If you plan to start racing go-karts, you’ll have to prepare adequately before a race. Whether you take part in a regional or national league or are professional racing for a world championship, you’ll need to prepare your gear and go-kart before you get to the grid.
For that reason, I decided to make a full checklist of what you’ll need to consider before a go-kart race.
Your gear is an essential part of your preparation before a race. If you forget crucial pieces of your gear, like your helmet or your gloves, you won’t be able to get to the grid, let alone race.
A karting helmet is one of the few necessary pieces of equipment that you’ll need to wear when racing go-karts. Most league drivers have their personal helmets, but the track organizers in regional leagues can usually rent you out one if you forgot your own.
Eyeglasses are essential when you’re kart racing. You won’t be able to see clearly without them, which will put you and your opponents in danger. Sunglasses can also be helpful on outdoor tracks because the sun can sometimes be blinding.
In my experience, racing gloves are as necessary as helmets in go-karting. Without gloves, your hands will get blisters within the first few laps, and you won’t be able to concentrate on the race because the pain can be unbearable.
While they’re not commonly talked about, wearing a karting balaclava is as important as wearing gloves. If you don’t wear a balaclava when karting, your helmet will slide around because of sweat. Plus, it will get dirty, and then you’ll need to clean it up before the next race. On top of all that, if you have long hair, the balaclava will prevent it from covering your eyes.
A karting suit is pretty important for national or global events. Most of the time, you’ll be okay without wearing one in regional leagues. But, if you get into a nasty crash, to the point where you fling off the kart, you can get really injured if you don’t wear one. Plus, some of them are fireproof, so you won’t get burned in the rare case of a fire.
Karting rib protectors were always a good-to-have rather than a necessary piece of karting equipment. In 2021, some FIA championships made it mandatory for all drivers to wear a rib protector for safety purposes. In most cases, rib protectors will prevent your midsection from getting badly injured.
As with karting suits, racing shoes are not worn by too many in regional leagues. While karting shoes won’t help you in terms of safety, they’ll assist you in controlling the throttle and brake pedals better. These shoes have very thin soles, so you’ll feel both pedals at the fullest, thus giving you better control over them.
Camera and Mount
If you don’t want to show off you’re karting skills to your friends, or you’re not pursuing karting professionally, then you won’t need a camera. But, a good camera for karting can help you spot your mistakes on the track. You could also use the footage for marketing yourself to karting teams or upload it on Youtube.
Food & Drinks
Eating sufficiently and drinking plenty of fluids before a race is as vital as having your gear race-ready. Karting for a few minutes is very tiring; I’d go as far as to say that it’s a full-blown workout. So, a pre-karting meal before a big race is as important as a pre-workout meal before a long workout session.
Carb-Rich Food Before the Race
You’ll need to eat a lot of carbs before a race. Now, that doesn’t mean that eating a whole pizza is great before a race, despite having tons of carbs. I’m mostly talking about eating carb-rich meals, like spaghetti or rice. Such a meal will fill you with energy without making you feel like your stomach will explode, as opposed to pizza.
Plenty of Water
Drinking tons of water before a race is a necessity. I’ve made the mistake of not drinking enough water before a race, and I started feeling sick once I got out of the kart because of dehydration. The g-forces that you go through during a session are enough to make your whole body sweat. Also, if you’re on an outdoor track in the middle of the afternoon, you’ll get dehydrated rapidly.
Fruit Between the Sessions
Any food that has sugar will help between sessions. So, why not go for some fruit instead of a sweet snack? Along with the fruit’s natural sugars, you’ll get plenty of vitamins and water, both of which should help with dehydration. Plus, I prefer eating a few dates, or a banana, rather than having a piece of chocolate before the race starts.
I’m not the biggest fan of coffee, but I might have a few sips of some coffee before a race. Coffee helps you concentrate on the track, and it gives you a bunch of energy at the same time. Add to that the adrenaline that you get from racing, and you’ll be able to focus 100% on your racecraft.
Nutrition bars can be a substitute for fruit. They have a lot of carbs, so eating them as a snack is a great way to refuel your body while you’re refueling your kart. Either way, most nutrition bars have some dried fruits in them, so if you can’t find fresh fruit, these should do the job.
I never liked sports drinks before karting. I was always told that they’re bad for you and that it’s better to drink plain water. While water is a better alternative, a sports drink before (or after) a race can help you replenish the electrolytes that you lose when you sweat.
Get your hands on an organic electrolytes drink instead of the big brand sports drinks. These have less sugar, so they’re healthier.
