Why do you Kart?

Since their very invention, my family has been racing motorbikes in one form or another. Our family name is synonymous with bikes in Australia and every son has raced something with a motor and two wheels from as early as they can remember.

This past weeekend my local MX track held a tribute round in honor of our family, to mark the occassion of my family’s last involvement in motorbikes.

Today, the last of our current crop of race bikes was sold and picked up and for the first time in my life there isn’t a bike in my shed. I am shattered and constantly second guessing my decision to retire and to pull my 3 kids out of the sport.

One of the things we talked about at the track was each racing family’s earliest memories and how they came to be involved in the sport. What their fondest memories where and paid tribute to those who made it possible for us learn and compete.

It got me wondering. Why karts? Who got you into it and how? Perhaps you guys would like to share your stories, maybe a pic of your mentor/motivator and pay tribute to those who led you here?

For me, my family raced therefore i did too. My father was an amazingly clever and patient man. My brother was a pain in the butt yet so extremely gifted whe. The trottle turned. When both my father and brother died in seperate motorbike incidents my racing days where numbered. I mourned them and lost the spirit. I was terrified I was next and it reflected in my results. My fondest memories of spinning spanners and twisting throttles were suddenly tainted by death. I couldn’t do that to my kids… but see, our family. We cannot NOT race.

So tomorrow… tomorrow the last of the 4 karts i purchased will arrive and this weekend we will race. 6 months to the day from when my 6 yo daughter brought me her ipad with a @tjkoyen vid playing, saying “Daddy, i want to do this!”.

So for her, and my other kids. We will become a karting family.

Perhaps you will laugh at this silly mx guys thread. But What’s your story?

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Well that’s a good reason to quit. I remember watching a movie about the Dunlop brothers and thinking about how hard it must have been mentally and emotionally for the entire family knowing that it was highly probable that they would die doing what they did. It’s almost as if their success and talent was a gilded cage that they would never get out of. Weird to think of the guys like fangio and Jackie stewart who did manage to get out and walk away, how hard that must have been, but how necessary. Enjoy the karting. I hope it can fill the gap.

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I am an IT guy by trade, in high school I was in the band. I did play with cars and motorcycles after college in my garage but was a really wanta-be-mechanic. My Dad and I went to the Vintage Races at Road America since about 1986, I think we messed a couple of years in the 90s.

When my son came along and started to show an interest in sports like football, baseball, and hockey I was totally lost. I tried to help with coaching but was not of any use. But… he liked cars…

When he was 6 we took him to his first race and he loved it. I discovered karts at that race and shortly after got him his first kart. Since then we have been spending summers together traveling and racing. He gets to do his athlete thing and I get to be all technical and nerdy working on the karts.

My dad passed last summer mid-season and it was hard to not have him with us at the track.

I suspect that most of these stories are going to involve family. The best part of racing is hanging out with family both personal and extended. There are bonds formed working together at something you all love that can’t be duplicated. I have memories of racing with my dad and passed that on to my son. I can only hope that he can pass his time with me on to his children.

2011 with his kid kart
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From 5/4/2018 with his sprint kart.
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So congratulations are in order for you and your family. Change is hard sometimes. I can tell you there are things I am very grateful that I did. Wouldn’t change that I did it, but was also happy to quit and move on.

I can’t truly explain it.
But I have noticed one thing. I am willing to step up, sign the waiver/entry form, pay the money and put on a number. I compete in the arena, not out of it. Motorsports and also guns. Some guys talk about how great they are, some guy actually step up and attempt to prove it. So losing, failing, learning and getting better is winning in my book.

Reason for Karts:
Location, Location, Location, Finally got a track near
Full sponsorship from day 1 - couldn’t pass that up
@ 50 years old - couldn’t pass up the chance. I have passed up chances before. I got out of racing for about 20 years when my first daughter was born. TBH when the new track was opened and my sponsorship was offered I didn’t jump on it. In fact I didn’t even go see the track for the longest. Kind of weird, but I didn’t want an obsession. Same with rifle and pistol matches. I only wanted to put so much into it. I specifically promised my wife I would not put things in front of our personal life before we married. Staying married is winning. Being a good dad is winning.

