Prepping for First Race - Advice?

Hey all. Topic says it all. I’m getting ready to do my first kart race in two weeks. It will be the ICP Cup race at SIMA Aug 6-8. Looking for any advice from those more experienced than me. I’ve been turning laps up there trying to get comfortable in the kart. I’m still about 3-4 seconds off pace in my TaG though. Haven’t had a chance to run the WF yet (maybe this weekend).

Also, does anyone local have gearing recommendations for TaG and World Formula at SIMA?

Excited to get out there and run with everyone and learn a bunch more.

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Your first race is going to be more about getting comfortable with being around other karts than about taking home any trophies. Don’t be afraid to “run your own race” within the race. If an opportunity arises to battle with another driver, stay calm and study their technique. If you have the pace, make a pass, if not, play the follow game until you do. The best way to learn is to let someone show you the way.

If and when the leaders come up behind you, do NOT take some weird off line maneuver to get out of their way. Stay your course and let them make the pass safely. They know how to pass better than you know how to get out of their way. If an experience driver is about to overtake before a corner, its a good practice to point the side to pass you on. Keeps from getting tangled up on turn in.

In the end, don’t worry about the results. Focus on having fun and running a clean race. It will be more rewarding than cocking it up and bleeding your bank account trying to repair a poor decision.


Sounds a bit like my first race. 3-4 seconds off the leaders you’ll likely be playing tail end Charlie pretty much on your own, don’t get disheartened if that’s the case just keep pushing.

Agree with Greg about being lapped - whatever you do don’t lift for them straight out of a corner, they won’t expect it and will go in the back of you. Your driver brief should include a blue flag scenario which is usually stay on the racing line it’s the faster drivers onus to pass you. Like Greg says a point to pass on that side if possible, that will earn you respect from the leaders also.

Enjoy it, it’s a blast.

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The most difficult thing I had to overcome is the mind set that I belong where I am. To back that up a little I raced BMX as a kid and there was a progression to the classification (beginner, intermediate, expert). I experiecned the same thing with RC car racing, with novice ane then moving up eventuly to expert. However, there is no such progression in karts. Everyone is catagorized by age for the most part.

So how this played out in karts, I would back out early or not get to close to another kart. It took me a season or two before I felt I belonged where I was racing hard and fighting for my position on track. I don’t think everyone experiences that and probably to some degree just the opposite will happen with some drivers but I struggled with that mindset.

So my advice… you have a kart, you paid your entry fee, go for it and give it all you got. If you do get the blue flag yeild the corner but you don’t have to roll over and play dead. TAG can be especially competitive and things happen fast but for the most part run your own race but stay predicatable in your where you place the kart. Don’t be afraid to ask other drivers for input and help, most people will be honest and upfront with you.

As for the karts, make sure everything is mechanicaly correct and things are tight. You will find things loosen so make sure to check fasteners throughout the race day. Do you have to go through tech before racing? If you do, you might want to see if someone can tech your karts before race day just to make sure there are no issues that would prevent you from racing as planned.

Good luck and have fun.


Pretty much every race weekend I have been to involves the race director announcing stuff over loudspeakers. It is very easy to lose track of what’s going on with all the noise and confusion.

Make sure to look at where you stand, group wise (master tag, junior 125, whatever) in the session order. When the group ahead of you goes out, you have 10 minutes to get to pits and ready to go.

If you rely on announcements, they will get drowned out by people warming up their engines, etc.

  • Listen to everything in the drivers meeting
  • Get the schedule and memorize it
  • Put air in the tires
  • Put gas in the tank
  • Drive your line, don’t look behind
  • Dont get heated when driving
  • Enjoy your first experience :slight_smile:

It might be somewhat intimidating being new on track. Most folks dont want to be a nuisance and try to get out of the way of faster drivers.

Don’t do that, generally, unless it can be done very easily. The temptation to get offline to allow someone by leads to accidents. The faster guys will try to get around you without losing too much momentum. They would prefer if you stayed predictably on line. If you jog off line as you hear a faster kart behind you, there’s a good chance you will zigg where he is zagging.

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Welcome Dave!
I first want to echo everything said above. Hold your line, point the leaders by, and get some race experience.
I remember my first race day and everything came so fast throughout the day. Don’t forget to breathe and enjoy the day. Do the work ahead of time and check every nut and bolt to limit the work at the track. HAVE FUN!!!

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I made that mistake once. Its an easy thing to overlook when you tense and a bit overwhelmed by the everything going on and the overall “race day” experience your first time.

Greg Fine’s notion of . . . Your first race is going to be more about getting comfortable with being around other karts" cannot be understated if your not used to this sort of thing during practice.

Only thing I’ll add it don’t get frustrated when the pack pulls away from you. As a new guy its gonna happen. So just expect it and its less shocking when it occurs in real time.


This might be helpful for mechanical prep and checklists.


Thanks everyone for all of the great davice! @GregF, I really appreciate the link to the checklist. As a pilot, I totally appreciate a good checklist to make sure everything is in order. Copied this to my phone and will definitely use it!

I also love the comments about running my own race. Definitely going to take that one to heart and just focus on racing clean, hitting my lines, and pushing myself to stay with the pack as much as possible. There’s no replacement for seat time and I know the speed will come eventually. Racing in SCCA ClubRally and the Rally America series was the same way. Luckily with karting, getting seat time is MUCH easier. :slight_smile:

And thanks for the tip about pointing the leaders by when/if they lap me. Didn’t know that one but it will certainly be helpful.

I’ll be sure to post a post-race debrief on how it went.


I don’t see a race listed on the SIMA schedule for those days. What’s the deal with that?

ETA, I found it here, though.

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This. A thousand times, this.

It’s ok to peek once a lap or so, at a good spot where it makes sense to look back. But, it has to be kept to a minimum and it’s usually done consistently at the same spot on track (because it makes sense to see if someone has a run there and you need to know to defend or give up).

Where it gets funky is when people nervously look around too much. This leads to very erratic driving. Observe:

Also, with karts, there is a sound change when someone is pulling on you, even with helmet on and crappy low powered karts, you feel it behind you.

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One variation of the track I run has a long left hander followed by a very tight right. Ideal line is stay all the way to the left, but that makes it SOOOO easy to pass down the inside. Even form several kart lengths back. So I look back on the straight to see if anyone’s close enough to make me defend. Or more so, how hard I should defend.


It’s looking more and more like the races this coming weekend will all be in the rain. I’ve elected to only run one class (World Formula) instead of two. A number of people suggested I only run one class my first weekend, so I chose WF as there are more racers. I’ve got a new set of rain tires ready. Should be interesting to run in the rain.

Yes it will. Rain is a great deal of fun but prepare to spin, repeatedly. It takes getting some used to. Bring a change of clothes for the drive home.
If you want to pay a lot for some plastic, get a rain suit. You will be happy for it.

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Yeah, I grabbed a rain suit when I was at the track this weekend. Also picked up a rain hood for my air filter. Does anyone RainX their helmet visor? Since this is my first race, I’ll be starting back of the grid no matter what. After watching the race in Hungary this past weekend, I’m feeling like that might be a good thing. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


What is that abomination, Tanguy?

@CasualCoroner yessir on the rain-x. Also, fog-x for the inside .

I used it, it would spin with the wind, keeping the visor clear

Graham Hill for reference

Michael Schumacher