Getting Started in Karting Central Florida

Hi everyone!

I’m new to the site and definitely need a little guidance if possible.

I live in Brevard County, FL and I am an hour away from OKC and 2 hours away from both PBK and BMP. I am 37 (although if I even meet anyone from here you’ll swear I’m not older than 25 lol) with a history of road racing motorcycles in the popular 600cc classes. I haven’t raced anything in the past 10 years and I’m dying to get back in and try a different type of racing. I want to get into Formula 2000 cars and I still might since they are my passion, but since the cost is $3k / race weekend I probably will not go that route.

So I’ve been doing my research and even though I want a very fast kart (Rok Shifter) I love the idea of the 206 and have no qualms about losing speed if I gain overall fairness with competitors and a lot less mechanical time spent on the kart. But since I am closest to OKC from what I can tell they run their own “Speedy” class with a modified Honda engine that doesn’t equate to racing at any other track or class from what I can gather. (I could be wrong and hopefully I am.) I want to have a kart to be able to do all three of these tracks and their club races but maybe that just isn’t feasible.

To add insult to injury after deciding what to buy, I come across the post about the girl dying at PBK. I was wondering why they recently switched to private owners only and obviously now I know. So this long rant culminates into me realizing that even if I get a 206 setup and drive 2 hours to PBK and BMP, that the sport might change drastically in the next year or two because of insurance companies pulling out, legislation tightening down, or some other ridiculous knee jerk reaction that won’t actually bring anything positive to the sport.

Short story made long, do I just go get into the sport and have a great time now knowing it may end abruptly? Or should I wait because I don’t want to drop $6k just to find out these tracks will have to do something similar to PBK where they have to pick between being a race track or an attraction? Because if they all pick race track like PBK did then they are even more likely to shut down. Seems like the worst time to get into the sport? I dunno…

So OKC has the speedy karts which are Honda gx390 4 stroke. The one I drove was on a tonykart chassis. It’s reasonably speedy and is perfect if you are new to the sport. It’s like an lo206 but maybe a couple extra horses.
From the emails I have been getting, they run all sorts of races in which you pay and use their kart, which sort of takes the whole “future of karting” question out of the picture.
I’d say give okc league races a shot. There’s no buying a kart necessary.
Also, the track is pretty good and remember not to lift when coming around the final turn bit!

Insofar as buying a kart, not sure if the Honda engine can also be used in lo206 races as well. They are pretty similar but I’d call the other tracks and ask.

While shifters are neat and all, the higher power karts are quite physical and probably not the best things to learn how to kart on.

Thanks for the info. I was wondering exactly which engine they used. Seems to me that they are the ones that should switch to the 206 lol. I would be able to learn a shifter no problem, but if cost is higher with a lack of club competition then it’s pointless to me. If all classes were full I’d pick shifter no questions asked.

I suggest visiting Ocala Gran Prix on I-75 in Ocala if you’re interested in getting into karting. OGP is the pulse of karting in FL . And if local level, good competition is what you want, that is where you’ll get it on a monthly basis and all you can handle. Local series races are once a month, entry fee is VERY reasonable, you’ll be exhausted at the end of the day from so many laps and you’ll have a great time and meet great people… oh, and btw, the competition is fierce.

Again, just my suggestion, but before you buy anything go talk to or call these guys. Better yet, go check out a local race day at OGP. If local/club level racing is what you’re looking for, thats the place… for lots of reasons. There’s a group of guys there that have a lot of experience under their belt, great resources of information – Nate, Chris, Troy, Mario just to name a few. Check em out.

I like the LO206. At least you may have more options to resell it. TBH never had the Honda option.

The future of karting will always be a bit rocky, as will some other sports. LO206 does promise some stability, decent reliability and cheaper fuel cost.

If they have a rental league give it a try. Overall what is tricky about karting is the turns are fairly quick events and taking them in as to what happened & and at what point in the corner is overwhelming at first. That doesn’t even begin to address setup vs driver error.

