We all know that just about every Formula 1 driver started their career in karting, spending tons of dollars racing all over the country. What people don’t know is that karting is a sport that is more affordable for normal people than most realize. Even if your plans aren’t to go to Formula 1, karting is a great hobby to get into if you desire to go fast.
I’ve been racing for about eight years, between autocross and racing karts. Racing is my way to relax after a long week at work, challenge myself constantly by being involved in some interesting battles, and be surrounded by some really interesting people. Also, as someone who loves to race but doesn’t have the largest budget, karting is a sport that allowed me to get a lot of seat time more easily than trying to rent a club race car.
Going to class
One of the things that I really like about karting is the range of classes that you can complete in. It helps for new people to have a slower class to get started, and then work their way into faster machinery as they gain more experience. From 8hp four-stroke karts to 50hp shifter karts, the range of costs and speeds make karting a relatively affordable motorsport for most people to get into.
The range of costs and speeds make karting a relatively affordable motorsport for most people to get into
I say relative, because there are some running costs involved that just never go away. Examples include getting the proper transportation, the right race gear, traveling costs and entry fees, but if you keep your head about you it doesn’t get too bad.
Fortunately, once you get your first kart, most of the equipment that you end up acquiring comes with you.
Most people purchase small trailers to fit karts on to get to the track. I decided to purchase a small GMC Rally van, which I nicknamed “Stan”, where I removed the bench seats and fit the kart in the back. It’s smaller than a Formula 1 race transporter, but I can get my kart and tools all together to the track easily.
The karting paddock at a club race is generally a pretty fun place to be. Most people are just normal; members and drivers who make up karting clubs who just want to get together and have a fun time at the race track.
Sure, there are some people who take things a bit too seriously, but honestly we all just want to have a good time. If you’re a nice person, you’ll meet plenty of people who will help teach you how to get started, what tools you need, etc.
The more people who are involved in karting, the larger the sport will grow, so everyone is pretty nice to new people who want to join. There aren’t any stupid questions. I’m asking questions all of the time.
The designs of karting tracks vary in several different sizes and configurations. Some are really short and frantic, while others are large and flowing. We don’t have very many Tilke-like tracks, you find yourself having a good time almost wherever you go. Karters can be pretty passionate, so we want to drive rain or shine. I’ve got some onboard video here of a practice day of me driving in the rain, so you can see how crazy things be sometimes.
Believe you can achieve
Of course, like with everything else, racing is something that takes practice and experience to get faster at. I’ve been racing for eight years, and only sometimes I get a handle on what I’m doing. Now I don’t have any crazed goals to get to Formula 1, but I do have some serious aims to improve myself. (Unless Ron Dennis calls me, then I’m on the next flight.) The more you work on it, the more you can improve. So I spend a lot of my time writing race reports and reviewing onboard video after races to see how I can improve my driving.
In short, karting is serious fun. If you have the opportunity to start racing a kart, I’d highly recommend it. The thrill of competition is second to none, in my opinion, no matter what class you’re racing in. Once you get everything together, get some friends and start heading to the race track, you start to feel a little bit more like Lewis Hamilton on a little race team. It’s all just such a blast. Also, for those of us who like to watch some Formula 1 and other professional motorsport, I feel like you get a better understanding of why drivers make certain moves, once you’ve had some seat time on a race track yourself.
I’m fortunate enough to have friends, family and sponsors who have been supporting me along the way, so I’m going to start traveling to compete in larger regional races. I’m going to be documenting more of my racing this year, as well as writing more articles about kart-racing data acquisition during practice days. (Nothing better than documenting all of your mistakes in public!)
If you’re interested to learn more about karting or some of my motorsport nerd projects, you can check out my blog, or follow me on Twitter. Check out some of the older karting videos on YouTube, and I swear you’ll get the bug to start racing.