Good Class To Target?

Howdy all!

I grew up racing on 2 wheels but always pined for a Kart. I vividly remember sitting in a shop (in San Jose, CA on Monterey Expressway, can’t remember what it was called) drooling over the karts.

Anyway, I just bought my son an Emmick kart with a Comer 50cc and really want to get him out there. My willpower is failing though and I think I’m also going to want to get out and race. I don’t have a huge budget and don’t pretend like I’ll be winning anything, but I want to have some fun. I’m a bit lost in what I should be looking for…I see a lot of karts for sale which don’t seem to fit into any class. We’re in Santa Cruz, CA so will likely be going to the tracks around Sacramento and Sonoma. The closest track is Laguna Seca but I don’t see they do many (or any?) karting events?

Any advice is truly appreciated!

Find your closest track and see what is a popular class. Briggs lo206 is usually a good inexpensive starter class that wont cost you much compared to a 2stroke.

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As a guy who got into this at 44 (now 54) I recommend doing the opposite of what I did:

Start in slow cheap karts.
Progress upwards in stages.
As you gain experience and a better understanding of what the best racing opportunities in your area are, then you can make better decisions.

Basically, if there’s LO206 or Tillotson 4-stroke in your area, start there. Learn to drive with modest power and speeds around 55ish top speed. You will learn better and quicker when the kart isn’t beating the crap out of you.

Eventually you will be much more fit and ready to deal with greater power and grip. You will also be more able to control the raging 2-strokes.

You could (like me) start in 125tag and have a ball. But if you want to be competitive and learn more efficiently, start in the easier stuff to drive. It’s also LOADS cheaper, which may or may not be relevant.

If you have disposable income such that karting is not hard on the wallet, and you just want to have fun without too much bother, look at 100cc 2-stroke in your area. 90% of the fun of x30 at half the price sorta (less maintenance).

No clue what they drive up the Sacto way but we got some Northern California drivers here who might know what the scene is like, series and engine package wise.


Thank you both very much for the fast reply!

This is kind of what I was thinking. I’ve driven a 125cc shifter kart and it was a blast but boy…it took a lot of work. I’m a fit guy (surf and mountain bike 3-4x week, gym, etc) but I sure was sore!

I’m lucky that through past exploits I have a lot of the peripherals (camper, enclosed trailer, tools, race suit, helmet, etc.) but it does seem like these karts are just the beginning!

I will echo the 4 stroke class idea, but for a different reason. It sounds like your son is young and he is going to need assistance before, during and after his race, meaning you won’t have a lot of time for you. While the 4 stroke is ultra-competitive, it also can be low demand form a maintenance standpoint. Pretty much any chassis will work too. The only thing is make sure the tracks you will be frequenting support that class.


The other consideration is body weight, many of the lower powered kart class weights might be too low and you’ll be at disadvantage, which might lead to discouragement. If you are bigger, fit and have some racing experience, a shifter might be a better choice but I would get a coach.

But if you can start in the lower HP karts, you’ll learn quicker, as kart requires a lot of finesse to go fast. In a lower HP kart the art of karting can be learned quicker than in a shifter.

Thanks again for all of the insights everyone.

I should have added that, for whatever it might be worth, I did the “Stage 1” Karting school at Sonoma a few years back. I also have probably 50+ hours in karts at the old Lemans Karting in Fremont. Many of those on the “derestricted” karts since I had a buddy who worked there. So I guess I’m not a total karting novice even if I haven’t owned my own yet.

As for me, I should have also been more specific. I am 6’1" and weigh 180 lbs in my birthday suit. I am athletic as mentioned, with good cardiovascular health (just finished an 8 hour mountain bike race) and strength (gym and surfing).

It seems that tracking down a kart which fits a given class is pretty challenging around here. Most all karts locally either have the “212 Ghost” motor or an HPV 100cc, neither of which seem to have much in the way of racing class around here. In looking through points tables at my local(ish) tracks it looks like LO206 is the main class with a decent amount of participation in F100 or TAG. Not sure if I’d do a Master’s class or just an “open” class, though I suppose that depends on participation a bit.

We are pretty much same height and size. At 180 you can probably make weight senior if you ever decide that you absolutely must go lose to younger people. You’d make weight for masters with quite a bit of room because I think masters assumes guys weigh 200 generally.

