I started to write a book here, so I’ll limit this post to just how I selected a club / home track to get started…
First off, I’m 51, still have kid college bills to pay, but needed something to replace car road course track time to get my adrenaline rush. I have followed racing (Indycar, F1, WRC) for a long time, crewed some RA rally races, ran SCCA autocross, rallycross, and many high speed driving days. Kart wise I had gone several times to our local indoor track to have fun. While that was OK, it was quite expensive and used some else’s equipment you could not really get to know well.
My son pushed me to think about joining a kart club. I looked around online, found a site that listed tracks in Oklahoma, and I noticed there were basically two within less than two hours’ drive from home.
The closest one, Oklahoma Motorsports Complex, is about a 40 minute drive from home. I went to watch the local club racing there, and then rented a kart to try my hand. It was fun, but the rental was very heavy and thus really slow out of corners (especially with me in it vs. my son). Then there was the track. It had large cracks running across the surface every 20 feet or so. After 30 minutes on the track with my son, my wrists were killing me. If I could have done something to minimize that issue, it would probably have been OK. I then looked at costs. The environment there is very businesslike. They are in it to sell karts (Intrepid importer), set them up for you, etc. No problem with that, and I’m sure there are many $$$ to play people at that track looking at the fancy trailers.
For OMP a yearly membership is either:
$50 with no practice sessions included, and $25 a day (and I knew I would need quite a bit of this)
$400 with unlimited practice, when they are open and not busy
The other option was the JPR track in Tulsa that the TKC uses, about an hour and a half drive on a toll road, making it less convenient and more expensive for travel. I think JPR used to rent karts as well, but no longer does from what I can tell. So I went with my son to watch a TKC race, and we really enjoyed it. It was definitely less commercial and more family oriented IMHO than OMP. The track also looked to be in much better shape overall, and without all those cracks. Ron Pattison the TKC president does have a kart shop, and sells mainly tires on race weekends. But he isn’t pushy and you can tell he genuinely wants to see more people in karting by selling used karts and parts at very reasonable rates.
$200 for a yearly membership, which comes with a key to the track gate so you can go practice whenever you have time (awesome).
Race day costs with one helper for either location are a wash at about $50.
You can probably guess I went with TKC. It’s more of a drive (and expense) to get there, but I felt more comfortable right away. That said, there are some things that would help me out (and other newbies). Hopefully I can help get them integrated into our club:
Online registration with a small discount for pre-registering (and paying). This helps give organizers a general idea of the number of people showing up and what classes they run. It also helps speed up the check-in time considerably.
A schedule of events. Not so much time certain as that can (and often does) change, but order certain so we know when to watch for the practice runs for our class, qualifying (if needed), and for the two heat races.
A list of local area sources for race fuel. Seriously, unless you are running something that takes pump gas, this isn’t as easy as you think to track down.
Suggested practice days and times for your class. Running in a non-competitive atmosphere with people who can give us new guys setup and driving tips is invaluable, and really helps builds a club atmosphere (IMHO).