First post here - Getting Started Questions

gettingstarted

(Steve Smith Jr ) #1

Hello all!

I’ve been lurking on this board for a little while now and this is my very first post here. I have a bunch of questions to ask and I’m hoping you all can help me out with some feedback. My 16 year old son, David, is looking to get started racing karts. He ran his first real race a few weeks ago. It was a 6 hour endurance race in Jacksonville, FL, and he’s hooked! His team did really well, and he personally did a pretty decent job for his first time out. He has dreams of racing in IMSA one day; we’ll see how this goes first!

We’re thinking of getting him started in a local LO206 series, it seems like a good place to start. I’m currently in the research and planning phase of this new adventure, and any information you can provide me with would be most appreciated!

  1. I’m learning there are different chassis for 2 stroke engines and 4 stroke engines. Can you swap out engines on the same chassis to run in different classes? For example, hypothetically… If we wanted to run in both a LO206 class and an Animal class, could we just swap out the engine on the same chassis? Is it the same for 2 cycles? Is this something that’s even done?

  2. Going from paved road to dirt oval… Is it just a matter of switching out engines and tires and maybe some body work? Or are there chassis specifically made for one and the other?

  3. I’m sure there are 1,000,001 opinions on this, but… Who are the best chassis manufactures? Who aren’t the best? And, I like to buy American whenever I can if at all possible, if it’s even an option. Who are the top manufactures made in the USA?

  4. We have a local track in Jacksonville, 103rd St Sports Complex, that has local club races once a month or so. Are there other places near here that do the same that would be worth checking out? Are there any regional series worth checking into? I’ve started researching the WKA, but there doesn’t seem to be any real actual information on their site.

  5. Body work… I’ve seen many different looking types and configurations? What are the differences and are they series dependent? Is one type better for a certain style of racing? Can you use the same chassis and just swap out different kits if needed? Does any of it really matter?

  6. Safety gear… Is there a certain standard of gear you have to buy? Like, for instance, helmets: Is there a certain specification required that I should be looking for? How about suits?

  7. Tools and spare parts… What tools and equipment will I be needing to buy? Is there a checklist? What spare parts are commonly needed to be kept on hand? Is there anything else that should definitely be brought along to help a race weekend run smoothly?

  8. Trailers… Any recommendations for type, size, and/or manufactures?

  9. Is there anything else that I’ve missed here that we really need to know going forward?

Thanks in advance for any and all information you can throw our way. We’re really looking forward to getting started racing soon! Looking forward to your replies!


(James McMahon) #2

Great questions!

First off, if you haven’t already, I think you need to get in touch with @phastafrican and @DruLo206. They are behind jaxkarting.com and can help you navigate the local scene.

In short, yes the kart chassis are pretty interchangeable between motor types. Check in on the forums here if you have specific questions just in case.

For the most part, a lot of the differences between four stroke and two stroke “chassis” tends to be in the extra options to bring the four stroke versions down to a lower price point. There can be some nuances, rear crossbar position (to accommodate inboard drive of a four stroke engine), they tend to have 40mm axles and smaller frame rail diameters. Although maybe nice to have, not essential.

Yes there are specific chassis. I have seen people make a paved kart (kinda) work on dirt oval, it would be enough to get a taste of it maybe. The biggest difference in dirt oval is the science and voodoo of tire prep which basically entails the use of (often carcinogenic) chemicals to tune tires for the conditions.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is what is going to be the best for you.
Factors to consider include support in the area/at the races you run for a given brand. Availability of spares and of course, the offers that are available to you.

Sure is an option! You raise a good point (we should have a list of USA manufacturers)

Off the top of my head: Coyote, Margay and Ionic Edge come to mind as US built and supported chassis.

Check in Andrew and Emmauel above at jaxkarting on that one.
You can find a map of other tracks around you at tracks.kartpulse.com

Bodywork can get to be a bit of a pain to navigate and can be series dependant. Bodywork can be interchanged with varying difficulty depending on what you have already in terms of chassis and body, to what you need to be at.

I think once you’ve found your “home” track, make a bodywork decision then.

