What's the absolute minimum you'd show up to your first race with?

So I just bought my first kart. A Praga LO206. I’m going to do a practice day this weekend. I’ve started to look at a race or two to enter this fall to get my feet wet. Probably at GoPro in Charlotte.

So here’s the question, a thought experiment if you will.

If you were willing to accept a 10% chance of a DNF, what’s the absolute minimum you’d show up with to your first race?

Spares, gas can, sun umbrella, tires, who’d you talk to in advance, lucky socks? I’ve already looked into this and people have different levels of minimum preparedness. But pretend you’re okay with a small chance of not being able to finish. And cut out the stuff you don’t absolutely need to compete, example: do you absolutely need a stand?

Yes. Absolutely.

You cannot drive the kart from your stall to the pits. It’s verboten. Good luck pushing it all day. Get your chiropractor on speed dial.

What is the origin of this question? What is it you are trying to avoid or accomplish?

For example the minimum you need to bring is your wallet. In theory you could pay to have your kart appear on grid and you just sit in it.

I am not being snarky, I am trying to understand the question behind the question.


No, please be snarky, haha. That’s exactly the answers I’m looking for. I read up on things, but people don’t always explicitly say things like “you’re not allowed to drive to the pit” nor is that mentioned in sporting regulation for GoPro (I just double checked). I think there’s a lot of thing taken for granted by expericed racers that aren’t mentioned to newcomers explicitly. Obviously trail by fire is coming soon…

So I guess two categories. 1) Min. items needed for race day logistics, and 2) Min. spares.

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If you are new to this there is a lot you could use and a lot you “need”. Also somewhat depends on what you run. People spend years building out their tool kit etc.

Fortunately for us, those guys with the huge trailers make it such that 99% of what you might need is available trackside.

I never tried to run solo and always tented so my perspective is skewed.

I hope that someone who has experienced the trial by fire of showing up at a track solo for the first time can provide some insight.

As a tenter I focused on making sure all my gear was packed, my extensive battery/camera collection was charged and ready. I’d make sure my electronics such as transponder and mychron charged. I’d make sure I had both clear and shaded visors. I’d also make sure I had sufficient water and hydration supplements.

Hey, and if you’re advice is “please just do a tent you’re first time” I hear you haha.

I think having a canopy is a big plus.

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While a tent program helps sort out a lot of the logistics and background noise and lets you just focus on driving the kart, I think you miss out on a lot of the experience, especially as a newbie, and a tent program is definitely not needed right off the bat. I’d hate to portray this sport as more expensive and difficult than it already gets a rap for.

You actually don’t need that much to make it through a race day on your own. If you have your tools/toolbox, an air compressor or air tank or air pump to fill tires, your necessary lubricants like chain lube, fuel/oil, and a kart stand, you’re pretty well on your way. Like Dom said, there are options to purchase things you might have forgotten at the track most of the time. Fortunately GoPro has a shop on-site so that makes it easier, and they seem to have a helpful and healthy club community there, so if you need to borrow a tool or a helping hand fixing something, I would imagine there are plenty of people willing to assist.

Canopy is a really nice call as well. Sucks to sit out in the baking sun all day, especially when you’re wrenching and the sweat is running in your eyes. And of course food/snacks/hydration and make sure all your electronic stuff is charged as Dom noted.


Another thing: you will be on your feet all day and a foldable chair is a necessity. Sunblock. Hat. Gopro does have that area above the track that is covered and has tables but I imagine race weekend is different than when I went there midweek for practice.

In time you can make this reasonably comfy. Personally I want a toy hauler.

I agree with TJ by the way. I feel like I am very reliant on others for my racing and that’s not ideal. Figuring it out not under a tent would be good longer term.

But, I also think that your first race weekend should be fun and not a series of possibly expensive panic attacks.


Following along as I will be in the same boat soon. I’ll be at GoPro practicing this weekend as well, Saturday morning.

Just have your sad puppy dog face ready; Not sure why but karters want to help those that are lost but learn from the experience but don’t make the same mistake twice.

… and pit next to a knowledgeable karter.

To these tools I’d add:

  1. Can of chain lube
  2. Can of gasoline - but you can skip that at GoPro and just roll up to the pump
  3. Roll of paper towels
  4. Kart stand
  5. A box each of M6x20, M6x30, M8x30, M8x40, M10x40 bolts, M6 and M8 washers, M6 and M8 nylock nuts, all coarse thread, all property class 12.9
  6. A bicycle pump and tire gauge
  7. A large hat and titanium-oxide or zinc-oxide sunscreen.

