Hello members on KartPulse,
This is Nick from Atlanta, and I’m looking for some advice in getting started in karting. I first participated in motorsport with AutoX, then did ~70 track days and now I am looking into getting into wheel to wheel racing. Karting seems a natural choice. I did a kart racing school at Atlanta Motorsport Park where we drove lo206, KA100, and TAG. All were fun and I think I’d be willing to move forward. I have some questions on most cost effective and safe way to get started.
Frist is safety. I would like to minimize risk of injury, temporary or permanent. Driving around without seatbelt at 60mph seems plenty scary. During the kart school I hit the curb going through the kink and almost lost control, which was a brown pants moment. Is karting more or less safe than say a fully caged touring race car with bucket seat and 6-point harness? What safety gears should I get?
Second is cost. AMP has a karting membership that’s going to average ~3500 per year for 20 days. That seems a bit pricy for me. There’s also Georgia Sprint Kart League that seems a lot more reasonable. To people local in the area, what’s the common/sensible choice?
Third is the kart. I would be perfectly happy in a lo206. What’s a reasonable cost for a good used one these days? I heard many people sell single race chassis that’s been in collisions and are kind of sketchy, is this true? A new prage lo206 retails for around $5000 at AMP. I can stomach that but wouldn’t want to overspend for what I need.
If there are people who’d be willing to chat with me a bit or let me observe them for an event and point me in the right direction I’d be very grateful.
Where are you located?
What age bracket are you in? Junior (<16), Senior (16+) or Masters (30+)
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your mechanical ability, or willingness to wrench on things?
probably an 8. I work on my own cars and have access to a very nice machine shop.
Talk a little about your racing experience so far.
no racing experience. I’ve done auto cross, rally cross, the kart school and some HPDE.
What’s the main thing you need help with to get you started.
For safety gear you’ll need a suit, gloves and helmet at minimum. Some places may require neck protection, like a foam collar or a more advanced device. A rib protector is optional but recommended. Rib injuries suck bad and can be fairly common when you’re turning a couple Gs in a fiberglass seat with no suspension. Racing shoes are nice too but also optional in the beginning.
So plenty of safety gear, low risk of going on your head because of the low CoG, and generally in a bad wreck you’re thrown clear of the kart, with usually not a lot of hard stuff around to hit. In my 21 years of karting I’ve had very little in the way of injury. A couple rib injuries just from driving, and a couple minor scrapes and bruises from crashes. Nothing bad at all. It’s really pretty safe in the grand scheme of things, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
206 is a great place to start and you definitely don’t need to buy new when starting. In fact I would say it’s a big waste of money to buy new on a chassis, as its going to take you a lot of years and experience to feel the subtle differences between new and used. The main thing you want to do is find your local kart shop so you can figure out what brands of kart are supported locally with parts and tuning advice. And typically the local shop will have used gear for sale. Bigger top level teams will indeed often sell single-race old karts for a good discount, so that is something to look into. Most shops and teams are reputable and aren’t going to pawn off junk on you, but you need to do some due diligence and check things over before buying. Same as any used equipment purchase.
I can’t speak to the local shops or kart clubs and what kind of events go on, as I’m not local, but AMP seems like a nice facility, though expensive. I’ve heard the club racing there is a bit of a free for all and not that well organized, but you maybe be somewhat limited in options.
So far you’re asking the right questions and so the right research so you’re on a good path to start.
Welcome! I’m also located in the Atlanta area and would be happy to help out. As TJ said, AMP’s facilities and track are top-notch, albeit expensive. Their $3500 membership essentially gets you members-only track time in the mornings (alternating with rentals in the afternoons) on most days that they don’t have something else going on (check out their calendar Calendar of Events | Atlanta Motorsports Park anything marked “Karting Open” is a day you’d be able to run as a member). There is a track day fee that I think is around $10 every day you want to go, and the $3500 membership tier also requires a $75 monthly membership fee. Their top membership tier doesn’t have any monthly fee.
The monthly club racing series there has been bringing in some good numbers. In my opinion there are some things that could probably help streamline their race days, and the parking situation around the kart track gets pretty brutal on race days, but it seems like they’ve been listening to driver feedback and making some tweaks to improve the flow of the day. Overall I’d recommend it.
I’d also recommend going with something used for your first kart, there are some buy/sell karting groups on Facebook and you also see karts pop up around Facebook marketplace pretty frequently. As for what brands to look out for, local support is the main thing you want when starting out - there is a shop right at the track that sells parts for Praga, Formula K, BirelART, and Charles Leclerc Kart brands. Most parts and spares from the latter 2 brands would also likely work on CompKart chassis as well, and there are also plenty of people running OTK brands too that would be able to offer some support (mainly Tony Kart, Kosmic, and Exprit).
