Before I started karting, I always thought that the sport was purely for kids. But, as I got into my first racing league, I understood that karting is one of the sports you can partake in, no matter how old you are.
Racing go-karts as an adult is not rare. In fact, many adults regularly race go-karts for fun, while some participate in DD2 or KZ1 championships. So, the idea that karting is a sport for kids is far from the truth.
With that said, I thought it’d be great to let you know how to get into karting as an adult and if your dream of racing in F1 is achievable or not.
Is 30 Too Old to Start Karting?
Well, I’m in my 30s, and I had never raced a go-kart before last year when I went to Affi in Italy. So, no, 30 isn’t too old to start karting. In fact, it’s a great way to exercise while you’re doing something fun, which is essential for adult folks.
Now, if you want to become a professional karting driver, starting at an early age will give you an advantage. But, older folks usually have more experience on the road, so they can learn the basics of karting much easier.
I’d consider myself a prime example of this. I originally loved Formula 1, so I thought karting was the closest I’d get to car racing. Once I got into a kart for the first time, I didn’t have the fear that many young drivers have since I knew how to drive a car. And, nowadays, I’m getting higher positions than other racers who are in their 20s.
But I’m sure that most of you want to get into more serious motorsports, like touring car racing or even F1. Will you be able to do that if you’re over 30?
Can I become a professional driver?
The simple answer is yes. You can definitely become a professional driver, even if you start karting as an adult. For example, NASCAR drivers have an average age of 39.
That said, most of you wonder if you’re too old for F1 or not. Unfortunately, unless you’ve got incredible racing skills and enormous financial backing, you won’t be able to race in F1. Don’t let that discourage you from kart racing, though. Even if you started out at 5 years old, you’d need to be amongst the best karting drivers and a lot of money to get into F1.
There are several disciplines when it comes to car racing. F1 is so connected to karting because they’re both part of the open-wheel racing scene, with go-karting being at the bottom and F1 at the top. As I mentioned above, there are disciplines like touring and rallying that are full of drivers well over their 30s.
But, karting is still a great way to learn the basics that you’ll need in any discipline. So, you should look into rising through the ranks in go-karting before you move on to more professional car racing.
What to Consider When You Start Go-Karting as an Adult
When you start racing go-karts as an adult, you have to worry about several factors that kid racers can’t imagine.
Before you think about getting into a racing kart, you must make sure you’re fit for it. And, I’m not only talking about physical fitness.
As a sport, karting requires exceptional mental fitness and great physical health. If you lack any of the two, you’re putting yourself at risk of an injury. And, unlike kid racers, a minor injury for someone over 30 can do much more damage in the long term (I know that as I broke my hand while riding on my bike recently and it still affects me daily).
One of the skills you’ll need when karting is to be able to keep your focus on the track no matter what. If you lose your concentration during a hot lap or a race, you could hit an opponent or go straight into a wall.
But that’s not the only thing. Physical fitness is still pretty important. Now, I’ll tell you that you don’t have to go to the gym five days a week to be fit enough for karting. But, you’ll need to have a lot of stamina.
Unlike other sports, the only way to build up your physical fitness for go-karting is by sustaining some g-forces. And, if you’re not a pilot who has access to a high g-force centrifuge, the only way to go through g-forces is through karting.
So, you don’t have to be extremely healthy for karting, but you will need to be physically and mentally fit to not injure yourself and progress through the karting categories.
While I’ll talk more about the cost of buying a go-kart below, there are much more expenses that you’ll need to pay every racing weekend.
For starters, unless you’ve got a sponsor, you must pay for everything during a weekend. This includes accommodation costs, travel expenses, entry fees for the race, fuel for the kart, and so much more.
But, let’s see the costs at a club level. You’ll have to pay for the kart’s storage, which can set you back around $500 per year, depending on the track. Along with some potential entry fees and maintenance fees for your kart, you must spend some money on spare parts if you get into an accident.
So, with that, you’re looking at over $3000 for a whole season at a club level. The costs will be more depending on the class you’re racing in, with some senior classes costing up to $8000 for a 5-race season.
And I’ve not even covered national events, let alone international ones. These have added costs, like accommodation and travel expenses, quickly adding up to over $10,000.
That being said, when you start out, the costs aren’t that high. Most go-kart tracks organize league races using rental karts, so you only have to pay for the renting of the go-karts. But, if you’re serious about karting, expect to pay much more than that.
