Last Updated: Monday, 26 August 2013 19:26
 
Interested In Karting? Here’s Some Information To Help Jump Start Your Career!
Reference Guide at bottom of page

If you’re interested in joining the thousands of youths and adults already enjoying the sport of karting, this page should help you get started.

Before embarking on your new hobby, there are a number of very basic, yet very important questions to be answered.

Oval or Road?

First, does your interest lie in oval-track racing or road course racing? Significantly different style chassis are needed for oval track versus road course, among a host of other differing factors from each form of karting.

This will be one of the first decisions you want to make before making any purchases.

Engine Choice

Next, do you want to go 2-cycle or 4-cycle racing?

This refers to the engine package. The general rule is oval-track karting, both dirt and asphalt, is predominantly 4-cycle, while road course karting, both sprint and road race (we’ll get to those terms in a moment), is 2-cycle.

This doesn’t mean you can’t find 4-cycle road course karting or 2-cycle oval racing. WKA's Gold Cup Series has been a 4-cycle national sprint road course series for years, while the WKA National Road Racing Series has a strong following of 4-cycle Briggs & Stratton Animal racers. On the dirt oval side, the Unlimited All-Stars (UAS) is a popular touring series with karts powered by 2-cycle engines.

Popular 2-cycle engines in WKA competition are the Yamaha KT-100, IAME Komet Piston Valve and a host of TaG engines, including the Parilla Leopard, Parilla X-30, Rotax FR 125 and Vortex Rok TT. Click here to visit eKartingNews.com, a leading karting website mainly devoted to 2-cycle kart racing.

The most popular 4-cycle engines are the Briggs Animal, Briggs Raptor (flathead) and Box Stock Clone.

The Animal is the most powerful and most expensive. The flathead is the engine the Animal replaced about 10 years ago on the production line at Briggs & Stratton, yet it still has a strong following in the dirt karting industry.

The Box Stock Clone is a China-made engine that has taken the 4-cycle karting world by storm over the last several years. Its now, arguably, the most popular engine in dirt karting and at this time, the most inexpensive. It’s also low on horsepower compared to the Animal.

Click here to learn more about 4-cycle kart racing.

Sprint vs. Road Racing

We mentioned above that there are two forms of road course karting – sprint and road racing.

The differences between the two is pretty simple to understand; however, if you’ve decided you want to check out road course karting, the differences are very important to understand before making any major purchases.

Sprint karting is road course racing on tracks built specifically for go-karts. These tracks are less than one mile in length, and feature anywhere from seven or eight to over a dozen corners. Many sprint tracks also boast elevation changes, banked corners, high-speed turns, low-speed turns and long and short straightaways. The shorter length of sprint tracks usually limits kart speeds to under 75 mph, depending on the class and age level.

WKA’s national sprint series are the Manufacturers Cup and Gold Cup. Man Cup is 2-cycle, while Gold Cup is mainly 4-cycle with a handful of 2-cycle divisions.

Road race karting, also referred to as “enduro” and “road racing,” is road course racing on tracks built for racecars, including the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, VIRginia Int'l Raceway and Daytona Int’l Speedway’s 3.56-mile road course.

If you have the need for speed, road racing is your best option. The fast nature of most road race karting venues allow some of the faster-class karts to reach speeds in excess of 125 mph. Even the series’ lower-horsepower divisions include karts that reach nearly 100mph.

WKA’s National Road Racing Series offers an array of divisions.

Laydown enduro karts are built specifically for road racing and are powered by 2-cycle engines, decked with full fiberglass bodywork (nosecone and side panels) and position the driver so he or she is lying at a near 180-degree angle on his or her back.

A headrest props the driver’s head and helmet up just enough so he or she can adequately view the track. In terms of aerodynamics, the lower the driver’s head, the better the kart slices through the air, producing as little drag as possible.

Sprint-enduro karts mostly are built specifically for road racing, although some sprint chassis have been modified for road racing. Similar to laydown-enduro karts, these chassis also are decorated with full fiberglass bodywork, but driver’s seat is designed to mount the driver in a more upright position, rather than a near 180-degree angle like a laydown-enduro.

