New to Karting: Have Questions & Would Appreciate Input

I think that you pick some of this up by karting and getting better with your skills. I think I could do a fairly decent job of articulating a handling issue with the kart despite lack of wrench experience.

That being said it took about 3-4 years to get to the point of being able to be articulate about stuff related to handling.

I am sure if I had wrenched experimentally messing with pills and width etc like I do in KK, I’d be better off, though.

Thank you, everyone, for all of this amazing input! Sorry I didn’t respond earlier as I’ve been extremely busy with work, but I’ll chime back in as soon as I can as I’d like to respond to as many of you as I can. Thanks again!

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No worries, being busy with work is a good problem to have if you plan racing.

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Evan brings up a good point. Be flexible about what you want to race. At the beginning, when you lack confidence in your abilities, it’s easy to want to just run laps. This changes though. Sooner or later you will want to race, it’s the natural order of things :grinning:. So, don’t go buying any old engine package, you want to make sure there will be as big a field of other racers as possible. The more the merrier.

TLDR: if there’s 30 guys racing unicycles, and 1 racing an x30, buy a unicycle. Slow doesn’t matter when you are three wide!

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You didn’t. I just threw that in to make a point about when you are new, having support form others can rapidly improve your progress and that means being able to effectively communicate with them.

Classic!

I agree whole heartedly for myself. Others may have the skills or have the inclination to take on the other roles. Like you, I grew up around Auto Racing. We built the cars, we raced the cars and when we wrecked them, we put them back together again for the next race. It was to the point you could take it apart and put it back together again blindfolded. My Kart is the same way.

Getting back to @SP-9 's point, his aspirations are to move on to Formula. For him there may not be much to be gained from karting side outside of driving at this point beyond some basics he is likely going to pickup anyway.

I checked out the F-Series and it looks like a pretty awesome place to start. Thanks for the kart buying advice here as well. I’ll definitely reach out to the F-Series as well.

I certainly concur with this. I’d much rather have a lot of competitors to race and learn from vs a smaller field in a kart I might enjoy a little more from a driver perspective.

I’ll certainly look into World Formula. And based on everything I’m reading, a tent seems like a good options for me. When you say “4t”, is that a 4 stroke engine?

Gotcha. Kart series/engine aside, this setup of owning my own kart but having a team or shop help me tune and maintain it again sounds like the right path for me. Thanks for explaining that system in detail!

I helped co-found and run a small branding/design agency that specializes in the motorsports domain. I’m extremely fortunate in that I love what I do, helping and working with teams and series, and being able to combine my love of racing with my love of design.

This got me thinking… would you say then that karting would potentially benefit from some sort of unified series, or platform, or clear structure? From my (foggy) perspective, it seems the barrier to entry in karting isn’t so much the cost, but rather the knowledge required to even start. Now that you know what I do, you can probably imagine why I’m asking. These are problems I really enjoy solving.

All sounds great to me. And as it pertains to the kart, assuming I buy it second hand, can I expect it to hold its value pretty well over the course of a season as long it’s properly maintained? Just guessing, but if I buy a second hand kart for $2,500, could I potentially sell it at the end the season for $2,000 or so? I know a lot of factors probably play into that.

As great as it would be to stay in-state, NJMP and Summit Point are both just a couple hours from me, and I don’t mind traveling.

Point taken, I stand corrected. I can certainly see why I should need to know this. This is where I imagine working with a mechanic who can teach me to a degree would pay dividends. That being said, I’m already quite familiar with race car setups (formula cars), and what does what. I imagine this knowledge will act as a base which can be translated to some degree into a kart (although I could be wrong there).

To address a few other posts here, I feel my communications skills are quite good, even if I’m lacking the proper terminology at this moment. Once I learn the proper terminology and get used to whatever kart I purchase, I’m confident I can take my learnings from the mechanic I work with and translate what I feel on track back to them without issue. Clear communication (speaking as a designer) is paramount in the work I do, and translating that to racing seems like something I can quickly adapt to.

