Go-karting is one of the most fun activities that you can do. I can say that my journey in karting so far has helped me in many ways. I spend much more time with some of my family on the track, and karting has helped me immensely when it comes to all the stress from work.
Go-karting is a popular activity that attracts millions of racers of all ages yearly. The sport has grown a lot over the past few years, meaning that more and more new racers get into go-kart racing every year.
I’ve been getting many emails from you asking me about racing go-karts, including questions about the sport’s history and go-karts themselves. So, I figured that it’d be a great idea to gather ten interesting facts about karting that most of you won’t know.
- Go Kart Is the Best Place to Start Your F1 Career
Most F1 racers started their careers in go-karts. Famous F1 world champions like Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Max Verstappen began racing karts professionally at a very young age.
Ayrton Senna, who’s highly regarded as one of the best F1 drivers ever, once said that karting is “the most breathtaking sport in the world. More than F1, indeed, I used to like it most”. That says it all, especially when Magic Senna himself says it.
Every F1 driver who kickstarted their career in go-karts later went on to formula or auto racing before reaching F1. So, you should begin your journey to F1 as early as possible.
- You Can Start Driving Go-Karts at Age 5
Yes, it’s true. As long as you meet the required weight and height restrictions, you’ll be able to drive go-karts as early as five years old. So, if you thought that you wouldn’t be able to get your kids on a family trip to the local go-kart track, think again. Kid go-karting is very popular nowadays, and your kid might be the next F1 world champion, so starting out early is necessary.
There are also several classes in go-karting, which are split up depending on the drivers’ ages. So, don’t worry; you won’t get overtaken down the main straight by your 5-year old kid. But, you might end up being much slower than a few teenagers who are blasting through the track (as I personally can tel you from my experience).
- A Go Kart’s Top Speed Can Be Up to 140 Mph
Most rental go-karts aren’t really fast. That’s mainly because they all have speed limiters but also because most tracks rent out 4-stroke go-karts, which are slower than 2-stroke ones. That said, there’s a particular class in karting named Superkarts. Superkarts can go up to 140 mph (225km/h), which is faster than some cars.
If you’re not lucky enough to get into the Superkart league, most rental and race-ready go-karts will reach speeds of up to 70-80mph (112-128km/h), which is still incredibly fast. There are also electric go-karts, which are gaining some popularity. The fastest one (Sodi RSX) can go up to 60mph(96km/h), while the fastest accelerating one (Daymak C5 Blast) can go from 0-60 in 1.5 seconds!
- Weight Is Not a Major Factor When Karting (I Am an Example for That)
Weight doesn’t matter as much in karting as it does in other sports and activities. I’m a prime example of that since I’m one of the largest drivers in my league, and I still manage to snatch up podium after podium. While you’ll be a bit slower when you match up against drivers half your weight, you should still be fast enough if you follow the best racing lines.
Also, in amateur or semi-professional races, the marshalls will add weight to every go-kart so that the total weight of the driver and the kart is the same all over the grid. In such cases, you might have a slight advantage over lighter drivers since you’ll be able to push your weight around and improve your cornering.
- The Longest Go-Kart Track Is Kart Kountry
I haven’t had the chance to visit Kart Kountry in Kentucky, USA, yet, but I’d definitely love to race on that track. It’s 1.5 miles long (approximately 2.4 kilometers). Most of the tracks that I’ve raced in were half as long as this one. I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be to have a race on that track, let alone how difficult it’d be to remember every turn.
The fastest indoor go-kart track is at Supercharged Entertainment in Wrentham, Massachusetts. Its length is nearly half a mile long (if we include both floors of the track). Also, it’s worth noting that a 2.1-mile (3.4km) long track is currently being built in the Dallas Karting Complex in Dallas, USA.
- Go-Kart Professional Driver Can Earn Up to $130,000 per Year
Unfortunately, there are no official statistics as to how much money a karting driver can earn yearly. But, it’s a fact that professional go-kart drivers usually lose money after every race, even if they come in 1st place. That said, someone could definitely make a living wage from racing karts, especially if they’re good racers.
Most karting drivers will make much less than $130,000, though. But, it all comes down to the prize money that their league or championship offers. And, once you add all the travel costs and repair the go-kart might need to the equation, the profit of each driver is very low, or none at all.
- There Are Go Kart Racing Academies for Talented Drivers
Most go-kart tracks nowadays have their own go-kart racing academy. Most academies are affordable and are a great way to get started with go-karting. There are also karting academies from F1 teams, with the most notable one being Red Bull Racing’s academy.
If you’re a talented driver, a karting academy is the best way to reach your true potential, even if you’re too old for F1. That said, you should try to find a popular local academy, which preferably organizes races for the drivers of the academy on a regular basis.
Keep in mind that it’s advised you’re part of a karting academy if you want to take part in a national or regional championship. Most of the time, the academy will help you out with some of the expenses, and you won’t have to look for sponsors.
- Why Is It Called a Go-Kart?
As you might have noticed, go-karts are also spelled like go-carts. The term go-carts can be traced back to 1885. But, a much more credible story is that Duffy Livingston created the name “go-kart” in 1958.
Livingston owned a muffler shop in Los Angeles, and he was the one who made go-karting popular by manufacturing and selling them under the name go-kart. The name of his company was Go Kart Manufacturing, Co., Inc. So, the go-kart name comes from the brand that mass-produced them.
- There Are Go Kart With Shifters
Commonly known as shifter karts, go-karts with shifters add the extra challenge of changing gears while you’re go-kart racing. Shifter karts have their own karting category, and they usually use 125cc or 250cc engines.
While every go-kart has gears, these are the only ones that have an actual manual gearbox. There are also some go-karts on the market that have reverse gear, but you’ll need to purchase and mount a reverse gearbox on your kart for it to work.
- The First Go-Kart Was Made in 1956
While I mentioned that Duffy Livingston made karting famous in 1958 by mass-producing the first ones, the original go-kart was made two years earlier, in 1956, in California. As you can imagine, the first go-kart had some similarities to today’s machines, but when you place them side-by-side, they’re like night and day.
The creators of the first go-kart were Art Ingels and Lou Borelli. Ingles was the one who made the chassis, and Borelli was the one who decided to mount a 2-stroke lawnmower engine on top of it. The first public appearance of the go-kart was at the Pomona Raceway. The rest is history. Today, it’s estimated that over 1.6 billion people have driven a go-kart at least once.
As F1 and auto racing are getting more traction, the go-karting scene is also seeing a boost to its popularity. Karting is a very accessible sport and a great introduction to motorsports and racing. The facts I mentioned above could serve as the foundation for anyone who wants to start karting.
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.