18 year old thinking about getting into karting...have some questions

Hey there, newbie here. My interest in karting started just this year despite me being into motorsports for as long as I could remember. My only experience with go karts is with a 6.5 horsepower Manco Dingo that I bought about two months ago because I was bored and wanted to have some dumb fun with something just fast enough to get hurt with. Now karting has sort of developed into a genuine interest. My father used to race street stocks on a dirt oval, which is definitely cool (I also used to run quarter midgets when I was 7-8), but I was always more into circuit-style racing. And as you can imagine, I don’t exactly have deep pockets nor extensive mechanical experience considering my age. So naturally, karts seemed like the best option, as they are both cheap (in relative terms) and simplistic (again, in relative terms).

Cutting to the chase, I have a few questions about getting into competition karting, mainly in regards to the average age of competitors. They always say that karting is a “rookie class”, and that it’s used to teach beginners how to race. But could karting the “destination” class rather than a stepping stone? Am I too old to get into karting? Do many adults/elders compete? I don’t want to show up to the track and see nothing but 12 year olds (and then subsequently get my ass handed to me by said 12 year olds). I’d be perfectly content racing nothing but karts, so long as I’m not too old. I know some of those shifter karts and rattlesnake e-karts reach speeds of over 100mph, so I have a hard time believing that karts are just for kids.

Thanks in advance!

Fortunately, karting can be, and is, just as much a destination sport for all ages, as well as being a stepping stone for young drivers.

Your post is a perfect example why many of us here hate it when some karting powers-that-be, as well as others, promote the sport as nothing more than a stepping stone for children looking to be future race car drivers. A lot of prospective racers wind up dismissing karting thinking that it’s “just a kids sport”, which isn’t true at all. Anyone, at any age, can race karts.


Hi, Anthony.
Welcome to the world of karting. Contrary to what you’ve heard, karting isn’t just for rookies. Most karters are club and regional racers, and we come in all sorts of ages. The demographics of karters can vary a good deal from club to club. Being 18, you’ll be in a senior class, which typically means any one 15 or older.

A common bit of advise you’ll come across is to go to your local track, see what’s being run there and ask a ton of questions. Somewhere in this site is a list of tracks/clubs, and I highly recommend taking the time to hang out at that nearby place for the entire race day.

Hey @SquidBonez. As the folks said here, there’s plenty of adults that competitively race karts. In fact I’d say in many cases adults make up as much as 50-60% of participants. One of the top kart racers in the world (David Fore) is in his 40’s. One of the US’ top road racers is in his 50’s and it goes up from there. There are classes for older (heavier) drivers often called masters classes too.

At 18, that puts you in with most “senior” classes, so you would be up against 15 or 16 year olds at the youngest. So yeah, karting isn’t for fragile egos :laughing:

I started at 16/17…

Karting is many things for many people. Ultimately, although small and seemingly basic at the outset, karts are dedicated racing vehicles. I never understood the logic of seeing a kart as a toy and a motorcycle as a “real” racing thing, but I digress.

Karting is many things to many people:

For some is a stepping stone (many circle back) and that’s probably what It’s most well known for.
It’s a way for top “professional” drivers to stay sharp and or hone their skills.
It’s a way to play and tinker with motors and chassis.
It’s a great way to spend time with your kids forming invaluable memories, skills and friendships.
For grownups it’s one of the most immersive ways to challenge yourself intellectually, physically and mentally.

Oh, yeah it’s great fun too :smiley:

If you’re in the US, we have a track directory here: tracks.kartpulse.com

My question for you is… are you thinking of dirt oval racing, or pavement?

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Definitely not just for kids! James’ response pretty much hits the nail on the head in terms of what karting is and can be.

I’ve been racing for 16 years (27 years old) and won back-to-back national events last weekend, so you can still put a whoopin’ on the young bucks regardless of your age. I’m not even the oldest guy in the class, though I’m close.


I started karting competitively this year at 48. Granted, I’m not racing at supernats or anything, but I did get 4th this weekend, and am competent enough to feel like I could get faster in time.
There’s an age system, you’d be a “senior” which would have you running with the 16 and ups. Yes, initially you are going to be near the back of the pack. 4 races in and I am still not feeling confident that I can pass people when needed. But you will get up to speed pretty fast.
As far as fast karts go, if there is a healthy 100cc or 4 stroke class, do that first. I kind of wish I had that option because a) it’s less insane and b) you can’t overdrive the slower karts to the extent that you can the higher hp stuff. I would imagine that starting from the premise of having to find fast rolling speeds through corners would make you a better driver.

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I wanted to try something new, since I’ve already run dirt oval in quarter midget racing. I wanted to go race on a dedicated kart circuit (left turns are fun and all, but I want to expand my horizons). Luckily, I live near a couple tracks, but none of which host their own series. However, there is a “local series” (I’d guess you call it) that rents out said tracks a couple times each year, probably with 10 races or more each year. So when I’m ready to begin competition, I’ll start with that series.