Yes and no. I have huge respect for racers in all categories of racing. You guys risk serious injury or worse for the thrill, competition, and a shot at victory. Having never gotten the chance to partake myself, I’d like to learn and absorb as much as I can and as effectively as I can in the short amount of time I’m in any given series. Although who knows, maybe I’ll enjoy karting so much I won’t even bother pursuing anything else. Just last weekend while at NJMP, I rented a kart at their kart track (first time in over a year), and was reminded just how incredible and fun something as slow as a rental kart could be. So who knows, but right now, I do hope to ascend to the Formula ranks one day.

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I was there for the race at noon on Saturday. Silly as it may seem, rental racing is a fun and super cheap hobby. I enjoy mixing it up with the kids, and we get pretty competitive with each other. The big ol’ cages are fun too and we like to use them both defensively and offensively (within reason). Kevin at NJMP runs a rental series that runs most of the year. The karts are…tired.

I guess Philly really is close enough to E-town and NJMP to be your best bet. I would go straight to that, bypassing the rental stuff. Id consider the 100cc package if you are green. Mixed age field. If you want to go for the deeper field, I think 125tag senior puts up pretty good numbers for entrants. I think you are looking at 10 or so in 100cc, but growing rapidly. This would be worth discussing with someone who races the series currently.

Insofar as equipment and tenting is concerned, theres a few teams you could go with. Feel free to ping my on my opinions etc. I tented with Jerry White of Kartworkz.

Another thing to consider is OVRP. That’s a lovely facility up in the Delaware water gap. For me in Princeton, it’s basically the same drive to OVRP as NJMP. The drive to OVRP is lovely, too.

In addition to two stroke, they have a margay ignite lo206 spec series. I’m looking into that as I don’t want to spend 2-stroke money these days. That’s the ONLY lo206 racing I know of anywhere near nj.

“Tired” is a pretty accurate description. My left front had some deep blisters wherein I could see the cords. Engine also wouldn’t fire up on the first few goes so they had to give me a push start. Still worked out though.

Would love your thoughts on the teams. I didn’t realize NJMP had 100CC on offer (Through F-Series?). I should have talked with someone in their kart place (not sure why that didn’t cross my mind).

Funny you mention that. I was talking with Stevan McAleer in the paddock on Friday (he was racing a Miata with Jack Robillard) and he mentioned OVRP as he has a kart school based out of there. Really amazing looking track as well.

And just to quickly recap to make sure I’ve got my engine options figured out, we have:

  1. TaG 125cc (Probably too much $$/speed for a new guy like me)
  2. TaG 100cc (considering this)
  3. lo206 (which is a 4 stroke and about the same cost to maintain as a 100cc?)

Sorta. Tag 125 is totally doable for a new guy but why? It’s more power and grip which makes learning harder. It’s also the most expensive of the three. This would run me 1000ish per weekend. I was in a tent program and didn’t transport my kart. Basically did it the expensive way.

100cc will get you 90% of the fun of 125Tag for roughly half the price overall. (Consumables, rebuilds etc). Someone please correct me if I am too generous here.

Lo206 is true budget racing. Hard tires that last multiple races, pump gas etc. this is MUCH cheaper than either 100 or tag. It’s also much slower and much more momentum based driving.

To make matters easier, if you can comfortably afford the 100cc, do that.
Smile factor is high.

You won’t be disappointed with lo206 either, most likely, but the noise and power of two stroke is compelling. 4-stroke is a different and more precious (fragile) vibe. It’s a bunch of guys trying to be as efficient as possible.

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For most people new to karting, I always recommend a four-stroke class like LO206 to start, just to understand the sport to start. The karts are easy to drive, and the fields are normally pretty competitive.

100cc fields will vary depending on your location, but it’s a good option.

I don’t personally think that 125cc is super “hard”, like a shifter, but new folks will definitely not be at the front right away.

Making sure that you’re ready to commit to the performance jump in TAG, is always a good idea, so that it doesn’t scare you away.

