Is Go Karting Hard, or Difficult?

Is Go Karting Hard, or Difficult?

Go Karting is one of those sports that is simple to learn but can take years to master. Many pros will say ‘You need seat time’. For this reason it’s not uncommon to see kids as young as 4 years old hitting the kart tracks.

Is go karting hard? Not to this youngster!
Karting is an easy sport even for youngsters and adults of all ages

Karting is also very rewarding and a lot of fun, so you can instantly feel the joy of making progress. Kart rental tracks are in almost every city of the world and small communities develop at each track. There is almost always someone around to help and give advice.

When I first started karting I was worried that I wouldn’t have what it takes to compete and so I didn’t want to get on track in real actual races. There was an indoor karting national champion at the track on that day, Mike Smith, and he told me, ‘Hey if you want to get better at this sport then jump on track with guys who are better than you, and you won’t find any better than guys running in a racing league. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose just try to come away being a little better than you were before, it’s easy as that’.

The next day, I was in a racing league, after having only 1 day on a race track. LOL, but maybe that’s a story for another time. How did I do though? I did awesome, racing is easy, you just have to get on a track and do it.

But if you’re worried about being competitive and getting to the track is too time consuming or expensive then spending some time in computer racing simulators can give you a huge edge. This makes it much easier to learn about racing.

Go karting can be hard on your body putting a lot of pressure on your ribs and on your neck. But you can get safety equipment to help with this, like Rib Protectors and Neck Braces. After about maybe 6000 races (I really don’t know how many) I don’t actually use any of this gear because the indoor karts are designed to protect you from these problems with safety pods, large seats and head padding.

So is karting hard? No, not really, it’s a lot of fun and as easy as driving a car. Karting just gets tricky when you want to compete with others because it is a sport where skill makes a huge difference between who wins races and who doesn’t.

If you haven’t done so already, give karting a go. Search for ‘indoor kart track near me’ on Google.

Is Indoor Karting Fun?

Is Indoor Karting Fun?

“I’m bored how about racing?…”

One Sunday afternoon in my late 30’s, I was bored out of my mind and wondering what I could do with myself that day. I took a quick stroll through memory lane and thought of all the coolest and most fun things I had ever done. I recalled learning how to drive as a kid on a race track with my dad and I wondered, “are there race tracks where you can rent cars around here?”
So I searched for ‘race track near me’ and an indoor go kart track came up on the results.
“Hmmm, Go karts? Aren’t they really fast? Like aren’t they like driving formula one race cars?”
So I gave the track a call and they were open and ready for “walk ins”, I guess that was me so it was about 1pm and I drove down to the track.

Is indoor karting fun? Drivers of all ages declare HELL YES!
A typical day at the indoor track. You might think it’s just for kids, but drivers of all ages test their skill and push the edge of the limits.

“Lets move out to the karting race track!”

When I got there I didn’t know what to expect, but the staff were really friendly and the karts were set up like a real little race track. They made me watch a video on flags and hand signals and got me into race gear with a helmet and overalls.
When I went out to the track there were many karts and people ready to race and a bunch of us went out together. I didn’t know any of these people but it was cool to have someone to race against.
As we sat in the pits, they started our engines and we sat there for a moment revving up and getting ready to go. I had adrenalin pumping as I looked around to see who else I was racing against. There was an older guy here, a dad and his son I think, and a few guys in their 20’s. It was ON!

“Get Ready… GO!”

They gave us the green flag, and for the first time in years I felt the joy of being allowed to drive a vehicle as fast as that vehicle would allow you to go. You know what I mean? I mean most times we have a car that we can’t speed in, we can’t floor it, we can’t really push the limits. But not on the race track, we can push it as hard as the machine will allow. Admittedly that’s not a great deal, these machines are not going to send you into a wall at 100Mph, but I found it impossible to not lose control.
As I slid around and raced against everyone on the track I became addicted. Hopelessly addicted.

“So much fun, I’m addicted to indoor karting for life..”

During this first day at an indoor race track I raced 22 times. A total of 220 minutes on the track. I ran race after race until the track closed at 11pm. A total of 10 hours at the race track. Since that day I have clocked up thousands of more races. I also became involved in league racing tournaments, national and international racing events.
Now would I say karting is fun?

“You betcha it’s fun! There’s almost nothing I would rather do.”

If you haven’t done so already, give karting a go. Search for ‘indoor kart track near me’ on Google.

How does weight affect go kart speed?

How does weight affect go kart speed?


Many years ago I had to coach a heavier driver with the goal of helping them qualify for the higher powered 9HP karts at Sykart. This would allow them to get out of the 6HP karts and drive the faster 9HP karts. As part of that mission I added weight to my own kart so we could both roll at around 350lbs. Now normally I roll around 200lbs so this was a great opportunity to see exactly what effect an extra 150lbs had on my lap times.

Well as expected, it totally killed my speed. What was unexpected was just HOW MUCH it killed my speed. We quickly realized that Sykarts qualification system that issues a handicap for lighter drivers was disproportionately biased towards lighter drivers. So on behalf of my student I had to go through the exercise of proving it, and had to try and convince Sykart to adjust their weight based ranking system.

Sykart did adjust their qualification system after this analysis.

So the rest of this document is basically the analysis and study as I looked into exactly how weight affects the speed of a go kart and lap times.

If you’ve ever raced at a go kart track, you’ll quickly realize there is something about weight that either helps you or hold you back. I’ve seen many debates about weight, some believe it’s an advantage to weigh more or that being light is a disadvantage. I must tell you, I’m not in that camp. Adding weight will kill your speed, and in this article we’re going to look at how I applied Newtons Kinetic Formulas to explore the effect of driver weight on lap times at Sykart Indoor Karting track during one winter season.

Newtons formulas tell us that any movement requires energy made up of the combination of weight and speed. If something weighs more then it needs more energy to travel at the same speed as something that weigh less.

You might want to apply some of these tricks yourself on your track because just going through the process will give you a better insight about your situation.

How to analyze exact sector times on your go kart track. 

The first step was to find a Google Maps satellite image of the building that holds the track. Next was to use a track map and try to scale it exactly to the proportions of the building.

Next I created a scale image in photoshop then imported the image into Geogebra and scaled the image so that 1 unit = 1 meter in real life. This allows very precise measurements of arcs and line segments and you can start to get an idea of the total length of the track and each of its segments.