The standards that are enforced tend to vary. Iv’e seen some tracks racers rock it out with a jacket ‘n’ jeans and others will require you to run a current karting suit and a certain specification helmet.

So, find out what you will need for the tracks you’re going to run and buy the best you can :slight_smile:
One thing to note: Nomex (Car) suits are not recommended (and in some cases are simply not allowed) for kart racing. Car suits are not abrasion resistant, whereas kart suits are.

The good news is that very basic “mechanic” tools will get you very far. @DavinRS wrote an article on tools some time ago that’s still right on the money.
Other items you will need are a tire pressure gauge (one suitable for racing).

My only recommendation is that, at least to start off, you might not need one. Truck or wagon works well. Sometimes a car roof but it is a bit of a pain to get it up there and strapped down.

I think you’re off to a good start :slight_smile:


(Dom Callan) #3

Oval chassis are different, I believe. They are biased to the left turn.
Safety gear: generally suit, helmet, gloves, neck and maybe shoes. Suits have a tag or printed bit that denotes it is certified. You want level 2 karting suit certification. Driving suits are flame retardant whereas kart is abrasion resistant. Helmet, you want snell certified such as the arai sk-6.


(TJ Koyen) #4

Welcome! Lots to cover, but I’ll try my best.

  1. Correct. Lots of manufacturers who typically have done 2-stroke chassis are now building specific LO206 chassis to cover that booming market though, so there are plenty of options for 206 karts. I don’t know the specific differences in mounting an Animal vs. a 206, but my thought would be the same kart could be used for both.

  2. It’s very difficult to run a sprint (paved road course) kart on an oval with any success. To even be remotely close on an oval, you’ll need an oval specific kart, which will have a large amount of offset built into the chassis. It’s super rare for someone to cross disciplines of karting, 99% of the time people stick to one or the other. Especially with dirt oval vs. sprint karting, as tuning, tires, and essentially EVERYTHING is 100% different. I’ve been sprint karting for 16 years and the one dirt race I did a few years ago felt like I was totally starting over from square one. If your son’s goal is IMSA, I would recommend sprint karting, as it’s the one with a comparable skill set to what you would need for sports car racing.

  3. There’s really no such thing as “the best” when it comes to kart manufacturers. What is more important is knowing how to setup your kart, as they all tune slightly differently, and being able to get advice, spare parts, and help at the track from a local shop. Usually a local shop will support a particular brand and have anything you need for that kart. For sprint karting, popular brands nationally are names like Tony Kart, BirelART, CompKart, TopKart etc. There are a few big factories that make most of the karts and market them under numerous different names. If you’re looking to go American, Margay is really the only one building a competitive kart these days, which might actually be good for you if your aim is 206. They build a great 206 kart, and they have a pretty lucrative program in their Ignite package that might be worth a look.

  4. Florida has a pretty good karting scene, although I don’t know their specific class structures for each class. OGP in Ocala is a popular track, Andersen, Orlando Kart Club, and I’m sure I’m missing some others.

  5. Most 4-stroke karts use full bodies, most 2-stroke karts use CIK-approved plastics. With 206 having cross over from European manufacturers, you’ll see a mix of bodywork in that class. Bodywork is swappable in most cases, but it’s not really a big deal either way. I wouldn’t worry about that.

  6. Check with your local clubs on their rules, but generally a Snell-rated helmet is required. Some clubs are more lenient than others, but the current most up-to-date rating is SA2015 or K2015. Ratings typically last for 10 years, so 2010 rated helmets are still good until 2020 most places. But again, I would check with your club. You’ll also need a race suit, gloves, usually a neck collar, and some kind of racing boot. There aren’t usually strict specifications on that stuff, but your club rules will specify some form of protection.

  7. A set of metric/standard sockets and wrenches (8mm to 17mm) and Allen wrenches (4mm to 10mm) will cover most things on a kart. A rubber mallet is also useful for pounding out axles or “fixing” things you don’t have spares for. Also helpful to have an air compressor, plenty of Tri-Flow and chain lube, some Simple Green or similar cleaning chemicals etc. to keep the kart nice and tidy.

