Feeling Lost - Karting in Maryland Area

Hi there,
We are more or less just getting our sons into competitive racing. This will be my oldest son’s 3rd year driving and his competitive nature just clicked this year. Currently, he has a comer C50 that we were hoping to compete with for now, but his little brother is now old enough to drive and will likely take his kid kart.

I’ve been looking at used karts and there are only rollers in our area. I’ve done work to his kid kart, so I’m not scared to work on them. I’m a car guy but not a kart guy. I just don’t know what the rules are and so I replicated everything that was already there. Half of me is saying buy a new kart and just start to figure it out as we go, and the other half is saying buy the roller and save money to buy extra parts, etc…

With that said, we need to get him a new kart and we wanted to get him a 206. Locally I can get a Birel or Compkart built if I decide to go new. So I started doing my research on buying a new kart which then took me to gearing, type of chain, etc. and it all became very overwhelming as I realized there is a vast difference between competing and what we’re currently doing. lol Is there a basic recommended first gear/clutch setup to start with or do I need to be buying multiple gears to be prepared? I feel unequipped to sign up for local competitions and more like I should be doing exhibition races until we figure things out, despite him doing very well in the seat.

Someone please help guide me in the right direction for where to begin. What am I missing, what do I need to consider. We want to compete and not get destroyed but not go for world champion.

Thanks in advance.

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I was in your shoes at one point, probably even worse as I didn’t have ANY motorsports knowledge. In the 9 years we have karted, I have leaned on this site, youtube, other racers at our track, and our local kart shop.

My opinion would be to get a used chassis, preferably one that is supported by a local shop or the track you race at. It always easier to get spare parts and setup advice from someone local. At the 206 sportsmen/cadet level, there really isn’t a benefit to a brand new chassis IMO.

As for gearing at setup, this is really chassis/track dependent. I have found that other racers will be willing to share information, up to a point.

You’ll also went to get some sort of data logger (Mychron/Alfano) to help with gearing and to easily few lap times.

Where do you plan to race? Is there a club close to your home?


We are near United Karting in Hanover and Sandy Hook Speedway. There is a used comp kart roller that is local that we were looking at, but the kart is setup for a KA100. I’m not sure what all would be needed to swap it to the 206.

I’m guessing engine mount, engine, exhaust and then redo accelerator cable and fuel lines. Sound about correct? Anything else that may not be compatible?


KA100 runs on a full sized chassis. If your son is coming out of kid karts, he’s going to need a cadet chassis. In the Compkart line, that would be the Ranger. I have attached a FB link to Parolin Cadet as well.


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Good advice from John. The KA100 only runs in full-size kart classes and if you are just stepping up to a sportsman/cadet level class, your kid will be on a small chassis. How old is your driver? Also, the 206 engine dimensions and drivetrain configuration (inboard clutch as opposed to outboard) means that the 206 doesn’t always just bolt up nicely to a kart set up for KA.

Gearing will be track dependent so you’ll have to get that information locally. Usually local kart shops or fellow racers can point you the right way there. If you’re racing at one track only, you’ll probably need a couple different sprockets to fine tune it week-in-and-week-out.

Our resident 206 experts can advise on clutch setup, but that has been discussed here before so you could probably dig and find what you need.

I would recommend against a brand new kart. As with buying a car, buying new guarantees you’ll lose money in the end, and for what you’re doing, you certainly don’t need the newest and shiniest. Plenty of used karts would be more than adequate for you guys for a long time until you start competing at higher levels.

Your local racing series should have a rulebook (most local clubs use some variation of national series rules withe regards to technical specs for karts) that should allow you to see what’s allowed and what’s not.

Once you get your gear, I would recommend several practice days before jumping into races. My first 6 months of karting were strictly practice days until I was comfortable and quick enough to not be a roadblock in the races.


Hilliard Flame Clutch has been the clutch I’ve used for 4 seasons now. Very easy to maintain and replace parts. Not sure on the cadet setup but I have always ran 2 black 2 white

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Welcome to the forum Alex! John and TJ kind of already nailed the key points.

