What Got You Started In Karting?

I don’t know if I’m replicating a former thread (hope not) :grimacing: I certainly wish I had started karting much earlier. My dad raced gearbox (shifter) karts in the 60’s and early 70’s in the UK so I was fully aware of karting at a young age. My dad actually built me a shifter kart (Villiers 8e engine) in the mid 60’s that I drove the wheels off in our back garden whenever I was able to. Dad mounted the pedals on the steering column support so I could reach them. I was about 5 years old at the time! Anyway I got side tracked with two wheels in my youth and ended up racing motocross until I was 20 sustaining too many injuries! I then decided to get into karting and dad was completely on board. He supported me for 10 years coming to nearly every race and being one of my sponsers throughout. I started out racing the 210cc class then went on to 250’s. They were some of the best years of my life and I still have friends from karting to this day. My only regret is not starting racing sooner and maybe then getting into cars, who doesn’t dream of racing F1!!! I was at least able to race at Silverstone (an F1 track) in the British kart GP many times. I know the karting scene is a lot different in the USA (where I now live) but it would be interesting to hear other peoples stories.

Incidently I am just getting back into the sport at age 62 for fun with a Rotax max that I was given.

I’ve posted some pics of my dad and myself below through the years.

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I think it’s a great idea. Your story sounds lovely. I wouldn’t be surprised if the common theme in all our stories is family and friends made along the way (our tribe, our larger family).

Lemme give it some thought.

I bet I can drive this thing

I used to enjoy playing golf and my little guy liked coming with me and driving the kart. (Yes I know I am a terrible parent and a bad person for breaking the golf club rules). Regardless, there is a rather complex roundabout that connected two tee boxes, with a tight wall to the outside and big tree on the inside. Super narrow, super tight decreasing radius twisty nightmare of a turn. I was pretty sure that this might prove too much for him, but I was wrong. Nick nailed it beautifully.

It struck me at the time that for such a little fellow, barely able to reach the pedals, he did something really complex, naturally and intuitively. I was blown away by how much the adult in me had underestimated the abilities of a child. It is this experience that inspired me to start us karting.

It is very difficult to decode karting as an outsider, looking interestedly in, I discovered. I knew that kart racing existed, had seen pictures. I also knew about indoors stuff because of birthday parties and the like growing up. (In the USA bowling, skating (roller and ice), and go karts are popular birthday party activities).

We started with electric indoor at RPM in Jersey City and figured the basics on our own. But, I wanted to do the race kart kind of karting and for the life of me, I could not figure out how to get going in that locally. The only thing that I could find was the F-Series website but it looked kind of intimidating and didn’t seem like it was beginner friendly.

I cast a wider net instead and decided to do some trips with Nicholas further afield so that he could also experience travel and see other parts of America.

Early Days, Jim Hall in Oxnard, CA

I stumbled upon Jim Hall in Oxnard and it rung absolutely all the right bells. They had an intro to karting 2-day session on their own equipment on their own track. 6 months later we were back for another 3 days. Then, a 4 day session. Nick graduated from the putt-putt (4-stroke kid kart) and into the 100cc 2-strokes with dad. We were hooked. And, we had really great coaches helping us get a clue!

Homer coaching Nick

Then things went bad for Jim. The Oxnard fires zapped his house (but the fire blessedly jumped his garage with he and his dad’s famous racecars. However the house was completely gutted in the interior, though from the outside it looked fine. I think a lot of he and his father memorabilia and trophies, photographs, etc. were destroyed, sadly.

To further complicate life for Jim, the company that he leased the land from for the Club needed the land back for an expansion. I think this one-two punch made him decide to retire. This was a great loss to karting, imho. Jim and his team were fabulous and Nick and I loved, loved, loved it there. Thank you Jim. Nick and I will always remember all of you fondly. These were special times for us.

Thank you, gentlemen!

By this point, I was getting more informed and less intimidated so then we went to talk to Marco F-Series Race Director) and he introduced us to John Bonanno (Legend!) and Jerry White (Mechanical God). We decided to buy a couple x30 Compkarts and dived into the deep end!

Nick racing X30 in F-Series at NJMP

Nick and I then raced under Jerry’s tent (Kartworkz) for two years, until life got in the way. This were very happy times for us and we really enjoyed being with Jerry and the gang. We got competent enough to be competitive and had a really great time.