Here are estimated measurements of the approximate fast line, superimposed over a scale model of the building, taken from Google Earth satellite picture of Sykart

Next I took Go Pro videos of the track, and stepped through the videos one frame at a time. This allowed me to count the number of frames through each section and gave a measurement of the speed in meters per second.
One frame of a 60 frame per second video is 1/60th of a second. By observing the wheels next to marks on the track and by noting hand and foot movements you can get fairly accurate estimates of the time spent in corners and on straights. As you know what the lengths of these sections are you can estimate your speed using time/distance.

By mapping the speeds of each section onto a spreadsheet, I was able to create these charts.

The following charts take into account an analysis of the driving line, using GoPro Video to find the distances and speeds through each section, and then measuring the total amount of acceleration and deceleration per lap. (see Chart 1). The calculations use a driver weight baseline of 160lbs and show how +/- 10lbs affect lap times.

Chart 1: Speeds and G forces of the turns were calculated, and adjusted for driver weight.

This chart shows the range of velocity in m/s, from an average Sykart lap where there are 3 deceleration / acceleration zones, two sharp brake zones and a two phased brake zone at around 18 seconds into the lap.

Creating Time / Weight Charts
Using Newtons kinetic formulas, based upon the energy required to move the mass of driver and kart, we can calculate the amount of time it takes the power of your engine to reach maximum velocity. This allows us to build a chart of expected lap times given the weight of the driver.


Kart weight = 119 kilos (taken from scales)
6.5 hp         = 4847.049168 Joules per second Power Capacity of Engine
9.0 hp         = 6711.298848 Joules per second Power Capacity of Engine
(Sykart has 2 different kart types, a 6.5hp and a 9hp model)


k = mv²/2                    Where k= kinetic energy in joules, m=mass in kg, v= velocity in m/s

1 hp                          = 745.699872 Joules/second

Whats a good time?

Driver lbs6Hp9 HpAbove Avg 6.5Good 6.5ExpertGodlyExpert 9 Hp

Becoming 9HP Qualified.

At the time of writing, the Sykart qualification times (given weight) to drive the higher powered karts are. They have created this system of weight brackets to simplify the qualification process. Its actually a very cool setup that lets newer drivers develop their skills in the pursuit of the higher powered club karts. It also makes some allowance for the speed handicap that extra weight creates.

0 – 150lbs = 30.200 lap times or lower
151 – 200lbs = 30.500 lap times or lower
201 – 250lbs = 30.750 lap times or lower
251 – 300lbs = 31.000 lap times or lower
300 +       = 31.250 lap times or lower

What the calculations tell us is that if Qualification Times @ 160lbs = 30.500 then the weight adjusted equivalent time for a driver at 250lbs should be 30.500 + 0.950 = 31.45, but because of the Sykart Bracketed Weight Class System, the 250lb driver is actually required to beat 30.750. So there is a relative handicap to the heavier driver of 0.700 seconds. That is, for the 250lb driver it is like being 160lbs and having to hit a 29.8 in order to qualify instead of a 30.5.
While this is a little bit biased and possibly unfair, it should also be noted that beating these times are incredibly easy even if you have average skills.

For a 300lb driver an equivalent weight adjusted time would be 30.500 + 1.477 = 31.977 seconds, etc. But they are expected to hit under 31.000, more than a .9 second handicap difference. This is like being 160lbs and having to beat a 29.300.

The driver at 140lbs would have an equivalent adjusted time of 30.500 – 0.211 = 30.289, so they also are at a little disadvantage to the 160lb driver, but only by about 0.200 so they are not hurt as badly as the heavy driver but they are still like a 160lb driver who has to hit 30.300 instead of 30.500, so there is some handicap.

And a 210lb driver would be 30.500 + 0.528 = 31.028, so they are a little closer to the asked time of 30.750. A difference of 0.278. So it is like being 160lbs and having to beat a 30.200.

The current qual times favour the driver between 150 to 170lbs, and become increasingly more difficult for the drivers above and below this range, particularly those above this range.

While these times are achievable, it must skew the skill levels of the 9hp qualified drivers and the volume of drivers who become qualified must disproportionately skew into the 150lb to 180lb range.

Personally I have found that running 30.3’s at 200lbs is easily achievable in all karts, where you are reasonably on line, under most track conditions and under race conditions I would expect to run in the low 29’s.

30.3@200 is a weight adjusted time of 29.878 @160 

Currently we are asking a 200lb driver to run 30.5 – 4.22 = 30.078 weight adjusted times.

But what is the equivalent time to a 330lb driver?

30.078 + 1.700 = 31.778 

But currently they are expected to run below a 31.250

The following chart raises the bar slightly to 30.3 for a 160lb driver, then shows a relative qual time for all weights on the blue line. This is the suggestion of where Sykarts Qual times should actually be.

The red line is an Elite driving time, for the 6.5HP karts which is in line with best times of drivers winning league races.

The orange line is an Elite Driving time for 9HP karts, given top league finishes.

Isn’t interesting how differences in weight create a linear handicap?

Here is a Table for Qualification, and Elite 6.5HP and 9HP Times. If you can hit the elite times here then you are in a very special class and could compete nationally. The Qualification times are where you would want to be if you are shooting to be amongst the top drivers.

Weight (lbs)Qualified 6.5Elite 6.5 TimesElite 9 Times
Time Lost to Weight
Driver lbsLow 5m/sHigh 10 m/sJoules to climb6.5Hp9Hp6Hp9 Hp

The chart above basically confirms the old theory that for every 10lbs you lose 0.100 seconds per lap.

Possible errors: It doesn’t take into account things like clutch slippage and extra binding in slow corners to heavier drivers, so heavier drivers might actually have even more of a penalty, consider this best case scenario..

If you know driver weights then you can adjust their lap times into a baseline time. If a driver is 230lbs in a 9hp kart, then you subtract 0.533 from their time and you get the 160lb driver time. If a driver is 140lbs in the same kart then you add 0.152 to their lap time.

How much time it takes to go from dead stop to vmax at 11m/s, given weight of driver

Driver lbsDriver+kart lbsDriver KilosDriver+kart Kilosjoules at 11m/s6hp T to vMax9hp T to vMax

So at the end of the day Sykart Adjusted their timing requirements and made it easier for heavier drivers to get into the 9HP club up from the 6HP club.

