What Class to try next?

So I live in Massachusetts and race with the NHKA. I run Briggs World Formula and absolutely love it. I know it’s a weird Engine to run but our club has a great program 40+ karts per race! I love the competition and have done really well but I think it might be time to try something different. I’m interested in running the 2 USAC events (Indy, Elkhart), Rock Island, and Daytona, as well as my club races.

I’d really like a shifter and feel a stock Honda is a good place to start unfortunately there’s only a few that race in my club. What are people’s thoughts on the health of the Honda program? It sounds to me by what I read online that it might be getting phased out? My other option is to buy a tag since we have a decent amount of club racers here in New England. I just feel if I’m going to spend the money I’d rather bang some gears. My easiest move would to be to pickup a 206 since

I already have everything to run one but my club is basically road racing 60% of the time and that’s already a bit boring in the World Formula. If I were to buy a TAG or 206 I’ve already got a chassis (3/4 season old) Does the KA seem to be taking of at any of these events? This would also be an easy option for me but we don’t have anyone in our club racing these? I know I kind of rambled on a bit but any input would be greatly appreciated. Bottom line I want to race those 4 races and have decent field sizes.

If you are an old guy like me, I’d recommend tag over shifter. Tag is already brutal enough. WF to lo206 seems to be sort of a lateral move that will likely bore you.

Shifter is going to be quite the step up from a World Formula. I would personally stay away from shifter at the moment because there is a little fluidity going on in that world right now. The Honda looks to be on it’s way out on the west coast and with SKUSA which are the big places for Honda at the moment. F-Series has a good contingent of Hondas and KZs, but soon they’ll be the only place in the country you can run the Honda, so it’s hard to say how many people jump ship on that class within the next year or so.

I don’t think KA would be the right step for your racing schedule, as most of those events don’t offer the class yet, and it’s hard to say when they will, as the layout for classes on the one-off events is a little hard to predict and tough to change.

My recommendation would be to get a TaG kart, probably an X30. That’s going to allow you to race almost anywhere in the country with a decent grid, it’s got good stability right now, and I don’t see it going away any time soon. It’s a great engine package and is going to be a real kick in the pants compared to your World Formula, so it should be a lot of fun!

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I feel like TAG is the way to go, I guess I’m just stuck on banging gears. That being said a lot of guys run front brakes on their TAG karts in our club, I know they aren’t necessary but would you recommend them? @tjkoyen my club races 3 tracks X1 (formally F1 outdoors) Canaan Motor Club (Road Racing) and NH Motor Speedway which is set up as a Sprint track for us but there is talk of running full road course again (Road racing) it seems like the Rotax is faster on the Road racing side but the X30 is better for Sprint. I could be wrong but that’s what it seems like to me for the guys in my club? What are people’s thoughts on Rotax vs X30 for road racing vs Sprint?

I wouldn’t recommend front brakes for TaG sprint racing. It’s probably going to hurt you more than help you and it adds unnecessary weight and expense.

I will always recommend the X30 over the Rotax from an quality of ownership point of view. The X30 is better to drive, easier to tune, faster in sprint racing, less expensive. I can’t see any reason to buy a Rotax over X30 if you’re sprint racing. If you are doing road racing, Rotax seems good there, I think @Tony_Z has experience in that area.


Rotax seems to be making a pretty aggressive push in the f-series (ny,nj). The rotax guy has been working closely with the compkart guys I think and we are starting to see more and more, again.

Short answer: It’s a tough dilemma. But I think overall an X30 will give you great satisfaction for the next season or two.

Longer Answer: On which to pick, It really depends on how much time and effort you have available for your program. A shifter is essentially a torture device, sure they are fun to drive… but to race competitively and not feel like you’re getting crushed it takes extra time and effort compared to TaG.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a slight on TaG or it’s drivers at all. But if you want to stand a chance in a shifter you’ll need to be very conditioned, sharp and very fit to be in ballpark. Whereas with TaG the physical demands are a little lower and you can kinda getaway with less commitment.

The X30 gives you the broadest range of events to attend, but Rotax’s program

On Stock Honda’s future, the truth is nobody really knows. To an extent it depends on how long Honda keep making cylinders and other parts for, and what happens when they stop making them. My sense is, it’ll be around for a while. It’s got such a broad base

That said, the RoK shifter is very hard to beat for it’s price too.

Front brakes ordinarily don’t help with a TaG. If permitted you could use hand operated ones for a sneaky lunge here and there. One thing to consider of course is if you buy a shifter chassis, then you can switch it between shifter and TaG

Other thoughts:
If you want to bang gears for fun, consider an 80cc shifter. They still nail 60 in under 5 seconds and generally only run rear brakes. You could use that for fun days, or participate in some of the 80cc classes over here in the midwest.

Road racing thoughts:
The mid range wallop of the Rotax makes it ideal for road racing.
Another consideration is that shifters are less punishing on a road course.

Rotax has a long time between rebuilds compared to x30. On the downside you have to fiddle with jets.

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Haven’t seen the karts on Alibaba, but no those wouldn’t fit into any class here and I’m not sure how they would even mount onto a kart.