I’d be happy to chat for a bit right at the track and answer whatever other questions you might have. One date I’d circle on the calendar is May 21st as that is the next club race day. Just a heads up that it is $10 for a paddock pass, but I’d highly recommend coming out to see what a race day is like, and I’ll definitely be there for that one. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you’re interested in meeting up at the track on a race day or practice day, or if you have any other questions.
Thank you TJ for the detailed advice. Regarding safety gear I have race suits, gloves, helmets etc from track days. Not sure if they are suitable for karting as karting seems closer to motorcycle, with scraping on the ground and multiple mid-speed impacts being the main concern, whereas auto-racing helmets are for hitting roll cage one time very hard.
I didn’t know rib injury was common, a simple search seems to suggest a lot of people have them. Hopefully, nothing permanent and I’ll definitely get a good rib protector.
I’m going to check out the tracks around my area on practice/race days to get an idea of what brand, setup and class people are doing.
Anything that is Nomex or rated for car use isn’t going to be legal for karting. Nomex gloves and suits will simply shred like a t-shirt if you go skidding across the pavement. Karting gear is specific and needs to be abrasion resistant. Although, 9/10 organizations don’t pay attention to this and probably would let you on-track with Nomex gloves and suit, and it’s fairly common even at big events for people to sneak by without having a properly certified suit.
A car helmet is totally fine and works just the same as a karting helmet, as long as it’s up to the correct safety rating. Most karting orgs will require Snell SA or K2015+. 2015 stuff is still good until 2025.
Also Jake’s advice is good and sound and he knows what he’s doing (mostly), so he is a good insight into the local scene.
Thank Jake. I’ll definitely check out AMP on May 21st if I’m available. It seems like no real reason to do the membership since I’m not going to be at the track too often then. I’ll keep an eye out for FB listings. Most likely I’ll need a trailer, I know they have storage at AMP but not sure how it works…
My understanding is that storage at AMP is only available to members. Last I checked garages were $325 per month for a 3 year lease, and I think there’s a decent wait list to get one of them. There’s also slip storage available for $75 per month. Personally, I just haul my own stuff around. There’s a few threads on here where people have shared their setups for moving their equipment, both with and without trailers. You’d be surprised at how many ways there is to do it.
Also worth noting, AMP members are able to bring guests for practice days a couple times a year. Once you get the chance to check things out, get some gear, etc. let me know - I should be able to still get you some practice time without a membership. You also do not need to be a member to race at AMP, non-members can still sign up and participate in the monthly racing series.
I saw OMP has one that has the FIA homologation. Seems that theres another version that’s identical except for the certification. I’ve never heard of Benigio but am familiar with OMP. What’s your opinion here? Are they probably identically effective? THanks
That’s a very generous offer Jake and I’ll definitely take you up on that one. I plan to install a hitch to my M3 for a small tire trailer for track days. I think I can find a trailer that will fit a kart. I’ll let you know when I get an update! Thank you.
The OMP probably works just fine for most people. The Bengio is a favorite here and it’s what kept me karting after I injured my ribs in 2012/2013. I tried several vests and none worked like the Bengio did for my specific issues.
Bengio is a karting specific Italian brand. But OMP generally makes good stuff too and I’ve seen plenty of people with their vest too.
Hi all. Just want to give a quick update. I bought a used Praga chassis last weekend from a local racer. He seems to be a top runner and sold his personal kart because he just got a sponsorship. The kart does not have an engine so I need to buy one (LO206). From what the seller told me, at the regional level, one need a blueprinted engine to be the top runner, and a stock engine is only good enough for mid pack. The laptime difference would be ~1s on a 60s track. A stock engine here runs $850 all in, and a blueprinted runs $1100-1400. TBH that’s not that big a difference in price. I thought this is a spec engine and I’m not sure what exactly can be done to blueprint it. What exactly is blueprinting on a spec kart engine? and folks, should I get the stock engine or the built one? I understand I’m a newbie in kart but I can lay laps down within .5sec in my touring car all day long. If there indeed is a improvement I’d be open to getting a “built engine”.
Sounds to me those prices are for a Briggs 206. Assuming you can find yourself one since the production is tough right now, I would go box stock and then after a few races bring it to a builder. It’s the one engine IMO that is way more smoke and mirrors than actual blueprinting. Anything faster and sure, go for it.
If you’d be down to buy a used motor, I’ve actually got a 206 with my dad in Atlanta that I could arrange to sell to you for a good deal. Pretty good motor that last time it ran at AMP it was in the 1:01s consistently.
Oops yeah ignore what I said. That’s for 2-stroke. Lo206 is a really different story. The folks here like @fatboy1dh (Ghost engines) can give you the skinny on those but basically, change your oil regularly and drive it. When it’s too old, you get a new one. They are sealed engines with terrific parity and ease of ownership.
There definitely some tweaking to get them to run at its best for a given track, but that’s where our pals like Derek come in. Having a good engine builder setup your new engine would probably ensure that you are running as good as possible within the limitations of what can be done with a sealed engine.