If I had to do it over I’d go rentals, then LO206. Keep in mind Rental aren’t entirely like racing with a bunch of guy that have their own karts. Cheapest / Smartest thing to do first is some spectating at the local race or practice day. It should be easier to talk to racers on the practice day.

Wonderful suggestion, thanks Andy. I think the moral of the story right now is I’m not close to any “real” track lol.

Good advice Mike. I have rented racing karts before so I’m not going in completely blind. Two years ago I rented a kart that was the owner’s kids kart. I got within a tenth of the best lap time. It’s kind of what put karting into the back of my mind recently. That and I’m finishing up my PhD so paying the crazy costs of Formula 2000 cars just isn’t in my cards at the moment.

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if open wheel racing is your eventual goal, def go talk to OGP. They stable on of the best racing teams in the world… yes, I said world. Many great drivers have made their way thru the OGP stable, and when I say “great” I mean world class open wheel professional drivers.

OGP does some arrive and drive programs on local race days that you’d probably be interested in also. Give em a call, talk to Nate, he’ll have you rolling in no time

Looking at their website OGP looks like the place I want to be! Being 2 1/2 to 3 hours away isn’t that great though. :confused: Thanks for the suggestion. Now I just need to haul my butt out there sometime soon.

Some good advise in here for you @Hman. Don’t let the current state of karting in FL hold you back from making a decision.

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I could never get the numbers for formula cars to make sense for me either. Especially when I can throw the thing in a track, race 30-40 other people and go as fast if not faster. Arguably tighter competition in karts too.

But I digress…,

If you’re interested in the 206, get one to start off. It’ll be low hassle and high fun.

That way you can use your extra brain bandwidth from your racing experience to understand chassis setup.

You don’t have to drop anywhere near $6k to get going competively in a #briggs206 (yep totally dropped a hashtag).
You can chop that in half.

Keep us posted on your progress.

Well I just got done doing three sessions at OKC. Two sessions were regular rentals and one was with the speedy kart with the Honda engine. After driving that setup I don’t think I would be happy with a 206.

They want 4100 for a 2018 Tony Kart chassis and 1700 for the Honda GX390 and all of the mods it will need or 2600 for a Rok GP. They also have a chassis and engine that were only used in Vegas for one weekend (SKUSA Nationals) that they will sell me for 4500 total along with help from the mechanic to set it up specifically for me. They are also willing to throw in some free track time and free locker storage for the kart (just for the summer) and they even let me know that someone is looking for someone to pay half the rent on a garage so I might even go that route.

I think what I realized is that: I’m not willing to consistently drive to BMP or Ocala like I thought I would be, I’m not going to be happy with a 206 so the Honda actually is a good intermediate step before the 2 stroke (assuming I don’t do the 2 stroke right now), and most importantly the track at OKC is damn fun. They let me do the full track in the faster kart and I loved it. Those familiar with the course will be happy to know I didn’t lift my foot on the long turn ever (forget the corner number)! Plus they do club events a lot, including one or two endurance races per month.

So I’m in this weird place where I want a 2 stroke, but I guess I figured I could get a chassis and 2 stroke for about 6k, not 7-8k. I like the Honda engine better than the 206 but if I were to go to another track I couldn’t even do a club event because no one else uses this engine. But like I said before, driving an hour and 15 minutes one way was plenty and I wouldn’t want to double and trip my travel time.

So what do you think, 4500 for the “lightly raced” 4 stroke Honda and ItaliKart chassis or a Tony Kart chassis (4100) with my pick of the Honda (1700) or Rok engine (2600)? I think BMP gave me a quote of 4500 for everything, briefly over the phone, but we didn’t talk specifics and I think that was a chassis with the 206 (both brand new). I hate to buy used but at least it was the owner or a team rider and only for a couple races, no other driver has been on it. Let me know your thoughts!

