A KID KARTERS HANDBOOK        

Getting Started 

What Will It Cost?

A common question we hear: "If we start at the beginning of a season, how much will we need to budget to race all year?" Let's try for a range. Whether you start with new or used equipment will impact the amount you spend. The majority of new go-karters start with second hand equipment.  Sometimes you'll find it with a used engine ready to go. If you buy used from a current go-karter, the engine will likely be used. A good visual inspection of a used go-kart will reveal many potential problems, but you can't tell what is inside the engine.

The Kart

  1. A used Kid Kart will range in price from $800 to $1,200.  The thing to remember is that any kart without an engine can be made track ready for approximately $400 to $500. This would include a new Comer 50cc engine with the needed hardware to get it bolted to the kart and hooked to the drive wheels. 
         Summary; you may be able to get your start for as little as $900-$1000 on a used yet competitive chassis. 

  2. New karts ready to race will cost in a $1,300 to $3,000 range. 

Safety Equipment

  1. Current Snell Foundation rated full face helmet, non-moto cross type; $129 to $600

  2. Skid resistant (not fire resistant/retarding) driving suit will run from $120 to $600. You could use a skid resistant jacket rather than the full driver's suit and pay in a range of $50 to $100.

  3. You'll need what we call a neck collar, and it will cost $25 to $75.

  4. Driving gloves are needed. They will cost in a range of $22 to $100

  5. We strongly recommend a rib vest or guard. These cost from $80 to $150.

Low to high on safety gear is $225 to $1500.

Is That It?

You'll also need a two-gallon gas can and some quality pump and some good quality 2 cycle oil. You should also have a small toolbox. The smallest of the small will get you by, the type with the lid that opens to reveal a tray with a bit more space below it. Your normal hand tools will get you started. Bring a socket set, box end and open end wrenches, pliers, Allen wrenches, and screwdrivers.

The most expensive thing you'll need is transportation to the racetrack. This comes in all forms. Kid-karts show up shoved in the trunk of a car, in the back of a pick-up truck, inside a van, on a snowmobile trailer, or even in a purpose built enclosed trailer used only for go-karting. These are go-karting's version of NASCAR's million dollar semi trucks with spare cars, engines, living quarters, kitchen, machine shop, and you name it. Neat stuff, but completely unneeded and nothing that equates to wins or speed on the track; you just got to get there.

OK, Is That It?

A race day entry fee. Check the schedule for specific costs. This includes the driver's insurance pass. Practice sessions will cost a driver about $10. On race days, anyone entering the pit area will need a pit pass. These are currently in the $10-$25 range. Practice days are free for spectators.

Regional and national race programs exist. These series are filled with go-karters with 2 plus years of experience. The cost of programs like these go up due to the added travel costs. If a weekend of go-karting in Indiana is what you desire then the cost of lodging, travel, and meals will be a part of your race budget. Your go-kart career may take on a "National" flavor, and this is the training ground for the professional driving ranks we talked about. 

Your First Race Day!

This will be a nervous time, but a fun kind of nervous. This is bigger than their first day of school!  You're going to meet a lot of new people. Just remember that they all were beginners a very short time ago. They remember that and will be glad to advise or help you. You will have read about the rules and typical race day procedures by now, but you'll have to start remembering it as things go by at a very fast rate! Shouldn't be a problem, remember to listen carefully in the driver's meeting. When this first day is past it will be bittersweet. You'll be glad that you put it behind you, but you'll remember it fondly as some of the best fun you've ever spent with your child.

Important Note:  Kid karts are getting more and more popular and even more competitive. Do not be surprised if there is more than one kart that seems to be much faster than yours.  We will try to explain why this is and how they are doing it.  A good place to start would be our performance parts page.

Racing Rules

Remember the first time you saw a hockey or soccer game? Or better yet an Australian football game. You wondered most of the way through what the heck the rules were, and what these people were trying to accomplish. Well let's take a bit of time to go through some of the rules/standards/norms of go-kart racing. Strangely enough, not all of this information is always written down in any one place. These procedures, rules, standards, norms, expectations of all racers are gleaned from several sources. Rule books, driver's meetings, customs, and from other sports that also practice good sportsmanship. Whether this is new information or a refresher to our readers, we feel it is good to review from time to time. After all, any sporting event is much more fun to participate in or watch if you know the rules.

Drivers Meeting

Every race day just before the races kick off there is usually a driver's meeting. This is the time that the race director and flagman will tell the competitors about the days events. The intent of this communication is to express what is expected of both the track officials and race drivers. The content of the drivers meeting is redundant week to week. This is done so that things are very consistent, and to make sure that new competitors get a full understanding of what to expect while competing. We will also use this time for questions from the racers and to also make any announcements regarding something new or something that we will be watching or strictly enforcing during that race day. Each driver's meeting will discuss:

  1. Race order and format for each class.

  2. Line up sheets, line up grids, and how line-ups for all races will be determined.

  3. Hot laps, pace laps, getting lined up, and the duties of our front row competitors.

  4. Flags; which ones we use, their meaning, and how we will use them to officiate the race.

  5. We strongly stress safety as the key focus to all karters.

  6. We strongly stress our demand for good sportsmanship

  7. We finish with general housekeeping issues around tech inspection and weigh in procedures.

  8. Questions and answers, and any new subjects.

Flagman

  1. Green-means the track is safe and the race is in progress, it also signals the start to the race.

  2. Yellow-means caution. Whenever this flag is displayed it means to slow down. During pace laps it is to slow the class for lining up. If displayed during the race it means to slow down and line up in a single row. The yellow flag is used when there is an accident or spin on the track and the lead karts could race back around into unsafe racing conditions. Restarting the race from a yellow flag period will always be done from a single file line-up. Once a competitor receives the caution flag, they are told to slow immediately due to a likely unsafe condition on the track somewhere. 

