strategy are of the greatest importance in endurance racing.
A go kart race is a good way to get your foot in the “motor sport field” door. It is both very affordable and less risky. Go karts are fairly easy to handle in spite of the speed. They have a low center of gravity, making them less dangerous than Nascar-type racing. It is a great starting point to sharpen and improve your driving skills on the go kart track before going to the next level in auto racing.