A Guide to Getting Started in Karting
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If any club, business or organisation can make use of this information that I offer freely, they are most welcome, all I ask is that for all the time it has taken me and cost,
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Thanks, Ray Tombs
(The following is quite extensive and runs on to part 2 on the links.
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KARTING is a wonderful, competitive and exhilarating motor sport that can be enjoyed by the whole family for a modest outlay.
Let's get this straight right now. You don't have to own a kart to enjoy karting.
There are a lot of different hats to be worn in the karting fraternity to run a race meeting.
If you don't want to race, there is flag marshalling or a host of other roles to be filled at the track.
If you do want a kart, there's no need to pay the earth for one, karts can be picked up second hand from around $800.00. You can go up from there.
Let's get you started. I'll take you through step by step in the simplest way I can. I am by no means an expert on the subject, there are people in our Rotorua club and in your area, far more qualified than me, but I just love and want to promote the sport, so here’s my dollars worth.
This text covers a small part of what I have learned from experience and from other helpful members of the large karting family around the Bay of Plenty.
I truly hope you enjoy and learn from my experiences and that you may thrill to the awesome sensation of adrenalin rush as you sit in the dummy grid ready for your first race, the mind blowing sensation of high speed with your bottom twenty millimetres off the track and the wonderful comradeship found in karting.
GETTING A KART
Like all motor racing, kart racing has very stringent regulations and is governed by a body called the NEW ZEALAND KARTING FEDERATION.
The Federation Executive sits once a year with representatives of all the clubs in New Zealand at what is known as ‘The Conference of Clubs’ and the rules and regulations are set out and fine tuned to the majorities satisfaction.
In real terms it is the clubs of New Zealand that set out the rules and then the Federation and its officers apply them by way of a National rule book and each club’s officials. The rule book is updated every 12 months.
It is also our race licence. So if you hold a licence you have no excuse that you don’t know the rules, good idea.
So the soap box kart that Grandad knocked up for you with the cousin Harry's motor bike engine and no brakes is strictly out if you want to compete. Don't rush out and buy the first Heath/Robinson kart you see just because it looks good or is a cheapie, or you may well end up with a lemon.
If you haven't been kart racing before, I would strongly recommend that you start with a second hand kart unless money isn’t an issue. (I should be so lucky!)
At least get out on the track and start off as a KT-100cc driver, once you get to grips with racing you can always get a new one or have a go at a 125cc or 250cc gearbox.
I hasten to say that the KT-100cc kart is the most popular, it is very reliable and fast and you will get all the competition you can handle from one of these lightweight machines.
Now, let's run through a few classes.
At seven years old a child can race a CADET kart up until aged twelve.
This class used to be popular and well subscribed.
Drivers race the small kart powered by a Raket 85 kart engine, very quick and professional looking. At a recent race meet at Hamilton there were 24 of these little critturs racing together, the maximum permitted in a race, it was really good to watch.
They are also much quieter than the noisy Ironhorse Midget that was.
Age ten and under fourteen is called JUNIOR RESTRICTED. It is the full sized kart with extended foot pedals if needed and regulation restricted rookie muffler. The restricted muffler is fitted to reduce the herbs on this fierce little monster. Also the barrel is raised with thicker gaskets for the same reason. The plan is to get the kids into the full size karts without too much speed, though they certainly go fast enough.
After you have been in that for a time and showing promise as a good driver, the Senior Steward will upgrade you into JUNIOR class, age permitting. The criteria there is from twelve and under sixteen.
When you are seventeen years or over, you are into the SENIOR class.
Depending on your age, you will therefore need a kart to suit your class.
There are bigger machines for those who want to go faster, again depending on your age.
Once a SENIOR, over seventeen years, you can race the gearbox machines and/or Open class.
There are a few different classes to look at here.
The KT-100cc is piston port, then we have 100cc rotary or reed valve (no gearbox), 100cc gearbox, 125cc gearbox, 250cc gearbox, SUPER KARTS.
The 100cc powered kart is usually the same chassis/frame as the KT-100cc.
You can run the same type of frame but with twin engines, one on each side.
With the rest, the frames vary considerably, the engines and gear boxes are usually taken from motorcycles.
From CADET right through to the SENIOR YAMAHA KT classes, it is strictly PUMP petrol only!
Well, what a selection you have to choose from. As the YAMAHA KT-100 is the most popular and simple, I will concentrate on this engine class. It is divided into classes,JUNIOR RESTRICTED, JUNIOR, CLUB class, HEAVIES and LIGHTS.
Some of the recognised brands to look for are;
KIWI KART. RIMMER. ARROW. CRG. OMEGA
The engine you are looking for is a specially designed kart racing engine called a YAMAHA KT-100.
If you get your hands on that combination, you're on the right track.
As I said earlier, there are 'getting started' karts from around $800.00. For various reasons, people come and go in the kart circles.
If you are lucky enough to strike someone that just wants to get some cash in a hurry and is giving karting away, you may score a full set up. That is you might get all the spares, race suit, helmet, gloves, neck brace, wheels, tyres, oil, kart stand, trolley etc.
Not for $800.00 I wouldn't think, but if you have the cash you can flash it about and tempt the vendor to take a few pingers less.
THINGS TO BE WARY OF WHEN BUYING A USED KART.
Thoroughly check all welding on the frame to ensure there are no cracks beside or coming through the weld.
Is there insulation or duck tape wrapped around the frame? If so, ask why it's there and can you remove it for a look, it may be hiding a crack.
If the frame has obviously had extensive welding repair work done to it, leave it unless the motor and goodies that went with it were at a good price. You can always get one good kart together out of a collection of various ones, so shop around.
Once a frame starts cracking, it really means that metal fatigue has set in, time for the dump.