As James said, shifters are extremely physical. They’ll beat the crap out of you if you aren’t in good physical condition. Also, they’re incredibly fast. We’re talking supercar performance. F1 drivers say they are the closest thing to an F1 car out there. Without building up to that speed, grip, and power, you’re very likely to hurt yourself or someone else. It’s very difficult to mentally keep up with any kart, let alone a shifter. You wouldn’t jump into an F18 for your first flying lesson, you wouldn’t jump into a shifter for your first karting lesson.

Not to mention, with a handful of gears, a ton of power, and sticky tires, it’s incredibly easy to get complacent with your driving and develop a ton of bad habits that will result in you either plateau-ing in your driving skill or never developing the proper driving techniques to go fast.

Now, all that being said, if you want to go out and blast around on practice days by yourself and not actually race with anyone, it’s less of an issue. But putting a newbie on-track in a shifter with other karts is a recipe for disaster.

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@Scout This is why a shifter as a newbie is a bad idea. I normally roll my eyes when I see a newbie in one to race,because they’re normally intimated, exhausted or have crashed it by year end.

Better to ease into something, like 206, then TAG, then shifter.

A long reply because there’s a lot to cover, the races you’d like to attend with the classes you’re looking into all have their ups and downs:

Canaan (NHKA): If you’re starting to get bored running World Formula at Canaan, you will definitely be bored running the slower 206 engine there. Especially since the 206 classes are smaller than WF in the NHKA.

Rock Island and Elkhart: There was no TaG class at Rock Island this year. There was no TaG class at the Elkhart GP this year either. That doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be a TaG class at either event next season, but don’t be surprised if there isn’t.

However, there was a TaG Masters class (Age 30 or 35+, dependent on weight) and a IAME-only TaG class (16+) at the 2018 Brickyard race.

Daytona: They have a licensing system for the higher-hp classes like shifters for their Road Racing events. Recently, I was going over the minutes of one of the WKA Directors’ meetings, and it looks like they’ve made the experience levels needed to get a license to run a shifter at the Road Racing events more stringent. Your World Formula experience at Canaan might be enough to qualify to run a 125 shifter at Daytona, but I don’t know for sure. You’d have to contact the WKA to see if you’re eligible.

One thing I know for certain, you are definitely eligible, right now, to run a TaG kart at a WKA Road Race like Daytona. WKA has a sizable “IAME Sprint” class in Road Racing.

So there’s no perfect class to hit all of the races you’re looking to attend, you’d have to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each engine on your own.

Two other things to consider about racing a shifter kart: there is more “stuff” to maintain on a shifter, and most gearbox karts do not have an electric start like TaG has. Have you talked to Dave Nadeau about his experience with a shifter? I know he dabbled with a Stock Honda while running World Formula in the NHKA. Keith Buffo is another driver who has done both.

Another idea, if you really want to bang gears, see if you can arrange an Arrive and Drive with one of the local shops like DRT, even though it’s late in the season, to get an idea what it’s like to drive a shifter kart, before you jump in.

One thing you can possibly do, since you already have a chassis for it, is get a TaG engine, and rent a 206 motor for Rock Island and Elkhart (big 206 fields there), I wouldn’t be surprised some shop or team would have 206 engines available for those races.

Finally KA100; it’s a really attractive package, but performance-wise, it’s right in the middle of WF and TaG, and I just don’t see the KA100 gaining a foothold in the NHKA or X1 while the World Formula is as popular as it is now, (and still growing). There just isn’t incentive for all of the WF racers right now to make the jump from such a healthy karting class to start a new one.

-C. Skowron

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And on the talk about NHKA running the full NHMS course again, oh please tell me this is true…

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Tiny chance! A bunch of us were telling Keith and Mike that we’d be interested and willing to pay extra to do it once a season. Since the kart counts are so high the risk of sticking the club with a huge bill is much lower. The only problem would be the amount of barriers and cones needed and getting them from Canaan but the seed has been planted so let’s see what happens.

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I’ve talked with Keith a ton about the shifter and I’m more than ready, I love the competition in WF but I’ve been racing 4 cycle off and on since I was 12 and I think that I’d like a new challenge. I’m now 38 and in good shape so I’d like to give the shifter a go unfortunately everyone around here is running ICC. I feel it would be best to learn on a stock Honda, problem is there are only a handful to race with. As for the one offs, those are races that I would like to run if they don’t work out then I’ll keep enjoying my racing with the NHKA!

True KZ/ICC motors, (and KZ-derived engines like the Vortex Rok Shifter), definitely are the kings of shifterkart racing here in the New England area, I’ll agree with that. But even though they’re aren’t as many Stock Hondas running here, I don’t think they will disappear completely from the scene. If there are not enough Hondas to have their own class, I’m sure they would fit them in the existing shifter classes, at least at the club level like X1 and NHKA.

I know that Indy, Rock Island and Elkhart shifter races this year all had either separate KZ and Moto classes or were mixed KZ and Stock Moto. In other words, the Stock Honda had a place to race at all of those events this year.

If you’re a little torn between the Honda and KZ (The pedant in me says ICC hasn’t been a thing since 2006), you could to halfway and run the RoK shifter. I believe there are some guys running them in the F Series

ROK, or perhaps KZ-ES if you want CR-like durability & reduced maintenance intervals in a KZ motor with a starter, though at the cost of lower output compared to a full on KZ (TM KZ10 ES makes ~40 hp).

I was really going with commonly supported packages though.