South Carolina Beginner Experience Thread

Hello Everyone. I’ve posted a few times already with more specific topics. But, I wanted to create a thread that I’ll add too as I learn and progress. Hopefully, this will provide some context and aid to any others out there trying to find out what they need to get started. I don’t have all the answers yet but hopefully my experience helps someone else. I’ve found that karting experience is very regional and so all of this is from a south eastern US point of view.

About me: I’m a 30yo weekend warrior who sold his Miata to pursue karting. I can take apart anything but am still learning set up and maintenance specific to karting. I live in Columbia, SC. 1 hour from Carolina Motorsports Park and 2 Hours from GoPro Motorplex.

Goals for me in Karting:

-6 races a year w/ 6 other practice weekends.
-Run in the midfield.
-Have fun.

Goals for this thread:

-Provide a race/practice report after each weekend.
-Provide an overview of what I’ve purchased and provide a beginner’s budget one year after purchasing my kart (August 2022).

You can see my experience on instagram @driverbert. I’ll try to post pictures here as well.


Aug 29 Practice Day Report:

Location: CMP
Weather: 92-95 Partly Cloudy
Sessions: Managed 6 sessions at 6-10 laps each. Kart felt good, first day out. Stalled kart in first session due to revs dropping quickly around sweeping left hander. Tapped a girl in a cadet kart in 2nd session. She took a weird line coming out of the last corner onto the straight. Note to self: WATCH OUT FOR SWERVING KIDS. Started in the 1:02s, got down to 1:00 flat with consistent laps within 5/10ths during 4th session. 6th Session: developed brake issue, inconsistent brake pressure.

Sept 10-11 Practice Race Report:

Location: Go Pro Motorplex
Weather: 80-90 Partly Cloudy

Friday Session: Goal was to get acclimated to the track before the race the following day. Brake inconsistency continued. Noticed it was different after left handers vs right handers.

Saturday: This was a double header race for GoPro’s Karting Challenge so it was Practice-Quali-Prefinal-Final-Prefinal2-Final2. I went under a tent for advice and set up help.

Practice: Issues continued with brakes and back end started becoming extremely unpredictable.

Quali: 3 seconds off the pace. Issues continued. Threw my chain on last lap, but not broken. Discovered Brake rotor was misaligned, straightened that up after session.

Prefinal: Received warning for avoidable contact turn 4 lap 1. I tried to follow someone through on an inside pass but I was a little late. Got closed off and caught guy coming over. No accident but held him up. DNF: Stalled on last lap, tried to restart but pull cord locked up. Had to disassemble starter and fix w/ help of tent crew.

Final: DNF: Threw chain again on sweeping left hander. PROBLEM DISCOVERED! Axle was moving side to side due to loose set screws. CHECK YOUR SET SCREWS! trial by fire I suppose. Realigned axle, rotor, and chain.

Prefinal: Shaved 2 seconds off my best time. Thank God we found the issue. This is the kind of basic stuff that comes with experience I suppose. Rear was way more predictable but still a little loose. We decided to narrow the front a bit to help lock up the rear.

Final: Ate a barrier at the turn 2 chicane lap 1. They have a lightweight plastic barrier to keep people from cutting the chicane. I tried to hang it around the outside and got sent. No damage, the drop bumper took the impact. Ran “practice laps” by myself afterwards. Kart felt locked up. Another .5 seconds off my best.

Overall I had a lot of fun. Ran in the back all day but I’m starting to learn what to look for and finding my rhythm.

As soon as you said the brake problem continued and it was different corner to corner and you were throwing chains, I was like “axle is moving”, nailed it! Set screws tend to work themselves loose sometimes as the axle gets heated up from braking and friction. I always dab some Loctite on mine when installing, and I check them before every session.

Sounds like you’re learning a lot of lessons quickly and having fun and that’s really all you can ask for.

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Agreed TJ…Another trick I have stated doing with bearing set screws. After they are set run 2 or 3 revolutions of black tape on top of the set screws as tight as you can. This has worked well for me.

What class are you running?

Do you think your stalling issue is reated to your axle moving or is something else going on?

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Aha! Another race blog of sorts. I approve! I love hearing bout how folks experience Karting and how they develop.

“Note to self: WATCH OUT FOR SWERVING KIDS.” -Yes!

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Is there racing at CMP yet? If they still haven’t found a race director and crew, the East Lansing folks are up for a vacation at the end of the season.

I was there this past weekend. I think? I met the new director. They were running rentals again. About 6 of us owners there for practice. They rent out the track about once a month for minimoto. I think they’d be open to whatever if someone helped promote and organize it.

Briggs Senior/Heavy. We flushed out my carb after one of the races and haven’t had a stall since.

NOV 20 Practice Report:

Location: CMP
Weather: 60 falling to 50 Partly Cloudy

I was able to get in 4 sessions at the track this past weekend. Main goal was to get used to my new race computer. I sprung for an Alfano 6. I mainly went with this one due to the apple app and instant download after the session. I found it very helpful. Here are screenshots from the sessions.

My main take away was that carrying speed though technical sections really improved my times and consistency. Even if I was less aggressive on the brakes. However, I was rather frustrated with how twitchy the rear end is feeling. At this point, I’m putting it down to seat time and not being good at warming up tires.