Most experienced sprint-enduro teams’ goals are to seat the driver as low as possible while staying within the rules. This theory goes back to the aforementioned points on laying as low as possible in a laydown-enduro to reduce drag.

Sprint-enduro classes include 2-cycle and 4-cycle engine packages. Two-cycle classes are powered by the Yamaha KT-100 and Piston Port engines, the Comer P-51 and Komet K-71 being the most popular. Four-cycle classes are offered for Briggs Animal and Box Stock Clones. The Animal Sprint divisions currently are some of the most popular in WKA’s National Road Racing Series.

Sprint karts have a place in road racing, including the 125cc shifter and TaG divisions, which mostly feature karts originally made for sprint tracks with slight modifications for the longer road racing courses.

Rules

All WKA karting categories need to follow strict guidelines and rules that are spelled out in the WKA Technical Manual, which is printed every fall for the next year’s competition season.

All WKA-sanctioned tracks, divisional and national series base their rules from the WKA Tech Manual. WKA also produces a series of monthly Tech Updates that edit and/or update various rules printed in the Tech Manual.

The WKA Tech Manual may not be the first purchase you need to make if you’re ready to start karting, but if you’ve already obtained the chassis, engine and other parts, the Tech Manual should be readily accessible on the shelf or table in your shop or garage, even if your local track is not WKA sanctioned.

The WKA Tech Manual sells for $25 plus $5 shipping. Current WKA members receive the Tech Manual via U.S. Mail each fall.

I’m confused… what should be my first step?

Believe it or not, the answer to this question is pretty simple… Go to the racetrack!

The first step for any beginner completely naïve to karting should be to utilize an Internet search engine and search for go-kart tracks in your area. Simply typing “kart racetrack,” “go-kart racing,” “kart track,” and your residence’s nearest city should bring up a variety of karting facilities within reasonable driving distance, no matter where you live.

Once poking around on tracks’ or series’ websites, figure out when the next race is and plan to go to it. Go in the pit area, look around and find racers to mingle with. Ask questions and obtain any information you can. Most karters are ready to help newcomers and are interesting in attracting new people to the sport.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a kart shop, visiting that local shop and talking to its owner or employees is another great avenue to gain information. Utilize Internet search engines to see if there are any kart shops near you, and if not, pick up the phone and make a phone call or two and see where it leads you!

 

 

WKA Kart Racing Quick Guide
Chassis Style
Engine WKA National Series
Oval-track (driver left offset) 4-cycle Box Stock (Clone) Speedway Dirt, Speedway Pavement
Oval-track (driver left offset) 4-cycle Animal Speedway Dirt, Speedway Pavement
Oval-track (driver left offset) 4-cycle Flathead Speedway Dirt, Speedway Pavement
Oval-track (driver left offset) 2-cycle Unlimited Speedway Dirt
Sprint 2-cycle TaG Manufacturers Cup
Sprint 2-cycle Yamaha Manufacturers Cup
Sprint 2-cycle Komet (KPV) Manufacturers Cup
Sprint 2-cycle Cadet (Comer K80) Manufacturers Cup
Sprint 2-cycle X30 TaG Gold Cup
Sprint 4-cycle Animal Gold Cup
Sprint 4-cycle Box Stock (Clone) Gold Cup
Laydown-enduro 2-cycle Road Racing
Sprint-enduro 2-cycle Yamaha, Piston Port Road Racing
Sprint-enduro 4-cycle Animal Road Racing
Sprint-enduro 4-cycle Box Stock (Clone) Road Racing
Sprint-enduro TaG Road Racing
Shifter kart  125cc (2-cycle) Road Racing
Super Kart 125cc, 250cc (2-cycle) Road Racing

 

 

A variety of images from various WKA national events to show different style go-karts...
Click to enlarge & read caption
daytona 2011
dirt animal
lloyd jax 2012
ed shampine kart
malukas kershaw 2012
chavous daytona
putnam enduros
sportsman jax 2012
daytona2011 cadet start 
putnam enduro sprint
dirt flathead daytona