A cost analysis of getting into karting

So, basically, I got into an discussion about how much it costs to start racing. There was a claim that it costs $10,000 per year to run at a club level. Now, I didn’t buy that for a second, so I tried doing some math to figure out average costs for running the first few years of karting. I’m also interesting in finding out how other people’s experiences relate to what I simulated.

TL;DR: I had to calculate 4 seasons of racing to finally find a point where an individual racing in X30 senior would be spending over $10,000 a year on karting. At that point the driver was competing both in both regional and local competitions. Essentially, club racing is about $4,000 to compete in given you have the equipment already. Regional racing totals out around $8,000 for 5 weekends of driving, 10 racedays in total.

Okay, lets look at a 12-race club series, first year getting in.

The intial cost:

Used frame, couple seasons old but still in good shape - $1,500

Used IAME X30 - $2,000

Driver gear can be found used. Lets say this driver wanted spends $500 for all their gear. Suit, shoes, helmet, neck brace, gloves, and rib protector

Total initial cost: $1,500 frame + $2,000 engine + $500 safety equipment = $4,000

Race day costs:

Race entry: $65 a raceday for entry and pit pass

Gas: depends on the club, some use pump gas but I’ll assume race gas. $24/2 gallons and oil at $12 for 16oz = $36 for 2 gallons of mixed race gas. High estimate of 4 gallons means $72 per race

Tires: MG Yellows or Evinco Reds (same tire), both cost $220/set. For a club series, you could get 2-3 racedays out of a set of tires. Lets assume 2 so that we get to spend more money. That comes to $110 per race.

So we have $65 + $72 + $110 = $247 per race. I’ll round this to $250/race for nice and easy math purposes

At $250/race * 12 races = $3,000

Engine: Assuming an overestimate of 1 hour of engine time per club raceday, and a new piston kit every 6 hours at $120/kit (you can run the engines longer but the top end performance starts to drop), the driver would need 2 pistons/ year, so $240/year. Bottom end is every 20 hours. I’m going to round that to one rebuild every 2 seasons for math reasons. If we assume $400 per bottom end, $200 per season. This comes to $240 top end total + $200 bottom end = $420/per season

Parts: Off the top of my head, lets say driver has to replace 1 steering column, 2 tie rods, an axle, a bent nerf bar, and 5 chains (ouch) in a season as an average. Say tie rods are $20 each * 2 = $40, a steering column is $60, axles have a huge range but let’s say $250 for a new, more expensive axle, a nerf bar is $50, and a chain is $20/chain * 5 chains = $100. That’s $40 + $60 + $250 + $50 + $100. $500 in parts/season (again, very high estimate. I’ve never had to replace an axle in my 4 years of karting, 2 of which I competed in both club and regional races, and this past year I ran a national race as well. This is maybe what I spend running regional and club combined).

Total costs for the first season: $4,000 intial cost + $3,000 total raceday expenses + $420 engine maintenance + $500 parts = $7,920. Rounding up (again) gets to $8,000. Tuning advice at the track, especially for what a beginner needs, can be found for free. To get to your $10,000 estimate someone would have to spend $2,000 more than my overestimation including first time costs like buying a motor and chassis. Practice costs wouldn’t be reaching $2,000 for a season.

Second season of club racing will assume this person keeps all their equipment, because for the first couple years of racing having a top name brand really isn’t as important as the driver improving on their fundamentals. So: $3,000 raceday expenses + $420 engine maintenance + $500 parts = $3,920, basically $4,000.

Lets go to the third year of racing! Our hypothetical driver wants to get a newer frame. Lets assume they sell their old frame for $1,000 and buy a new one for $3,000. $2,000 cost. Still in club racing, everything else stays the same. We’re looking at $2,000 frame + $4,000 club racing expenses = $6,000 for the third year.

