4-Year-Old Daughter Karting Fear

Hello everyone! I’m new to the forum, so I just wanted to introduce myself and also ask for some advice from those who have put their young kids into karting.

I am based out of Utah and last month I got my 4-year-old daughter into kid karting at the Utah Motorsport Campus. This particular track allows for 4-year-olds to practice so we purchased a kid kart, safety gear and got her going for her first practice session the beginning of May. My daughter has shown interest in racing and cars since she was very young, so we decided to expose her to it and let her grow into it at her own pace. Since the kid kart I got can be used for a few years I figured if everything failed at the age of 4, I would try again at 5 and so on and if it’s something she has no interest at all, then give my 6 month old baby boy a chance when he’s old enough.

Here’s the dilemma and the piece Im looking for some words of wisdom from those who’ve done this before with their kids and may have experienced something similar. Every time we are going to the track my daughter is super excited to go. When we get there and step foot on the track she is super scared and doesn’t want to go in. She’s complained about many things, the loud sound of the kart engine (we got her ear plugs), the amount of people and karts (she seems to have a bit of stage fright), and the fact that when we go it is mostly adults and big kids rather than little ones like her.

So, we are three practice sessions in and while she has gone on track two out of the three sessions, the last one we just had she did not want to go in at all. The first two she was petrified, understandably so. On the last practice session, the track facilitated a huge parking lot for us to use so she could practice without all the track craziness and when we did that, sure enough, she got in her kart and drove around for about an hour total. She had a lot of fun.

I don’t want to push past her 4-year-old limits. She’s done this with swimming, soccer, dancing, etc. So she has a history of being a bit of an introvert and once she warms up to a new environment she seems to do better. But karting is a completely different animal and I want to make sure I don’t give up too quick but I don’t push her too far. Finding that red line is what I’m struggling with.

Has anyone experienced something similar with their kids and eventually were able to overcome the fear? Is this something that they grow out of with more and more exposure to that environment? Is the young age a huge factor? I understand a lot of places don’t even let 4-year-olds kart so I am aware this is a very aggressive age to start karting. Is it a sign this isn’t her thing? All of the above? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time!

A father who just wants to do the right thing…


Maybe it’s the environment like you said. She’s little and it’s a lot perhaps.
It would be cool if there were some kid programs of some sort so that the little ones could feel more at ease, amongst other kids. Something like that has got to exist.


The track we go to combines all the classes and creates time slots for the different classes. I know there are other kids practicing/racing but we have not attended on a day they are there. What happens is they clear the track and call for kid karts and then that would be my daughter’s turn to go in, but then she doesn’t want to. So, that creates a bit of a dilemma for the track too because everyone has to get out for the kids to go in but there aren’t enough kids usually so it’s a bit of a weird situation.

She is used to doing activities with kids her age, when she’s done soccer or dance, etc. there are other kids her age present every time. This is not like that so it creates a different environment for her that she’s not used to. I figured if I keep taking her eventually she would “grow” out of it but I also worry I’m pushing her too much if I don’t somehow come up with a milestone program for her. If she’s not there by a certain point I should discontinue taking her and try again when she’s a bit older.

I can’t tell - are you saying she is on track with all the classes, or she just doesn’t like all the busyness when other classes are present but not on track with her? If it is the former, pull her out and go when there’s only kids. If it is the latter, I’d do (and did) more parking lot time first. That won’t help with getting used to other people being around but it will help get her more comfortable with her immediate environment (helmet, noise, kart, speed), so then you are splitting how much she has to absorb at once.

We did a lot of parking lot time with my 3.5yo before putting her on track, and even then we only did Tuesday mornings for a while. It was funny, the local Xfinity drivers tend to practice at the same time, and they’d have to take turns. We didn’t start going on Saturdays until she had her bearings.

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Maybe take her to some races to watch other kids her age racing instead of racing herself. Maybe seeing them have fun would give some confidence


I’d recommend more work only on her own before going back to the track, perhaps even up to a year. Don’t give up on her, just take it slow. When you do go back to the track do your best to find times when very few if any people are there such as mornings during a weekday or similar.

