First Shifter Race

My dad and I chasing each other around in our first shifter race. Only our second time in them so still getting used to everything. Lots to learn.


That looks pretty damn good for your first time in a shifter. I am no expert, however. Did dad chastise you for pushing him around a bit :grinning:?


Looking great for your first race! I’m sure you’re still feeling out the kart, but you were really able to stretch your legs a bit once you got around the kart in front, and your lap times dropped significantly. I’d try to identify a weak point where you can set up making a move sooner. I’d also train yourself NOT to look behind you, especially when you have a task at hand right in front of you, that being passing a slower kart. It’s far too easy to lose focus by worrying about what may going on behind you…think forward, and think progress! If someone is back behind you, you’ll hear them, feel them, or both, so no need to look for them.

My perception may be off due to the video, but it looks like you’ve got some opportunity to improve under braking and corner entry. This will come with time, and is really where you’ll need to make gains in order to go from good to great in a shifter kart.

That’s a pretty sweet kart/motor package you guys have! Tell all the guys on the grid to come run the SKUSA Great Lakes Pro Kart Challenge at the end of the month! We’ll have a nice group of shifters coming up for that race! Can’t wait to run that track in a shifter kart!

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Great work on your first time bud! By any chance did you race in any other category prior to getting into the shifter? I’m asking because I am getting my first kart (initially only raced in rental leagues) and I’m dreaming of a shifter but I get all these “don’t do it” comments on the forums. However I estimate around 600-1,000 monthly cost if you really push it for the shifter. That’s the biggest complain I see, the maintenance on shifters. What are your thoughts?!

Hope you get the time to reply.

I’ll add my two cents here regarding shifter maintenance. It’s really going to depend on what type of package you’re looking to run, and how much you plan to use the motor. Seeing that you’re in Texas, I see your options as follows:

  • Stock Honda- probably lowest upfront cost, and definitely lowest cost in terms of maintenance vs. other shifter packages. Parts are cheap, operation is super simple, top-end rebuilds can easily be done yourself, and durability is quite good. You could buy something like THIS, and change the top end every 8 hours, which would probably allow you 6-10 races depending on how much track time you’re getting. All in all you’re talking less than $500 in maintenance.

  • Rok Shifter- upfront cost is going to be slightly higher than the stock Honda, but not by much. This engine shares a lot of the same attributes in that it is reliable, and easy to operate. Parts are a bit more expensive, but maintenance intervals are going to be pretty similar. Slightly more power than the Honda.

  • Iame 175 SSE- again going up the scale in terms of upfront cost, but there are some slightly used motors out there going for low prices. Reliability on these has been very good once the motor is dialed in, so this is one for which I’d recommend working with a reputable engine builder, as it will pay dividends to do so both in terms of performance and reliability. Parts cost is going to be comparable to the Rok, and ease of operation is slightly more challenging due to the carburetor, and higher compression. The trade off is that this thing makes dramatically more power than the previous motors listed. Super fun package for sure.

  • KZ- this is the epitome of gearbox karting engines, with multiple manufacturers in play (TM, Modena, Vortex, IAME are the most common). Performance on track is going to be very comparable to that of the 175 SSE, but with a sharper power curve and higher RPM. This type of engine is such that unless you’re very experienced with engine tuning, I would absolutely buy from a reputable source, and work with a reputable engine builder to optimize performance. There are far more variables in play, so the gap from an out of the box motor to an optimized motor can be quite large. Probably the highest cost of the bunch, and maintenance intervals are going to be a bit tighter.

All of this said, if you’re new to competition karting my advice would be to start slow (literally), and work your way up based on how quickly you learn the kart, driving, tuning, etc. You’ll learn valuable driving techniques in something like an LO206 or Yamaha KT100 that will be totally missed if you dive head first into shifter racing. It’s important to develop habits like smooth hands, conservation of momentum, and racecraft. I would absolutely recommend moving to up the shifter category at some point, just do it when you’re ready. Don’t be afraid of the maintenance costs, especially for something like the Stock Honda.


My dad and I had messed around in four stroke karts while I was growing up and I had driven a tag a few times, but this was my first race in anything ever. It definitely has a little learning curve to get the hang of it. As far as maintenance I think it all depends on the person. My dad is very mechanically inclined and can teach me a lot so we do all the work on engines/chassis/maintenance ourselves and it is very doable even for newbies. I will say it is extremely helpful to meet people that have done it for awhile and have some knowledge on the specific package you’re running in case you run into any issues.

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That’s a nice looking track, from what I could see of it anyways.

I’ll just throw in that TM makes a TaG-KZ engine that is essentially akin to the IAME SSE with similar maintenance intervals, albeit in 125cc.

Update from a year later, running the corona cup this year. First Non point race at road America.

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Polesitter “coughed” pretty bad on the start there.

Awesome! Definitely looking more confident than before. Continue to get laps and soon you’ll be able to take advantage of those passing opportunities with ease.

One area for easy improvement: stop the short shifting and let that puppy rev! Not only will this allow you to better utilize the power band, but it will likely eliminate a few unnecessary shifts between corners. I’m far from an expert on the TM, but I would suspect you should be able to shift at 13,500 EASY, if not 14k.

Keep it up, and keep posting your footage! It’s great content for those of us who are still sitting around waiting to race!

Yeah I’ve noticed that too. On longer straits or more open tracks I have no problem revving it out, but for some reason in the infield section I’m constantly short shifting around 13k or sometimes lower which is no good. Could easily eliminate a few shifts through out my laps which would be nice. I’ll have to focus on that next time out.

I haven’t posted a road race video on here but figured I would since that’s what we do the most of. This was a fun race of back and forth last weekend at Grattan. Second third and fourth all finished within a tenth.


Nice track! Looking good.

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Grattan is one of my favorite tracks. Nothing like getting air at 90+, or aiming for a tree to get around a blind blend.

1:19 is pretty good too. High 19’s were all I could muster at 420lbs. I think the lanes have gotten into 1:18’s.

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Nice race! Lap 4 and 5 are very productive and you appear to pull easily on the fast bits.

It helps that I was almost always getting a push from someone behind that you can’t see. Drafting and getting a push is a game changer at those speeds, you gain anywhere from 5 to 10 mph.

Aha. I was wondering. Never experienced that level of draft. Thanks for explaining.