On most tracks I have visited 10lbs will cost you about 0.100 seconds per lap, this is the result of the cumulative effect of the acceleration zones. This is the easy rule of thumb, but if you have more or less corners this could obviously vary quite a lot.

Weight handicaps are real, and for this reason most well run indoor karting leagues will have strict weight requirements and use ballast to equal things out.

This could be a good thing, because the easiest way you can improve your lap times is to lose some weight. Managing your weight becomes a very important part of the sport and hobby of indoor karting. If you are struggling with your weight, you might consider a keto diet and intermittent fasting (I’ll discuss this elsewhere). Keto is insane at stripping the weight off, you can easily strip 0.100 off your lap time every 2 weeks.

I have an article here on site that talks about what you can actually do if you are a heavier driver.

Meanwhile good luck, and I’ll see you on track.


Passing and Overtaking in an Indoor Go Kart.

Passing and Overtaking in an Indoor Go Kart.

In this video I break down in detail several different types of passing in an indoor go kart. These methods will give you the advantage under almost any conditions. Note while some tracks are harder to pass than others, there is ALWAYS some way to get around the other drivers. Often it is just a case of having the right mind set about passing, because you can easily talk yourself out of being able to pass on a track.

I am fond of telling students, ‘Look if you can pass in 3 corners when your opponents can only pass in 2 corners you’re going to have a huge advantage in the racing leagues’. For this reason I make it a point to at least have a plan of how I would pass in every corner, given optimal conditions. This has enabled me to pass in many cases when otherwise I would have had no hope. Just think what a difference this makes in a 50 lap race when you don’t have to wait to make a pass, or when you are so threatening to the other drivers that they have to defend themselves in every position.

Now in this video I must admit we are dealing with drivers of lesser skill levels. But these are the kind of drivers that you will have to deal with when you are visiting an indoor go kart track, so these are the kind of passing conditions you’ll have to deal with.

Guide to passing

Passing And Overtaking Guide for Indoor Karting Drivers

Is Indoor go Karting Dangerous?

Is Indoor go Karting Dangerous?

As a regular at indoor karting tracks with more then 6000 races under my belt, I would love to say that Indoor Karting is not dangerous at all, but I can’t really in good conscience. Let me back up a bit though, it’s about as dangerous as crossing a busy street, with a helmet on your head.

By this I mean, ‘if you decide to walk in traffic without paying attention you’re going to get run over and killed’. Likewise, if you’re driving on a busy road you’d better look where you are going or you’ll either crash into someone or have someone crash into you. This is a real possibility, but are you going to blindly wander around a race track? Probably not, and I think this is why for most the risk is minimal.

However, it really depends on who you are on the track with. Over thousands of races I have totally seen people who are not paying any attention to where they are, or where they are going. I’ve seen all types.

While 9 out of 10 people are conscious of the fact that they could hurt someone, there’s always that 1 in 10 who has no clue at all. Facility workers can get pretty nasty with these types and can come on pretty strong. Now when someone honestly has no clue at all that they’re a menace, an angry track worker in your face can be a very confusing thing. Just look at the reviews of indoor tracks anywhere and you will see a common theme about the track worker who was mean to someone. Confrontations can even get physical as drivers react (especially drunk drivers). But try not to worry about the workers too much, in almost every case there is something dangerous going on and people who are not aware of it. Its the track workers job to make sure people don’t hurt each other.

There are idiots who show up every now and then (and who are not regulars themselves) who get a bit carried away by the fun and excitement of being able to race as fast as the pedal will allow them to. It is not uncommon for these types to use the kart as a ramming device. The facility will try to manage the situation but its not always possible until someone shows their colors. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes that they have a 1000lb weapon under their seat, or what a 1000lb weapon can do. And what they do is bruise and dislocate ribs and give you neck injuries.

Another common situation that can happen at peak hours is the pros and semi-pros will show up. When you get a situation where average drivers are on track with pros, its as if someone came along and grid locked a freeway and there’s a police chase going on in the middle of it all. As a faster driver, I must say, this is a blast.

Now a true pro is a graceful picture of elegance. They can weave through chaos like you would not believe. Flying through dozens of average drivers as if they are sitting still, without touching anyone. It’s really something quite amazing. But it takes a long time to get to that level.

The trouble usually comes with developing drivers who have developed their skill to be fast, but they have not yet the experience to deal with newer drivers in traffic. A lesser experienced driver can be very unpredictable, whereas a veteran will be totally predictable. For example a common problem is for a lesser experienced driver to spin out and lose control, coming to a dead stop in the middle of a turn. A pro who is at top speed can find themselves with less than 0.200 of a second to deal with a sudden stop right in front of them. Collisions happen right there. Now a top pro is going to predict the accident, and compensate, you’ll see it coming from a mile away if you’re paying attention to the other drivers on track with you. But it takes some time to develop that sensitivity.

So you’re at some risk when you’re on track with pros, but only if you can’t drive yourself and you have a habit of losing control, spinning out and parking yourself in front of others who are much faster than you.

So here’s how you can keep things safe for yourself.

#1 Teach your kids (and yourself) how to LET BY safely. That means how to let faster drivers pass you without being a danger to yourself and others.
The trick is fairly easy, you use corners, and just go as wide as possible through a turn, and just point your finger to the inside to let the driver know you are letting them pass.
DO NOT try to let the driver pass you on the OUTSIDE! I should repeat that.
DO TRY to let the driver pass you on the INSIDE of the corner. YOU take the outside.
If you do this properly you will lose very little speed, and you’ll have very little chance of having an accident.
By properly you should leave a gap of about a kart width between you and the apex. You just basically travel a kart length further before you turn into the turn and take the whole turn later.

#2. If you are new, as a general rule, get off the gas as you come into a turn, coast to the middle and WAIT until you get to the middle of the turn to get back on the gas.
I REPEAT.. coast and WAIT to get on the gas until you are clearly PAST the middle point of the turn. This will stop you from sliding and losing control in front of other drivers. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you get this right. It is a very common problem with newer drivers who want to race and who rush to speed out of turns and get on the gas too much too early. They slide out of control.

Believe it or not, this one trick is usually the only thing you need to be the fastest person on the track. Wait until you are PAST the middle of a turn before you get back on the gas.

#3 If you are not going to let someone pass you, be prepared to get nailed in the next turn. There is really no way to stop someone who is determined to smash into you, from catching you in the next turn. And when they do, they can give you quite the neck injury. You should keep that in mind and err on the side of courtesy. Let faster drivers by, politely.