  8. You can get a little open on from Home Depot if you’re on a budget, or you can buy a nice little enclosed option too. I don’t have any specific hard opinions on trailers really.

  9. Keep it fun!


(Andrew Maldonado) #5

Welcome!! Glad another Jacksonville racer has joined the forum and possibly our club. Club rules can’t be found a www.northflkarting.com. We just had a local race on Saturday and only had 1 2cycle racer. Had one guy make the switch from his shifter to first time running a 206 and he had blast. Here in our area you will see a lot of coyote, comet, razor, mgm, and ionic edge. There is not one better than the other in my opinion but it all depends really on how you drive. What works for me will not work for you. We would love to have you for sure. If you have any questions or help finding karts, trailers, parts, labor lol we are here to help. Email us at jaxkarting.com it kartingdads.com. Also Facebook “Karting dads”. Hope to see you soon


(Emmanuel Baako) #6

@ssmithjr - Welcome to KartPulse. Exciting to hear you and David enjoyed running the 6hr race. I’ve known Chris McCoy at Endurance Karting for many years now and unfortunately was not in town that weekend.

James (and everyone else above :slight_smile: )has answered nearly all your questions, but since you took the time to write such a detailed post, bare with me as I spend some time giving providing well deserved attention. We’ll likely be having even longer conversations over the next few weeks.

  • You can use the same chassis for 2 or 4 cycle, but there are subtle differences. Later down the road when you want to be competitive, you’ll definitely want a specific 2 or 4 stroke chassis. I wouldn’t be too concerned at the start. 206 and say Animal ProGas would use the same chassis, just swap out engines. Locally, it’s basically 2 classes. LO206 and a handful of 2 stroke and maybe 1 shifter kart. You may want to play with a 2 stroke and shifter later, but for now, LO206 has 10-15 locals and about 5 guys in all 2 stroke. I’d recommend sticking with your initial call of starting in LO206 and focusing on that for some time.
  • Specific chassis. Dirt karts are offset to the left to help turn that way.
  • The top suggestions are all good. The best drivers are winning here regardless of the chassis they run. Coyote, Comet Eagle, MGM, Ionic Edge, Razor, Margay… all American, all fast. The Arrow and VLR are also fast. So yeah… 8 opinions in 2 lines. lol.

Here are track off the top of my head with estimated driving distance from Jax. They all have a local and regional races. One of these days, the jaxkarting site will actually have all the schedules, or i’ll put in the work to have it updated here on the kartpulse events list.

  • Bushnell Motorsports Park - 2hr
  • Ocala Grand Prix - 2hr
  • Monticello Karting - 2hr
  • Orlando Kart Center - 3hr
  • Anderson Raceway Park - 3hr
  • Palm Beach Karting - 4hr
  • Carolina Motorsports Park - 4hr
  • Lamar County Speedway - 4hr
  • Homestead - 5hr
  • Atlanta Motorsports Park - 6hr
  • GoPro Motorplex - 6hr

BTW: Next local race is May 12th in Jax. If you guys are ready, we can definitely get you ready to race. David already knows the track, so just about getting the equipment now.

  • Main differences: CIK vs Full nose/Gold Cup nose. Some clubs and race series only allow CIK, others allow both. Nearly all the new chasses from the last 5 years allow you to swap the bodywork. You’ll just have to purchase the corresponding front porch (or mount) and hardware.
    Which is better? Meh. In Jax, we have one of the longest straights. Full nose is more aerodynamic, so nearly everyone will put on a full nose for a championship race here. Everywhere else, no noticeable difference. Doesn’t really matter, but CIK gives you more options if you’ll be doing a lot of races away from Jax.
  • Any Snell approved helmet. Check to make sure it has M2010 or SA2010 or newer rating.
  • Suit not required, but as James mentioned get a kart specific suit. You can also just use any jacket and jeans/pants that provide good protection.
  • Locally, a neck brace is required.
    That’s really the only gear you’re required to have. Gloves, shoes, etc are all nice, but not required so you can just get whatever you ultimately like.

Typically, any racing safety gear website will have a karting section, so just select from that section and it’ll meet the requirements. Here’s an example of looking at kart specific gear. https://www.discoveryparts.com/4__kart-racing-safety-gear. Side note, we get 10% off anything on that site so let me know if you see something you like. There are tons of karting gear stores though, so feel free to just google.