The rok is a 125cc 2-stroke, correct? Vortex?

I can’t speak to the prices being quoted but the question I would have is do they do races for the rok as well as the Honda? The rok can probably be used at a bunch of events out there (FL) but maybe not so much the Honda.
If you are just going to hang out at okc doing their club races and the like, maybe the Honda is the better choice. It’ll certainly be more economical to run than the 2 stroke.

Yep. If I get the 2 stroke Vortex I can run it there all day long but they only hold one or two events at the end of the year for it. Otherwise all of their events are the Honda engine. It’s this weird situation where the engine everyone else uses isn’t use there but the engine they use isn’t used anywhere else lol. But you are right, economically I suppose I’ll just get the Honda and be done with it. Is the ItaliKart chassis a good one?

All the major ones are good. Someone like TJ can probably give a more nuanced opinion. I’d say go with the Honda. It’s cheaper to buy, maintain, and own. It’s plenty fun and they have a race series you can do a lot. Two stroke is great but throwing money at it gets painful.

slow down there my man! you’ve got the fever and you’re not thinking clearly. It’s understandable and it happens to everyone when they first jump in – you want in so bad you’re ready to jump at the first thing you see. I’m sitting here saying “no, no, no , no! …” out loud. Dont buy a new tony kart and put a honda 4 stroke on it, you’ll regret that move. If you want a two stroke TAG style powered kart, a la rok GP or X30, you can find something lightly used for half of what you’re talking about spending, its out there. I highly suggest used chassis to start with, and go ahead and start thinking about a enclosed trailer while you’re at it because you’ll want to travel to different tracks.

it really all comes down to where you are going to drive the most and what kind of driving you plan on doing. If you are just going to hit the track for some hot laps every now and then, no organized racing, then it doesnt matter what engine you run if you’re having fun. If you think local/club racing is what you want, than a rok GP or the X30 are going to be your biggest classes in FL, statewide. Plenty of classes around the state to run these motors in. For the regional races that roll thru every year the X30 will give you more options with WKA and SKUSA.

So, my .02 cents… find a decent used chassis and motor from reliable known karter in FL that has a kart for you. Most people that are in karting like to help guys like you get started Ive found. You obviously want the best you can get for the money you want to spend, but keep in mind your #1 objective when starting is to get as much time in that seat as you can possibly make happen, so all the $$$ doesnt necessarily have to be spent on the kart.

If OKC is your place, I HIGHLY suggest finding Mike and Alex Speed, the operate their kart team from OKC. Alex helped my son years ago when we were just starting, spent the day with him, nothing high pressure just a lot of laps and some white board instruction. That was the best money I’ve ever spent in karting, having ALex work with my son that day. So, with that said, might want to budget some $$$ for instruction also, you’ll see improvements in your driving immediately.

just my .02

Thanks for the advice. I’m trying to be civil about it and not let emotion dictate what I get. I do, as you indicated, want the best bang4buck I can get. After searching I found a guy who is so anal both of his karts are immaculate. He’s selling a X30 on a DR chassis for 3k and a Vortex Shifter on a Tony Kart for 6k. Obviously everyone’s advice will be to get the X30 and I will probably get it. The problem is I will never find a better shifter like this one. So while the X30 is what any rational person would get, this particular shifter kart seems like I should strike while the iron is hot. But again, maybe it’s just my emotions running wild. Regardless, I’m buying one of his karts this week! (And yes I changed my tune, I am getting a 2 stroke regardless of local competition.)

Just make sure you stick with something you can get parts and setup advice for. The Tony Kart is a fantastic product with strong support in your area, and Rok/Vortex is very popular in Florida.

I understand you’ve got your heart set on getting a shifter, but as I always do, I’m going to recommend against it as your first kart. It’s too much for a novice. You’ll spend all your time trying to keep up with the kart rather than actually learning how to drive it.

