Racing in the rain

I have been karting for a bit more than a year now (Rotax Max), and so far I am yet to race in the rain. The main reason for this is that races tend to get cancelled when it’s raining at my track. Given this, I have never seen the point of exposing my kart to the rain, which I’m guessing shortens the life time of bearings, increases the risk of the chassis rusting, and maybe even seizing the engine if water gets through. As such I never bothered getting a set of wet tires last winter, since where I live it’s very rare to get rain during summer.

Now that summer is over and it’s starting to rain again, I was considering trying to get some practice sessions in the rain, as a means to improve my driving in the dry (since we’re still unlikely to have races in the rain). I remember reading that driving karts in the wet had considerably helped drivers improve, and I was wondering if any of you had any opinions/experience with this, and if it’s worth getting a set of wet tires and exposing my kart to the rain to get an edge on racing in the dry. Thanks in advance!

Yes. Race in rain. It’s an experience. Also, kart is fine when it gets wet. Mychron 5 doesn’t seem to mind, axle gets a bit rusty. No big deal.
It’s really humbling and pretty wierd. There’s nothing like trying to brake harder when there’s almost no grip.

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Definitely worth getting practice in the rain. It’ll help you understand the limits of your kart better and will improve you as a driver in the dry as well.

I’ve seen countless good drivers who never had rain practice completely fall apart when they arrive at a race and it’s raining. Conversely, I’ve seen drivers who were mid-pack in dry conditions put on an absolute clinic when the weather rolls in.


Forgot to mention… those ridiculous looking rain suits are a good idea. Apparently gokarts are designed to ensure that the entire contents of puddles end up in your lap.


Running in the wet can make you much more attuned to the kart, how it’s reacting and increase your sensitivity to changing grip levels. Of course it helps in the wet too. You don’t nessacarily have to run wets either, you can learn a ton on slicks too.

We had a good discussion on rain driving techniques recently. Give it a read:

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Here’s some pretty heroic rain driving from F-Series Scott Beyer. He really gets a lot of speed out there…

Why do you think that is @tjkoyen? Different driving styles/lines? I’m curious.

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Well rain is generally considered the great equalizer. My reference in this thread was specifically comparing mid-pack drivers with plenty of rain experience to lead-pack drivers with no rain experience. If you’ve never driven in the rain, even if you’re ballistic fast in the dry, you’ll struggle when it gets wet no matter what. It’s a totally different driving style so without experiencing it first-hand, you can’t really prepare for it.

I know that it’s a common statement, but do you agree with that? Sometimes your chassis just won’t work in the rain, no matter how good you are. When there is something wrong with your chassis it’s often painfully highlighted in the rain. What is true though is that in the rain different drivers or a different chassis can come to the fore.

I agree that in the rain the driver plays a bigger part. The best drivers in general are usually the best drivers in the rain and in the rain they can make a bigger difference than in the dry.

Yeah I think that’s what’s meant by it being an “equalizer”. It can bring different drivers forward or backward and totally mix up the usual order. Someone who didn’t stand a chance in the dry could have a shot in the wet and vice versa.

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I totally agree. I am normally a mid pack driver but the first race of my season was in the rain. I won the 2nd heat by almost a whole straight away. When I really came down in the main I didn’t make the correct adjustments but still pulled 3rd

I love racing in the rain. It’s so calming for me. (Especially for a driver that has seasonal affective disorder.) I used to get so worked up in the dry that, the rain would calm away those nerves. It makes me less worked up, and also I get super pumped to race because most drivers hate to drive in it.

My first regional race win was in the pouring rain. Honestly, I’ve had to work more on my dry pace, than my rain pace because I’ve had to learn how to push hard in the grip of the dry, rather than being delicately proactive in the wet conditions. Racing in the rain is hugely mental.

I think I would agree with TJ’s statement about the rain, just because the rain almost has a dampening effect on how important which chassis/setup you have can be.