With my son we had a very similar experience when he was 5. I remember he started freaking out the first time we even turned on the kart (comer 50) due to how loud it was. We went so far to the remedial that we would put him in the kart without it turned on but in full safety gear and push him up and down our driveway and have him coast for a bit and then brake on command. Then we progressed to us starting the kart in the driveway (clear all obstacles) and just use gas and brake in a straight line on command from the parent on the other end, turn around, do it again. Even then he was only really idling.

We then progressed to parking lots and make sure there are no nearby curbs or light poles. Take some cones and make a little oval to drive, then progress to a figure eight, continue to work on throttle and braking points.

We were fortunate when it was time to do track work to have a track relatively close to us that was in decline which meant we could go there on a Friday after work and literally be the only ones there. We put him on track and he’d just idle around. No amount of pushing, prodding, or cheerleading from parents changed a damn thing with his pace. One night my brother and I just left him on track for 20+ min idling around while we were in the staging lanes working on our own karts….then one time I heard him pass us and said “hey it seemed like he was going a little faster, did he give it throttle there?” We waited and sure enough next time by the RPMs we’re higher, next time a little more, and more.

My point with my story is that with very young kids you have to be SUPER patient and let them find it on their own. Be supportive and positive no matter how frustrating it seems. Understand you can’t push them or make them get comfortable any faster no matter how hard you try.

As of writing this I’m now going in the garage to work on setting up a junior kart so my 12yr old can practice with the faster karts, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Stick with it and GO SLOW.


I was going to recommend the same Todd.

My 3.5 year old has the exact same personality. He gets excited to do something but often gets shy and introverted once we get to whatever he wants to do.

Maybe taking your daughter to the track to watch will give her enough FOMO seeing the other kids have fun that she will want to jump back in the kart.

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My 5yo daughter started racing this year and it hasn’t gone the smoothest, but she’s out doing it now so we’re good. She was super excited coming into the year and had done a bit of dirt oval over the winter so it wasn’t her first time in the kart, just her first time on the sprint track. First time out she had a couple off track incidents and some confusion with where she was supposed to go (multi layout track). Second time out there was some more confusion and off track. After that I couldn’t get her back in the kart for a month or two. One of her big sticking points was she couldn’t remember which way to go, and we came upon this again this past weekend as we visited a new track. So now for her to be comfortable we take a golf cart and do a few laps around the track with her steering and that seems to help her. I’ll be doing this for the rest of the season at least as we visit different tracks and run different layouts at home. Luckily we have a pretty good group of kid karts at our home track and most the kids are very supportive and encouraging with her. The other thing that seems silly, but was something she would bring up is she gets sweaty when she’s racing :rofl:. We have alleviated this by taking her suit off as soon as she gets out and putting it back on at the grid, bit of a pain but seems to be working. With the little ones you kinda have to do whatever is gonna make them comfortable, unfortunately sounds like your track is kinda difficult to work with. Our track has set times for each age group and doesn’t deviate on practice days, generally speaking kid kart is always at the top of the hour.

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Just remember 4 years old is VERY young (in the grand scheme of things). If she wants to do it, great! If she’s scared or nervous, thats fine too. Patience, patience, patience. Might take her a few more trips, might take her a few more years. Any pushing you do is likely going to have a negative effect. Just wait her out. You will both be happier in the end.


When you say kid kart, what exactly do you mean? What engine is in it?

A kid that age should be in a ‘bambino’ kart with a Comer 50 or such like. Is that what you got?

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Bambino = kid kart in the US


I had a similar experience with my daughter (8 years old when she started). She’d grown up at the kart track and when she told me she wanted to race, I rushed out and got her a kart. I was maybe lucky that her first year was 2020 (when Covid was new, we had “social distancing”, etc.). As a result, I was able to take her to our club-owned track, which we had (mostly) all to ourselves. If we were alone, she was fine. The moment someone else arrived, she’d pretend to be hungry and sit in the trailer and nurse a bag of Doritos.

I think it’s natural for most kids with even the slightest bit of anxiety to be nervous about getting on the track when they’re starting out and they KNOW they are slower than everyone else - I think they’re just afraid of being judged.