I always raced something. M/C, bicycles, on foot with motor.

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Forgot to answer why karting… it just sort of happened. I used to like to play golf and my son really liked driving the golf kart. I remember him navigating a particularly tricky chicane at the golf course and thinking that if he can do that, we should go karting. Rest is history.
As to why… I was always sort of a scardy cat. I was too afraid to go on the roller coasters when I was little so as a teen and then as a young man I went out of my way to try to do things outside of my comfort zone. I got very into surfing and snowboarding and was constantly pushing myself to go a little bigger. Basically taking calculated risks to show myself that I was capable of more.
I also love things that are fundamentally challenging and require honing a skill, particularly skills that I don’t have a lot of natural talent at. Karting seems to fit that niche nicely for me. It’s somewhat terrifying and requires a whole lot of practice and mental toughness. It’s a win-win!
Insofar as my son is concerned, I am hoping it builds confidence and perhaps engenders some self-discipline and desire to learn. We certainly have no aspirations to do anything serious with karting, but it sure would be great if we both got something out of it other than just having a great time.

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Thats awesome guys. Great to hear stories about who for and why we race (no matter the method).

I am really looking forward to a fresh change. Learning something new and all the challenges that come with it. My son is taking it pretty hard about being yanked off his bike, but i’m sure the second someone whizzes past him and the race gene gets triggered he will be all about it.

For us, i’ll just be happy to have our little family unit spending time together, having a laugh, surely cry and share some happy memories together along the way. Bonus that the good wife will be happy i’m not about to ride to my demise! Like you said @Mike_Clark, staying married is winning :joy::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Great stories guys.

My mom’s side is actually where the race fans are in my family. I went to watch a kart race when I was 5, and my dad had planned on getting me a kart then, but my mom was able to veto it until I turned 11. Seemed like a fun family activity. My goal was always to “climb the ladder” and become a “professional racing driver”, until about mid-way through high school when I realized I didn’t have the money to really give it a go. I had a couple offers to go race in Europe and potentially get on a driver development program but it was an enormous commitment at age 15 and I just didn’t have the backing to make it happen.

Now I kart because it’s the most fun thing I can think of, all my friends are at the track, the competition is an addiction, and my entire life is built around the sport. Wouldn’t have it any other way! :beers:

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Agreed. This is a great thread!
Simply put, I started karting, because I wanted to find ways to improve my driving.

I’d have loved to be a professional racing driver, but the social circles that I was raised in made that difficult.
I also don’t come from a racing family at all. My family have come to a total of one autocross, and one kart race since I started doing all of this. (Personally, I’m totally fine with that, because I really enjoy coming to the track, just focusing on the racing and then hanging out after the last lap of the final.)

Also I didn’t even know that I could go racing, until I was in my mid-20s. However, after spending some years in autocross and noting that I wanted more seat time, I found that karting brought me the driving pleasure that I wanted at costs that were really affordable.

Now that I’m into my 30s, starting to raise a family and other things like that, the idea of being a Formula driver disappeared, and I just enjoy racing.

Karting turned into something that I became really passionate about, because it was something that I can get my hands around and always helps me improve my driving.

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Great vid :+1:

Will add it to My Daughters playlist!

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My love of racing started because of my dad and he fell in love with racing in the 9th grade. He was a teen during the hey days of Can Am and both Sears Point and Laguna Seca were right around where he grew up. When I was 2, my mom gifted him a Jim Russell 3 Day racing school as an anniversary gift and the next year he began racing Formula Ford in the SCCA. He did that for 4 years and shortly thereafter I did my first driving school in a kart. It wasn’t until several years later did I actually begin racing competitively in 2005, but during the 90s/early 00s, we went to several CART/Champ Car/IRL races. Dad%20FFChampionship%20Talk

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Why? Because where else can you pull 2+ Gs in motorsports while spending less per season that a single race in most others?