One of the reasons why many adults stop go-karting is because of the time it consumes weekly. When you race karts professionally, you might think that all you have to do is practice on the track and race on the weekends. That’s far away from the truth.
Karting professionally doesn’t only consist of the racing but also the maintenance of the go-kart. As the organizers at my local track have said, you’ll need to spend hours maintaining and cleaning your go-kart before and after a race.
But, that’s not only why karting is time-consuming. When you practice with go-karts, many think that you just run for a couple of laps, and you’re done. In reality, professional drivers can spend hours practicing daily.
Spending a lot of time in the kart allows you to get a feel of it. That doesn’t only include how the kart reacts to the throttle and the brake but also how it acts when you take a specific corner a bit faster. I can safely say that you’ll need to take a corner tens of times to find the optimal line through it.
And, I’ve not even talked about the actual racing weekends. These usually take a whole day, including all practice, qualifying sessions, and the race itself. I often spend at least 8 hours on the track during a racing weekend. This might not sound like much, but I can see why some of you don’t have that much time to spend.
However, rest assured that these hours go by very fast since you’ll usually be chatting with the other racers.
So, with all that said, let’s take a closer look at the financial side of karting.
How Much Is a Go-Kart for Adults?
Karting is generally considered an expensive hobby. We’ve already established that a racing weekend could set you back more than $1000, but I’ve not talked about the initial investment you’ll need to make: the actual go-kart.
The first thing you’ll need for your go-kart is the chassis. Depending on the class, a brand-new chassis can cost around $2000-$3000, while the engine can set you back $1000-$5000. Let’s say that a good entry-level 125cc go-kart will cost around $5000-$6000. That’s quite a lot.
Once you add an extra $1500 for safety equipment and a few spare parts into the mix, you’re looking at upwards of $7500. And, I’ve not even covered shifter karts, which can cost more than $10,000.
That’s why you should always look for used parts. A 3-year-old chassis will be adequate for a couple of years of racing, and it will cost half of a brand-new one. The same goes for the engine, as long as you don’t blow it up during a practice session.
I know that this sounds discouraging. You’ve probably not even had the chance to try out a 125cc kart, let alone think of buying one. So, let’s see how you can get started with go-karting immediately.
How to Start Go-Karting Immediately
Before you go out and spend thousands on a new 125cc go-kart, you should ensure that go-karting is the right sport for you.
- Visit the Local Go-Kart Track
The first thing you must do is take a trip to your local track. Whether you go alone or bring some friends or your family, you have to visit a track first. Once you’ve spent some time inside the kart and you’ve acknowledged that you’re probably not going to be the next Ayrton Senna, start visiting the track more often.
Once you’ve gotten somewhat comfortable with the kart, you can start thinking about taking a more professional approach. But, keep in mind that karting isn’t only about the racing.
- Connect With Other Racers
Connecting with other drivers at the track will help much more than you think. Having a few beginners to race with will make the experience extremely fun. Finding someone who’s been karting for decades might be a way to start taking the sport more seriously by utilizing the tips they give you.
And, you might find someone who will sell you their go-kart for a bargain. Or, they might give one of their old racing suits for pennies.
- Find the Best Karting Stores
If you want to start buying some karting equipment or start building your own kart, you have to find the best stores near you. Other drivers might be able to help you with that since they’ll know which stores offer bargains and which ones will try to rip you off.
But you can always go around and ask. The go-kart track you visit will probably have some equipment; however, the track doesn’t usually sell pieces of equipment at a low price. Well, apart from the balaclavas. You can generally get one for less than $5 anywhere you go.
Getting into karting as an adult might sound daunting at first. It can cost a fortune, it takes up a huge amount of time weekly, and you might not be fit enough for it. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to take a rental kart for a spin every once in a while. And if you get serious about karting, you can always come back here to check what you’ll need to do to achieve your goal.
But, don’t forget that karting is a competitive sport. If you really want to become a professional karting racer (or kart racer), you’ll have to dedicate all your time to the sport.
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!
FAQs for Adult Go-Kart Racing
Is It Ever Too Late to Start Karting?
It’s never too late to start karting. Some exceptional karting racers are well over their 40s, and many start racing in their 20s.
Can You Become an F1 Driver at 30?
If you have racing experience, you can become an F1 driver at 30. However, if you start karting in your 30s, your chances of reaching F1 are pretty slim.