But wait! There’s this super cool traveling series that comes in to the driver’s home track and they want to try cutting their teeth against the next level of competition. Race entry on site is $250, a reasonable price for regional racing. They’ll need a whole 5 more gallons of gas for this weekend. Thankfully the fuel supplier sells 5 gallon drums at $60/drum. They’ll need 3 bottles of pre-mix to have enough oil for the gas, so that’s $20/bottle * 3 bottles = $60. We’re looking at $120 in gas. TaG typically runs a new set of tires both days, so at $220/set * 2 = $440. This driver is also running under the tent of the race shop that sold them the chassis, so that’s another $250 for the weekend. This tent program includes tuning/driver coaching advice. Total cost is $250 entry + $120 gas + $440 tires + $250 tent program = $1,060 for the weekend.

This adds to the total third year expenses at $7,060. Basically $7,000.

Season 4, the driver had a good time at the regional series and wants to do the whole tour. They’re keeping their frame from last year because for the first season of racing, getting used to the competition change is hard enough without trying to figure out a new chassis, and it’s still in decent shape anyways.

It’s a 5 race series, but the season pre-entry pricing is only $1,000.

The tent program is still $250 * 6 races = $1,250.

$440 in tires per weekend means we’re paying $2,200 in tires. These could be used again for another club race to save cost but I don’t feel like doing the math for that.

Race gas works out to $120/weekend * 5 weekends = $600.

Because we’re adding 10 racedays this year, I’ll just double the parts cost. Nevermind the fact that as our driver gets better he won’t be crashing as much, I don’t feel like doing that math adjustment either. So another $500 in parts as well.

Regional racing is a lot more time on the engine as well. I’ll add another piston kit and a full rebuild at the start of the year so the engine starts fresh. That’s another $120 piston kit + $400 rebuild = $520 engine maintenance

Traveling can be a bit tough to factor for. Lets say the driver gets 15 MPG taking going to and from the track. The 4 tracks that require traveling to total about 900 miles away, or 1,800 miles round trip. I assume the gas to and from the track from our hotel is negligible here. So, 1,800 miles/15 miles per gallon gets us to 120 gallons of gas. Assuming gas is $3 per gallon that’s $360 in gas

Cheap hotels are $100/night. Getting there Thursday night in order to keep from having to get up super early in the morning to get to the track Friday, that’s 3 nights per weekend. $100/night * 3 nights = $300 per weekend. $300 * 5 weekends is $1,500.

Total cost for one season of regional racing: $1,000 entry fees + $1,250 tent program + $2,200 tires + $600 race gas + $500 parts + $520 engine maintenance + $360 travel gas + $1,500 hotel = $7,930. Rounded to $8,000.

Assume we still want to run club racing at the same $4,000 per season and that brings us to $12,000. It literally took the fourth season of driving where the driver would reasonably expect to race regionally as well as locally to get to the $10,000+ mark.


Thank You DavinRS for the detailed analysis, Josh and I for two really appreciated the cost breakdown. Seeing that we are trying to get things organized. I have started my journaling and created a training manule, I printed your essay and placed it in administration. I am keeping detailed notes from drivers I met at the races we go to observe, the track owner, Davin’s concepts on documentation of track, weather, Kart running data, info on track from your previous experiences if any. Soon you will have documented tire ware, changes made to the Kart to encrease this or illimate tthat. I will have historical impural data to help you out during your current race at the track. So you Frank this, use these gear ratios, etc., You all get the drift. Thanks for that done as well Davin, We are listening and learning from so many on this blog, I love it, everyone is so helpful, not selfishly Grinching and keeping all knowledge for your selves, great sports personship. :vulcan_salute:t4::spades::cowboy_hat_face:Scout©:dove::orthodox_cross: :yin_yang:

I didn’t do that analysis, it was @Aaron_Hachmeister_13…so, yeah that’s one thing.

@Aaron_Hachmeister_13 Good breakdown, but I think the long and short of it is that club level costs can depending on how much you race, how many new tires you buy, if you have someone maintain your equipment vs doing it yourself and what equipment you get (new/used/good/crappy).

