Getting started in Southeast Michigan

Hey all, looking to get started in karting. I would obviously be a weekend warrior due to my age and career. I would like to eventually be competitive with people at the club level. I.E. I want to race, not just run laps / Don’t want to finish last every race.

Where are you located?

Redford, Michigan (just West of Detroit)

What age bracket are you in? Junior (<16), Senior (16+) or Masters (30+)

Masters (38)

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your mechanical ability, or willingness to wrench on things?

mechanical ability: 5-6
Willingness: 10

Talk a little about your racing experience so far.

I started Sim Racing a few years back and fell in love (I have probably dumped enough money into my simrig to buy a kart or two :sweat_smile:). Also have been indoor karting over the past couple years. I am interested in making the jump to outdoor karting!

What’s the main thing you need help with to get you started.

  • I am aware of East Lansing Kart Track; however, I am curious if there are any other tracks within the same distance? (~80 miles). Preferably places that are arrive and drive that aren’t just amusement park level to try it out before committing to purchasing. Also would be nice if there were active adults at the club. I’d prefer not to race with a bunch of teenagers.

  • If I opt to purchase my own kart, how do I avoid getting scammed? Facebook marketplace seems pretty dry near me. Some posts show ‘race ready’ karts but the pictures show karts without engine/tires/etc. How can I tell the age of a kart, etc. What is a good price range for a used kart?

  • Lo206 vs TaG? Based on research I have done, ELKT runs both Lo206 and TaG. It seems like Lo206 is for beginners; however, I am not sure how my indoor karting experience + sim racing fits into the picture. Not sure if I would ‘outgrow’ 206 too quickly.

  • If anyone here is in SE Michigan that could take me under their wing, I would very much appreciate it :slightly_smiling_face:

  • Transportation options. I drive a '22 Civic Sedan. I think the best option would be to get a small trailer and tow? I’ve seen some crazy pics on here of people strapping karts to their roof. Is that a meme or legitimate transportation option?

Thanks much!

Do yourself a flavor and start with lo206. The lower hp makes the kart much more accessible to new drivers. It’s just easier to learn how to drive when it doesn’t feel like you are being shot out of a cannon. But don’t worry, lo206 feels plenty fast, particularly when new.

Plus, if you start in lower power you can always move up as you go. Which gives you a path forwards, developmentally.

Karting gets pricey and 2-stroke much more so. The fuel is more expensive, you go through a lot more tires, the high strung 2-strokes require regular rebuilds, etc. Lo206 is hard tires, pump gas, and oil changes.

If spending 10-20k a season is not a big deal expense wise, buy a ka100 kart if they race that as a starter 2-stroke. It’s 100cc and a good jumping off point for 2-stroke.

I don’t know that we outgrow anything. It’s a long ass journey to learn this stuff and pretty sure you could spend a lifetime in lo206. There’s certainly the fields for it. It’s really popular racing.

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The simracing and karting indoors help but don’t really change anything. While momentum still matters, indoor rentals are typically on short and twisty tracks. Longer outdoor tracks have more room to move and a lot more close racing (momentum trains). Rarely will you see 4 or 5 guys nose to tail in rental karts indoors (outdoors, yes). So it’s helpful in that driving is driving, but how the driving/racing plays out is a bit different on larger tracks.

Simracing helps in that it keeps you really sharp and lets you play in traffic a lot. I don’t find that driving a car informs driving a kart, exactly. The weight of a car and the suspension changes the rate at which things happen. But, the fundamental skills/understandings are basically the same, despite the longer energy cycle. So yeah, sim helps but it doesn’t change anything in terms of deciding what engine package you are gonna drive. Personally, as a kart guy, the cars in sim that “speak to me” are always higher downforce formula type cars. They seem to play most like race karts.

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Your local tracks are East Lansing and Point Pelee in Ontario.

Civic + open trailer will work.

We no longer have a retail kart shop around now that Stoney Creek has closed. Talk to Kevin at East Lansing about his older used kart inventory, or buy a late model Birel from one of the Ontario dealers.

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ELKT is tight enough that driving a TaG there is like driving a shifter anywhere else.

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Thanks for the explanation of sim > karting translation. I mostly race GT3 and LMP in iracing so I guess it won’t help me much.

Go to ELKT and talk to people - you’ll find a good solid used kart that way and meet tons of people willing to help you out. Don’t be afraid to walk right up to someone and start talking if they don’t look overly busy - chances are that if they are indeed too busy at that moment, they’ll ask you to come talk to them later, but be happy to actually have you come back later! Race this Sunday, but you might get wet.

If willing to go new, talk to Alex or Kim at PKT in Wixom.

There isn’t a great outdoor rental scene around… you need to drive ~4 hours to Indianapolis area (Whiteland, New Castle) or East over to Pitt Race. Not sure what’s up with MRP in South Bend - that would be closer than the above, but I don’t know if they are really open/functioning right now.

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What are the logistical consideration for hauling between US/Canada? Do I need any permits or anything?

Any Ontario dealers that you can recommend?

