Ever since I started go-karting, many of my friends have asked me whether I earn any money when I race. In club-level racing, you won’t make any money; you actually have to pay quite a bit to participate. But, the track organizers might offer you free practice sessions if you perform well. Is the same true for professional karting racers?
Some reports have stated that go-kart racers can earn up to $130,000. That, however, is rarely the case, with most drivers earning $10,000 or less from winning tournaments. If you’re not racing on an international level, you’ll likely not make any money from racing.
With that, I wanted to find out how much a driver can earn on every championship they partake in and if go-karting is profitable.
How Much Can You Make Go Kart Racing?
Even though I don’t think I’ll manage to reach a high enough level to get paid for karting any time soon, some drivers can make a few bucks from racing. Every driver I asked at my local track told me that you’d need to get into national championships to start earning some money.
Several national and international championships pay the winners between $1000 – $20000. But, there’s a big caveat. Notice how I said, “winners”. If you get second or third place, you’re looking at less than half of that prize money.
This is why most karting racers don’t earn more than $10,000 yearly. Also, this doesn’t factor in the amount taken from the karting team the driver is part of.
That said, the real money isn’t hidden in prize money; it’s hidden in sponsorships. When you’re an older driver, like me, you offer more value to sponsors than a kid racer. That’s because you can promote the sponsors on social media or by uploading content on YouTube and mentioning them.
While there are no estimates on how much a karting racer can make from sponsorships, it’s safe to say that it’s much more than prize money. But, you’ll need to build a name for yourself on social media to secure a sponsor. This can take a long time, though.
This raises the question of whether go-kart racing is profitable or not.
Is Go Kart Racing Profitable?
The chances of kart racing being profitable for you are very slim. It’s not that you won’t earn any money; it’s just that the expenses for partaking in a race are extraordinary. And, I’m not only talking about the race day fees.
For starters, you’ll need to buy (or build) a race-ready go-kart. This can set you back thousands of dollars, depending on whether you buy a used or a brand-new one. On top of that, you’ll need to spend a few hundred dollars on go-kart gear. So, the initial investment will put you at least $3000 – $5000 down.
Then, there are the actual race day costs. This includes the race entry fees, a couple of spare tires, engine oils, fuel, and spare parts for the kart, like chains, steering column, etc. These costs can set you back between $200 – $300 per race. And, I’ve not even included travel expenses, which can increase the costs to $500 or more.
If you consider that a karting league will last for at least four races, you’ll spend at least $2000. From what I’ve gathered, a four-race championship will have a $1000 – $2000 prize for the winner. As you can see, you’ll have to come first; even then, you might not make a profit.
I didn’t count in the initial costs for the kart and the gear, as well as any repairs the kart will need if you get into a crash. So, in reality, karting isn’t profitable.
That said, you could get a sponsor that will make you a profit. But, since that’s pretty difficult to achieve, is there any other way to make money racing?
Can You Actually Make Money Racing?
Well, the truth is that making money racing isn’t easy. You’ll have to be the best or be able to secure sponsors. But, go-karting can help you learn the basics of racing, making you a lot of money in the long term. How will you do that? The answer is simple: sim racing.
How to Make Money With Sim Racing
Sim racing has gotten very popular lately, with F1 hosting their own esports and having huge prize pools. But, unlike actual racing, sim racing opens up several opportunities to make money.
I don’t think that anyone would pay to watch me practice go-karting. But, when it comes to sim racing, thousands of people watch the racers practice and race against each other. When you’ve got a large audience, it’s easier to secure a sponsorship or donations, making you some money. Also, you’ll earn a hefty income from advertising revenue.
Streaming yourself sim racing can make you more money than any karting racer. Plus, you don’t have to spend a fortune maintaining your go-kart.
The prize money offered in sim racing tournaments is great. In 2020, an iRacing tournament had a prize pool of $300,000. Many smaller contests could earn you a few thousand bucks if you win them.
With that said, sim racing is still a pretty new concept, and with F1 capitalizing on it, you could make a fortune. You just have to be very good at racing, and karting can help you with that.
While you might make some money go-karting, you’ll usually be at a loss. You’ll have to be the best in your league to make even a little bit of money, but it’s eaten away by the race day expenses.
If you want to make money racing, your best bet is going down the online route with sim racing. As I learn more about it, I’ll let you know how to do that.
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!
FAQs for Kart Racers Making Money
How Much Money Do Professional Go Kart Racers Make?
Professional go-kart racers can make between $1,000 – $20,000 in prize money. They can earn more if they secure a sponsor. But, as I mentioned above, the majority of racers don’t make any profit from karting