  3. Red-means stop. This flag is displayed when an accident has happened on the track and those involved may need help due to possible injury. We instruct our racers to first raise their hand in the air (signals a karter's intent to slow down or leave the track, to karters behind them) and then make sure that the spot they pick to stop is safe. Once stopped the karter then shuts the engine off. There will be a regrouping of the karts on the start-finish line before the race goes again so the engines are shut off and karts pushed back to this area. The only other time you'll see a red flag is when conditions are no longer safe for racing. This may be if rain occurs during a race.

  4. Black means disqualified. You will see the flagman use the black flag two ways. If it is rolled up and pointed at a competitor it is a warning. The track crew has observed this competitor doing something that is breaking a rule; likely something to do with how they are driving. If the flag is presented unrolled then the competitor who received it knows to go to the pits. This black flag could be for a rule violation or it could also be an unsafe mechanical problem. When a person has been black-flagged they are no longer scored, and the points for that heat race are taken away. A track crewmember will have a conversation with the offending driver to make sure they understand what they did wrong. This is to also get confirmation from the disqualified competitor that the offense will not happen again.

  5. Blue or Blue w/Orange Stripe means move over. This flag is displayed when a front runner is lapping a competitor. If a competitor is slow enough to be lapped we display this flag to tell them of the approaching faster traffic so they can allow room for the leader to easily pass. This is done so that slower lapped traffic doesn't weigh into the outcome of the race.

  6. White means one more lap left in the race.

  7. Checkered means the race is over. If you were the first one to the flag, the checkered also means you were victorious. You will see the race winners coming around at the end of the race to receive the checkered flag so they can do a victory lap!

Track Etiquette

We try to teach all new racers what the 'rules of the road' are, because they apply in practice as well as during a race. 'Rules of the road' are an outgrowth of both common courtesy and sportsmanship. Strict adherence to the, 'rules of the road', are demanded of all drivers so that a safe place to practice and race exists. Here are a few of them.

  1. Always drive a straight line, don't zig zag. When you aren't driving a straight line you are blocking, and that is against the rules. If you aren't fast enough to keep the person behind you maybe you should let them go by and learn something from following them. Sometimes some unintentional blocking goes on when we have beginners involved. Often our pintsize drivers steer in the direction they look. If another kart pulls up along side, and the pint size racer looks over at them, inadvertently the pint size racer steers in the direction that they are looking. This usually results in a collision. Not typically life threatening, but a good way to bend wheel rims and make mom real nervous!

  2. No bumping or pushing. In open wheel racing there is casual contact, but intentional contact is not allowed. It is sometimes hard to tell the two apart. This is one of the challenges that the race director, flagman, and corner workers face. If it is determined that someone is bumping or running into someone else on purpose, they will be disqualified, or black-flagged. This is done for two reasons. Most bumping or pushing is an accident waiting to happen, and certainly not a sportsman like way to compete. It is harder and takes more skill to pass a fellow competitor without first hitting him. The good racers aspire to pass in this matter. FKA also has an excellent safety record that we work hard to preserve by keeping the rough driving out of our races. The funny thing is that the two drivers bumping on the track usually aren't nearly as excited as the pit crews get while watching. When a discussion by rival race teams ensues in the pit, diplomacy is usually lost and then neither team has any fun. Another reason your race crew is thumbs down on rough driving.

  3. When is it okay to overtake in a corner? Experience and good judgment will help the seasoned karter avoid trouble with another competitor in a corner. For the beginner, we try to convince them that unless they are clearly alongside or ahead of the person they are trying to overtake, they should concede the corner to the other person. Now you'll see karters race through corners side-by-side. The rules regarding who has the right to the corner exist to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. If a competitor manages to get his front wheels just past the rear wheels of the racer in front, and then they enter the corner in this fashion, the person in front may never know that he has company close behind. Our two karters turn the corner, if the front wheel and the back wheel of the opposite karts make contact the person in front can be flipped upside down.

  4. No "paybacks". Human nature says that if you've been wronged you get even, right? Not. Getting even right there and then seems like a fair enough policy, but the problem is that usually the guy that just rammed you from behind may have had help doing it, or did it completely by accident, or wasn't even the person who did it! After all, the driver fixing to retaliate didn't see what happened in most cases, he just felt it. So the violated driver sets about getting even and the next thing you know someone is run off the track, or the two now engaged in a rolling battle end up on top of each other. This isn't good for obvious safety reasons, but also because we now have good opportunity for someone to get mad, and emotional, and ugly. That's why the race crew makes decisions on who should be disciplined, if anybody.

Good luck