On the other hand, if you MUST block, then you should probably also know that a pro is going to take advantage of you, no matter what you do. That’s because any deviation from the best line will cause a cascading side effect that will make you a slow target down the track. But even the optimal line has holes in it, and a pro will target this. Let me say, there IS a way to block skillfully, but trying to explain all the 100’s of different situations is a bit beyond this article. Let me tell you, it’s really funny when you have a driver in front of you who is more interested in looking behind himself (to block you) than where he is going and you still pass them like they’re sitting still. I’ve even seen pros who wait for the really aggressive drivers to catch up, and then deliberately pinched them off into the wall. Stuck.

Conclusion: Is indoor karting dangerous?
For experienced drivers or newer drivers with a little humility (and don’t mind letting faster drivers pass them) there’s very little risk. But what is dangerous are people and their intentions. The chance of being killed is pretty much zero, but if you have others on the track who are going to be maniacs, yeah you can get hurt. Really bad drivers (and there are LOTS of those) go out and hurt themselves because they basically race themselves into accidents. These are not your weekend warriors and pros but drivers who are intent to push the limits, but have not yet earned the skill to do so. Those guys are scary.

Indoor go karting tips for braking

Indoor go karting tips for braking

Braking is probably the one skill that sets the fastest indoor karters ahead of the fast indoor karters, or at least the karters who win all the races.

In this article I will go in depth about braking, and different types of braking under different conditions. We will take the development of your braking technique in 3 stages.

Stage 1. No brake at all technique.

Stage 2. Straight line threshold braking technique.

Stage 3. Trail brake technique.

Now for stage 1 of your training I suggest working on a no brake at all technique. The reason for this is that you have to learn how fast you can actually roll through a turn before you can know if you are hitting the brakes too hard and rolling too slow through a turn. You have to learn the limits of your traction. You might be surprised how fast you can actually roll through a turn.

In order to execute a no brake practice session you have to first pick a mark as your starting “let off the gas” point. Drive up to this mark, let off and coast. Now if you slide on the entry of the turn, then you got off the gas too late, you’re coming in too fast, and you have to get off earlier and try again until you don’t slide the entry. If you slide on the exit, well that’s usually getting back on the gas too soon. We are also going to assume here that you’re on line and not turning too late or too early. If you can get through the turn without sliding, then try to push your let off point forward a bit.

Your goal here is to develop the “feel” for the limits of your traction. This is how fast you want to be rolling AFTER you have hit the brakes to slow for the turn. The nice thing about a no brake turn, is that it is usually very stable, and so you can really feel what it’s like to load up the wheels and coast at the limit of traction.

First my advice for standard braking is not to fall for the drama you see on TV as you watch Formula One racers making crazy late braking moves down the inside straight as they make a pass. That late braking move is NOT fast, even though it’s enabled them to pass another driver. It’s actually very slow and inconsistent. It’s slow because they’re way off line, and it’s inconsistent because it pushes the limit of the threshold and runs the risk of breaking loose. And anytime you break loose on an entry you can expect to vary your lap times by 300th of a second. And you don’t want variance like this, it will get you passed.

As always my golden rule for indoor karting is no sliding allowed, so the goal is *almost* always to brake without inducing a slide. Yes there are exceptions to the rule, but it is very rare that an entry slide is going to be the fastest approach to a turn.

So there are two main things you want to strive for with your braking. Consistency, smooth weight transitions.

You want consistency because it’s better to take a corner 100th of a second slower than the fastest lap possible, if that fastest lap involves a late threshold brake with a high risk of losing it. What you’ll find when you study videos of those sessions is that your corner times are going to be all over the place, and your average is going to be less than the consistent approach. Mike Smith was always a big advocate for smooth consistent braking. He was never the fastest lap, but always the champion. And he took that idea to he nationals and won.

So now you have a no brake technique down, and you’ve had a chance to do some sessions and feel the limit of traction, lets go to stage 2, straight line braking.

Now we are going to move our brake point ahead a bit.

The most important thing though for a consistent braking experience is to have a consistent braking point for each turn. I usually use a marker on the side of the track, maybe it’s a dark patch of oil, or a crack in the track, a tire on the side, sometimes paint on the track, and some tracks will let you arrange cones on the sides of the track. Use that mark as your starting point for your brake zone.

For consistency I start with a steady but moderate braking pressure, which I will increase as the speed comes down and the risk of breaking loose comes down with it. This gives a smoother weight transition, with your inertial mass moving from center balance to the front wheels very gradually. This is important because it sends you into the turn with very steady balance and a high level of grip. This allows you to consistently hit a turn at greater speed. It is better to brake a little bit earlier than try to push your limit right up to the last inch.

Now again if you find you are sliding on the entrance then you are coming in too fast, and you need to brake earlier. Note I didn’t say, brake harder, I said earlier.

Now if you manage to make it stick and you are getting through the corner easily, then you can move your brake point forward. I usually move in increments of about 1 foot forward and backwards, but once you are close to the ideal mark, you can try moving +/- 3 inches. But again, I suggest you don’t try to push your luck with a brake point if you want to be consistent.

Now in stage 2, we only want to brake in straight lines, we don’t want to brake and turn the steering wheel at the same time. This is because the wheels are already doing the maximum work trying to slow you down, now if you add an extra load on them to turn as well, you’re running a high risk of losing the back end and going into a slide.

So in stage 2, you will brake in a straight line and as the turn in starts, you’ll release the brake and go into a coast. You’ll coast all the way to the apex, and then you’ll get back on the gas with a squeeze.

You should know by now what speed you need to carry through the turn so you should find this is very fast. This is the technique Mike Smith used to win the nationals, so it’s really fast. But it’s not the fastest.

The other common problem with an entry slide is that you are turning the wheel and braking at the same time. This is called trail braking. And this is an advanced braking technique that I will now. For now, you don’t want to start with this, you want a straight line braking system to work for you first. That’s because a trail brake is a very hard thing to master and can take years to get consistent. But let’s talk about it now.

Stage 3, the trail brake.

Now you are basically going to do the same thing as stage 2, only now you are going to move your brake zone forward even more and continue to brake past your turn in point. So you brake down the straight, then through the turn in entry. Again if you can’t stick it, then you brake earlier, and maybe even softer. If you do manage to stick it, then you can push your brake point forward even more.

