New to Karting (NC)

Where are you located?

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

What age bracket are you in?

Senior (16+)

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your mechanical ability, or willingness to wrench on things?

Five. I don’t have much experience working on cars, but I like working on mechanical things.

Talk a little about your racing experience so far.

I don’t have a lot of experience, but driving comes to me naturally. I feel like this is the right path for me and I’m eager to get more involved when the pandemic is over. At 17, I know I’m getting a late start in motor racing, but I think my driving ability and passion will help me catch up.

What’s the main thing you need help with to get you started.

Here are a few things I need advice on.

  • What can I do now before I go to the track?
  • How do I go about networking at the track?
  • How do people fund their karting career?

Or just any good advice that I need to know.

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Welcome to karting.
Document in detail how your kart is assembled with pictures or video or both. Take the kart apart and reassemble it. This way you won’t have to figure this out under pressure at the track and you’ll know what tools you need. Most mishaps on the track result in bent tie-rods, bent steering shafts and bent axles.
Networking should be easy. Most karters are friendly and if they’re not busy working on their own equipment, will gladly help.

Welcome, Sam. What are your options in Winston-Salem? Have you looked into tracks and series? Do you have experience or are you a new driver? Looks like you could go dirt or sprint.

I’m a new driver, and I’m interested in sprint racing. It seems like the nearest sprint track to me is the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville. They have a club series. I’m not sure what class I would race yet.

Hey Sam,
Gopro is apparently super popular. Are you going to buy a kart or try rentals first? What’s your ambitions with this? Just learn to drive and have fun or racing?

There were 140+ entries for the club race last Sunday. Most classes have 15+ entries

Shane, I thought I heard there was another track that was less overrun with customers. What’s the other option to GoPro if any?

Kershaw, SC has a kart track but I think they are only open for midweek practice and select regional events.

I enjoy the packed paddocks every race. The damn kids racing around on scooters and bikes not so much.

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@XanderClements might be able to talk more about Kershaw.

That is a good start! Again, what are your ambitions? Are you looking to have Fun or do you want to progress to a Higher Level of the Racing Spectrum?

In all cases, competition is key. Find a class that has greater numbers and it will push you to better yourself. As a Noob, you can find competition at the back of the pack all the way to the front. Just keep challenging yourself!

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My ambition is to race and maybe progress to a higher level of motorsport. Just to be clear, do you guys all think it’s a good thing that GoPro has so many competitors? The upside is more competition, but what about the downside?

Downside is also more competition ha.
GoPro has all levels of drivers competing and is one of the best facilities in the nation. It’s a great place to start.

There is some point that more is a negative. Practically I have not seen it. Locally the last two races I ran had 27 and 18 drivers. It was great. I wish every race had at 25 participants

GoPro typically has 22-26 karts each race for Briggs Sr and Briggs Heavy. KA SR is more like 25-32. X30 SR is usually 10-20. X30 Heavy is usually 8-10

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  • What can I do now before I go to the track?

Have you decided on how you are going to get started? Are you doing a rental league? Are you buying a kart? If buying a kart, do you have an idea of what class you want to do?

  • How do I go about networking at the track?

Not sure how to answer this one as networking usually implies some sort of objective. If you can articulate that objective a bit, maybe we have thoughts…

  • How do people fund their karting career?

Normal careers, mainly. Top driver in my area is a pharma sales rep. Some folks do make a living through karting but typically not as drivers.

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I was thinking of buying my own kart, but I am open to doing a rental league. If I do indeed buy a kart, I was thinking LO206, but I’m not sure. On the topic of classes, what are the differences between LO206, KA100, and IAME? Thanks.

LO is 4 stroke. I think its 9hp.

KA 100 is a two stroke engine, not sure on HP. Its a new-ish engine that is popular. It is air cooled and relatively inexpensive to run compared to a 125 TAG 2 stroke engine.

IAME is a brand. But, in this case it may refer to 125 TAG class. They make the x30 engine. Its about 28-30 hp.

Of the three classes, LO206 is the least expensive to run. They are all good classes but most folks would start LO or KA100.

i race at go pro motorplex a lot of people start in a lo206 its cheap to maintain and pretty fast and competitive

So in the southeast you’ve got three divisions for Junior and Senior age groups. Simplest way I can break it down is this:

Amateur – LO206 Senior / Heavy

  • Cheapest Option on both maintenance, tire wear, initial cost
  • 3-4 competitive racedays on a set of tires, $220/set
  • 9 HP (roughly same straight line speed as rental karts at GoPro / Kershaw, but lap times are about 6 seconds faster based on lighter weight and grippier tires)
  • 206cc air-cooled 4-stroke engine produced by Briggs & Stratton ($1000 roughly total)

Intermediate – KA100 Senior

  • Tire wear is slightly worse than LO206
  • 2 competitive racedays on a set of tires, $220/set
  • 100cc air-cooled 2-stroke engine produced by IAME ($2395 retail)
  • 22 HP (lap times are 8 seconds faster than LO206, 14 seconds faster than rental karts)

Pro – X30 Senior

  • Moving from a medium tire (MG Red / SH) to a soft tire (MG Yellow / SM) means you need new tires for every race day, and only get about 2-3 solid days of testing before seeing substantial falloff in grip
  • 125cc water-cooled 2-stroke engine produced by IAME ($3195 retail)
  • 30 HP (lap times are 3 seconds faster than KA100, 11 seconds faster than LO206, and 17 seconds faster than rental karts)

I’d buy a standard chassis, run in Briggs for a bit until you get within 0.2-0.3 tenths of the leaders pace. Then progress up. Goal should be to maximize your budget for as many practice days and race days you can get in the beginning.

As for funding, best thing you can do is brand yourself on social media. YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, post on it all. Post as much as you can. Be honest, don’t try to put up a front or hide your losses. Being real attracts people the most. Even if you aren’t getting a lot of traction in karting, doing it as much as possible just acts as practice for when you want to jump to other forms of motorsport.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are tiers of karting that are actually higher than car racing. National level and international level karting is only 3rd or 4th tier in the rankings below Indycar, NASCAR, and F1, and a lot of the time you see stars in those series compete in national kart races too.

In karting, you can get manufacturer / shop help once you’re performing at the top of classes on the national level. But it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to get to that point.

My recommendation would be to try to get in with one of the local shops or teams that attend the club races at GoPro. Ask if you can just hang out in the tent before you’ve even bought a kart or anything. Then work your way into volunteering to help do the basics on their paying drivers under the tent, and eventually you’ll get some tip money from them or the parents, maybe even some paid gigs. You might even be able to work a trade deal out with the shop to trade your time for tent space / team fees.

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One of the most succinct and comprehensive posts about starting karting I’ve read in a while. :beers:

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