While go-karting is a safe sport, a few dangers can come up. I told you about some of these a few weeks ago, including a couple of ways to stay safe while karting. But I’m still getting questions from you and from my friends about whether a go-kart can flip or not.
Technically, a go-kart can flip. Like any other motorsports vehicle, from NASCAR to F1, go-karts can flip in extreme situations. If you drive really fast, in either a Superkart or a 125cc go-kart, you could flip it if you take a sharp turn without slowing down.
Generally, go-karts don’t flip because of the way they’re constructed. Karts have a low center of gravity, which is accomplished by placing their wheels far away from each other. This makes sure that the kart stays on the ground during the entire race or hot lap.
But what exactly happens when a go-kart flips? Is it still safe to be on the kart, and is there anything you could do to stay unharmed?
If a Kart Flips, Is It Still Safe?
You’ll need to have achieved very high speeds for a kart to flip. Anything between 70-140mph (112-225km/h) is considered very fast, and the higher the speed, the more likely your go-kart is to flip.
So, in such a case, what happens? Well, the marshalls will help you out by getting you out of the kart and getting the machine out of the track. Go-karts don’t have any safety features found in cars, like roll cages or airbags.
So, when you turn upside down, your head and shoulders will come in contact with the asphalt. This could lead to a minor injury, like whiplash or a shoulder sprain or become fatal in severe cases. Also, in some cases, you’ll get flung out of the kart.
There are, however, some karts that are safer than others. I’ve raced with several go-karts, and I’ve been on some with the frame going around the wheels. These are the safest ones and are usually the ones that go-kart tracks rent out.
The weight distribution on them prevents them from flipping. Also, your kart’s wheels won’t ever make contact with another go-kart, which is also a common reason for a go-kart to flip.
That said, a go-kart can end up flipping, even if you take all the safety measures needed. In such a case, the karting community is divided on whether we should wear seat belts or not.
Why Do Some Go-Karts Have Seat Belts and Some Don’t?
For starters, seat belts can save your life in several cases, whether you’re driving your car or racing on a go-kart. In karting, the seatbelt will protect your torso and abdomen, as well as your back and neck.
However, what happens in the case of a crash? Some drivers choose not to wear seat belts on their go-karts because all you’re doing is strapping yourself to the kart, which won’t protect you when you get into a crash.
And, when it comes to flipping, nobody would want to be strapped under the kart while its weight pushes your neck and head into the asphalt. But, if your kart has a full-frame (or a roll cage), you should also wear a seat belt, as the frame can prove to be deadly in case of a crash.
Simply put, some go-karts, like rental ones, have seat belts for safety reasons. But, professional go-karts that can reach high speeds, like 125cc ones, might not have seat belts because they won’t protect you from a big crash. However, that comes down to the driver and the race’s rules.
How to Prevent a Go-Kart From Flipping
While I’ve not managed to flip any of my go-karts yet, I’ve come close to being on two wheels a few times. So, I figured that I should find what you should avoid doing when racing go-karts to prevent them from flipping.
Sharp Turns at High Speeds
If you’re going down the main straight at full speed, you should always slow down before turning into the hairpin. Taking turns too quickly or too sharply will increase the chances of your kart flipping. Also, you’ll end up drifting most of the time, which isn’t great for your speed.
Hitting Other Drivers or Objects on the Track
While you can’t always avoid it, you should stay away from bumping into other drivers while karting. Karts aren’t bumper cars and shouldn’t be treated as such. Also, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t bump into any other parts of the track, like the barriers or any loose parts.
Shifting the Kart’s Center of Gravity
This is mainly for professionals. Don’t put your kart’s center of gravity too high; otherwise, you rapidly increase your chances of it flipping over. And, the racing advantage that you might get isn’t worth it if you end up upside down.
I think it’s worth noting that go-karts flipping is very rare. While I told you some very extreme cases above, you shouldn’t worry about your kart flipping if you’re racing semi-professionally or leisurely. Even if you’re a professional driver, you should be fine as long as you don’t modify the kart too much.
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!
If you have any more questions that you’d like me to answer, be sure to contact me or leave a comment below.