In my case, it was just a lot of patience (no comparing her to others - only to herself; at least until I told her that she was as fast as KID X was last year - and that’s when the desire to get better really kicked in for her), and before too long, she was seeing her big improvements, and the anxiety (mostly) went away.

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Get her on GTA V. I kid you not.

Isn’t she a bit young for strong arm robbery?

How about some nice euro truck simulator?

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It’s the latter. She gets scared when all the people are around and all the karts coming in and out of the track. When it’s her turn, the track removes everyone from the track and only kid karts can go in. Even then she’s so stressed out about it that doesn’t want to go in. That’s part of the struggle. We considered the parking lot idea but didn’t want to start taking her to random places that are not controlled or as safe for her. Didn’t want to ruffle feathers with anyone who saw us using a parking lot to drive a kart around either. We felt the track was the right place and environment for her to learn how to do it. But some parking lot time would save us time and money since we have to pay to use the track and the track is about an hour from where we live.

This is something we have discussed. We want to take her and intend to do so but have not been able to make it work yet. Now that she’s out of school we are planning on taking her to some races so she can see the other kids without the pressure of her having to get behind the wheel of her kart. Thanks for the advice!

We have done the same thing with her. That’s how we had to “trick” her into getting in the kart because she would ask for us not to turn it in because she’s scared of the noise. So we pushed her around with all her safety gear on. Eventually we picked up some ear plugs and would sit her in her kart and push her around, after a while we would then turn the kart on and let her throttle a bit. She seems to be getting a bit more comfortable with the kart but the track is still very intimidating to her.

I did not want to use any public places such as parking lots out of fear she’s not at a controlled facility and someone could complain we are using a parking lot to kart. But I read a lot of people do this so maybe it is something we could consider. She could get a lot more parking lot seat time than she does track seat time since we are only able to make it to the track about twice a month, they only offer practice on the weekends and we have to pay to use the track.

I had something very similar happen to my daughter. Her first track session she got in track with a coach from the team she’s a part of and she went flying off a turn and landed in the dirt. While the coach dragged her kart out of the dirt and out it back on the track, she took off without the coach. She had no idea where to go or how to exit the track so she went to a place she wasn’t supposed to by the time the coach caught up to her and she got really scared. She was supposed to be doing a lead and follow so we could teach her where to go in track and how to get in and out of the track. After that she was really scared and she kept saying she didn’t want to go in track because she didn’t know where to go or she was afraid to go in the dirt.

For the second session I suited up and rented a kart to go on track with her but she was already too scared to do it even with me as a coach leading her on track. Eventually she got on track and she seemed to enjoy it, we went around for a few laps but I could tell she was really scared. Seems like she’s been deteriorating since then, as she experiences more track time she’s aware of the things she’s afraid more and becomes more hesitant to get on track.

Agreed—that’s the reason I’m here posting about it and trying to get some quality advice from people who have already done this with their kids. We don’t punish her for not wanting to do it, we always encourage her and support her. We also don’t want to push her too much but we try different things to help her navigate her fears while acknowledging it is okay to be nervous and be scared. We want to take it easy on her but wanted to make sure we don’t over do it. If the nervousness persists, is the right thing to do is to stop at some point and try again when she’s a bit older or continue to expose her to the track in hopes she’ll get more comfortable as she spends more time there? That’s part of the big dilemma.

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Yeah, I understand “find a parking lot to play in” is much easier said than done. My work has a decent sized lot, so we’d just go there on a Saturday when there weren’t many people there.

It definitely sounds like you need to go on like a weekday morning, especially if they’ll let you out there with her. Our local track would let me take my kart out with her as long as there were no other kids, which is pretty much the case weekday mornings. Don’t be afraid to give your some time away from the kart, too. If she’ll do better starting at 5, clean the carb out and wait for her. No sense in getting her so frustrated she never wants to try again. We found that, while my daughter has picked up a lot of great habits and awareness because of so much seat time, she hasn’t picked up any more pace than kids her age who started much more recently. Some of that just comes with age/development.

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