Nick karting video we made for school application

Eventually, we had to let the 2-stroke racing go and spend that money on education instead. But we soldiered on doing NJMP outdoor rental racing and made a ton of new friends in the process. As time passed and homework and the like grew more demanding, Nick raced less and less.

Some of the United/TKC gang getting older at NJMP: Left to right: Nick, Matteo Juliano (TKC Co-Founder and Race Director) , Me, Andre Lafond (AKA Formula 1600 hot-shoe Adrian Lovehand), Ethan Oring (Talented fella who races 2-strokes and Impressed me by winning an enduro with me first time out, founder of our karting Discord and successful entrepreneur.)

Nick is 17, going on 18, now. We race together still and it is our “thing”. We do endurance races together a few times a year and maybe a few rental races. He just fell in love for the first time so I suspect the karting story will become more about me and less about us going forwards.

Almost all grown up and a pretty decent driver, too.

Here’s a video clip I discovered in which the narrator praises his driving:

I am ok with that, (him moving away towards other interests and desires, without me). My work here is done, I think. Now I just wait for the grandkids and family racing.

Karting has served Nick very, very well. It’s helped him grow in ways that I bet every other racing/karting dad has seen. He’s much more confident and self assured. He’s that capable child I saw navigating that krazy turn in a golf kart, 8 years later, but better for his time under the tent and behind the wheel. More mature, tested, confident.

We found nothing but kindness, really, in our journey and I think it was a very healthy and meaningful part of his (and my) growing up experience.

So, from Nick and me, Thank you all.


For me it was two fold. I moved cross country (Oregon to Florida) for work during the height of Covid-19, so I was sitting around in a new area (bored) and I didn’t know anybody. Then I stumbled across two YouTube channels:

  • JaM Racing
  • Stahl Racing

Then I realized I had a track about an hour away from my house, so I went down to check it out and I was hooked. Now I have my 8 and 6 year old daughters into the sport, so things excellerated quickly. At this point I think it would have been cheaper to get my credit card stolen, but I’m still having fun, lol.


My grand-father used to be a mechanic involved in Rallying (Monte carlo specifically) and my father was always a fan of motorbike racing, so they gave me the racing bug.

Then my older brother started to work at a karting track 15min away from my parents house, so they would drop me off there at 6 years old and I would drive the adult rentals (9hp hondas) for hours while my parents went to the grocery store.

A few years later I caught the attention of some people racing FSA and that is how I started 2 stroke karting :grin:


That is truly a great story, glad you got to do that with your boy.
I actually got back into racing motorcycles (supermoto) when I moved to the States so my son followed in my footsteps there until he joined the Navy. He is out of the military now and is excited about getting our Rotax to the track as is my daughter. I’ve done endurance races with my daughter in the arrive and drive karts.
What a blessing it is to be able to share a common passion with your kids!

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May 1997

Browsing the Internet and found the old karting-centric (predecessor to EKN) Mueller Mailing List or something like that. Found a kart on the classified listing and bought it. Found local tracks and visited one. Started racing Yamaha pipe, FY, and can with the same engine on a TonyKart Espirit at Monrovia, Sandy Hook and Nichols. Would race Sauturday night at one track and Sunday at another. Was hooked at the end of the first lap.


Yeah there’s something that clicked that first time. It makes you want more and more.

For me, I have always been a fan of fast cars, racing, etc. Watched a lot of racing over the years, but never had the opportunity to actually race anything. So, in the 80’s I did the ole Malibu Grand Prix in the Dayton , OH area, and I dug it. I had no money, so frequent trips to the MGP were not an option. But throughout the 90’s and 2000’s, if I saw a rental kart track, I’d give it a go. I’d usually do pretty well.

Finally, around 2013 or 2014, I stumbled upon a rental track in Indiana, Competition Racing (now closed, sadface) and I started hitting the facility regularly. It was a shit ton of fun, and I got pretty good on their track, in a short amount of time. Local dirt track dudes would hit CR, and I’d smoke them most of the time. At this stage, I’m 47ish, and I know that realistically, I’m not a future F1 prospect, but I could probably compete in some form of racing, and do alright. I considered racing the Hornet class at my local dirt track, but I just don’t have the mechanical knowledge or space to deal with working on a compact car.