For this I like to brake fairly soft and steady so the weight can transition slowly and build up on the front of the kart. In some corners you’ll want to brake all the way to the apex. In some corners you’ll only brake for a little ways into the turn before releasing for a coast. The magic of a trail brake is that it will allow you to enter a turn with a good portion of your weight baring down on the front wheels and it sets you up nicely for roll speed through a turn.

Again the risk here is that you lose go over the threshold and lose the back end. This happens easily because all the weight has shifted to the front of the kart, and the back is light. You’re going to need to get the rear weight back down in order to be able to accelerate safely.

Sometimes a trail brake that throws a lot of weight forward can delay your ability to get back on the gas, and so you can lose feet as you try to get the rear to gain traction again.

For this reason I like to use a blip on the gas (or two) before I actually start to squeeze on the gas. The idea is that the blip will force a more rapid weight transition back to the rear wheels, BEFORE you start to accelerate. This can allow you to compensate for the extra forward load, and balances the weight more quickly. The idea of the blip is that it will only cause a small inertial weight displacement, shoving the kart forward a little bit, but not cause the rear wheels to break loose and spin out. If you were to say quickly, ‘one and then two’ This is about the timing that you need to do a blip and squeeze application of the gas.

And so that’s my tips to develop advanced braking techniques in an indoor go kart.

Good luck, see you on the track.

12 Advanced Karting Tips for Heavy Drivers, to beat Lighter Drivers.

12 Advanced Karting Tips for Heavy Drivers, to beat Lighter Drivers.

I’m typically a heavier driver. In my proudest moment, I ran a full league season against our strongest class of drivers, starting at 30lbs over the weigh in, and miraculously won the season. That was truly amazing because at least 3 of the drivers were ranked in the top 20 US indoor karters at the time. Mind you, I went on a keto diet the night we started the 8 week race season and finished my last race at legal weight, but for 7 of those races, I was over the weigh in.

Anyone with any karting experience knows that even just a difference of 10lbs will essentially rob you of about 0.015 of a second per corner. While that’s not much, it adds up when you have like 6 to 10 corners to deal with. And it really adds up when you’re at like 210lbs racing against a 180lb driver. We had 7 corners in our series so I was running at a 7×0.015 x3= 0.315 second handicap per lap. And our races are 50 laps long!

So how did I pull that off?

Well let’s look at how extra weight in a go kart causes problems and what you can do about those problems.

The problem is acceleration zones and corners. Without getting too scientific about it, basically Newton’s laws of kinetic energy are working against us.

(Stuff it, I have to give you formula, K=mv^2/2. Kinetic Energy = Mass x Velocity squared, divided by 2. This formula tells us how much energy is required to reach any speed.)

The problem is that to reach the same velocity a heavier driver requires the engine to deliver more energy than a lighter driver requires, and the engine can only deliver the same amount of horsepower per second to both drivers. The lighter driver has a serious acceleration advantage. And that means the lighter driver can slide around and will be forgiven. You, the heavier driver, will not be forgiven for a slide.

But fear not, most drivers have no idea what makes a kart slow or fast, and so make loads of mistakes. Your job as a heavier driver is to not make those mistakes, and to approach it with advanced knowledge of your machine and how it works, so you can drive it with control and purpose.

So tip #1 . DO NOT SLIDE!

That means you have to be very accurate with your turn in timing. You need to have very clear marked out turn in points, and you need to hit them with absolute precision, every time. One way to work this out, is to walk the track and find marks and angles from the outside of the track to the apex. You want about a 45 degree turn in point to the apex. Mike Smith the US national indoor karting champ (of 2007 I think) would stand at the apex then count the steps to measure the width of the track. Then he would turn 90 degrees and walk back down the track the same number of steps, then turn around and his foot would be at 45 degrees to the apex. That was his turn in point. At least the starting turn in point from which he would adjust according to how his kart handled.

The way I handled the problem was I got a go pro and I captured my fastest laps from a helmet cam. Then I went home and studied my fastest laps in slow motion and worked out exactly what happened, where I turned in, where I exited. And I took note of marks on the track that lined up with my wheels. Then I could go out and hit those marks every single time.

So Tip #2. Get a helmet cam and study your fast laps in slow motion. 

One of the other reasons people slide is that they are not steady with their hands in a turn. A big part of being steady is just getting your turn in timing right, but it is also making the conscious decision that you are going to go through turns using as little hand movement as you possibly can, once you’re loaded up and going through the turn. You might need to fiddle about a bit on your turn in to catch your balance, but your ultimate goal is to get smooth and steady and to not be wobbling your hands around like you’re trying to counter steer every little bump and slide. I see many beginners driving what I call nautical miles. Like they’re trying to drive over the waves of the ocean. You can literally see the front wheels of their karts flapping left and right as they go through a turn. Don’t do that.

Tip #3, Aim to keep your hands steady and fixed through the greater part of the turn. Do not wobble the steering wheel all through the turn.

Now the best way I have found to achieve this, steady hands and steady front wheels, is to first realize that you actually have full visible access to those front wheels. This is not like a car where you can’t see where your wheels are pointing. A kart is more like a formula one car, you can see where the wheels are pointing! I can’t stress enough how important that is, you need to use this to your advantage.

What you do is put your eye directly on the apex, with the intention of aiming your front wheels right at that apex so you can get as close to it as possible. Remember your goal is not to try and use steering tricks to counter sliding through a turn. Your goal is to have no sliding and just flow through the turn under a steady G force.

So this gives several tips.

Tip #4. Put your eye on the apex as early as possible from way up on the straight, not as you turn in (that’s too late).

You need your eyes on apex early, when you are back on the straights. Looking at the apex too late is the major reason for people missing the apex.

Tip #5. Watch where your front wheels are pointing through the corner of your eye, (while your eyes are on the apex). Then just deliberately point your wheels at the apex, making the minimal adjustment needed to keep them pointed.

When you do this you become very smooth and consistent. You will find you are able to approach corners faster because you don’t break loose as easy or as often. So you don’t need to slow down as much for turns.

Tip #6. Always try to get your kart as close as possible to the apex, every time.

