Beginner Asking for Guidance On Karting - San Francisco Area


(Chenwi Liu) #1

Hello everyone. I’ve been interested in karting for a while and done some research, and I am considering about buying my first kart. But I don’t know which chassis and engines are for my age (I’m 17 currently). Can someone please offer some tips buying a kart that comparably has good quality but is not that pricy for a teen? Also a kart requires maintenance and repairs, how hard it is for a beginner who has little knowledge about repairing karts to do the mechanics? Thank you very much!


(Chenwi Liu) #2

Also I live in San Francisco Bay Area, is there anyone who also live here? A lot of go kart racers were inspired by their family members who also participate in this sport and started go karting. But no one in my family knows anything about go karts. I really need someone who lives close to me to give me guidance. Thank you!


(Ron Ongjoco) #3

I also just started go karting, bought my first kart about 6 weeks ago. I just browsed Craigslist and bought a 2015 CRG chassis with an LO206 motor. Since I didnt really know what to look for specifically, I looked at the overall condition of the kart. However, even though the kart looked good, after a few days of cleaning and dismantling it, I still had to order around $150 worth of parts to replace them. I envision to spend another $300-500 after half a year to replace more worn parts.

If you want, I might be going to the Dixon track on Dec. 22 to do another shake down day, you’re welcome to observe.

By the way, I’m in East Bay (Dublin) and you’re welcome to check out my kart so you can get familiarized with it at least.


(Morgan Schuler) #4

Check out the group “West Coast 206 Racing” on Facebook. I bet someone local can point you in the right direction from there.


(James McMahon) #5

Welcome @cliu0404!

In short, what you want to do is totally possible and we can get into more details later.

The most important question is… What is your budget? Have you figured out how much you will have to purchase your kart/tools and also how much you can set aside monthly for racing.

If not, take the time to do that. That way we can figure out how you can get the max fun per dollar.


(Chenwi Liu) #6

Thank you very much for your suggestions. I have things planned on the 22nd so I can’t go to the track. But I look forward to observing you racing.


(Chenwi Liu) #7

Thank you very much! The Facebook group seems really helpful!


(Chenwi Liu) #8

Thank you! I haven’t thought about other supplies yet. But I don’t want my first kart to exceed $3000.


(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #9

I know this sounds obvious, but just make sure that you try to get to the track as often as possible.
I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met who have over-analyzed getting started via the keyboard, and then never actually got started. :wink:


(Dom Callan) #10

10 sessions in a janky rental kart will teach you more and be more fun than one session in a racing kart. If your annual budget is 3k that would actually get you a ton of rental kart racing.

There’s a k1 indoor place in Sf and one in East Bay looks like. I enjoy their karts and the full power version gives plenty enough torque to break traction in a heartbeat. It will teach you how to drive if you read up on how to “go fast” and try to systematically improve. Just don’t go out there and slide all over the place, try to be smooth and clean.

Finally I am making a big assumption that you aren’t financially independent and that it’s your parents who will foot the bill. If that’s not the case ignore the rest I type…

Racing is expensive. It just is and there is no way around it. There are some types that are much less expensive but they are still more than many can afford to spend given all the expenses your folks have.
The first person you need to talk to is your parents and see if it’s in the cards. If not, starting at age 15 you can work and start saving up. I bussed tables in a restaurant at 15. Good $ because you get tips. Or be smarter than me and figure out a way to make even better $ working for yourself doing whatever it is you can do (babysitting, dog walking, the next killer app!). Point being, if you want to race for real, you are going to need minimally 2K for Kart, and have a budget of 200-500 per race weekend.
Soooo, it’s doable but you’d have to work hard as a kid to make it happen independently of your parents.

That being said, k1 is like $20 a session. Perfectly fine way to learn the fundamentals without breaking the bank.

Sorry if I sound like a preachy adult. Just trying to manage expectations.


(James McMahon) #11

I think that was his initial purchase budget. But yes, you can get a lot of rental seat time for $3k.


(Chenwi Liu) #12

Thank you very much for your advice! I really appreciate that you went into a lot of details. Yes I am considering getting a job to save up for racing. You mentioned racing with a rental kart and racing at K1 speed. Are those two the same concepts?


(Chenwi Liu) #13

Yes, I am basically done with statistics rn. Thank you very much!


(Chenwi Liu) #14

Thanks! And how much rental seat time do u suggest before getting in a race kart?


(Dom Callan) #15

Yes. K1 does electric indoor karts. They are very quick and run on slippery floors. It takes finesse to drive those well. One of our regulars here used to manage one and knows all about that.

First off they have a leaderboard. You use an app and you can see your ranking and times. So, you always have a rabbit to hunt.
Second, I think they might do leagues.


(Mateo I Perez) #16

Im also new to karting and im in the bay area deep east bay,brentwood, we are members at blue max kart club in davis,ca. Great folks super helpful some on this forum also tried dixon flies pretty bad though but super fun track! I have learned to ask questions these folks all rock super helpful! Send pics have gotten great advice also info got karting 101 and master the art of driving a go kart books ordered these have been helpful!


(James McMahon) #17

There’s really no set standard. Being able to compete in leagues and event win a couple is a good benchmark.


(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #18

Agreed there. I feel like once you feel like you have a good sense of racecraft and kart control in a rental, then it makes sense to move into a race kart.


(Dom Callan) #19

Personally when I found that I could get to the top of the leaderboard on the rentals (for the day or week) I figured I was quick enough to start outdoor racing on race karts.

But it’s not a requirement or anything. You could start racing as a total beginner but you’d mostly feel like you are in over your head.

My son started racing in 2018 and he is 13 as well. He was towards the back of the pack and moved up to mid pack by end of season.

Remember that at 13, you jump into a very competitive age group (10-13) and that a lot of the kids in racing have been at it for a few years already.

I think it’s a good idea to get the basics in before you start spending bigger money on racing weekends on race karts.

I’d say if you are more than 3-5 seconds per lap off the leaders pace, there’s work to do.

Not to scare you or anything but here’s a little 1 minute video of Nicks first season. As you can see, the race karts are powerful and there is real danger involved. You really need kart control before you start mixing it up in race karts (they don’t have the big crash bumpers)…


(Dom Callan) #20

Chenwi,
As you get started ask us about books and stuff to read or YouTube instructional stuff.

All of the info you can absorb about driving, while confusing at first, all starts to gel as you get practical experience. Stay hungry, ask questions and be a learner. Talent isn’t everything and hard work pays off.

Little story for you: before I started racing I used to go to k1 in NJ and I thought I was pretty good. I’d always get fastest time of the day.
One day I’m doing my thing and I notice one other guy gaining on me and before you know it he’s politely on my bumper.

As we raced, I was amazed at how little effort he appeard to be putting in while I was sweating bullets trying to stay ahead of him. Every turn he looked calm and in control and he was always a little bit later to brake than me and quicker out of the corners. At the time I didn’t know the etiquette (otherwise I would have let him by). He passed me easily anyways. It was clear to me that he was in a different class of driving ability.

It sort of embarassed me in retrospect. I was so sure I was hot stuff and some random go-karter that really knew what’s up showed me how far I needed to go to become “good”. That’s when I decided it was time to graduate to race karts and learn what that guy knew.

There’s a lot to learn from indoor karting, it’s exactly the same skill set as outdoor 30hp karts.