I never got to surf steamers but did come watch you guys from the rocks once or twice. Such a cool break!

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Paging Jason Berry @Norcal_Karters he’ll be able to help. I’m pretty sure there’s some good 206 grids there, Blue Max was one of them. Looks like Blue Max is about 2.5 hrs from you in Davis.

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Welcome @SantaCruzin !

SMKA ( in Santa Maria is an awesome track about 3.5hrs from Santa Cruz. Our club races have about 6-8 entries in 206 Sr. and I race in the Sr. 100cc class alongside another 4-6 karts. Most of those in 100cc run KT100s, but there are a few KA100s as well.

Can’t go wrong with the LO206. I bought one for one of my sons earlier this year, off of FB Marketplace. Keep an eye on there for some deals.

I’ve heard great things about All Star Karting in Prairie City, and I’ve heard that Sonoma sees a healthy amount of ROK racing (Vortex engines, like the VLR100 or ROK GP).

If you and your son are ever interested in coming down to drive SMKA, I’d be happy to coordinate to let you in. We’re members-only on practice days; non-members have to come with members.

Let me know and feel free to reach out if you have anymore questions. I’m only a few years into karting with my boys, so I’m happy to share what we’ve learned. I’ve got one son in Jr. 1 206 and the other in Kid Kart - Comer 50.

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Thank you very much for the warm welcome and kind invite! The track looks fantastic and we love that area (regularly spend the weekend in Morro Bay) so I will most definitely be in touch once I can get a Kart and my son can get a bit more comfortable in his. Though my daughter looks like she may be taking the Kart over…she and I regularly mountain bike together and my hope was to have something like that with my son…I guess she’s just too much of a carbon copy of me!

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Love it! Get 'em both into it and see how they enjoy it. My two oldest are racing and I have another son (4yo) who will start practicing soon. I have a daughter on the way and odds are she’ll want to keep up with her brothers. The more the merrier :money_mouth_face:

Feel free to DM me when you want to come down or if you have any other questions about getting started. I’m happy to look over any karts/engines/gear that you’re considering, to offer advice.

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At the risk of being that “look at my kids” guy, here are my son and daughter driving it in our driveway for the first time.


Awesome! No shame in being proud of your kids. It’s your job :call_me_hand:t4:

Here are each of my boys on their first day of driving

And here’s a recent pic of them now

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I don’t know why but the little kids are always so adorable in their giant helmets.



Welcome to the forums. I compulsively photoshop everything so if it bothers you, lmk and I won’t mess with the photos and take them down.

Now if only I could figure out how to Gaussian blur a layer while keeping it transparent.

@Bimodal_Rocket This is awesome, thank you! Doesn’t bother me at all, I appreciate it! And you’re so right. My son hardly fit the suit they included with the kart. He needs to stretch out a bit .

@akmanraa those are awesome! They look like they are absolutely ripping!

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I have raced masters and I weight 150#. At my weight I have to strap on 50# of lead to the kart just to make weight. You probably could do senior or masters. I raced masters so I can race people my age.

There are kart tracks in Sacramento, Davis and Stockton. The Stockton and Davis tracks are club tracks so you will either buy a membership or pay the day use fee if a member is at the track.

I am a one man operation so I do like going to prairie City in Rancho Cordova so I can get help getting the kart on the ground. They also have a shop to make up for my lack of talent.

Give Donald Durbin a call at Prairie City. He also owns Cambrian go karts which used to be in Campbell, CA. He can help answer any question you might have and can help you find a kart, new or used

Thank you Ryan!

I am definitely thinking that joining one of the local clubs makes sense, that’s such a cool way to go about it I think! My issue is I can’t decide which to join. It looks like Blue Max (Davis), Kinsmen (Dixon), and Little 99 (Stockton) are all almost exactly 2 hours from me (without traffic). Little 99 is the closest mileage-wise and wouldn’t involve a toll, but to be perfectly frank I don’t know that I want to spend a ton of time in Stockton (I grew up going there as my aunt, uncle, and cousin lived there but…)

I searched on the forum but didn’t find much, can anyone lend any insights to my decision here? Does one track or another have a better surface, layout, amenities? I believe I heard you can camp at the Dixon track which would be a big benefit for us given the drive time. Is one more family friendly than another?