When I started 23 years ago my stand did not have wheels. Myself and others pushed to the grid using a push stick in the steering wheel. I started with no spares, a non-rolling stand, a push stick and basic tools

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I would say bring what have. Dont stress it too much. We started racing before we had a stand, a trailer and spare parts. Don’t get me wrong I love being prepared but I would still give it a go if we didn’t.

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Add one of these to your eventual kit. Sooooo much nicer than using a bike pump. Just thread the hose on the valve stem, dial the PSI you want and press start. The pump shuts off when it reaches the desired pressure. I’ve checked tires with a high accuracy pressure gauge afterwards and they were bang on.


I would highly suggest attending a race or two without your kart. Take notes, talk to some people in your class, get a feel for whats up. Then formulate a plan to attend a race.

As for practice, have the kart as prepared as possible, nothing worse than wasting time when you should be on the track rather than fixing issues that should have been addressed at home. Its still hot, so bring plenty of water, shade to me is a must for me and the kart. It took me a season or two before I was fully prepared at the track with tools, parts, food, shelter, rain wear, etc, etc…

Most importantly have fun.

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One thing I will add is to pack a notepad and pen, and write down everything you use or find yourself wishing you had while at the track. Write down what size sockets you used, what size Allen keys etc, chain lube, zip ties. Keep a note of everything you need as you come across it and then make sure you have it next time.

Oh, I didn’t notice if you mentioned how you get your kart to the track, but if you use a trailer, one must have is a spare tire for the trailer…go ahead, ask me how I know that one.

My first race, I had a borrowed trailer, my kart and kart stand, a helmet I owned, a gas can with mixed fuel/oil, chain lube I bought at the track, a few tools I already owned and a cooler full of fluids and small snacks. I wore jeans and a borrowed motorcycle jacket, some leather mechanics gloves and a pair of leather shoes I already owned. It was a low key race, very lax on the formalities and perfect for my first venture. FYI, I had zero practice time in the kart aside from putting around the neighborhood.

Little backstory. I grew up around SCCA racing. We were at a track monthly during the peak of race season and I already had a good idea of what would make me more comfortable while at the track versus what was a necessity to get on the track. Additionally having a strong Automotive background, mechanical failures did not intimidate me and I would just try to find a work around solution given the materials I had on hand.

Was it my best outing, sadly no. I was hoping through the corners and threw the chain twice before I knew why (used kart, didn’t know what to look for). DNF for the Final. Did I have fun? Hell Yes!! Would I do it any different given the choice, not likely. I tend to calculate my challenges, then dive in and recalculate my next attempts accordingly. That is the fastest path to learning self sufficiency. Sure, if you have cash to spare, then a Tent Program is worth while, but if you are budget racing then finding a way no matter what is very achievable too. Sort of the difference between Sink or Swim and Relying on your Floaties. I am not knocking the Tent Programs, just saying that there are many ways to get to where you want to go within your given budget.

In fact, most racers I know, did not start out with all the gear they currently possess. It was amassed over several years of racing. Myself, I have found little things along the way that make live easier. One of my biggest finds, was the Versa Trak tool boxes from Lowes. You can combine storage boxes, bins, drawers and more on a single stack with wheels and a telescoping handle to easily move around. Best buy for compact tool storage/transport.


Read your club’s rules for what you are exactly required to bring. For example, they may require things like a fire extinguisher or drain pan.

Otherwise, I’ve done many practice days without having needed any tools or spares or anything. Many tracks have trackside support if you do end up needing something. And, while likely everyone will have a kart stand, is it absolutely required? – no, as long as you don’t mind pushing. Karts push pretty easily in a straight line. So, the absolute minimum would be your kart, gas, and plenty to drink.

BTW, if you need to add weights to meet the race minimum, you should get that sorted out now.

My very first race day ~20 years ago we didn’t have a kart stand. That remains the one and only weekend we didn’t bring one. Bryant is correct that it technically isn’t 100% necessary - nobody is going to outright stop you from racing if you don’t have one - but I’d very highly recommend that you get one ASAP. Pushing the kart around the paddock without one is a pain and working on the kart without one is even worse.

One other thing I’ll add is that you want to make sure you have a helmet that meets the safety rating requirements for where you’re racing. Some places will allow a helmet that only has a DOT rating, which is what most motorcycle helmets will have. Some places will require a helmet that has a Snell rating. It would probably be worthwhile to double check what rating your helmet has and to also confirm with your track what they require.

And just to echo some of the other points made by others here, if you’re missing a few things when you arrive don’t sweat it too much. I haven’t personally raced a regular club weekend at GoPro before but I’ve been to the track and know a couple of the regulars there - I’m sure plenty of people there would be happy to help out if you need a hand, have any questions, or need to borrow a tool. There’ll also likely be a place on-site to buy anything essential you might be missing.

Okay, I’ll bite. How did you discover you needed a spare for the trailer?