My First Kart Experience

I’ve always loved watching motor racing, mostly F1, and like most, would have loved to have been more involved in motor sport earlier on in life. I’m now in my thirties, have a family of my own and am settled in my career, so I started doing some research on what’s out there for someone like myself, looking to just have some fun driving a vehicle fast. Information was not easy to find but when I did eventually gather enough info, karting definitely ticked all the boxes. Costs weren’t too bad, practice time and access to a track (20min from home in Cape Town, South Africa) were big advantages over other options and the karting community is just amazing. Everyone is always very willing to help and guide a newbie like me.

The choice of which kart to buy was obviously driven by which classes were run at my local track and I was headed in the Rotax Max direction until a great deal was presented to me by the very person whose been helping me get into the sport. He’d been racing for a few years but decided to take a break and sell his kart and was willing to sell it to me, along with a bunch of spares and tools, all for roughly $2500. The rest of my kit set me back just a further $700. I recently sold a mountain bike and a few spares that covered this plus the track and membership fees, so I thought that worked very well. The kart is a very well maintained CRG Rotax DD2. The motor had recently been rebuilt too and the kart had been serviced by the local track workshop prior to me taking ownership thereof, a nice gesture by the seller.

Onto my first ride in the kart. So everything was set, as I set about my first experience of a race machine. I had no prior car or kart racing experience. The only kart I’d driven was an indoor “go-kart”. The fastest car I’d driven was my little BMW 130i and that not being racing, just normal street driving. I did occasionally “test” the car on very quiet (almost deserted) roads, but that was it. After closing my visor, with the engine fired up, I pushed the throttle lightly to move slowly on the speed controlled entry, and once off, checked that the coast was clear and BOOM! I stepped on the throttle and could not believe how much acceleration this kart has…it is a BEAST! When shifting into the 2nd gear it seems to take off like a 2nd boost or something. It is just amazing. I can’t believe I’ve not found karting sooner. I felt like one of the F1 drivers from the few hundred thousand onboard qualy videos I’ve watched, lol. The amount of grip cannot be explained without one experiencing it for themselves. I tried explaining it to someone that it is kind of analogous to someone pulling you from the side but your feet are glued to the ground. The one side of my neck is not feeling too great today but it was totally worth it. I am a regular in my home gym, so the rest of my body doesn’t hurt badly, but it does feel like I’ve had a very decent upper body workout. Initially I was afraid I might have jumped in a bit too far in the deep end with a DD2 but it was surprisingly not as “terrifying” as I thought it’d be. It’s definitely going to be a steep learning curve, as the front of the DD2 pack lap around 41s and I was doing about 47s during my first outing. If I were to enter a race, I’d get lapped at least twice! But I’m excited to climb that learning curve and am absolutely HOOKED! And oddly enough, it’s not racing against others that I’m most excited about, it’s more about racing against myself. I guess the fact that watching qualy onboards are one of, if not my absolute favourite things to do.

Just though I’d share my experience with others, especially for those who are getting into karting at a later stage in life. It really is never too late. Also, I now have no interest or desire to try other motor sports for some reason. From my own experience and speaking to others, nothing could match the thrill of driving a kart.

Now I need to learn how to switch my mind off from thinking about karting 24/7!!!

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Sounds like youve caught the bug. there really is no explaining it. I think most people would consider the DD2 jumping into the deep end but if your goal is to just improve and not fight/race, than I guess theres no worry. just wait till you get battling though, your opinion might change. incredible deal on the kart also, I can see why you didnt pass it up. Id recommend renting a single speed kart for a couple practice days just to really teach you the basics without having insane acceleration. I think youll learn a lot quicker if you try both. As to how to not think about karting, well, its impossible. I spend any second im not working watching kart videos and reading this forum. Ive read almost everything posted on this forum and ive only been racing for two years. Best of luck, get ready to have an addiction. youll love it

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If you are new, you are maybe extracting 75% of what the kart can do. It gets really interesting as you get further along.