The reason for always being as close as possible is that any distance at all off the apex, makes the track longer. There is pretty much NEVER any speed advantage to being off the apex, and there is pretty much a 100% chance that you’ve made the track longer. How much longer? Well consider a 180 degree turn, if you are 2 feet off an apex, then you have to travel 2 feet further down the approaching straight. Now you have 2 extra feet to travel to get back on line as you go down the exit straight. That 2 feet off the apex, cost you 4 feet of track length, with no advantage in speed. This is probably the number one reason that races are won and lost, the fastest drivers are actually driving a shorter track, while going the exact same speed. So while you still need to get out wide for most turns, in an indoor kart situation you need to be looking at how you can make your turns just slightly tighter than your opponents, without losing traction.

Next we will talk about ‘the bind’, and how it can effect heavy drivers.

Now one of the major problems for a heavy driver, is that an indoor kart has a solid rear axle. This means that both rear tires travel at the same rotational velocity at ALL times. That means that the rear wheels when both firmly planted on the ground want to push the kart in a straight line at all times, even when you turn the steering into a turn. If you try to turn the steering wheel and push a kart in the pit, you’ll see what I mean, it’s like the brakes are jammed on, it doesn’t want to roll. This is known as binding, and it is a major loss of momentum energy. When you turn the wheel the front wheels and the rear wheels go into a fight, and if all 4 wheels are planted down flat and hard, unless the rear has lost traction, the front wheels are going to lose the battle.

This describes what happens when a kart is “pushing”. It also describes what happens to a kart when it slides, because essentially the outside rear tires have lost grip. The loss of grip causes the inside rear tire to slam down, because there is nothing resisting the lateral inertia. And so a kart that has just slid, has totally lost it’s geometric advantage, which I will describe now.

Now the kart is actually designed to deal with the solid rear axle problem by setting the front steering geometry up in a way that causes the kart to twist and tip over when you turn the steering wheel. Kind of. The inside rear wheel (when you are decelerating) lifts off the ground when you turn the steering wheel. So a properly functioning and operated kart is actually on 3 wheels through a turn. One back wheel on the outside, and two front wheels. In this case the solid rear axle, is no problem, the inside wheel just spins in the air. This works best when you are decelerating into a turn.

But if you are accelerating out of a slow turn, that rear wheel is much less likely to lift off the ground, because it does not have the forward weight bias to push the front wheels down and lift the rear wheels. This means that a heavier driver is more subject to an effect that we call ‘the bind’. The bind is where the weight bias due to the effect of acceleration is pushing the rear wheel down before it gets a chance to develop lateral inertia (the sidewards G force you feel in the middle of a turn). The heavy driver is extremely handicapped by the bind, much more so than a lighter driver will be.

So here’s the answer to the binding problem when under acceleration. You have to learn how to, violently and rapidly snap at the wheel when you begin your turn in. The pro drivers call this, ‘the snap in’  technique. It can be achieved in several ways, one way is similar to ‘the Scandinavian flick’ a trick that is used by rally drivers where you kind of initially turn away from the turn to load your weight onto the inside before turning back into the turn to cause the weight to aggressively transfer to the outside of the vehicle. This works best when there is a lot of traction on your track say from built up rubber and the bind is out of control. My preferred method is to over turn the steering wheel on initial entry with a very fast snap at the wheel, and then to release that pressure half way, and then return to a steady mid point. In timing it’s about 1/2 a second total from 1. snap in, 2. recoil, 3. aim at the apex and hold. If you can imagine the weight jarring quickly from one side to the other, which tips the kart up onto 3 wheels, and now you have to catch the momentum or things will get out of control. Mind you, the Snap In is NOT for corners that you are approaching quickly and decelerating into because there is no need to worry about binding in these situations. You should always be on the alert for situations that are causing binding, and thinking about how you an tip the kart over to deal with it.

So Tip #7, learn how to snap at the wheel when you’re accelerating into a turn, in order to tip the kart over sideways onto 3 wheels. This will give the heavier driver roll speed that he would not normally have due to his binding handicap.

Now there is another place where the bind can happen, and that’s on the exit as you accelerate out of a turn. If you have not achieved a 3 wheel tripod effect, then you’re going to bind your exit. You’re going to have to analyze your weight transfer and listen to your engine to know if you’re in this situation because different things can cause it, and it’s not always easy to realize you’re binding on an exit. But lets talk about some of the things that can cause it. Of course the usual culprit is that you’ve slid the rear out, ever so slightly, and you’re slipping a little as you start the exit. It’s hard to catch yourself doing this. But as general rule, the cause is from getting on the gas too early. Well that’s the easy fix, just coast more, and get on the gas later.

When you coast through a turn you maintain the 3 wheel tripod so much easier, and we call this ‘roll speed’. So you should really practice this first because it is very fast. But, it’s not the fastest way to get through the turn, and as a heavier driver trying to beat a lighter driver, now I’m going to tell you something that breaks this rule. But really, you need to master the coasting technique first.

Okay, so the reason we are binding our exit acceleration in the last example is because we are sliding ever so slightly, because we pushed for too much acceleration too early. The problem with pushing for acceleration too early is that the forward weight bias that is created by a deceleration into a turn has not had the chance to settle and return the weight bias to middle or rear. So the back is light and does not yet have adequate down force to accelerate through and out of the turn. This is why we coast, we are waiting for the forward weight bias to return to an equilibrium. But here is the thing, when you are in a turn there are actually many things that will cause the weight to shift forward and rear quicker or slower. For example if you were to hold the brake down longer and deeper, then the weight will stay forward biased longer. If you brake for a shorter distance, then the weight will stay forward biased longer, because you will throw more inertia towards the front of the kart. As opposed to say if you extended your braking distance by say just 3 more feet earlier. You see the weight transition would be smoother and more gradual. That would actually allow you to trail brake into the turn and load the front wheels up more carefully. That actually allows you to roll through the corner more quickly and ultimately it allows the weight bias to return to equilibrium sooner.

So that’s one way, don’t slam the brake hard at the last split second. Think about how that’s going to effect your weight transfer and loads and traction. Your goal under high loads is to smooth and slow the weight transitions.