And…
It’s fun
Reasonably low risk
It’s a real challenge
It makes you think quicker (good for us older folks!)

And lastly, I can’t wait to get my grandson into this. He already loves mechanical stuff, and I think he will love it.

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I race because it’s cheaper than cars and 1,000 times more exhilarating. I’ve done quite a bit of track time in my life and driven a lot of exotic cars but karting was the first time it felt like what I’ve always imagined a race car feels like (if that makes sense).

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When I was growing up a few things all happened at once to stop my parents doing a lot of things for us, the wool market here in Australia crashed, overnight the money disappeared, just as Dad had opened his own mechanics shop.
Our cousins raced and my brothers and I also wanted too, but we couldn’t due to how tough it was, but Dad managed to build us a gokart out of old header parts and a Peewee fifty motorbike. I was hooked.
But Life. Education, training, work, family…
I spent years looking at kart tracks wishing I could race, with what I realise now was still the “I don’t have money for that” mentality, that I had picked up in my early years.

Then a friend of mine bought a Kart and I couldn’t understand how he could afford it, now midway through my 30’s I started looking into it, I had been getting back into surfing at the time, But people started being eaten by sharks which was a little bit confronting knowing that I had a family of my own to look after.
So I stopped surfing and went Karting.
I bought my own kart (now 3), have just bought a Kart for my kids, and building a kart trailer/ moving palace that even my wife will want to stay in.
I’m hooked properly, active at my club, active in my racing area, probably too much. Nahh couldn’t be!!!

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IMAG0464
Watching him become a driver.

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I go to the kart track for a lot of reasons nowadays.

When I started karting at age 11, I had no idea why I was really doing it. I think for a while it was more my dads thing than mine. After some time, however, I grew to take ownership in it, truly for myself. At first it is about achieving, winning, taking on more, and more, driving against better competition, etc.

Now, as a driver coach, community member, administrator on a race series side, I face serious challenges. How do we keep people coming to the track? How do we keep our racers happy? How do we manage the political mess that is regional karting? To me, the passion for the sport is a lot more complicated now than it ever was when I was racing. I see the sport from so many other perspectives now. I think that is why I keep coming back, because the sport keeps giving me new lessons I can take forward.

The other thing of course is the community. You grow to be friends with the racers, who then are your friends and competitors. It is fun to beat them, it is fun to learn from them. It is fun to watch them achieve success on track too. I think if you like competition, or if you like people, the go kart is just a gathering locus point for karters. It isn’t the be-all end all. The sport is about the people, so to me that’s really why I stay in it.

The other part is I still am learning these machines. At age 14 when I left my ‘real’ karting career as a driver, I was juuust old enough to turn wrenches well enough, but I wouldn’t make the majority of the chassis decisions. Now, I want to master that side, to understand really how these machines work. Sometimes it feels similar to our understanding of the ocean. We only know just the tiniest amount fundamentally, or for sure. Other things we as a group seem to master. But to me, there are some truly fascinating aspects to how a kart chassis behaves that I am slowly learning more about.

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I am dredging up this thread for two reasons. One, its the end of the season for most of us and that is usually a time of reflection of the past season and a time of planning for the season ahead. Two, this coming season my daughter will be following in the footsteps of her forbearers and getting behind the wheel of her first Kart.

As far as I know it goes back to my Grand Father who managed to put a race car together and qualify at Indy back in the post WW2 era. Later my Father and 3 Uncles who had grown up around racing had their hand at Karts and Cars. My two youngest Uncles embraced it more fully than my Oldest Uncle and my Dad was more of the weekend warrior. All my Uncles have sense passed, but my Dad at 74 still races in SCCA and is very active in Officiating at all Club Levels.