What to Do Before Race Day
So, you know what geat you’ll need, and you’ve got your meal preparation done for the race day. You’ll now have to start thinking about some things you need to get done the day before the race.
Charge Your Camera’s Batteries
If you’re like me and you capture your karting journey, make sure to charge your camera’s batteries before race day. I’ll admit that I’ve forgotten to charge my camera’s batteries a couple of times, and I couldn’t capture all my race footage. Also, make sure you’ve got a spare set of batteries in case something happens to the ones your camera is using.
Empty the Camera’s Memory Card
I remember that during a practice session, my camera’s memory maxed out, so I only captured half of the session. So, make sure to empty the memory card before race day. Just upload everything on an external hard drive, and you’ll be good to go.
Review the Track
Reviewing the track before race day is something that everyone should do. And, by reviewing the track, I don’t mean that you should just count the number of corners and spot the braking zones.
You’ll have to find all the different racing lines. This includes the optimal racing line, as well as the attacking and defending lines. Once you’ve learned these, you should find videos of drivers on that track, so that you have an idea of what to expect.
Even if you’re going to a track you’ve been on several times, I’d suggest you spend some time rechecking some parts that you found difficult.
Check the Weather
After you’ve checked out the track, you must see what the weather is like for race day. If the weather is rainy or snowy, you’ll need to change your lines accordingly. Also, if the weather is windy, you should expect higher g-forces in certain corners.
Wet racing lines are very different to dry racing lines, and you need to mentally prepare for a much harder race if it’s raining. I’ve not raced in snowy conditions yet, but I can imagine that it’s a big challenge.
Have Your Equipment Ready
I’ll admit that a lot of times, I forget to have all my equipment ready for a race. I end up rushing around to find everything that I need for the race. So, don’t be like me.
Lay out all the equipment you need the night before the race. If you’re going to record the race, have your camera and mount ready so that you can pick them up right before you leave for the track. And, don’t forget to pick up your helmet before you leave the house.
Meditating before a race is something that I love to do. It might sound ridiculous, but meditating can get you in a great mindset. Some of you might be really stressed before a race, especially if it’s your first one. Meditation can help you immensely in reducing your stress.
A few of you have told me that you’re afraid to hop in a go-kart because they go pretty fast. I’d suggest you meditate a few minutes before the race by taking a few deep breaths. You’ll feel much more relaxed afterward, and you’ll be able to concentrate on the race.
Prepare Your Kart (If You Own One)
If you’re a professional, you already know that preparing your go-kart for a race can be pretty boring. But, for newcomers to the sport, owning a kart and preparing it for a race for the first time can be a daunting task.
While I don’t own my personal go-kart, a few friends have told me what you’ll need to check before rolling your kart on the grid.
Make Sure the Screws Are Tight
Once you reach the track, make sure that every screw on the kart is tight. There are several screws on every go-kart that connect everything together, so if one of them is loose, it can be a disaster.
The vibrations when you race go-karts are very intense, and if one screw pops out, it could destroy your machine. Or, it could injure one of your opponents. Even worse, your kart might spill oil or fuel on the track, which can be dangerous for everyone.
Prepare the Fuel
You’ll need to mix fuel for your go-kart and fill it up. Usually, 3-5 liters of fuel should be enough for a race. Make sure that you mix the fuel really well, though. Otherwise, you might have issues when it comes to your performance throughout the race.
You’ll have to keep in mind that the mix should have an adequate amount of gasoline and engine oil. Unlike cars, go-karts don’t have an oil reservoir. So, you’ll have to mix in the engine oil with the fuel to keep your engine running at high revs without getting destroyed.
Lube the Kart Chain
You should also lube your kart chain. Your go-kart chain needs to function smoothly; otherwise, it will get grinded up. And this will not only destroy the chain but also the clutch and potentially the entire engine.
Check the Tire Pressure
The tires should have a pressure of 10-13 PSI (0.7-0.9 bar). If your kart’s tires have less pressure, then the rubber will get destroyed after a few laps because of overheating.
If the tires have high pressure, then you’ll have much less grip. Also, the inside of the tire will start wearing off much faster, which could lead to a puncture.
In both cases, you’ll likely not be able to finish the race. So, you should always check the tire pressure before you even start up the engine.
Start the Engine
Before the race starts, you’ll need to start up your engine. Once the engine works, you’ll have to rev it at low revs (3000-5000rpm) to see if everything functions correctly. This is also the best time to check if your brakes are working perfectly or not. If your brakes have an issue, you’ll need to replace them immediately.
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If you have any more questions that you’d like me to answer, be sure to contact me or leave a comment below.