Plus, my all time favorite, how much stuff you break. :wink:

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To me it all comes down to the classic: the Cost to Compete vs. the Cost to be Competitive and how big that gap is in whatever series you want to run. For instance, my budget for last year was $3k and that included buying my kart and a spare motor, club membership, custom race shirts, and general race expenses. But that’s showing up on race days, not a ton of practice, one set of tires, and running a class with only a handful of guys. You know, just being out there in a race setting. On the flip side, I know when I was a teen running TaG at both club and IKF, it was probably close to $12k if not more (my dad would know). That was the only way to try and be somewhat competitive with those caliber drivers. New set of tires every race weekend, engine rebuilds, practice days, etc.

Karting can be done on any budget. Depends on what you want to get out of it.


Okay, Well I wish to Thank @Aaron_Hachmeister_13 for the break down it was apparent that you spent time on the post…Question to anyone? Can You just have a Kart and race when you want to and just pay the fees for the races you actually race in, or do you pay upfront for the annual packages? For Me, I know it will take a moment before I think I am ready for a competitive season; however, While training after proving my safety requirements to gain my racing permit or license, I would love to run a few races for while I am getting up to speed?

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Pretty sure most places are pay as you go. With the exception of some clubs offering memberships which usually come with a 10$ or so discounted race entry and allow to race in a points championship.

Thank You for the 411

I looked at the budget for 2018 now that we are done.

~13K for driver and crew
Running both Animal Road Racing(2 classes)x7 and Sprint 206 x6, and club x3, got in 29 effective days of racing.
Includes travel gas, pit passes, entry fees, tires, race gas, motors, a 206 Chassis.
Last season was about the same and included a 206 Chassis and a RR Chassis.
I did not include toy hauler maintenance which replaces hotels, still working on that cost, it is also used for Family trips with messing up the true cost.

I included extra practice days in my discussion with this person. It came out to about $778/race. Yours came out to around $448/race. It makes sense, X30 vs. 206 and Animal. Like you said, theres a lot of extra variables that can change stuff though, like whether the weekend was also a family vacation.

I will also add that my simulation was roughly modeled after my first 3 years of racing except I added the second season to look at how much just club racing costs with no buy-in extras.

Obviously I didn’t run X30 myself, but I found numbers for engines and stuff and I assume I’m not paying for a top of the line national level Woltjer prepped motor in club racing so I took some money off the cost of a full rebuild for that. Since the initial discussion was on X30 racing I wanted to keep it specific to what they were referencing.

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No wonder I’m always broke

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It’s a very nice and detailed breakdown, but I think you’re leaving out a lot miscellaneous stuff that every karter has. And those various things really start adding up in cost, especially when they are starting out.

A rolling kart stand, a tent/canopy to protect against the elements, a tire de-beading tool… and you need to think about how are you going to bead the tires in the first place. A simple bicycle tire pump isn’t really going to work very well (as I found out when I started out many years ago). You’d need at least a pancake-style air compressor or have someone else mount and bead them for you (either way, it will cost you).

And then there are tools. Many households don’t even have a basic mechanics’ wrench set. If you’re going to be working on the kart yourself, you’re going to need more than that too. A bench vise is something I’ve had to use many times for various tasks (for example, bending seat struts). And I can’t see how you can go without an electric drill of some sort.

Don’t forget transporting the kart to and from the track. Some people are fortunate enough to already have their own truck and trailer, but as the forum thread on trailers here clearly shows, some do not, and they resort to innovative ways to make do with what they have.

Data Acquisition, Transponders… I could think about it for awhile and come up with more, and like I said, it really starts adding up in cost.

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There’s so many different ways to race. It always pisses me off a bit when folks on the web talk about how you have to spend 5-6 figures a year to compete in karting.

Well yea, if I ran summernats, supernats, winternats and astronats on top of a regional race series it would push 50-100k I am sure. I’m guessing I’d have several engines, I’d be rebuilding top end every 5-8hrs, new chassis every season, travel etc.

And, while top level racing is very visible, it’s not really karting as it applies to most of us. If it were, given the median household income in the USA of approx 55k, only the wealthiest elites could kart.

I see a decently wide socio-economic cross section at the track. There’s as much blue collar as white.

That being said, 125cc TAG is pretty crazy as a club engine. Why the heck dont they have deliberately inexpensive stuff like lo206 as the default starter package for folks? I get it that importers gotta import, but maybe they shouldn’t run race series?