My oldest Cousin, who turns 50 this year is still very active in the Drag Scene. My older Brother started racing cars the moment he was old enough and had several successful years behind the wheel or working with Pro Teams in the pits. He had to give it up for financial reasons unfortunately. Me, I took a different path. Put off racing to go to school, ended up getting married and buying in to the consumerism aspect of life. Not that it was bad, just felt like I wasn’t the only one involved in where our money went and racing was not in the cards. I still had that competitive drive passed down to me and yearned to get behind the racing wheel.

Now here I am, 45 with a different wife and our 6 year old Daughter. I have been actively racing for about 3 years now with the intention of giving her a go when she was ready. Prior to the Covid outbreak, she was able to do a brief demo in one of the Club’s Kid Karts. She absolutely loved it and has been begging me to do it again. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, the Club has ceased all demo rides. I have spent the last 9 months actively looking for a decent used kart for her, but the pickings have been thin.

We now have a Kid Kart. Circa Early 2000’s DAP Kid Kart (Wild Cat I believe). To my surprise it looks to be mostly original other than miscellaneous hardware. The paint over the powder coat was a Hack Job and some genius painted over the body work twice. No worries, I am from a Racer Family. We fix sh*t all the time!! Mostly because we broke it, lol! However, I could not let my Daughter get such a decrepit looking gift for Xmas. I went to work. Stripped the whole thing down, cataloged every last nut, bolt and washer to replace. Had the Frame stripped and re-powdered. Ordered new bumper, nassau and bread-box side pods (found a few cracks and not sure of the integrity of the old plastics). Made a trip to my local Ace Hardware who had 99% of the metric hardware in stock. Degreased everything, ran all of the steel parts across a wire wheel to remove the years of crud from neglect. The previous owner’s told me his attitude was if it wasn’t broke, don’t fix it…Come on Dude, you are putting your kid in this thing!! Ordered a new sticker kit, baby-girl loves her Pink. Over the next few days I will be putting everything back together. Come Xmas morning, this kid is going to go nuts. There are still a few odds and ends to attend to, but due to time restraints they can wait until after Christmas. I want to re-chrome the front bar, nerf bars and the rear bumper (a little flaking here and there). Thought about having the hubs and stub axles re-anodized for ease of maintenance. Other than that, it will be in practically new condition.

I guess I bring all this up, because it goes back to my youth and spending great family time at the track. I want to give my Daughter that same opportunity that I had. She may not embrace it or she may become addicted like the rest of us. I suspect the later, but time will tell. In either case the only way to find out it to give it a go.

I will report back later with some before and after pics of the kart. Soon to be “Off to the Races”.

***On a side note, I wasn’t able to find as much as I thought I would on the inter-webs when it came to Kid Karting specifically. I was thinking of adding (with the admins permission) a new subject for everything Kid Kart for those parents looking to get their kids started. Please let me know your thoughts on this.

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This is a great idea. If you’re willing and able to kick this off and nurture it, I’m in 100% support.

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Well, I figure like most new things it will be a learning experience, so why not share what I learn along the way. If any others have input, advise or questions, it may be a good place to air them. I am willing and love this forum. Perhaps I can persuade @Mikelaw709 and others to contribute. His son is now in Junior 2, but ran Kid Karts for two seasons. Perhaps there is nugget of wisdom or two he or others would be willing to share.

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Why? I’m an adrenaline junky. I like anything that makes me feel nerves where everything is on edge and about to go sideways. Early on growing up in Colorado I got it from skiing green and blue runs straight down the mountain with as little turning as possible. Now karting because it’s cheaper and usually safer than stage rally, and my eyes aren’t so great for the night stages. Plus it really is a solid workout which then makes the stiffest suspension car ride back home feel like it is pillow soft.

I dove in head first with a shifter to start with because I like to do things the hard way. And now electric because… while it’s a load of hard engineering problems to solve, at least I don’t have to fiddle with finicky carburetors and coils. Plus I’m an IT geek so software control is right up my alley.

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My drinking team has a racing problem.

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