As another example, now when you turn the steering wheel into a turn, those front wheels act a bit like brakes, ever so slightly, the turning is causing the weight bias to push towards the front of the kart. Now if you release the turn in, the weight bias will gently release back to the rear of the kart. Or at least to the middle. It ever so slightly releases forward weight pressure. That means if you release your steering pressure, just before you begin accelerating, you get a rear downforce bonus at the split second you release steering. That means you dont get the little slide that breaks you loose, and you get to get back on the gas earlier than if you waited and held your steering steady. The trick is that once you have acceleration started, you reapply the steering pressure that you had initially. Do you get it? We call it the 1-2-3 because it kind of happens in a 3 phase process, again it all happens in a split second, maybe a second at most. The acceleration rate by the way is not usually a stomp it’s a squeeze, so you don’t induce slide.

so Tip #8, learn to release steering pressure ever so slightly before you accelerate, and then squeeze the gas and reapply steering pressure. This allows earlier acceleration without sliding.

Now if you understand what we just did, then you’ll understand the next thing I’ll explain to you. Notice that we just caused the rear downforce to return to our rear a little bit sooner by releasing the steering before we accelerated. But there are other more aggressive ways to do this too. I should mention here that the reason we need to have all kinds of different methods is that in a rental kart scene, we have all kinds of different broken karts. Some karts you have to be very gentle with, others you can do aggressive things to them and they’ll grip up for you. You have to feel your way, and adapt as conditions change and tires temps and pressures change.

So the final expert advanced method to induce an early rear down force is to double blip and even triple blip the gas before acceleration. Now this is my favorite trick because it lets me get full throttle way way earlier than normal. As much 6 to 8 feet earlier, and that means your acceleration time and straight length is much longer. This allows a heavier driver to compete with lighter drivers but you have to be very careful not to overdo it and slide anywhere. You are really going to be on the edge here. So I’ll explain what I believe is happening here. You’ll typically see the apex about a kart length to a kart and half in front of you when you start this move. And normally say with a coasting technique, you can’t touch the gas until the front of the kart has reached the apex. You begin by blipping the gas briefly. Now if you were to hold it down, you would slide out for sure. But you don’t hold it, you just go blip(1), release(2), squeeze(3). The whole 3 moves are done in about one second timing. The actual timing you will learn to be able to feel. You’ll actually become sensitive to the weight transition to the rear during the first blip. I can feel it as an increase and change in the feeling of the seat against my back. As that pressure increases I start to squeeze the gas. That first blip throws the weight to the rear, but because we release the gas, the tires just down force and grip up. Now you can squeeze on the power with traction and power out. Be very careful not to slide though, because if you do, you bind, and then any acceleration bonus is cancelled out.

Tip #9, Learn to double blip the gas before accelerating and you’ll be able to start accelerating a kart length earlier than normal, without sliding.

Now we have talked a lot about binding being caused by the dragging of the inside wheels. And here we are talking mainly about indoor karts, which have thick strong chassis’, and are much less flexible than outdoor karts. There is another trick that helps with indoor karts which involves using your heavier weight and strength to your advantage. Basically when entering a corner, you have to push your heal in against the base of the stirrup towards the inside of the turn. So if you are turning left you push your left heal down towards the turn. And likewise if you are turning right, you push your right heal down. What you are trying to achieve is cross tension across the frame. It’s a bit hard to explain why this works, but basically it assists that inside rear wheel to lift off the ground and assists your kart to roll through turns with extra downforce in the places that it is needed. If you do this while on a set of scales in an outdoor kart, you can see the wheel weights change as much as 20lbs from left to right. You have to push fairly hard. It’s pretty unnatural to do this, so it takes some practice but it can really help with karts that are broken and twisted, particularly karts that push and are bound up. For a heavier driver that can be bound up through sweeper turns, pushing in with your heal to twist the chassis can make a huge difference to roll speeds. If you think a bit about what it does, you’ll realize why. Imagine you are pushing with your left heal, and you pushed the front left wheel down on a left hand turn. That would cause the outside rear wheel to push down, and inside rear wheel to lift up. That’s what cross tension does.

Tip #10, Learn to use your heals to create cross tension across the kart.

Now being a heavier driver it is very important how you distribute your body weight in the kart. In short, you have to LEAN OUT of the turns, DO NOT LEAN INTO TURNS. This is so super critical it can’t be over stressed, it should probably be lesson and rule #1. To explain, it goes back again to that solid rear axle, but it also relates to the direction of down force and lateral force on your wheels. Remember that solid rear axle requires us to lift up the inside rear wheel. Otherwise you bind up as the inside rear wheel drags. So it follows that leaning outwards will lighten the load on that inside rear wheel. A 200lb person can easily shift 50lbs from one rear wheel to the other, even if the wheel doesn’t lift off the ground. But now we have to also consider the angle of the lateral forces from that weight. It’s best explained with an image. If you are leaning out then the angle of force on the rear outside tire is more downwards, which promotes traction. But if you are leaning inwards then the angle of the force is more outwards than downwards, in this case you are inviting the kart to slide out. Drivers who lean into turns, are more loose and prone to slide, and then they bind up. Drivers who lean out, have more traction and therefore less slide and are less likely to bind up. It takes some practice to get used to leaning out, because you have to resist the urge to fight inertia, but once you have it down, it’s very natural. Note also that when you lean out of a turn you DO NOT LEAN OUT WHEN YOU ARE IN THE TURN, LEAN OUT WELL BEFORE THE TURN IN, WHEN YOU ARE ON THE STRAIGHT.

Tip #11. Lean OUT of turns, DO NOT LEAN INTO TURNS!!!! IMPORTANT.

My last idea is to be very mindful of how the weight transfers from front to rear when you release the gas from full throttle. This is important for sweeper turns, or fast turns where you basically enter at top speed and hope to fly through. Often in these turns you find the kart going into a slide at the apex and just not able to hold full throttle through the whole turn.

The slide we are talking about here is known as ‘snap oversteer’. It is caused mainly by the shift in weight from the rear to the front as you get off the gas while you are at maximum inertial load in the middle of turn. The release of gas lightens the rear and back goes into a drift.

In these cases people usually get off the gas WAY WAY too late. It seems counter intuitive, but you usually have to get off the gas way early, WHEN YOU ARE ON THE STRAIGHT or just ever so slightly after turn in. That seems way early, you have no risk at all of sliding on the straight, what gives? The reason is that releasing on the straight causes the weight to shift forward BEFORE the turn in. As the front wheels bite down and you start the turn in you can now reapply the gas, and you can stomp down fast and hard. The whole kart geometry has changed from being flat biased in the rear with a middle biased center of gravity, to lifting the inside wheel and establishing the correct 3 wheel bias for roll speed, the slight drop in velocity on entry tips the kart forward and over as you turn in. Now if you have leaned out correctly and early, and you are pushing in with your inside heel, the center of gravity will create downforce and grip on the outside wheels. Now you can push full throttle through the whole turn with no risk of sliding and no need to release the throttle. Again your eye is on the apex, and you are aiming your front wheels with a steady hold of the wheel. Sections like this are usually where I pick up a lot of time on other drivers as I watch them lose traction every time they lift up.

