Value of indoor kart racing as winter training tool?

I am new to proper two stroke kart racing and still under pretty steep learning curve. However cooler weather and shorter days has set in in Northeast and local kart track is two hours away so I am pretty much done for year.

So I am wondering if any value in spending time at local indoor kart track in the winter. Not exactly cheap to run laps at local track 3 session runs about 60$. The kart are typical rental units, track is ok but on concrete so karts have huge understeer and tire are pretty hard. Generally never really enjoyed these karts after I drove a proper kart. They just feel broken…

But I desperately need more seat time. Worth putting the money and miles in or just waste of time and should I wait for warmer weather.

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I am interested in the opinion of the more experienced guys as well. My gut tells me that it’s useful in that driving is driving, same principles apply.
That being said, the indoor karts at RPM in Jersey city are really heavy, and don’t really handle much like a racing kart.

I would imagine it’s way more useful to drive rental indoor karts from a learning perspective as compared to driving a sim, for example.

For those who race at K1 Speed or some other indoor facilities running electric karts, a heads up:

K1 Speed “karts” are made by OTL and have rear limited slip differentials (LSDs.) They don’t have a solid rear axle with the rear wheels connected to each other, which makes them behave less like race karts and more like little race cars.

I assume the same could be applied to other facilities that also run OTL Storm “karts.” Many times I’ve wondered how useful indoor karting at K1 Speed is as a training tool, but it does keep you from being bored to death during winter time.

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Interesting point Andre, I didn’t know that!

I’ve found indoor karting to be fun, but the expense to me is pretty high and preventative. I think on principle it can be a great training tool, but for a number of factors out of your control, it can often just be more frustrating.

Ultimately, my answer would be that it depends on what is available to you. If you can go indoor karting at a place like K1 (even if they don’t have solid rear axles), there’s a lot to learn there about driving. If, however, the local indoor kart track doesn’t have any ‘fast guys’ to compare to, or race with etc., it may be less impactful.

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Indoor racing is a good way to stay sharp and to practice high-level tasks like mental focus, looking ahead, mental preparation, starts etc etc etc.

There’s a conditioning aspect to it as well, especially if you’re doing endurance races.

It’s not a case of Indoor VS sim racing, it’s a case of why not both if you can.


Much like racing sims/video games, I view indoor rental karting as a tool to stay sharp, but specific driving lessons learned there don’t necessarily translate. I would focus on using it more to train consistency, awareness, reaction times etc. Using it as a driving improvement tool doesn’t work as well because the driving style will differ to an actual proper kart.


Where are you located in the Northeast? On Track Karting in Brookfield CT has leagues on Thursday nights that are a lot of fun and pretty competitive. You learn a lot about conserving momentum because the karts have no power and how to drive karts with different issues. On the downside, driving karts with covered wheels is a lot different from driving a real kart. You can (and should) drive with a lot more contact indoors than you ever would outdoors.

I tried the karts at their wallingford location they drive like schoolbus compared to proper kart.

Like Andre said, most electric karts run a differential, the new OTL models upgrade from open to limited-slip, but only the “shifter karts” get that. Also, shifter karts are total BS. It’s not a gearbox, but instead changing the gear with the paddles changes the torque curve of the electric motor. They don’t even use a faster engine; the only reason the laptimes are better is because OTL has a limited-slip differential and softer tires on it. On the steering column they have a return spring to make the steering center easier, which is heavy to turn. Tie rods are made of plastic so the alignment is crap after like a day. Still driveable and not that much of an issue, but when we have to push a kart with the toe off it can be hard.

That was my rant on OTL rental karts. I like to think OTL is a name copy of OTK but they thought “Well we can’t call ourselves exactly the same think, and L comes after K, nobody will notice a thing!” and called it a day at the legal department.

Okay, complaints aside, rental karts aren’t a bad way to keep up some racing skill. It’s a little weird sitting up in the seat and putting on seatbelts but that doesn’t matter too much. I ran a race with some coworkers yesterday, and after not driving for probably a month, my timing was a little off that race, so any driving is useful in that regard. Smoothness is something a driver can work on in rentals too. Since they go so slow, consistently being smooth is still very important to get a good lap in. I try to run at least once a month in the winters just to keep up on those two things.


I’d say that indoor karting is a useful tool to leverage, but not critical.
The same could be same for sim racing. Seat-time is always useful in some way to add more files to the mental folder.

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Some of what I am going to say is based in what I did in other sports. Bicycle Road Racing and Track was one sport I competed in. Off Season (winter) was not off season. It was when you worked on your base training. Winter was for cyclocross. Think endurance over speed, and basic aspects of the physical core of the game. Duration over intensity. As 1 guy I knew that went on to bigger and better things would say the wider the base the bigger the peak. So look back across 2017 and think what are the weak links in your big picture. Could be fitness, shop/trailer changes whatever you deem is needed.

As far as rental league karting the big thing is the karts can’t be tuned. Each kart you get in is different so it forces the driver to adapt his driving not the kart setup. If you have limited tuning such as moving the seat forward or back use it to your advantage.

What I have found about sim driving (a long while ago - nothing current) is it helps you drive more visually. Since I didn’t have force feedback or car feel sight pic is all you use. Kind of help ignore the noise in the signal when in a real car.

Then I like to mix skills from different sports. Shooting and racing are 2 of mine. You might be surprised at some of the similarities in the two.

I think it helps. It allows you to fine-tune your ability to sense when the kart is at the limit. Rental karts aren’t nearly as fast and don’t handle very well, but paying attention to the subtitles of what the kart is doing will make you faster in a race kart.


If you go in with a specific focus, indoor karting can be a very valuable tool to augment your 2 cycle racing. In addition to just plain old seat time, here are 3 quick examples of “foci” or “focuses” (idk):

  • If it’s a league, you can focus on race-craft. Learning how to set up and execute passes, as well as trying things that may not pan out. Review your season or clips of others who did things you want to try. Create the opportunities for yourself and learn from them.

  • You can work on picking up the subtleties in weight transfer, or carrying momentum through multiple corners (even as a 2 cycle racer). You already mentioned the understeer issue. Talk to some of the fast kids there and attempt to replicate the tips they give you. As you work on certain skills, your ability to translate the conditions you faced into scenarios you are certain to encounter in your 2 cycle racing will improve.

  • Fitness: Use the opportunity to get your arms and wrists more in tune with the motions. It might not be the exact seating position you want, but you’ll still find value in working out the associated muscle groups required for karting in general.

At the end of the day, even sitting on your couch can be turned into a training tool if you are able to effectively focus on the visualization aspect of training. (I can share some highlights of Ross Bentley’s 30 day Zone challenge if you didn’t get a chance to participate).

For my money (which isn’t a lot), I tend to skip indoor karting because I don’t really gain a lot of enjoyment from it. You hinted at that slightly. So if you’re considering spending maybe $500 over the course of the winter on something you might not truly enjoy, I’d suggest figuring out something else with a decent ROI that might help you out. Maybe invest time in data analysis (something I enjoy and have fortunately become very good at over the last few years), or setup tips, or purchase a karting book (KP has a couple of recomendations) and create specific items you want to get better at next season. Being prepared is as key to improving as seat time.
That prep can start right now. :slight_smile:

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Quick tip: run a seat insert if you can, at least on electric karts. Usually the karts are very rearward weight biased, so running the 2 inch thick seat insert will help your turn in by putting more weight on the front tyres.

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They also don’t allow trail braking, Its either on the gas or on the breaks, using both causes the kart to go into “panic stop mode”.

Yes, I agree with you James.