FF to 2018, Competition Racing closed down, and a new Rental Facility opens up about 10 minutes from my house. Full Throttle Adrenaline Park. Gas powered Sodi karts, fun layout. I start racing there and am kinda a regular, do their league racing, etc. By now, I’m realizing that maybe I can race a kart instead of a car. I talk to the owner of Full Throttle, tell him I’d work for free for a little while on the weekends, to repair karts, etc., just to learn about the mechanics, and instead of taking me up on the offer, he points me towards the Cincinnati Racing4Vets sprint kart team racing at G&J Kartway.

It’s been on since then. Not the regular story, and the team definitely helped, because there really was no significant monetary investment on my part. The guy running the team had raced me in leagues, knew I was pretty fast indoor, and brought me right in. After a few race weekends of just support, I was in a seat. I raced with the team from 2018 through 2021 seasons, and this year on my own. It took a while, but I’m having a lot of fun. The karts are a mechanical challenge, but not overwhelming, and I’m finally at a point where I can race when I want to.


For me it was 2 things: road racing and the sound. Races were held at my elementary school, organizers would shut down an area over the weekend and turn the area around the campus into a racetrack. Entrance was free. Imagine seeing the races right at your doorstep, where you go to school or right in the city center. At that time the Formula A direct drives were screaming down the main straight at 20k rpm and rotary valve shifters were not that far behind…great times that brought the sport close to the general public


Was that in France, Andy? That’s a dead end sign iirc.

After a few years of depression resulting from running out of $ to pursuer a driving career beyond Formula Fords, I got a sport bike to fuel my need for speed. I would go tear up the coastal mountain roads above the San Jose/San Francisco bay area. That was stupid, but fun, until I got to watch my friend endow his Ninja, rag-doll it down the side of the road, get crunched by his bike, and end up in the Stanford Hospital emergency room (from which I had to call his wife and tell her about the crash). Thankfully, he recovered. But, I couldn’t stop thinking that it could have been much worse for him and his wife, and even worse than that, if some innocent family had come around the corner that day on a Sunday drive, the would have had a windshield full of Ninja.

I sold my bike and drifted aimlessly some more, then I saw this (or a similar) show on ESPN

I didn’t care for the announcers much, but something about the way the camera crew shot the event, and the editors/producer put it together… well it just spoke to me, so that is what got me into karting… visual/visceral marketing. :grin:


Italy, not France. Not sure of the city, but in Veneto

I think its a Do Not Enter sign iirc. Lived in Germany for a few years as a kid and did some traveling while there. Most of the road signs were common throughout Europe. @tankyx can you clarify? Still pretty Badass to have your school host kart racing on the weekends!!

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I believe you are correct. “Passage Interdit.”

Not sure what I should clarify, sorry :sweat_smile:

If it is about the sign, it is a wrong way sign, because it is a one way street

I think he was asking if the signs are consistent through Europe or if there are local variations.

Both I guess, what the sign was and whether they were standardized?

Mostly, yes. Signs are kinda consistent, especially after EU was created, signs became more and more standardized. e.g. the old Italian stop sign was round up until the 90s, then was changed to an octagon like every other country in EU. Other signs have always been the same like the no entry one in the picture, it’s the same across EU since forever.There may be slight variations of it depending on the country like white vs yellow lines, different thickness of the bar, size etc but fundamentally it’s the same, can’t be mistaken

On a different note street races were awesome back then, tons of small towns had their own once-a-year racetrack. Volunteers and racers would borrow bales of hay from local farmers and lay them down overnight. A big improvement came later, when companies donated plastic bags for the bales, with big logos to advertise their companies…win win!

I think there was something to the model…bringing races to the people vs people to the races


Street races are still by far the best way to bring Karting to a large audience. There are 3 in the Midwest that do it very well.

Rock Island Grand Prix
Commercial Point Karting Classic
Elkhart Riverwalk Grand Prix

Unfortunately, street racing is a dying thing. 3-5 years from now these probably won’t exist anymore.

FWIW, that is what got me started in Karting. When I was a kid, I would watch Sarah Fisher rip through the streets of Commercial Point, OH.

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