I’m brand new In every sense of the word. Just found and signed up to the wonderful forum, and brand spanking new to karting.
I’m from New Zealand, so I hope that sits all right on here even though you are America based.
I’ve been busy reading the topics on karting etiquette, advice, and tips. I’ve followed the link and bought Terrence’s book, and I have done a grand total of one session at the track on my new (to me) Arrow X1 Rotax Max. It was pretty eye opening with a damp track, slick tyres, and low temps.
I’m wondering if someone would be generous enough to go through some basic driving tips as I’m nervous now that Terrence’s book may not be for a beginner.
I have heaps of questions for you all but will try not flood things all at once.
That book is like drinking from the firehose. Lots of great information, but you can’t do it all at once to start with. Get some practice days by yourself (and maybe a helper) and just try things when nobody is around. Just concentrate on one thing at a time, such as braking. Get comfortable with that, find the limits, and then go over them to learn what to do when it happens. Then pick something else, and so on.
I just started this year as well, but have gone from - I have no idea what I’m doing with a kart (coming from car setup) - to I need to setup a narrower front end for this track and less pressure on the outside tires to start with than the inside ones and adjust from there…
Above all though - have fun. When it stops being fun, take a break and step back. Do it for you, not for anyone’s approval or recognition.
Welcome to Karting (from Aus). There are a few of us from the southern hemisphere
I also started this year. I wouldnt get too worried about being over your head. Get out there, have fun and it will work itself out. Terrences book is like a good red wine. You absorb a bit to start with but as you savour it longer you realise there is more and more to it. It just takes time
Hey Liam, welcome!
Terrence’s book is a fantastic resource, and certainly something to refer to over, and over, and over…and over! There is also another great (albeit dated) publication out there called “Memo Gidley’s Secrets of Speed” that I think is a great publication when it comes to some basic karting tips on driving and simple preparation.
I do a fair bit of driver coaching in the US, primarily in Colorado. Over time, I’ve noticed some common habits that new drivers tend to have that, if focused on, can really give them a solid foundation to start making real progress.
I love that quick clip you shared, is that a drone that follows you as you drive? If so, can you tell me more about it?
Some basic habits that I have found working with many drivers as a driving coach. These I would consider ‘fundamentals’ to get right first, and then build upon:
Poor Vision: How a driver perceives a corner makes a massive difference in how much speed and comfort they can carry through the corner. Empirically working with driver after driver, corner section by corner section, it seems that the best viewpoint for consistency tends to be at roughly a right angle. This is a little tricky to illustrate without a drawing…
"Charging" the corner: While this term is more common parlance in short track oval racing, it is certainly appropriate in karting. Often, a new driver will believe quite firmly that they must race to the apex or central area of a corner, and then re-evaluate from there. To work on this, I often remind drivers to focus on their driving lines first and then build speed as they can do this consistently. After all, for most tracks and most conditions there really is only one ‘ideal’ driving line. That line can only be sustained at a certain speed, so therefore by retaining the line and then building speed, you can become faster overall than trying to have speed and then refining line. Charging the corner (too fast on corner entry) inevitably creates all sorts of strange handling behaviors from the kart and severe lack of comfort or confidence in driving, which comes to my next point.
Understanding of kart dynamics (or lack thereof): Many new drivers struggle mightily to overcome a perceived lack of performance in their kart. However, often upon viewing on video or data, it is clear that their driving inputs (hands, feet, and so on) are more the cause of a problem than the kart itself. As an example, many new drivers that go into a hairpin turn like to brake or stab the throttle midway through their entry portion of a corner. While this can be faster if done right, often times new karters will ‘disrupt’ a chassis’ behavior with driving. Fundamentally, this comes down to a lack of understanding of the design intent of a kart chassis, which is to say, that a kart needs at least a moment to flex and ‘hike’ the inside rear tire to properly rotate and travel through medium-pace and slow corners.
Not asking for help: I suppose this one is a personal pet peeve of mine in the coaching. It’s amazing how much investment someone can spend on a nice kart, new tires, a nice engine, and sometimes a shockingly low amount of effort on their own preparation or performance. You can tune the driver almost as much as you can tune a kart. But, more than anything else, it is ok to ask questions to fellow racers. It seems to be almost daily I am at the track and I see someone struggling along trying to figure out how to do a basic or moderate maintenance task on their kart. While no one is an expert or perfect at working on these machines, many racers do know quite a lot, and will be happy to show you how to take a front driver sprocket off your clutch, or change a jet in the carburetor. So many drivers or teams tend to hold themselves back by simply not asking for help when it is clear they need it. Furthermore, to the point of the driving vs. your kart, remember that it is important to keep yourself in good running order, as the kart can’t drive itself. Stay hydrated, take notes, and ask questions. A driver’s basic maintenance such as having a good night’s rest before a track day, or having proper fitting safety gear is as essential to your continued growth as oiling the chain or adding fuel to the kart, if not more so.
I hope this was helpful, feel free to message me anytime to chat further about your initial foray into karting!
Thanks guys, really great responses. I’m very grateful.
Eric, thanks for such a detailed reply. Those points are definitely not things I’ve considered properly and will definitely take on board.
With regards the drone footage, it wasn’t my drone so I can’t tell you much about it sorry. They weren’t really there to video me so that’s pretty much the extent of my footage. Very, very cool though and some great potential.
This is how my seat is currently mounted.
Thanks for the pics! Looks like the previous driver had the same side support mounts but more ‘rake’ to the seat than you did in recline angle.
Especially for a taller driver, sitting straight up and down in the kart is a sure-fire way to make the kart have far too much grip or really fatigue the tires rapidly. The kart can buck and snap a bit in the corners as a result.
In your case the mount has the seat pretty far backward already, it seems you carry a lot of your height in your legs rather than upper body. Some chassis have a ‘front porch’ option to extend the foot box area, although I don’t believe an Arrow does. You may be able to extend the pedal location to move your feet forward on the floor tray, but likely not enough to really reduce your ‘high knees’ seat position. Ideally, the angle of your legs should be closer to a 160 degree angle, rather than 120 or so.
Depending on your local suppliers or chassis experts, you may want to have some experienced drivers look at your position in the kart, as well as what options there may be to move the seat further back without causing far too much weight to be too far back in the kart.
Welcome to the community.