Help guide me into the world of kart racing


New member
Hi everyone, total newbie here so bear with me. This is going to be a long first post, so I apologize already.

I am interested in getting into kart racing, but I'm not sure the best way to go about it or if it is in my price range. First a little about myself.

Racing is in my blood. My grandfather was a stock car racer in the 50's, and just a few years ago was inducted in the NY state stock car hall of fame. My father must have gotten the racing gene from him, as he went into motorcycle racing (motocross) and was a local pro in the 80's. Naturally he got me into motocross at the age of 4, so I have been racing bikes my whole life. I turned pro when I was 16, but was never good enough to go anywhere with it. So I went to college and got a mechanical engineering degree and a real job, while still racing competitively in the pro class at local events for fun.

Basically, I am very familiar with the concept of racing, and the type of commitment it takes mentally, physically, and economically. In motocross it does not take a lot of money to be competitive at the beginner level, I am hoping karting is similar in this aspect.

Now for my kart experience... I have never owned my own kart, but I have raced in a few leagues at places that provide karts (places like pole position and canastota kart speedway) and have been pretty successful. I want to find the next level of competition, and I figure the guys that are serious enough to own their own karts and are serious about racing would be a much more competitive level.

So where so I begin? Realistically, how much would it cost me to get into racing karts at a beginner level? I am a very mechanical person, so I would not mind being able to find a cheap used kart and fixing it up. I already have an enclosed trailer for my bikes, so I'm sure that trailer would work for a kart as well. I already have a few good quality helmets and a leatt neck brace. I feel like the kart itself is where most of my expense will lie. Thanks for any advice you may give.
Well there are two kinds of racing we have in Karting. You've got the local Saturday night competition and you've got national level money shows. On a local level your not gonna need to spend tons of money once you get started but starting out is a little pricey. I'd look for a kart 2006 or newer to start. But before you buy an engine or tires go to a couple of local tracks and see what engine classes they might have (Animal, Flatheads, Clones, Predators, Outlaws/Opens etc...). And based on what kind of competition you wanna race against buy accordingly. Ask around to see what kind of tires work the best on that surface (Burris, Maxxis, Firestones, etc...).

Welcome to the sport. Ask lots of questions because just about everyone on here is willing to help.
If you already have the enclosed trailer, you should be able to find a kart and everything else you need for around $1500-2000. If i were you, id go thru the classifieds on this site and browse thru the ones where people are selling out their entire karting operation, you can usually find good deals on those and will have absolutely everything you need. You dont just need a kart and trailer, you need at least 3 sets of tires, rear gears at least numbers 59-68, and a couple of clutches and clutch gears. You can start out racing Box Stock at just about any track with a clone engine, but i would go to some tracks close to you and see what engines they race and what kind of tires everyone uses. Most tracks will let you walk thru the pits, you can walk around and talk to the racers, check out their karts and tires, things like that. I started by going to the track with my brother in law and racing his kart my first race, i did well and came in 3rd, had a blast so i bought an entire operation that another guy was selling for $2000 that included a nice kart, trailer, and everything i needed, then i slowly added equipment, tires, and eventually a newer, better kart to that stuff to get to where i am now. Now i can go to just about any track and finish in the top 5, usually top 3. It takes time, patience, and determination.
It sounds like you have the back ground needed, therefore an over-abundance of input is NOT needed! By all means, be patient in getting started. Scout out your local tracks (and people) and inquire about their agenda's. 'Clone' and 'Animal' are excellent starting points that offer 'growth' without having too start all-over again when you're ready too move up. However, have an urgent need-4-speed, you should check out 2-cycle categories. From a driving/learning stand-point....I 'highly' recommend 'CLONE'...jmo! Keep your 'starting' investment under control when test-the-water, and then....let-ur-rip! Good Luck and have fun...:)
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Thanks a lot guys. I was thinking the clone class would be the cheapest and easiest way to get into it. Looking online it looks like there are 4 tracks within an hour of me that run clones. I'm just going to have to study all the rule books, the class structures are a bit confusing, and it looks like some tracks run different rules for the kart requirements than others.

One thing I noticed is that each track around here requires everyone to run a specific brand of tire, and each track is different. Is this typical? I'm assuming this means I would need a different set of tires for each track to meet their requirements.
Local racers will give you pointers and good advice, just don't interrupt them between heats. They are too busy .Get to the track 2 to 3 hours before racing begins walk around and ask questions.
Yes, the classes are confusing and the tire rules suck. IMO, those are the two downsides of karting. They're also a big reason why I race the Unlimited All-Star class. One of your MX powerplants would work nicely for that class, and virtually any modern (2000+) chassis will work for that too. The NY region has the STORM series and the Western NY Unlimited All Stars too... It's kind of a "touring" series in that the track they're racing at varies month to month, but usually within a couple hour drive. While the speeds are higher, I find the comraderie's higher too. Plus I like it for lack of tech hassle and simple rules -- weights are based on cc's and the displacement can be checked too, but I've never had that happen. So you roll across scales after race, and if you meet your min., you're good. That's it. Tires are open, so you can race whatever works for your kart and your budget. Right now it seems the 250 2 strokes and 450 mx'ers are popular engine choices, though anything below 510cc 4 stroke or 255cc 2 stroke is legal.
I'm considering getting a clone to play with too, but like you, I've found the local classes and rules confusing and contradictory. At least the clones race on a weekly basis... Drop me a line if you are interested in knowing more about UAS/Open racing and I'll send you contact info for Ben Taft and the other coordinators up there.... I'm from near Ithaca originally, so I'll be trailering up for a race or two this year, probably. Good luck, and welcome to the addiction!