Let’s take my last weekend as an example. I, personally, am absolutely trash at Springfield. I couldn’t get my kart to work at all. I had, the weekend before, tried my friends Merlin and immediately came within a tenth of the times the frontrunners were setting. So, my setup was not the best and I was struggling to figure it out (but that’s a different problem/story).

It poured rain on Saturday after morning warm-up, right before we were set to qualify. I was fully prepared to come in 13th, of the 15 competing. We threw on a used set of rain tires and, to my surprise as I came off, I qualified 5th. In a pretty stacked top 10 I was happy with that result.

Pre-final comes around, still wet enough that we needed rain tires, and I was able to hold my own out there. Now, worn tires on a drying track is not a great recipe, and with about 3 or 4 laps to go my tires were shredded and I had no grip, but I managed to recover for a 9th place finish.

Final comes around, track is dry. I fell like a rock and was immediately 13th within a couple laps. I just couldn’t figure anything out at that point.

So bringing this all back to TJ’s point about rain being the great equalizer, the rain really puts everything on a much more even playing field. Get the setup in about the right ballpark and it just comes down to driving the kart the best.

Also, being 6’2" really helps with rain racing. I would recommend throwing a bit of foam on the seat to pick up the center of gravity a bit more. That, and like TJ said really throwing your weight around in the seat is hugely beneficial in the scenarios.

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Good to hear Aaron, but I also know different stories. Stories of karts that just won’t work in the rain, when the problems of a wrong setup or a bend chassis are emphasized in the rain and you are completely nowhere. Maybe rain is indeed the great equalizer, or maybe you just found the sweetspot in setup in the rain that worked against you in the dry. Anyway, it worked for you and that’s all that matters!

Definitely echo TJ’s thoughts on the rain being an equalizer. In my first and only Yamaha Senior race at USPKS in 2015, my dad thought that our motor at 10-12~ hours coming in on the weekend would be competitive. Big mistake. I think I ended something awful like 15th in Happy Hour. Just no top end speed what-so-ever.

But the rain came on Saturday and I qualified 2nd just 0.026 off pole. Ended the day 4th after a rough final, but still a good run. Everything dried up for Sunday, and I went straight back to 14th before getting crashed out in the main.


In the last rain race, I beat two 125 shifters (of 3) with my 80. So yes, rain is a great equalizer when traction and smooth driving are more important than power.

Oh absolutely a chassis problem will be magnified in the rain. A bent frame will only behave worse and so on. That’s why I said get the setup in the general ballpark. Of course, a dry setup won’t work in the wet but the importance of having the perfect setup is much less significant.


About rain being the great equalizer: I am watching the free practice of the GP in Austin right now and it’s bizar how much faster Hamilton is than Vettel in the rain. It has to be said that Hamilton is an absolute beast in the rain but for me it’s evident that the situations in the rain aren’t equal. The Mercedes is simply better suited for rain than the Ferrari. A gap of five seconds is not down to the driver.

Also I believe that Vettel was doing a bit of a race sim there. His tires were from FP1 and had a ton of laps on them. I think they were looking to see for Sunday what happens over a run when weather comes in.

But you see Gasly right up there in the rain on that one as well, though he had some fresher tires on. Rain is a crapshoot!

TJ and others, would you please comment… I am studying anything I can find in previous (other) posts but…
Would you help me think here… say we are 20 min from lining up on the grid and my the rain starts. My dry weather gearing is 17-66 (3.88) and I need to quickly change for wet track.
Changes will be -

  • Wet tires
  • Change to shorter gearing - I’m thinking 4.1 to 4.2 but will need to test… whatever we need to keep the clutch locked up and RPM near max torque right?
  • slap on the air filter cover (last time we ran too rich w/o needle adjustment - For LO206 would you all say to immediately lower the needle one or two notches?)
  • would you say that the clutch for wet race should be set softer where it fully engages at lower RPM… like 4 yellow springs around 2400?
  • what else is critical?