But I’ll follow-up with I definitely know the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. I was in your shoes exactly a year ago (racing for myself). There’s 2 things that helped me out tremendously:

  1. Buying a used kart from someone who actually raced. This not only helped me keep costs down, but the kart kind of “verified” itself as far as being eligible/legal. Even down to the little things like having nylon lock nuts or safety wire on key components. This, combined with snagging a copy of your club’s rulebook and/or tech sheet, you’re guaranteed you’ll be ready to race. I had a buddy buy a kart from someone who never raced it, so when he showed up to the club race we were scrambling to get his kart able to pass tech.
  2. Just signing up and racing anyways. I know I stressed myself out by over-thinking everything, until I actually showed up to a club race. I think you’ll find everyone to be super helpful, especially to new-comers.

Side note, if you’re a one-man show like I am most race-days, I highly recommend spending a little extra money on an electric kart stand. Saves you the hassle of always asking someone random to help you lift your kart up.

Welcome Alex!
IMO, you’ve found the best place for advice and support as you start your kids (and you, maybe?) in competitive karting. John, TJ and Jacob have already offered great advice and there are lots of karters here who know what they’re doing and are happy to answer questions. Please ask!

As far as karts go, like TJ mentioned, a season or two old kart is a good way to start. Having local support for the kart you’re running at the track will be very useful. You’ll have someone to ask about setup, gearing, tire questions… Ask around and see what chassis other cadet drivers are running. They may know of drivers moving up from Cadet who have equipment available. Good luck and ask away here! There’s already loads of good info upthread!

On the new vs. used issue, I think there are 2 things to consider:

  1. Do you believe that you’ll be in karting for a while or are you testing the waters. In your case, given that you’ve already done kid karts, you’re probably leaning more towards staying in the sport for a while. In that case, you might consider a new chassis. If you’re just trying it out to see if your kid will even like it, I’d almost certainly go used.

  2. What used karts are available? In some areas, you just can’t find decent used equipment. And the last thing you want is to just buy any old beat up kart that is bent, unreliable or in any other way a bigger headache than it’s worth because that’s a sure way to take the fun out of the sport for both you and your kid. I’ve seen that happen to lots of newcomers, where dad gets mad that the kart won’t run properly, and kids are so damned perceptive that they spot that and decide that they don’t want to race in part because they don’t like seeing their parents like that.

In my case, I started my kid out on a brand new cadet because the local market for used cadets left with me no other choice if I wanted to maximize the likelihood that my daughter wouldn’t get frustrated and want to quit. She’s now going into her 5th season, onto her 8th different chassis (she runs 2 Briggs and Rotax now - and has moved from cadets to full size karts), and loves it, and I have no regrets.

I was incorrect. It is a miniswift right now. So still a cadet chassis. There is only that and a parolin which is clean but $2400 with no wheels/tires/motor/engine mount/exhaust.

I’m not sure what to expect cost wise to put that back together but from what I’ve seen it looks like it would put me close to $4k. It appears to be lightly used but I don’t know how to verify that it’s not bent.

I’m local to United Karting/Sandy Hook.

For kid kart, the gear ratio is fixed depending on what engine. Check the tracks club rules for specs. They run both kid kart chassis as well as cadet chassis in the “Kid Kart” class. The cadet chassis will run a very restricted LO206 (black slide, black coil) engine in “kid kart” spec.

As for chains, LO206 usually runs a #35 chain. 35 and 219 are number designations for the chains tooth pitch.

As far as gearing, cadet class and up the gearing is open. Contact United Karting/Sandy Hook and ask them what gear ratios they’d recommend.

Shop around on FB marketplace, find a used cadet chassis. Take the money you saved and invest that in engine, gears, chains, safety gear, etc.


@SeanM would you be the Sean I hung out with all Saturday? We have the blue redbull kart.

I am looking at the Nitro you may/may not have mentioned that is on Fb now. He said he was running a rotax on it but that the kart has been sitting for a few years. Anything I should consider or be concerned about. I had not seen many cadets running a solid rear bumper like that in our area. Is that an issue? I was thinking of going to check it out after this weekend. I’ve been doing some research on motor mounts and chains. It seems like there will be a ton of unanticipated expenses like chain guards, etc… Just trying to build a parts list so I don’t end up short during the install.

