The first steps
Kart racing is one of the cheapest ways to get into motorsport. The karts raced are a far cry from their corporate counterparts boasting substantially more power, less weight and stickier tyres.
This guide serves to give some basic information on how to get started in the world of kart racing. A sport which has seen the start of many professional racing driver’s careers such as David Coulthard, Lewis Hamilton, Paul DiResta and Jenson Button to name a few. This aside it’s an enjoyable family sport and many of our members compete for the enjoyment rather than persuing careers in motorsport.
First things first, don’t rush out and buy a kart. Make sure it fits with what you want to do. There are certain kart classes which have established grids and this guide will explain them.
- Age: 6-8 years old
- Engine: 50cc Comer
- Weight: 69 kg
- Dry Tyres: All weather tyre La Cont
- Wet Tyres: N/A
- Avg lap time: 59sec
- Top speed: 38 mph
Only time trials are permitted, the karts leave at set intervals and are timed.
- Age: 8-12 years old
- Engine: GX 160 4-stroke, clutch, recoil starter
- Weight: 103 kg
- Dry Tyres: Dunlop Slicks LS2
- Wet Tyres: Dunlop Wets KT3
- Avg lap time: 46sec
- Top speed: 50 mph
The long life engines are very low-cost but have to conform to a technical specification which is on the www.abkc.org.uk website.
- Age: 12-15 years old
- Engine: Rotax 125cc restricted
- Weight: 135 kg (driver min 39 kg)
- Dry Tyres: Mojo Slick D2
- Wet Tyres: Mojo Wets W2
- Avg lap time: 40sec
- Top Speed: 60mph
The 2 stroke 125cc water-cooled Rotax Max TAG (Touch and Go – electric start) categories are now the most popular classes in the UK. The engines have proven to be incredibly reliable. Sealed to prevent unapproved tuning.
- Age: 13-16 years old
- Engine: Rotax 125cc
- Weight: 148 kg (driver min 42.5 kg)
- Dry Tyres: Mojo Slick D2
- Wet Tyres: Mojo Wets W2
- Avg laptime: 38sec
- Top Speed: 65mph
By removing the restrictor from a Mini Max you now have a Junior Max. Sealed to prevent unapproved tuning.
- Age: 16+ years old
- Engine: Rotax 125cc with power valve
- Weight: 162kgs (177kgs Heavy class, driver min 80 kg)
- Dry Tyres: Mojo slicks D5
- Wet Tyres: Mojo wets W2
- Avg lap time: 36sec
- Top speed: 85 mph
The most popular senior class in the country is Rotax Max.
Rotax Max the senior equivalent of Junior Max, with a very powerful 125cc TAG engine. Sealed to prevent unapproved tuning. There is a higher weight variant called Rotax 177 for the heavier driver.
- Age Range: 16+ years old
- Engine: 125cc 6 speed gearbox with 30 mm carb
- Weight: 180kgs
- Dry Tyres: Le Cont slicks LP
- Wet Tyres: Le Cont wets LW
- Avg lap time: 33sec
- Top speed: 100 mph
The karts are very similar to the direct drive karts except for the four wheel brakes. They have a hand clutch mounted next to the steering wheel, which is only used to move off from a standstill. At most circuits a standing start is used, as opposed to the rolling formation start that direct drive karts have. Although a little more expensive than a direct drive class, they can be surprisingly economical to run. The 125cc water-cooled engines have six gears, sequentially operated like motorcycle using a gear-lever mounted next to the steering wheel. 0-60mph times are less than 4 seconds, top speed is 90mph on short circuit, 110 – 120mph on long circuit.
Open, IKR and Motorsport UK (formerly MSA) – what’s the difference?
Open / IKR racing was introduced around 15 years ago to provide an easier and more affordable route into kart racing. As years have gone by the success of this has grown and all the kart tracks in Scotland offer this as an alternative to the more serious Motorsport UK governed kart racing. The rules are a little more flexible which allows for older homologated equipment that is no longer eligible to complete at Motorsport UK events to be raced. The fees to race are subsequently cheaper.
Motorsport UK events are governed by Motorsport UK officials and not the club. At these event you will have to hold a valid Motorsport UK Racing licence and so does the Clerk of the Course, Scrutineers and Steward. The event is run to the Motorsport UK rule book and run to a stricter standard than your typical open/IKR race meeting.
What should I buy?
If you’re asking that question the best advice we can give you is come to a race meeting and speak with other racers.
Time and time again we see people buy karts off eBay or Gumtree with little research to find that what they’ve bought isn’t suitable. If you intend to race then you want to make sure the kart you purchase fits within the classes that have grids. The karting community is a helpful one, so just ask!
Try before you buy
We run a ‘Let’s go Karting’ campaign where we can try you out in a kart to see if you enjoy it before committing.
12 and under
For the 6-8 year old we have a Bambino kart and 8-12 a Honda Cadet which we can give a short introduction to karting with. These sessions are no more than 30mins long and are often run at the end of a race meeting. These sessions are for those seriously looking at purchasing a kart.
13-15 year old
The kart we’d recommend for this age group is a Rotax Max which the club doesn’t have for giving introduction shots. However for this age group we use our hire karts – whilst not as quick it gets them on a larger outdoor circuit.
We recommend taking part in our ‘Open Challenge’ using our hire karts. This will get you into the same race format as the owner drivers but in the comfort of other arrive and driver participants.