Whereabouts are you? Do you have a budget in mind for buying your gear and ongoing costs?

Also, can you add your last name to your profile? :wink:

At your typical club event you are going to see it all, from adorable 5 yr olds to guys and gals in their 70s. Also, demographically very broad. You are going to see folks from a very broad cross section socio-economically as well as race etc.

I live in South Jersey, so I’m thinking of racing at NJMP. No specific budget in mind at the moment, but I expect to spend a few thousand dollars to get started. I’m probably not going to be competing for points when I first get started, rather I’ll compete on a race-by-race basis just to get started.

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Theres arrive and drive there (4 stroke rentals) but that’s probably not what you want.

The racing is through the F-Series state championship or gearup challenge.

Full tilt (Keith) can rent you older tag karts. It’s probably about $400 to rent a day.
I did this route initially, but the karts are not up to snuff as compared to newer equipment.
He also sells tony, topkart etc new and used.
Another guy to talk to is John bonanno. He sells compkart.
If you go to NJMP on any race day when gear up or the state championship is in town, they both will be there.
Your choice is to run 125cc TAG and have a field to race against or run a Yamaha kt100 or lo206 and have 3-4 people to race against.
We are going to need some basic “how much can you afford” info to advise further in that there’s a huge range of possibilities, none of which are cheap. Hyperbole aside, The kart is sort of the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks for the info! But I feel like I should point out that I’m not getting started right now, I just wanted to get more information on the sport. That’s why I’m sort of avoiding committing to a specified budget, as I still want to test the waters. Like I said, I don’t have a lot of money. I’m fresh out of high school and work a part time job. I could afford a kart right now, but it would take some time yet to get enough together to get out on the track. So rather than just jumping in blind, I wanted to talk to some people who know what they’re doing before hand. That’s when I found you guys. Either way, thanks for the info.

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Always a good plan to be informed.

Why not go to a couple of races, maybe volunteer at them. It’s a great way to make connections and get up and close with the sport.

Ah ok. Well definitely get down to NJMP and try their rental 4 strokes! It’s a ton of fun and that is a really nice track. if you get really amped up about it and want to start racing, there ate a few different options.

Hi Anthony,

That’s great that you live close to NJMP, it’s a fantastic karting track. I wish I lived as close to the track as you! We actually just did a race there yesterday with the F Series State Championship, as Dom mentioned. I run in the shifter KZ class, which is more or less the highest level class. Not the one I would advise you to start in haha. But I’ve helped numerous people get into karting starting from nothing. The first thing to do is to come out to the track and start learning. As it just so happens we are racing at NJMP again this weekend for the Gearup challenge. You should come out and hang out, we’ll be glad to help you out. Let me know if you have any other questions.


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Hey Anthony,

Your prior racing experience is definitely going to help you start, but I want to advise that karts are nothing like any other vehicle made. The tuning is backwards, the driving is tricky (not that any other type of racing is easy by any stretch of the imagination), and getting into a kart can be frustrating if you’re comparing it to driving a car.

We actually have a guy on our team that’s just starting karting after years in midget dirt oval as well. He’s absolutely better than a driver brand new to racing at all, but he’s struggling with how the kart is handling and the differences in handling.

Since you’re going to be competitive about it, which is personally my favorite way to enjoy driving, I recommend starting in either 100cc 2-stroke racing or LO206. You can get a TaG motor if you want, and it will be faster, but there’s a much more difficult and frustrating learning curve that comes with it. The other motors will be plenty fast and you’ll probably improve better and quicker as a driver when you have less power to get through the turns with, and then when you’re comfortable you can move into a TaG if you so desire and be much more competitive compared to just hopping into a TaG right away.

You are absolutely right though, karting isn’t just for kids! I started when I was almost 16, right in the senior category. Theres guys in their 40’s and older racing and having fun, so you’ll definitely be able to race. As the others said, it’s never too late to start karting, just have a good attitude and you’ll fit in fine. Karting can absolutely be a destination if that’s what you want. There’s ages 35+ masters categories for a reason, because there’s enough people to have them.

If you’re looking for a chassis, I’m going to personally recommend DRT and the DR Kart, because they have been super helpful to everyone I’ve talked to, myself included. They send their tuners to the team I run with and support us very well. However, as long as theres a shop that you like, run whatever brand they use so that you have support when you need it. OTK is very popular nationwide, so that’s a good choice as well, and BirelART is popular in many places around the US.

Try finding a used kart setup if you can, it’ll be cheaper and just as good to start. Once you feel like you can consistently run mid-pack, then think about maybe getting a new(er) frame of you believe that will help you be faster.

Best of luck, and feel free to ask any more questions as you get into karting