We’re huge F1 fans and know that most F1 drivers start career with karting. My husband intends to buy our son (1 and only kid!!) a go-kart for his 6th birthday this March. I’m not your average “nervous mom” per se, my husband and I have been tracking our cars for years now and I’m not at all adverse to adventure. However, my husband and I know NOTHING about karting. We don’t know what to expect, where we expect our son to ride, would it be okay around the neighborhood or not a good idea b/c it sits low and he’s still young. Do we (parents) need to get one too? Would a 6 year old be able to maneuver this cart (he is pretty good with stuff like this, he’s mastered his “adult” RC car). As far as safety goes, what karts are safest for this age? Aside from helmet, does he wear additional safety gear such as Hans Device type stuff? Any advice? Appreciate any help–I want to be supportive but I’m just so naive that it just makes me nervous. Thanks!!
Welcome! Getting started is confusing in karting for some reason, but fortunately you have some motorsports background. I’ll try to help.
No karting on public streets, ever. Not even those little electric toy ones. The statistics on this are grim. As you mentioned, line-of-sight and things that are solid to run into.
It depends. I started racing simultaneously with my son because I wanted that experience specifically. However there’s a lot of parents that really enjoy being pit boss and chief engineer. Your call, based on how it all feels.
Absolutely. It is actually quite fascinating watching the little ones go. What they can do in a kart is surprising.
This will sort itself out when you start talking to a good person/team to buy the kart. Basically, there’s a specific kart you get (Cadet, Bambino, junior etc) and that’s pretty much it. And yes, they are very safe. But they are not toys and require maintenance to be safe.
Yes. Full kit is Helmet, neck brace, suit, chest protector (kids), rib protector (?), boots, gloves. No hans device as we are not strapped in. This is easy enough to shop for online.
There’s a ton of advice you will get but I’d say do yourself a favor and don’t just buy a kart. Go talk to someone who can lay out what this is all about and how it works. If you are fortunate and live near a facility that does racing and caters to that sort of client, problem solved. There’s likely multiple teams that you can talk to about what a program would look like and what it all costs etc. There’s lots of ways to kart and lots of ways to spend money. Early on though, you might want to consider having some help and tenting with a team. Not cheap, alas, but something to look into.
If the price tag on all this is too shocking, rental racing is a blast too, but your little one won’t be able to do that until a bit older. @KartingIsLife had a cute video from an indoor track that does track nights for the little ones but instead of the normal karts, they use electric toy cars.
Also, this will feel weird, allowing your child to participate in a sport that is fundamentally risky in its very nature. But fear not. Or at least, not too much. What the child will learn is a huge developmental boost, imho. I have watched my son as well as the boys and girls of others really grow as people as they become increasingly self-confident and self-reliant.
It is nerve-wracking at times, though.But don’t worry it’s not at all hairy with the little ones. Their karts are pretty slow and I have never seen any incidents that were serious. Plenty of tears but mostly because they didn’t get to finish the race. The speed starts in juniors, around age 12ish. They are still pretty slow in cadets, which is what’s after kid karts.
Karting isn’t a ladder to F1. Money is. If you want the kid to have a career in motorsport, look into a seat in formula 4 in Europe when he’s 13. 600K should do it for a season, I think. Karting would prep him for that. I know a number of extraordinarily talented guys who should be on the F1 or similar grid but aren’t because they ran out of dough.
That being said, my son’s racing was what most of his high school interviewers wanted to talk about since it’s uncommon and Nick made a point of writing about it in his apps. Here’s his video that accompanied his essay:
In any case, where are you located? This is necessary for me to point you in the right direction, people/track wise.
Dom put in a lot of good advice up there.
I just wanted to reiterate the point to visit your local track, talk to teams/shops and find out what is supported in your area for classes and equipment brands. That is the best jumping off point. The main things you will want when you’re starting out is support for spare parts or any of the newbie questions you’ll have and fun. Fun comes from having others in your class to race against if you plan on racing.
Let us know where you guys are located and I’m sure a member or two here will have info on your region.
cheapest open wheel racing that f1 drivers come from (that ive seen) costs around 200k a year. between f4 and f3 in terms of performance
Dom already said more than I could but I thought I would second his statement about how safe it is. Ive never seen a kid get injured in kid karts
WOW!!! I’m overwhelmed by the awesome information!! This is just great guys!! We live in Indianapolis, IN. I know my husband took my son to a karting track a while back, he was barely tall enough to ride shotgun. That would probably be a good place to start. I’m going to share this with him and digest it. The safety aspects reassure me a bunch, glad to hear how much gear is required. I’m sure I’ll have a bunch more questions soon enough, this forum is a great resource. THANK YOU so very much!!!
You’re in a great spot in Indy.
For outdoor racing, have a chat with New Castle Motorsports Park, they are about 40mins out of Indy. Probably not much to do in the way of driving just yet.
There’s good indoor options too, but I’m not sure of the age requirements. Speedway indoor karting is one off the top of my head and I sure others can add to the list.
Safety can be very personal and subjective in a way. To me, I’d much rather my kids be on a track with others traveling the same direction vs doing something that’s designed to have them run head on into each other.
It’s a bit nerve wrecking putting them out for the first time, truth be told I think the kids do better than the adults
We have run 2 kids through kidkarts at newcastle (also based in Indy). Youngest is just moving out now. He did he first race out there 3 days after his 5th birthday.
Ceraland in Columbus IN is a great place for them to learn.
The team at newcastle really look after the safety of the little ones, so I wouldn’t worry too much, but the speed difference between the newcomers and the fast kids can make it worrisome at times. Pick up a kidkart and get running in Ceraland as soon as the weather picks up, you will be surprised how fast he picks it up!