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Welcome to the karting world, and yes is the greatest thing out there. I have been autocrossing for over 12+ years (with my kart too) and the speed sensation is incredible. I am 58 years and no intention of slowing down. Right now just waiting for Upstate New York to warm up for the season to start. Santa Claus gave me a set of tires, parts to overhaul the brakes, some tools and not even close to $500 :smiley:. Tires to autocross my car cost way more than that! Have fun and be safe!

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So despite everything you were told, you went off and jumped into the deep end, not knowing if you could swim or not! An exceedingly bold thing to do.

I have, in my exceedingly marvelous memory, a recollection of a person who did, pretty much the same thing as you. Only difference is he was about 10+ years younger than you. He did, surprisingly to me, improve very rapidly, so good luck, we will be pulling for you.

2 stories, almost identical, a half a world apart, what a small world.

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I think I now know what drug addiction must feel like! I am definitely looking into your advice and have in fact found a single speed kart that someone at the track has just laying around that I could jump into and get some training laps done in. Thanks for the advice! :+1:

That is what to me at this point is absolutely mind blowing! The fact that I am nowhere near the potential of this kart and had such a blast of a time just ramps up the excitement (and addiction) levels new heights!

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Thanks and I am definite agreement that karting really is the greatest thing out there! Santa has been kind to you I see, nice one!

Bold OR not very smart…all depends on who you speak to! haha.

Thanks for the well wishes and I’m hoping I am able to improve in that manner.

I will certainly be practicing and taking all the advice I can get in climbing this learning curve.

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@ Aiyaaz Dollie, I’m in a similar boat to yourself, albeit I’m starting with an older cart and a single-gear engine (I put up an intro as a newbie just now). I’d intended to stick with a 100cc engine to start, but a good deal came up, so I took it.

My 9-year old car-crazy son, is also getting into the sport with his own old Cadet cart.

I love the speed and cornering these things can muster. Hopefully we’ll both learn quickly. Been reading books about technique and learning from my friend Kanji San, all about the tuning tricks he’s used for decades. There’s so many little things to learn! super fun.

Been to the main track used by people around the Tokyo area last weekend to watch racing and see how quick the engine I’ve bought can be. Quick - Sheesh!
People are real nice here in Japan; very willing to help out or chat. I am definitely hooked. Spending every evening looking for useful bits to buy. Managed to snag a laser alignment tool kit for the equivalent of $60 last night!

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Oh, Japan! Awesome! Do feel free to post any pics/vids etc of facilities and racing you experience. It would be great fun for all to see how karting looks in Japan.

Is your friend Kanji-San an experienced racer? That’s a useful pal to have. Enjoy the journey.

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Hi Dom,

Sure, will try to, sometime. Watching this weekend was awesome, being a major carting event & circuit. Today’s local track, for my son, was mostly empty - perfect, since he’s just a small kid & an absolute beginner. He loved it!

Kanji, yep - he was sponsored in the U.S. and is very experienced. He’s 67 now. Stopped racing a few years ago, apparently because he kept coming second. I don’t think he’ll race here in Japan, but that he’s up for helping others, is great!

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I look forwards to you and your sons karting adventures. Are both of you planning to race or is that too early to think about?

Yup, racing for fun is the plan for sure.

We had fun yesterday with just my son on the track by himself, and me as his mechanic. Kids make fast progress. Once he’s properly up to speed, we’ll look to upgrade his cart to a used current Kadet class cart, which he can try racing with. If he gets good, then I’m under no illusion it’ll get seriously expensive to be competitive.

Same with me. My current Kosmic cart is too old and not competitive. There is a (Iame) Komet Panther class in Japan, for which I now have an engine and am about to fit, but I’ll have much to learn, before I get myself a new or newish cart and actually start cart racing. For the next year or so, we’ll just learn.

The winner of this class, in last weekend’s race started out in 1996 and was roughly half my age, with all new cart and equipment. Carts looked very fast on the race. It’s been a long-running class and costs are relatively low, so it’s interesting.

For now I’ll just practice on open days and learn as much as I can.

I might have to be in a senior class if in a few years I were to decide to go Max Evo, but even then I’d be against guys with decades of cart racing experience, who would be smaller, lighter Japanese guys. My chances are realistically slim, but I know it’ll be huge fun learning.

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