I want to start karting and I would prefer to do it on a national level and race for championships I’d also like to move into Formula 4 America eventually or another lower-level American formula series at some point. I am 16 and located in the U.S and would like to try and race mostly in the U.S. I don’t have that much knowledge of karting so could you guys give me tips and information that would help me out? What are some karting leagues that could start out in with a budget of around $10,000 per year? How do I know how to choose the right kart?
Where do you live? 20 characters
I am located in North Carolina
A few more questions…
what motorsports experience do you have?
You live in NC, have you visited GoPro?
What is your motivation to go “national level”?
How deep are your pockets? The reality is to go national you more than likely would buy into a tent program and not even buy a kart. If you do buy a kart it will somewhat depend on which class of motor you end up on. Since you are 16 you would be in the “adult class” as drivers over the age of 14 or 15 are basically seniors. If you want to go big and do it quickly more than likely you will end up in TAG 125 with either a rotax or X30.
With that said if you have no motorsport experience, you may want to start on a less powerful platform say KA100 or even LO206.
By national level, I mean that I would like to be in a league that has races around the country. But any league in NC would be convenient. My motorsports experiences is very little but I have a good understanding of how to race. I am willing to spend at most $10,000 a year but if there are cheaper options that would be nice as well. What is a tent program? What leagues would be best to join? What leagues use these types of karts?
Let’s start with the basics.
First of all if you want to run F4, you will eventually need to find like $200k. So let’s put that off for a bit.
Realistically, jumping into the deep end and attempting to run national events right off the bat is going to be a no-go. Motorsports doesn’t work like that; it takes a lot of skill development and time and dedication to progress through the various levels. And on a budget of $10k with starting from zero, it’s going to be near impossible to just jump into a national race right now.
Start with local club racing and see how you like it and what your level is like. Fortunately you have a great club and one of the best tracks in the country at GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville. I would recommend visiting the track on a club race day and see how it all works, ask questions, figure out what kart and engine will suit your goals and budget.
Figure $5k for a nice used kart and engine, safety gear, and odds and ends like kart stand, tools, etc. you’ll need somewhere to store and a way to transport the kart too so factor that into your budget. Plus travel, fuel, tires… The local track will have several kart shops or teams that cater to the locals and support certain brands of kart. You’ll want to get something that is supported locally so you can get parts and tuning advice for your specific kart. Hence why it’s a good idea to visit the track as a spectator and see what popular classes and brands are. Local teams and shops will also usually have used karts and gear to sell you and they can guide you on what might be best for your goals and budget.
A good beginner setup would be in the KA100 or LO206 classes, which I believe are both pretty popular at GoPro.
Not sure what you mean by league? Do you mean class? When you visit the track you will notice there are different classes. As far as adult classes, the slowest and also the least expensive will be the LO206. Don’t assume this means boring as it is usually one of the most even and competitive classes and rewards good smooth driving. It is also one of the most popular across the country. There are some other versions of 4 cycle motors but not every track runs them. Next up in speed is air-cooled 100cc TAG usually KA100. These are 2 cycle motors and it will cost more (motor cost more, gas cost more, tires wear faster, etc) This has become one of the more popular classes for newer racers or a good way to move up when a racer wants to go faster. It is about double the HP of LO206 and is also quite competitive. The TAG 125 is a liquid-cooled motor and is the fastest of the fixed gear classes. Not really a beginner class at all. BTW the term TAG means touch and go which means it has onboard electric start. Some tracks may have other classes but I think these 3 classes will have the most universal appeal across the county at the club level as well as national events.
Visiting tracks near you is going to be the best way to figure out how to proceed. Buying a used chassis is a good idea to start but seek out others opinions so you end up the best choice.
Sounds like you are in a good spot. You have budget to run a full lo206 season, I would think. Like the others said, you are near GoPro which is about as good a facility you could hope for. They have leagues and races.
Don’t overthink the end goal of wanting to be a race car driver. For now, just get out there and race karts and see how you like it. If you really want to race cars, karts are optional, but can be a good lower cost way to see if it’s what you enjoy.
Folks start doing national races when their skill level comes up to that field and their finances permit it. 10k season is probably too low for a national series budget. While there are folks who go to these kind of events with a pal and a pickup, it’s usually teams (big trucks with drivers in fancy outfits) that folks sign up with to race those bigger events.
If that’s what you want to do, you can get there probably in a couple years. One of the fellas here races nationally now and I think he mainly did Atlanta motorsports park and Gopro club/league for the first couple years.
Actual national level racers can correct me if I am incorrect:
Leagues tend to refer to a race series at a particular location, run by that locations management…
For example, NJMP has a rental league, OVRP has an lo206 league.
They race exclusively at their own location.
A “series” is a bunch of races, typically run at several locations within a radius that makes sense for that series (national or regional).
So, for example, f-series will have races at about 5 tracks across multiple states.
Skusa has some of the big series that span more states even.
In any case a race series is typically started by a promoter (Tom from Skusa, Marco from F-series for example) who holds the races at multiple venues.
As a new guy, you’d probably look more at a “league” than a series to start (but maybe not, I went straight to fseries after faffing about in rentals).
Like Bob was saying, once you’ve identified if there’s an appropriate venue (league or series) the next question is what kind of engine package am I gonna race?
That depends upon what the series/league you are interested in uses. If it’s a league it’s usually a single class. If it’s a series, there’s typically bambino karts all the way up to shifter or at least 125tag.
I think “league” and “series” are just interchangeable terms, at least in this instance, it’s just that league isn’t really used when referring to most karting programs. There are plenty of traveling indoor leagues too.
“League” seems to be a term thrown around in rental/indoor karting circles more. Maybe because indoor/rental karting is closer to the general non-karting public and participants might not be as deeply connected to real motorsport, so “league” is a familiar term to them, as they know other sports usually are in a “league”, like football or baseball.
I think most motorsports geeks would refer to any karting competition as a “series”.
I hear ya. I would point at Alec Vidal’s Touring Kart Championship. 10 races in ten different tracks in 5 states.
It’s rare but rental travel “leagues” exist. Sort of.
But I kinda like the way I’ve classified it. It makes sense to me.
Series: owner kart, travel, promoted, multiple tracks
Leagues: associated with a singular facility, single class. Typically not owner-kart.
Also, leagues, to me, are more about getting new drivers into the sport (or casual experienced drivers) whereas most series aren’t really set up for beginners.
It does sound like you’re at the very start of racing experience. If that’s the case, I think an arrive and drive rental series at GoPro would be first logical step.