Don’t underestimate how sh*t-your-pants fast a kart feels the very first time you jump into one and your butt is an inch off the ground, with no doors or glass around you. I think many of us have the privilege of being fully inside the sport, and we may not remember what that first drive felt like from a complete outside perspective. Even a slower engine like a 206 can go quicker than your brain can keep up at first until you get used to it.

Davin’s right, 125cc TaG stuff isn’t that difficult to get to grips with, but it’s like trying to learn piano and your first lesson is playing Beethoven. You could stumble through it and get to it eventually, but starting with a basic scale (206) will give you the fundamentals of it all and help you understand what’s actually going on when/if you eventually decide to jump into something quicker.

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Yah locally f-series doesn’t do 4-stroke so it’s not a great option for us. The only lo206 that makes sense is ovrp. Running lo206 mixed with old Yamahas is not really a field, which is what f-series had. May be different now but I doubt it. Marco was trying a field in one race at his upstate track so maybe someday.

Yeah, but from looking at a glance, I’m not sure if F-Series would be the right place for new people to start racing. I’d feel like by the time they raced F Series, they’d be in two-stroke already. (Generalizing)

It’s a beginner friendly series in that I started with no previous race experience. Nick, also, and he started in juniors. I would agree that it’s probably not for total newbies, the race part, but that’s what Saturday practices are for. Me and Nick spent time learning the basics doing Karting schools and practice days before I decided to try racing. In our case, we probably had about 30 days total track time before racing called.

I think Marco tries to have some events to try to get new butts in seats but I am not sure how or what anymore.

Oh and there’s a big difference between F-Series (The state championship) and F-Series (Gearup). Gearup is the regional big series. The state championship is the “Club” racing. I did the club races. Gearup is more heats, more days, more “serious”.

This aspect is kinda playing into my decision (because of where I live) of whether to go 100cc or lo206. Because if I get a 100cc, I can take it to NJMP, NYKC, and OVRP anytime, vs just OVRP for lo206.

Pretty much. That’s a good point.

I can see $1K for a race under a tent program, but I run TaG and can do it for less than $250. Unless I get plowed into a barrier (that’s another story). Granted, I am a one man show, unless a friend shows up to pitch in. Entry fee is around $75, Fuel used is around $35, usually get 2 or 3 races out of Tires (averaged) around $100 and some miscellaneous items (chains, sprockets, lubes averaged) around $35. Granted, I am club racing, so rebuilds are maybe seasonal and there are always going to be breakdowns and damage. In the end, its still pretty reasonable.

Being new, its probably best to stick with a tent program until you learn what you need to, especially if you have the budget for it.

I agree, if going 100cc opens up more tracks/series, I would go the same route. When I first started researching classes, TaG was still pretty strong, but now it has shifted to One Make Series (IAME/ROK), the mixed motor class TaG has dwindled and 100cc is on the rise.

Oh for sure it can be done for less. I like to give the tent kind of numbers because it’s not hard to get there. I was paying for transport, prep, storage, etc. new tires every race, that sort of thing.

Quick Update - So first and foremost thanks again to everyone for chiming in!

Last Saturday, I got to attend my first ever pro kart race at NJMP (F-Series event). Thank you, Dom, for mentioning that series a few posts back! I was blown away by how alive the place felt. It’s nothing like a typical motorsports event where everything is spread out across acres of space. It felt more akin to a auto-cross event but more professional in appearance and execution.

Also the people are some of the most welcoming I’ve ever come across, happy to answer my questions and chat about racing. I might have even spoken to one of you and not even realized it.

That being said, I can now confirm I’m 100% hooked on this sport, and fully intent to be on the grid in 2021. Now time to go kart shopping!

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Glad you were able to make it. The grid was pretty small on account of rain Sunday but practice sat., was well-ish attended. Me and some of the lads popped over from next door to watch folks burn rubber as well.

If you get a chance, go to a gearup event. That’s the regional series and it’s quite the show. Pretty sure they do one at etown and one at NJMP.

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