That’s what started the rabbit hole. Sprockets. And then we learned all about angled mounts, 2 piece mounts, chains, gears, clutches, etc… All while being Wka compliant. Lol hence the title feeling lost. Just a lot to absorb and trying to get him competitive sooner than later for the SH season. Originally, we were going to keep him in his kart longer but that will likely not happen because of his brother.

For what you describe and what others are advising, I’d only go used if it is a full kart + engine, but I’d certainly go used again. The idea being that you don’t have to worry so much about surprises, although that’s a bit of a pipe dream. There are always surprises, haha. For my daughter, we bought a fairly upgraded kid kart for her, and it paid off in spades. We have only since had one rebuild and one new clutch. Pretty much everything else has been a rock solid starting point. My kart was a little less of a success story but still gave me a great platform to build off of rather than try to piece together a $4,000 puzzle. Looking at engine mounts, for example, you can go cheap or you can go expensive. Mine launched chains since day one until I got an Odenthal mount. But, let’s say you buy a complete kart with some no-name mount that works just fine. Save your money for bent tie-rods.

Along these lines, you won’t need a hundred spare gears. I always try to keep one chain (but they are sold on-site for my local track), but being a tooth or three off won’t make or break your first several outings. Then figure out which way to go with the gearing once it is an issue. Starting with a raceable kart allows you to take much smaller bites.


United is my home track, you will find a lot of people willing to help out. As others have said, I would advise buying an existing package that is already set up for your intended class so you can focus on learning the ins and outs of racing rather than getting everything working correctly from an unknown starting point. There will be folks moving up from cadet looking to sell.

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At my local track, Langley in Hampton VA, the officials make an effort to get karts on track. If someone new shows up they will pretty much let anyone race provided there are no safety issues. Lots of help is offered and someone will try to dig up the parts you need to be legal.

We do this quite a bit with new families. My first advice is almost always to buy used and let someone else handle the depreciation. If you absolutely know you are in this for 2 years plus and you have the budget, then buy new. There is no speed advantage to owning new over a properly cared for and checked over used kart though - just a matter of how picky you are?

What do you need in terms of chassis? Anything you can readily get support for - OTK, Birel/CompKart, KR or any Parolin based kart that isn’t overly dated. There is a new Energy importer in process of getting set up which makes them a good option again as well for great karts.

For engine 206 is the way to go and it’s worth it to have the prep work done by someone that is a phone call away on Monday. 206 is relatively simple but there are still some tricks to make them right.

Bottom line on engine and chassis is take the simple, supported way so you spend your time working on your driver, not tuning a kart or engine.

What else do you need? Stand, generally speaking a range of four rear gears and 2-3 drivers. You’ll be somewhere in the 3.0-4.0 ratio range so you only need 4 sprockets to cover the whole range. One driver tooth down gives you a rain gear, one driver tooth up lets you run a longer track.

Rocket or other mini sprockets are great. Get their sprocket hub and sprocket guard - worth every penny. Some will disagree but the 219 costs a few dollars more but is worth it - just higher quality.

A good quality adjustable engine mount is worth the investment.

For a new cadet driver do not worry about having a huge variety of axles or wheels.

One set of nice quality magnesium wheels for dry (130/130) and one set of cast aluminum wheels for wet (130/130).

Speaking of wet - get a filter cover for the rain.

The one tuning tool I would have are 2 zero pills to easily take half steps in caster.

A MyChron 5 and a camera are worth infinitely more than chasing a magic engine or axle or set up.

Spares if you are that kind of guy: 1 column, 2 tie rods, 1ea tie rod ends, 1 each small and large spindle spacers, 2 kingpins, 1 spindle nut, 2 eccentric screws, 5 safety clips, 5 circlips, 2 E clips, 2 bumper clamps, 1 axle, 6 wheel nuts, 2 studs, 2 axle keys, 1 set of bumper bolt hardware, 1 chain, 1 throttle cable, 1 throttle cable clamp, 5’ fuel line.

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