Steve Macvoy is a Ricciardo (birel) dealer and is located near the point pelee kart club area. I haven’t personally dealt with him as i dont race out of that track, but a couple of my friends deal with him and speak highly.

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206 is a great beginners class because it’s low maintenance, easy to operate and has an unbeatable seat time per dollar spent ratio.

Many veterans stay racing 206 for the same reasons.

So while many people start in 206, it’s definitely not just for beginners. One can take it to national level if they wish at events like the CKNA grand nationals which sees nearly 600 drivers attend across the different 206 classes.

Sim racing will help with the overall concept of racing: Lines, hitting your marks, making changes to driving and observing the results, looking ahead etc.

It will in that all that sim racing matters. Seat time is seat time. It’s just that how you go about things is slightly different in a car versus a kart. It helps but it’s not 1-1, mechanically/technique wise. Still incredibly useful training.

As an aside, here’s a comment from Reddit thread where someone was asking wether sim racing helped their irl driving. I thought it a good summary:

"I recently started kart racing this year, and I’ve noticed that iRacing has really helped speed up the learning process. Even though we don’t have a kart in the sim, iRacing still helps keep my reaction speed and spatial awareness in shape. It’s also helped me learn racecraft, race management, being able to understand what the kart is doing and how to adjust for that, try different lines, different cornering techniques, adjust brake/throttle inputs, all to find faster ways around the track.

That was really surprising to me; how much racing in the sim, specifically in F1, affected my experience in real racing. Oddly, I’m less nervous in the kart than I am in the sim."

I would agree with all of that and also agree that I am way way way more uptight and nervous in iracing grids than irl. No idea why.

Wholeheartedly agree w/ Dom. Sim racing has its place for sure in terms of driver development. Success in one does not mean success in the other - but a lot transfers between the two.

Yeah I think it uses the same muscles and you will rise to your ability level exactly the same in either. It’s just a lot more crashy in sim (because why not send it?).

As a consequence, I think that folks who do both will have an easier time of it starting in karts then simming as opposed to simming first then driving for real.

  1. You don’t do dumb stuff when you can actually get hurt or have to pay for repairs.

  2. If you sim without having driving experience you have no frame of reference. Since sim does not have “seat of the pants” feedback from braking, new sim drivers will not feel and do not realize what’s going on with tire. So there’s a lot of overdriving in new sim folks as they can’t feel much and don’t have the context to interpret what info they get. A lot of overcooking initially.

Logically, it’s usually the reverse… we sim and then get inspired to do irl racing. But I think it’s more productive initially the opposite way.

Sim is indeed very crashy! I remember starting out on MX5, it got to a point where I just skipped qualifying and started in the pits. I wanted nothing to do with T1. I would usually move up 3-4 spots just avoid that nonsense :joy:.

Anyways, looks like I got some homework and a road trip ahead for me. I am excited to join the community!

:sunglasses::smiling_face_with_tear::grin: As our pal @Richard_Jacques taught me! It is much easier to get out of rookies if you just let them murder each other from a distance.

But seriously, sim is very useful indeed. While it’s not the same I don’t have to make any conscious adjustments between the two, having gotten so habituated over the years.

anyways good luck and keep simming as it is the fast way to getting gud.


Yep rookies T1 is always carnage. Start from pit lane pick your way through the wreckage then drive your race. Keep it clean, you’ll be out in no time.

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By not buying a kart on Facebook until you know what you need. Resist the urge to buy a kart immediately so that you don’t impulse buy something without being 100% sure it’s what you need.

There are a jillion competing engine packages and a wide variety of chassis, not all of which are appropriate for sprint racing.

Direct sales make sense when you know the gear and your needs. You also need to have the experience to asses the gear. Is the chassis straight? How’s the wear on tubing bottoms? Etc.

If you go to one of the tent programs or other types of sales folks who service the series, you can get used equipment from them that will be appropriate for the series you will be racing in. Since they are local to the series, they will typically stand behind their sales and also be there for service, etc.

Also, bear in mind that there’s resale value in this stuff. So, buy as new and as good as you can. I like to take advantage of the depreciation curve and buy from teams after supernats when they sell off the karts and engines used for the race.

So, first order of business: find out where you will be racing. Talk to people there. Ask them (the race director) where to go get a kart and the like. (In this case, I’d pursue the leads of names given here by the locals).

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Used-kart quality in Michigan is pretty low, not many late-model karts on the market, lots of machinery that’s >20 years old. I should know, I sold a 25-year-old Birel there three years ago - and it had recently won a TaG race at East Lansing.

All the more reason to check out the Ontario side. Used Birels are falling from the trees up here.

Dan, check out groups on Facebook such as the following:

Eastern Ontario go kart classifieds
Ontario karting classifieds
Race kart canada buy and sell

And probably others. Ontario is swimming with Birel dealers, and also quite a few OTK dealers, so lots of used stuff on the market, and the exchange rate might play in your favor.

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Marshall Martin with LSR Motorsports is out of south bend. He is the CRG 4 cycle guy. They are an awesome family run team and very helpful. You’d have success with them as a beginner.

Check them out at LSR Motorsports - Home

[email protected]

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