  • Checklist can vary based on your chassis, i.e. standard vs metric etc. But for the most part, your typical ~100pc toolbox has everything you need to work on the kart.
    Luckily, you probably have most of what you need already. For example, my kart only NEEDS the following:
    4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 3/16", 5/16", 1/4" allen. 8mm, 10mm, and 13mm socket. 10mm, 13mm wrench, and 1 odd 15/16" wrench for the camber pill (weird i know), and philips and flat head screw drivers. You’ll want cutters/snips, pliers, needle nose. You get the idea. A set of metric and standard allens, wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers.

Got a truck? Won’t need a trailer. This is a subjective preference type of question, so we can chat about what you want to get out of it and share some examples. Andrew and I are team 30+ MPG. I tow a little 40" x 48" trailer behind my Toyota Prius and he does the same with an Elantra (pic above). 2 other buddies just use their truck bed. If you’re set on buying a trailer, we can point you in the direction of some people selling their trailers already set up for karting.

  • Can’t wait to chat some more and have you out there with us. It’s gonna be a blast.

(Steve Smith Jr ) #7

Thanks all for the replies! I’m in a much better position to make informed decisions than I was when I woke up this morning! :smiley:

I have a few follow up questions which I’ll post here soon.

@phastafrican @DruLo206
Hello, and nice to meet you! We were actually out at the track this last Saturday. We happened to meet the father of the lone 2 cycle driver, I think his name was Dave. We watched the heats and afterward it looked like something of a fight had broken out. Not sure what that was all about. After the heats we left for some lunch. The website said the finals were at 3, but when we returned it looked like everyone had left for the day. We were hoping to meet a bunch of folks or maybe even run into a few familiar faces from the 6 hour, didn’t have much luck! Oh well, maybe next time!

I’m actually living out in Fort Walton Beach until fall when I’m planning on moving back to Jacksonville. David will be out this way over the summer. So, we probably won’t be “regulars” out there until fall/winter. Hopefully by then we’ll have him up and running, at least for now, that’s the plan!


(Dom Callan) #8

FYI I rented one of OKCs club racing four strokes (honda 390gx I think on a tony chassis) for a day and had a grand old time running laps there.
They are constantly sending me emails about their club races which seem like a lot of fun. And best of all, they provide the karts.
As I am in NJ I haven’t done their club races but it seems like a blast and pretty inexpensive too.


(Steve Smith Jr ) #9

A few follow ups…

We’re going to start out in LO206, so that’ll be our main focus for now. I was asking about converting to dirt ovals because there’s a local track and I thought it might be fun to try something different every now and then. But it’s looking like that’s a whole other can of worms! :smiley:

If I were to go new over used I’m really looking at the Margay line. What’s the difference between the Brava 4.15 and the Ignite K3?

If I were to start looking for a used chassis, what exactly should I be looking for, keeping in mind I want to mount a LO206 to it?

In regards to buying a brand new engine, what’s the difference between just getting the engine or getting an engine that’s been set up and dynoed and all that jazz? Is it worth the extra money? Will it rob us of a valuable learning exercise?

Are Snapper Trailers any good?

Thanks again all!


(Dom Callan) #10

For lo206 I am pretty sure you don’t need to go through the whole blueprinted engine thing. From what I understand its plug-n-play.
What I have seen recommended with lo206 is to buy new as they are inexpensive and when they get older they are sacrificed and converted into animals.

You should find a good dealer or shop that is present at your track and have them put together something for you. A completed kart that is good to go. It can be part new part old.


(Emmanuel Baako) #11

@ssmithjr - Too bad we didn’t get to meet you. Yea, Dave and Savvas got into the first ever argument we’ve had at a local race where there was any kind of shoving. It was over absolutely nothing in the end too. Shame!

Given that Matt was the only 2 stroke kart, he was just added to our race group, so the day was significantly cut short since it was basically 4 stroke races back to back.