I also took one of my seat struts off the last session at the recommendation of someone at the track. I was able to get my best time but I was much more inconsistent with three offs. The track was cooling off with sun going down. Need to try again with similar conditions between sessions.

Screenshots from my sessions:

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Very cool. I like the new scatter plot.

By this do you mean trying to carry more speed into corner/turn in?

Yeah, I think at first I was too focused on hitting the braking point (still important) instead of looking ahead and setting myself up to carry speed into the turn. I think that’s what I mean about being “less aggressive on the brakes”. For example the last corner is almost flat if you set yourself up right and look ahead instead of staring at the turn-in point.

I don’t know if that makes sense.

To me it feels like getting the braking point 90% right by braking a little early and then getting corner shape and speed 100% right is better than visa versa. Obviously 100% for both is ideal.

Braking is an ongoing thing for me. I can relate.

It’s true that being a bit earlier to brake, a bit less hard, can set you up nicely for the turn and allow you to comfortably roll speed into corner.

It’s also true that that lengthens the braking zone and makes you a bit slower.

That being said, there’s a trade off, at least in the earlier days. It’s probably better to be a touch slower and consistent than trying to late break everything perfectly.

I wouldn’t delay too long though, on figuring out how to be firm and later to brake. Wouldn’t want to make a habit of being too gentle.

Something to consider as you mess around with braking: the release.

How quickly you release brake pedal has a bearing on how the kart behaves. Try messing with fast and slower brake releases. Also, try releasing the brake a earlier than you think is correct and see how the turn goes. But do this with free space.

In general I think folks dwell too long in the brakes initially. The release is as important as the intital bite. Starting braking sends a wave of energy forwards. How hard you brake, initially determines the rate of forwards balance. How you release also has a similar (but in reverse) effect. Release settles kart back onto the 4 wheels. Quick release sends it back faster but can also upset kart.

As you approach the turn, observe the things that matter once: the braking marker, the apex. But as you begin to brake you have moved on visually. Last glance at apex and shift attention to where the kart needs to be next.

Do not focus on the apex. Do not focus on anything for long. Look through the turns and the other drivers. Sight what you need to see and your brain stores its location. Keep your vision active, moving, and ahead.

Seeing the bigger picture mid turn makes things easier. Staring at an approaching apex will just result in “what next”.

So, I fiiiiiinally got around to editing some video. My computer died on me last fall and I just got a new one serving double duty for iRacing.

I’ve uploaded some unedited sessions that I’ve referenced before and I also put together a commentary/highlight video of my first race experience and impression of that weekend. Any feedback now that I have video is appreciated in advance!

Edited highlights/commentary from first race at GoPro:

Unedited practice at Carolina Motorsports park w/ serving kid kart @ 6:45:

Unedited race at GoPro w/ turn 1 accident:

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Hey! Who put that barrier there! :sweat_smile:

2:10 race 1: this is a good example of vision probably being a bit too focused on what’s directly ahead, which is normal considering it’s first race. That’s a lot of karts and visually quite intimidating.

Look through the guy ahead, not at them. Try to make sure you are taking in the big picture. Move your sight around and greedily take in as much detail about the big picture as you can.

The mind stores the info you give it. The kart directly in front of you does have to be glanced at repeatedly to place it in space/time but in general your mind will deal with it peripherally, vision wise. Trust that you will see it without looking at it directly, look through and ahead.

Anyways, that’s how you avoid wrecks ahead, by seeing them evolve, which you can’t do if you are focused on the here and now as opposed to also having an awareness of the track two or three seconds down the road.

If you mess around in practice:

Try a bit where you deliberately focus far down the track and see how it goes. You should notice that being too far forwards leads you to be early on turns and missing apexes, cutting them off. The feeling you get when visual is far ahead and doesn’t have any “here and now” info is called being “ahead of the kart”.

If you do the opposite and force yourself to only focus on the 10 foot sphere around you, not taking in any “ahead” you will find yourself hitting apexes well but holding the turn too long, struggling to exit well. This is called being “behind” the kart.

Where you want to be is “on top” of the kart and you achieve that by mixing it up visually. Take it all in, eyes active, moving. Never dwell.

A way to train this is to think of the turn as a series of things you look at:

Big picture approach, then sight the brake point. Shift vision quickly to sighting apex, back to brake point and brake, shifting vision as you hit brake to quickly check apex, but then look ahead and though to track out point as you turn in. Ignore apex as you know where it is already, maybe look down at apex to say hi as you go over it and then immediately look down back to track out area, etc. Mid turn you are looking down track to next turn. The apex you are in is history at that point. It’s your present moment but effectively all the decision making to get to this moment occurred in the past,

Basically figure out a sequence of visual markers but have them such that you are focusing more on what’s ahead with brief moments of recording the near term stuff.

How you see the race is a deliberate and trained thing. Our default vision is the 10 foot bubble of proximity. That’s where all the imminent threats and opportunities are. But, it’s too narrow focused. Ya gotta feed it near and far and that takes deliberate effort and practice.

I don’t do a good job of explaining it but you get the concept. Play with the idea and make your own version of it.

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