Great advice in here. Sarah your local shop to check out will be Comet kart sales. Depending on how quickly you want to pull the trigger you can also go to the OVKA swap meet this weekend (Feb 1) and likely find a great used setup.
I’ve run my son in kid karts at New Castle as well as G&J in Camden with OVKA. I’ll shoot you a PM with my experiences with both and a contact for the kid kart director at OVKA as well.
Hi Sarah, I am also located in Indianapolis, and would be happy to help answer any questions and/or point you in the right direction. New Castle Motorsports Park, and Whiteland Raceway Park are the main outdoor karting facilities in the area, both of which offer kid kart programs in their practice and race schedule. Each facility is going to have staff, as well as other racers, that have extensive experience with kid karts (kids under 8 years old), so there is a plethora of knowledge to tap into.
Graham mentioned Ceraland down in Columbus, which is a great place to get out and run laps. Usually there aren’t too many people there, so the environment is pretty casual. The team that I race with, Harden Motorsports Group, is based down in Nashville, Indiana, fairly close to Ceraland. They race all around Indiana, as well as the midwest, and the team owner has three kids that are in or have gone through the kid kart category. Obviously, I’m a bit biased in that I’m a customer of theirs and love racing with them, but HMG would be a great resource in addition to those already mentioned in this thread.
Welcome to the karting world!
@kartmom Looks like you have options, lol. You basically live in karting Mecca. Good luck!
Hey! I’m from Indy as well! If you need any help, let me know and I can get you set up, but in Indy I do recommend Comet. I can help you guys out at the track when I’m available/not at a race out of town. I don’t have much to add that isn’t already said, but New Castle Motorsports Park and Whiteland raceway park are going to be your two local tracks around here.
Also, if you’re talking about SIK, I might have been the drive for your son’s 2 seater ride.
I’ll just add my 0.02 in here too. I think karting is probably one of the best sports for families. Little league soccer or football your kid is out there playing with the coach and you don’t see then until the end of the game. With karting you’re spending all day together. They go out for their heat race and then come back talk to dad on changes that need to be made and between races everyone is in the pits together.
I know for a fact my dad and I wouldn’t be as close as we are now if it weren’t for karting. I’m 31 now and don’t see my parents as much with life going on and chasing kids around but I guarantee as soon as racing season hits my mom and dad are out at the track every single race. Even when I travel out of state for races they will get a hotel nearby to make sure they are there.
As far as safety my brother and his wife are going through this now and seems to be a sticking point for her. My brother did racing and football the eventually was too big for karting and focused more on football and was really really good at it. He told her that he would 100% have their son race over football any day. He got hurt more often and more severely in football than at any time racing.
I was in the same boat. I bought my son a kart for his 6th bday, we had a couple of local clubs that ran slightly different rules so I had to pick one and go with that. They required he be 7 to race, so his first summer was spent driving around in an empty parking lot 10 or 12 times that summer to get the hang of it. Last summer he was 7 so we let him enter half the races to see how he liked it and he was absolutely hooked. It’s all he talks about, just last night he was quizzing me about how many days until the track opens.
My wife was pretty nervous about it all and didnt come to the track at the beginning. When she finally came to see him race, she kept asking me when I was going to take him for more practice days so he can get better lol.
As to the comment about it being an excellent family activity, my son said last night that he cant wait for the season to start so we can have full days together, just me and him without his little sisters in the way lol.
However you end up approaching it, just take your time, at this age there is no need to rush into things, even doing a partial season like we did was a good way to get him into it without being overwhelmed going to the track every weekend.
Looks like you are getting plenty of advice.
Having had my son and daughter both Karting from an early age I’ll add just one piece of advice for now…
Don’t be tempted to “give them a little go” on some back street or industrial estate. That’s not the place for a kart. An open track with proper safety barriers and runoff areas is the only place for inexperienced drives to come to terms with throttle, brakes and steering all at once. Tell the track supervisor it is their first drive. Ask the track for a session where there are few other karts on the track. Most track owners will oblige, they want you to come back.
You also want your kid to enjoy it.
You’ll be amazed at how fast he will adapt to a Kart. Really amazed. It is so much fun watching what they can accomplish. Like others said, contact Comet Kart Sales and see if they have any Kid Karts.you might check with Top Kart USA or CRP Racing for your area.
It is very safe. I also recommend only driving a Kart on a kart track. Too many unforgiving surfaces at a parking lot.
Here is some inspiration for you. My boy driving his kid kart at 3 https://youtu.be/xG98pxH7DRE
And this past weekend in his Micro sprint racing adults (the black Garmin car) https://youtu.be/xG98pxH7DRE
You can see the evolution of his racing career at www.watchbenrace.com
Enjoy the ride, I know we are.
Just plain Wow. I had no idea a 3yr old can do that.
It’s no comparison cause my son is on an oval. But I built him a dirt oval on my property and was in disbelief how fast he picked it up before I started backing up the throttle stop. He’s flying now. It was terrifying at first.
But now I’m bringing in clay and working the dirt so I can start to rubber up the track.
Keep us updated on the track. I’m curious to know what goes into the surface. I’m planning making a dirt road course in spring this year.
Lucky for me I have several family friends big in the sprint car world as promoters and such. So I’m using them as a resource for content. When I add the additional materials I’m going to put some banking in. Nothing crazy. Just enough to help the turns.
One of the biggest parts is what kind of dirt you’re starting with. Up hear in the Seattle area we have lots of sand. So I’m trying to thicken it up so it holds together. Also we grow rocks up here. So I fight that a lot.