When I ran my city’s small club running kt100 cost was around 2500-3k a year with a 10 season. I also already had allot of the common tools necessary and a truck to transport. Thats entry, fuel/oil tires engine rebuilds and other small things like chains, sprockets tie rods etc.

Agree and I think $500 for parts is not very realistic. And as someone said, if you just want to race, you might be able to get by, but I don’t think it’s realistic you’re going to be competitive.

I just ran the numbers that would be associated with me and my Son to participate in Karting and I was astounded at the costs of being competitive. I see the correlation simply because the more you want to be on the podium, you must first be a competitive driver with proven skills. Then one must have one of the fastest if not the fastest because there is a point where mechanics will prevail, tires, gas, tuned, etc.,.

If I have more power to pull away from you on the straight aways ( a few horse power more ) and that driver has good skills, it will be much harder not impossible just much harder to take and maintain the lead. To get thoses extra horse power that makes a difference folks use VORTEX type engines premanufactured for race and rebuild the engine during the race season, fresh tires each race compared to the racer that uses his for 3 to maybe 4 races, or just pushes the quality of the operational limits of manufactured parts.

The best driver, the best Tuned Kart, possess the best diagnostics on site, have a team of folks that knows how to get through a race with everything changing each race? I am not dissuaded just understanding the reason I am in this and go after that reason with full zusto. If that is a once a month, weekend Warrior, then go out and have a Blast. If You see Yourself in an F-3 through F-1’s and want to gain experience to move up, then the costs will espodentically increase.

I have not raced one race, so my opinion is not based off of years of experience, it is however, based off the numbers I research to get my Son and I into Karting and those costs are real. You can not be concerned about spending because even for me to be a weekend warrior it would cost around 1K for two Karts and expenses for 4 people, so I am not in the position to race every weekend…This is my delima and I have been researching everywhere to include China on Alibaba. I wish there was a better way and if someone knows one, Please share, I am All Ears!

Well, racing is expensive. No way around that.

It does sound like you might be over complicating things just a tad, since I’m not sure you even have a kart yet.

Simple advice, is go to a local kart dealer like Huggler Racing Engines, and tell him what your budget is to get started. A kart dealer will help you get some scope on cost and expense, in a real world way.

Thank You for the advice, I will take You up with the suggestion…

Budget is a tricky thing that is varies hugely from person to person.
It comes down to two main things

Being planful with the the resources you have (ie, actually do a budget)
Adjusting your expectations according to that. (Example, trying to run a shifter on a 206 budget, it can be done, but not very well. Ask me how I know)

@Scout, you’re making this too hard on yourself. There’s an overwhelming amount of information to take in about karting if you’re trying to absorb at all at once you’ll go crazy.

I can’t stress enough, find yourself a budget kart with a Briggs 206 on it… Share it with your son, drive it until your body is tired, recover, go again and have fun… You won’t regret it.


“Don’t let what someone else spends get in the way of you following your dream”

I kept saying I’ll get back into karting one day, I quit when I was in high school.

Every time I looked into it, I wanted a tag but didn’t want to spend the 7-8k on my first season buying the kar, assuming 4,000 for the kart. Finally got my son in a kid kart when he turned 5. Made it a few months of him actually racing before I decided it was time. Same decision tag or 206 now. Since I have a drag car as well I decided the 206 would be good and if after a couple years I really wanted more I would upgrade.

Found a good ignite package for 2k for the kart and finally got warm enough to hit the track last night. Man it was a blast, even having some carb issues which slowed me down, buddy with the same motor passed me like I was standing still on the straight. I’m not sure I will want to upgrade.

My expectation of costs for next year are 2 sets of tires, I am going to run ylc at the club level. 400. But mainly one set is just for practice as we go out once a week to get my son more seat time.

Gas 50-100

Entry fees 35 x 8. 280

Misc parts 500ish, 100 of that on a new clutch.

I am hoping to keep it under 1500 for the next year.

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Wow $35 for entey fee! Up here in ontario canada its $85 per racer and I have 2 sons!