If you are offered a helmet, look inside the lining for a STANDARD mark. It will have a label that says NZS 1884 or higher or it may read SNELL FOUNDATION, which is international standard. If not, or if it has signs of any damage or re-paint jobs, forget it.
It's going to be your head inside it when/if you hit the road, you want your helmet to protect you, it's the only head you have. The helmet is with-out doubt the most vital part of your required safety equipment.
Let's assume that every thing is good so far, get some-one to sit in the kart, on a flat concrete surface.
Gently lift the left front wheel off the deck a wee way, then do the same with the right wheel to the same height.
Try that several times, if one wheel feels lighter than the other, it will probably mean that the chassis is twisted. It's not a big deal and can be straightened with-out too much drama. But that's one demerit point towards the vendor, he might drop the price a bit!
All kart tyres have small indicator holes in the part that runs on the track, they are in pairs, one on the inside, one on the outside, four pairs on a tyre.
The deeper the hole the less wear the tyre has. No hole or very little means you're in for new rubber.
You are looking at around $220.00 for a set. Believe me, you want all the grip you can get out there on the track if you want to corner fast and safely.
Place a block of wood under the rear of the kart frame, remove the spark plug on top of the head, plug it in and earth it. This is done because on the KT YAMAHA engine, if you turn the engine over without the spark plug connected or earthed you may burn out the transistorised ignition unit. $35.00 for a new one.
Once you've done that, rotate the rear wheels in a forward direction and have a good look.
Do one or both wheels go up and down? If yes, either the axle is bent or the rim's damaged.
If it's the axle, it will need to be removed to straighten properly, or replaced with a new one.
Is the brake disc on the left side of the axle running true? If no, either the disc is bent or the housing it's mounted on... or both. Again, they can usually be straightened depending on how bad they are.
On the right side of the axle is the drive sprocket and carrier, the same trick and answer applies.
Of course all these things may be going up and down because of a bent axle only, so pay close attention to what's happening.
Hey by the time you and I have finished crucifying the vendor, he'll probably give the kart to you.
I have really only touched on the very basics of what to look for, so you won't end up with a pup!
You are the purchaser and as I said earlier, you can start off at $800.00. But... you can comfortably fork out three or four times that amount, on a used machine and equipment and still be doing okay.
Let's do a bit of homework.
To buy a brand new KT-100 kart, complete with all the bells and whistles and ready to race, you are looking at a ball park figure of $4000.00. give or take a hundred.
A bottom line crash helmet that complies with N.Z.K.F. regulations is $150.00. Expect to pay anything up to $1400.00 for a really top notch one.
A compulsory regulation race suit, $220.00.
Safe foot wear or proper karting boots. $120.00.
Equipment that is not regulation, but that I very strongly recommend.
A neck brace. $35.00.
Skate board elbow pads. $18.00.
Motor-X or skate boarders shin/knee pads. $25.00.
A kidney belt. $40.00.
For those of you who may be Macho or feel embarrassed by such attire, it can be worn under the race suit and not seen.
You may never need any of it, but won't you be pleased you're wearing it if you do!
Now don't start thinking "What is this, stock cars!" No way, karting is a NONE CONTACT sport. How-ever things happen from time to time and drivers sometimes bang into others.
Best to be fully equipped and drive to the best of your ability, safely, the time will come when you will be skilled at over taking manoeuvres and winning, all in good time.
So what are we looking at to get set up in all new gear? Well you've given five grand one hell of a shock!
The second hand gear is looking better by the minute, eh? While this may all sound expensive, it's still the cheapest form of motor racing.
Now you know what costs what, get out there and buy it!
So, here's this beautiful kart and all the spare bits sitting at home, what do you do now? Go for a blatt down the street and impress the neighbours? NO! NO! NO!
We in the karting fraternity want to keep our sport on the track and not annoy the public in general with the noise these wee monsters emit.
It gives karters and our sport a bad name to be a hooligan, so..... please curb the desire, unless you live out in the sticks.
If you get caught, it is a traffic violation!
Make enquires and join your local kart club, give me a call and you'll be our latest member before you know what hit you.
Our club races on a regular basis through the year and we also have the odd "Get to know each other" social.
As at 1998, we are not fortunate to have our own track yet, though we are working on it.
How-ever, we run our race meetings at a variety of different race circuits within fifty minutes travelling of Rotorua.
There are quite a few kart clubs in the B.O.P area.
The Bay of Plenty Club have their own fully self contained raceway at
Fagan's s Valley, Alleys Rd, TePuke. Set in beautiful native bush, the sprint track is sealed and fast. A good sized pit area for the karters to set up and work on their machines.
The BOP club has a fantastic clubhouse complete with cafeteria, showers, toilets, bar and children's play ground. You don't have to be a member of their club to race at their meetings, just pay the race day fee.
The Tokoroa Kart Club also has a lovely circuit, recently re-sealed, it is fast and soon sorts out the men from the boys. The club has their own clubhouse on site and the atmosphere and comradeship is just great.
The track is situated at Amisfield, just off State H/W 1, right by the Tokoroa air strip.
Taupo Kart Club utilise the Taupo Car Club circuit, which is at the top end of Centennial Drive that meets up with the Broadland Road. This track is the best of both worlds for the karters, as it not only is a full sized road race circuit, but also sports a cross over track which can be used for sprints.
The Taupo Kart Club have their clubhouse at the far end of the raceway and is well set up for refreshments and a clean up after racing.
The Eastern Bay of Plenty Kart Club have their track at Edgecumbe, it was initially compacted dirt but is now all concrete and there is talk that they are looking at sealing it in the near future. A good little circuit.
PART TWO CLICK HERE