Getting started in the northeast

Where are you located?

Norwich, VT

What age bracket are you in?

Me: Senior
Son: Junior
Probably L206 for both of us, but he’s half my weight and a foot shorter.

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

Experience: 6
Willingness: 10

Talk a little about your racing experience so far.

I’ve done less than ten HPDE days and one karting day with my son. Now that he’s interested in karting, it seems like a great thing to do together.

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

  1. Buy or arrive-and-drive? Buying is expensive, but A&D doesn’t seem to allow for much practice time.

  2. Recommended vendors in the northeast US? Who is the most responsive and has the best customer service?

  3. Recommended chassis and components? Is there a go-to platform that has more readily available parts and more tribal knowledge? Or is a kart is a kart is a kart?

  4. How and where to practice in between races? We’re 40 minutes from Canaan, 1h45m from Club Motorsports, and an hour from Rocky Ridge.

  5. What do you know now that you wished you knew when you started?


Since you are both brand new, you could do an “immersion” and see how y’all feel about it.

I started my karting with a facility (no longer exists) that basically coached me and my son for 6hrs a day for initially 2day session which we turned into 3 and then 4days.

After a couple years of doing that we bought karts and went racing, tentin with a team.

So, we did no up front buying initially.

I raced in New England for a while and you’ve got two main options.
First is the NHKA, which runs at NHMS and Canaan, about 9 races a year. (They switch up the track layout and directions) The series got pretty big in the last few years but the owner of it didn’t really change anything to adapt for that so it has several shortcomings, the main one being lack of track time. Overall it’s decent though and will be a lot of fun.

The second is the New England karting challenge, which was just started this year. They race at shorter tracks around New Hampshire and Vermont like club motorsports. They scheduled their races so that theoretically you could race all the NEKC and NHKA races. This series is a bit smaller but the person running it is doing a lot of things right. Just a lot of small things (and some big) that add up to make the series seem really cool.

DRT is definitely your best bet for arrive and drive, as they’re partnered with NEKC to be the official arrive and drive team for the series. They also do all of the NHKA races. They’re a knowledgeable team who’ve done quite well locally and nationally. DR karts might also be your best bet for owning but there are several supported kart brands in New England.

Club motorsports does practice days, NEKC may have some practice days but don’t quote me on that. For club Motorsport you either need a membership (show up whenever you want to practice) or a friend with a membership ($150 or something for the day) DRT might be at some practice days but I am not sure. That’s really your only avenue for getting in good track time in New England. There used to be an amazing track called x1 outdoors that had open days every week but they got sold.

Hope that helps

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Buying karts would be expensive plus you would need a trailer and something to haul it with. However, once most of the money is spent, as long as nothing major happens, you are good for a couple of seasons.

Arrive and drive is worth considering but as you noted there is little practice and since they aren’t in your garage you are not learning the mechanical side.

I would suggest visiting the track on race days and get a feel for what brands are used and supported. You may find someone selling karts (new or used).

As for what I know now…well not to scare you away but I have bought only used karts and I am 50/50 on getting burned to some degree. Mostly chassis that were claimed to be straight, turn out to be not straight. Maybe the seller didn’t know or maybe they lied, either way, caveat emptor.

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I’d offer that a way to consider as a new racer is to buy from one of the outfits that does it as their main gig (servicing the series racers). Team (Kart programs that take clients racing, the big trailers with a big tent with 5-10 karts in it) sell equipment new and used. You’ll pay a bit more but you will get good product, and service going forwards, too.

@E13 Are there any tent programs like full tilt and Kartworkz up your way? Would DRT be similar?

I wished I knew just how deep a rabbit hole this was gonna be. I would have started sooner!

I live 5 minutes from you and my son has been karting since 5. We can help you out if needed. Feel free to send me a message and like my sons racing page.

Brayden Hatch Racing on Facebook

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your best bet is to hook up with Christopher, and go out to the track and watch a race. there are all kinds of ways to test things out. sometimes you have clubs that are small, they want new members, if they see someone or two interested, there might be a dude with some extra karts (i know they exist) who might help you out. i’ve been to clubs where some of the diehard kart nuts will meet up with you and let you practice in one of their karts.

the locals will also know who might have a used kart for sale, and be familiar with the kart’s history. something could fall in your lap. and if it doesn’t, you can still probably try a race or two with a tent program, and then after that maybe something falls in your lap.

another thing with a tent program, you’ll get a much more accurate idea of what you actually need to buy, through real experience. sometimes folks buy a kart, and don’t really realize all the extra crud you should probably have to go along with it. mychron, snipers, tire tools, all the specialized stuff adds up. it’s always good to make a friend, when you start out, that has all that stuff, because usually, they don’t mind letting you borrow some of it.

oh, on the chassis, watch some kart chaser, and look around the local track to see what the racers are running. most popular karts in my area are birels, mgm’s, comet eagles, margay, tony kart, and kart republic has popped up in numbers lately. make it easy on yourself and get a 206 specific chassis.

anyways, good luck, let us know how it works out.

Thanks, everyone. Super helpful.

Next question: How to load/unload and transport two karts when I’m the only one doing the lifting?

I’ve looked at the “How do you transport” thread, but nothing struck me as the solution.

It seems like a stacker stand inside a 5x10 trailer would work? But how would one person load and unload two karts on the stacker?

I like the idea of a cheap Harbor Freight trailer too, but it seems like most people eventually move to something enclosed?

With great difficulty. Some folks use one-man stands like the Stone lift. The trick is getting it out of the car and onto to the lift. That I don’t have strategy for, as I’d usually just go find a 16-18 year old male to assist.

99% of time you should be able to find someone at the track to give you a hand to un/load the kart. If you need to do it at home by yourself, I would just build a ramp to load the top kart.

Kartlift has a double stacker with winch lift, bottom part is a one man winch lift and top part is a traditional lift.

Lifting karts can be a challenge without 2 able bodies and even then lifting karts is tough on the back as it is almost impossible to lift properly with your legs. For individual karts getting them on a stand go with a stand that allows you to lift the front and pivot on the rear bumper. I sent up my enclosed 6x12 with a lift made from a harbor freight atv winch so I can easily put 2 karts stacked (there are pics on the thread you mentioned) I went the enclosed route so it also doubles as storage.