@Bimodal_Rocket - The one negative about 103rd street happens to be that there are no rental karts. So many people who want to try a kart have no avenue to allow them to do so. JaxKarting.com was a way to try and connect enthusiasts to racers who may have karts available for rental. Still a work in progress.

Dirt is an absolute blast. Probably the most fun I’ve had in a kart was racing dirts at Callahan. Sideways for 20 laps straight. This past weekend was pretty fun with Andrew too. Too bad you missed the final race. I just switched from my laydown seat Coyote (gold cup) to a sit up seat (CIK) in the Eagle, so my helmet video was pointing downwards…terrible, but Andrew and I had an amazing time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6SWQA3CW_c

  • Not an expert on this specific subject, but the K3 is their current preferred chassis for lo206. I heard that there’s a new chassis coming soon as well. Manufacturers are always looking for the tiniest improvements in development, sometimes it really has no actual effect on speed, but the perceived benefit will still sell them. I am friends with a Margay dealer here not too far from us. I can get you connected and you can ask some specific questions.
    Not to sway your decision making process however, the biggest thing you want is support (local support). Here in Jax, that actually gives you one 2, maybe 4 choices. Everyone is on either a Coyote or an Eagle. We have a couple of Razors and 1 Ionic Edge I believe. When something comes up and you need an extra part, having a chassis that you can lean on others for support is extremely beneficial. We’ve been able to buy loads of used replacement parts from other locals in the last 2 years because of the abundance of Coyotes. Wouldn’t have been able to do that with a Margay.
  • Our number one suggestion… find some used equipment that was well set up for where you want to race and spend the time getting to grips with it. Locally, we know of a few karts that are for sale, all decent. Knowing that a kart was already set up for the track you’re racing at takes away a lot of the initial pain points. That said, if you decide to shop around, there are many choices. I’ll add you to the various FB groups and you can look at some of the items. The main thing to as is “has it been in a wreck or bent or re-welded?”(not automatically a bad thing but something to know). Depending on the chassis, the size and stiffness of axle and components might make limit your adjustability. Replacing the entire rear could cost end up costing just as much as the used kart. (ask us how we know). Another reason having one thats already put together is a great choice.

For new engines, there really is very little to be concerned about. Just order the complete package from a reputable dealer. There are many of them. For the learning experience, you won’t be robbed of anything. That said, almost every front runner around these parts is on a “Kart City” engine. Whatever that’s worth.

  • Sure, they’re as good as any affordable trailers. There one right here in Lake City. It’ll do the job.

Keep the questions coming. :slight_smile:


(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #12

I honestly don’t have much to add because the rest of the group has done a very comprehensive job, but as an admin it does give me warm-fuzzies seeing everyone being so helpful! So my thanks there!

Welcome to Kartpulse @ssmithjr!


(Adam Cupskey) #13

I haul my kart in a dodge grand caravan. With the rear narrow it fits like a glove. The narrowest point in a caravan is about 49ish inches and 8 feet deep (to fit full sheets of drywall/wood). Been like that since the very beginning in 1983 with the caravan. Its 1 design feature it has kept and was a in a way built around to be able to do just that


(Emmanuel Baako) #14

If my wife ever says she wants a minivan, that’s the one. Grand Caravan R/T (#becauseRTfanboy) will be the upgrade from the Durango R/T.


(Adam Cupskey) #15

Woulda went R/T but no difference in powertrain. Zero. All appearance and luxury interior/sound. We got the sxt plus blacktop package which is the step down. But with out any kinda of power upgrade it is just a money grab to me lol. And yes I know it’s still a minivan. But I always believe if you are buying a car always get the highest trim for the fun/power but if the power is the same throughout the range then what’s the point. Example my last 3 cars from current 2008 honda civic si 4dr 2003 Toyota matrix xrs 2006 Chevy cobalt ss supercharged.


(Emmanuel Baako) #16

Can certainly agree with that. Wife loves her R/T badge though. :slight_smile:

But yea, that’s one other way to transport a kart that wasn’t mentioned yet in the thread. Minivans/Kart vans!


(James McMahon) #17

Here’s another checklist of tools and other items from NHKA:


(Dom Callan) #18

To add: sunblock, sun hat.