The Rok is good for your region, otherwise the X30 is popular across the country. I would personally go with the DR and the X30 if I were you. It’s a pretty decent setup and the DR has plenty of support across the country.

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@DruLo206 could probably help you find a good kart in Florida. Give their podcast “Karting Dads” a listen, it’ll probably help you.

I’ll echo what everyone has said, skip the TaG and shifter karts and get a 4-stroke. You’ll spend less on consumables and less time working on it. Learn how to do maintenance, setup, and race craft on the slower kart. There will always be deals on used equipment out there because everyone upgrades often and (no offense) newbs getting in over there head because they bought the fastest kart.

either of those options are solid, cant go wrong. Based on everything you’ve told us here and those 2 karts you’re looking at, I personally would tell you to get the tony/rok set up… and here’s why

If OKC is your place, you’re best choice is a Rok and tony kart. Both of these products are distributed by OTK USA which is right around the corner from OKC. So parts for either the chassis or engine are in your back yard 24/7, and if not they can be here in a week. OKC has some very close ties to OTK/Vortex, so no problem finding help with either. Mike and Alex Speed are right there and have won more races on this set up than they can remember.

I agree that the Rok shifter is a handful for a novice driver, BUT Vortex makes a junior shifter version also. Vortex developed an exhaust manifold for the shifter in conjunction with OGP a couple of years ago for a Junior shifter class. The kids at OGP have been running this set up for the past few years and it works great.

So you could run the jr restrictor when you start out, you’d have about the same hp as the x30, maybe a little less, and would be able to wear the gearbox out… especially at OKC, there’s about 30 breaking points in one lap lol. Andre can get you one of the restrictors, or better yet wander over the Mike Speed’s compound and ask him, they run this set up at that track for his young team drivers.

The OTK/Vortex brands dominate the state from central FL south, and that’s where the karting population in FL is. DR doesnt have a dealer in FL, and if you want help with an x30 you’ll need to goto OGP as OKC doesnt cater to the IAME brand.

Just my .02

Thanks for everyone’s advice again!

The cheapest I can find a used setup with their Honda engine is 4500 before tax. (I can only find a used one at OKC itself. Even the used ones from club racers around OKC seem to be no less than 4500.) So as far as I’m concerned a 2 stroke is definitely what I want in terms of speed/power/price. I feel like their 4 stroke price is a bit high but it could be completely normal. They want 2k for their Honda engine, it’s a little ridiculous imo.

I want speed, I want power, and I want pain. I love that OKC is a bunch of turns where you have little to no time to rest in-between corners. I want the kart and the track to beat me up. I don’t need a four stroke to teach me how to brake, apex, and keep on the line. I just need the kart to do what I want it to do. A 2 stroke is not outside of my abilities. Hopefully I do get the shifter as it felt weird/boring going into a corner and not engine breaking.

I appreciate everyone saying that I need to learn on a four stroke but I raced motorcycles in my teens and 20s and for the past 7 years I’ve been racing on sims and even got in the top 100 on the Gran Turismo GT Academy competition. I am not new to racing as it has always been my passion, I’m just new to karting. Yes I will need to learn how to adjust a kart chassis and I’ve never worked on a kart engine but that’s all part of the journey as far as I’m concerned.

So to sum it up: I either overpay for a 4 stroke at OKC and get bored with it by the end of summer or I get a kart that will get my adrenaline pumping. After a few times with it on the track I’ll be just fine. I’m also taking a different approach than my OP at the top. If I get a shifter I will just be doing track days for the summer. I will not get into a race with it until I at least master the kart on my own at OKC. I will then take it to BMP and Ocala where I will get to finally open it up!

Thank you for everyone’s advice again! It is clear that it is meant to help me learn and stay on the track. The sentiments you’ve given me are the same ones we told new riders. But I don’t need a Mazda Miata to teach me anything, I need a Porsche so I can go have some fun!

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