Tip #12. If you are sliding pr binding in a turn that should be taken at full throttle, blip off the gas, when on the straight, just before turning in. Blipping off the gas creates forward bite and tips the kart over, releasing bind. This increases roll speed, and traction.

Final word.

The trick is to be very mindful about how shifts in the weight are caused by getting on and off gas, or by steering input, and how these might create slides when at full loads, and then to think about what kind of geometry might be in play at that time. Then you can think about what you can do to change the geometry and weight distribution in advance. You will find that things like trying to make adjustments to your body position when you are in a turn already is probably too late. Note also that many of these tips involve manipulating the weight transfers to give you the ability to hold the gas down full when normally you cant.

These are actually not only tips for heavy drivers, they’re tips for any driver. The good thing is that lighter drivers are usually not effected by bind and sliding as much, so they don’t work on it as much. But for heavy drivers, getting these things perfect are really your only hope of evening the odds. The good thing is that when race time comes and ballast is added you will dominate your weight class.

10 advanced go karting tips to go faster in an indoor go kart

10 Advanced Go Karting Tips To Go Faster In An Indoor Go Kart

Tip #1 Don’t Slide.

Just get it in your head now, SLIDING IS SLOW. Sorry to break it to you, because it’s a lot of fun, but sliding and stomping full throttle through a turn like a Dukes of Hazard rerun, is going to get you into an accident and passed by any above average driver. Every slide is going to cost you between 0.100 to 0.500 of a second per corner. Sliding through turns is the number one thing that makes newer drivers slower.

How do you not slide?

So as a general set of rules.

If you are sliding on the entry. You came in too hot and fast. Slow down.

If you are sliding on the exit. You probably got on the gas too soon, wait wait wait and coast to the apex.

Wide Slow Entry, Tight to Apex, Wide Fast Out.

We go wider, so we can carry more momentum from one straight to another, it’s a basic way to lower the G forces on the tires so they can have more grip.

But why tight to Apex?

Tip #2 As close as possible to the apex, every time.

The apex is the very middle of the corner and you want to travel as close as possible on every corner. Now this is a bit of an advanced idea because ultimately this is what sets the fastest drivers apart from the faster drivers. That being said, it’s also what sets the slowest drivers apart from the slow drivers. That’s because slow drivers drive down the middle of the track. Lets say for argument sake that you are on a 180 degree turn, and you are 2 feet off the apex when you are in the middle of that turn. Now there are only 2 ways you could have got to that point, you either made the oncoming straight 2 feet longer OR you turned in early and drove a straight line towards that point.

Let’s take the first possibility into account. Now you’ve made your incoming straight 2 feet longer, now the only way you can get back online is to make the exit straight 2 feet longer as well. By adding 2 feet to your apex, you just added 4 feet to the total track length. Even if you maintain the same speed and curve as the fastest driver, you’re still going to arrive at the finish line 4 feet behind, and all from a single corner. Do this on another 5 turns and you’re now 24 feet behind the fastest driver in a single lap, while travelling at the same speed.

Now the second possibility, that you turned in early. Remember that the whole purpose of a corner is take a kart that is travelling in one direction, and completely turn it around and send it the other direction. You have to do this while maintaining as much of the energy and momentum that you entered the corner with. Now the tighter the corner, the more energy is going to be scrubbed away, so steady wide corners allow you to carry the most momentum, in and out. As you get more advanced the width of corners becomes a fine tuned trade off, but as a general rule, wide turns win races. So basically when you turn in early, you’re forcing the kart to rotate within a tighter circle because you will kind of drive straight at the apex and then do all your rotation on the exit. This will be slow, so not only would you have made the track longer, but you are also going to be slower through the turn, which means you’re losing a lot more than 4ft in this turn. It’s much better to spread your rotation out over a wider area and that means turning in, not too early and not too late, but just right. Which means, you need to perfect your timing.

So it’s not about reflexes! How do you perfect your timing?

Tip #3 Find marks so you can time your actions perfectly.

So this is how we perfect our timing. We use some kind of mark on the track to determine our brake point, our turn in point, our let off point. We even look for marks on the exit that we can judge our last turn for accuracy. Using cameras on your session is a great way to handle this, because you can examine in slow motion marks on the entry and exit of corners during your fastest laps. This will give you targets that you can aim for every time. Basically in an indoor kart you have view of your front tires at all times, so you can use this to point your wheels at targets, and line them up with targets. And the primary target for speed is the apex, which brings us to the next tip.

Tip #4. Eyes on Apex, early and always.

The most critical point on any corner is the apex. You need to be as close as possible every time. Now the expert drivers are going to be within a centimeter of the apex every time, and quite often you’ll see their tires hitting the walls of the apex. If you’re even off by 2 inches, you’ll lose feet of track every lap.

So how do you do it? You look at the apex early from way back up on the straight. Now you still have to use marks to time your turn in and your brake points, that’s fine, you just do it with your eyes on the apex and watch for marks out of the corner of your eye.

Many pros turn their head towards the turn in advance, which allows them to see down the inside of the corner, in case people come diving in. But the head turn in allows you to get oriented for the apex well in advance and as he corner approaches there will be a point at which you are not looking out the corner of your eyes, but directly straight ahead. This is your turn in timing mark. It’s a little different then lining up your tires with a wheel, crack or mark on the road, but it’s a very effective and consistent method for timing your turn ins.

Another reason you want to look at the apex early from back up on the straight is that no matter how fast your reflexes, you still have about a 1/5th of a second reaction time. If you find yourself looking at a brake point, applying the brakes and THEN turning your head to locate the apex, then it’s too late you can’t possibly be smooth and steady and direct and on. Once you find the apex, then you have to start controlling the steering and.. sorry you’re going to miss it by miles. This is probably the #1 cause for newer drivers to miss the apex even when they’re trying to, they did not have their eye on it early enough. That’s usually because they were looking at the kart in front of them instead. And that’s a mistake that will cause you to be only as fast as the guy in front of you. When you catch up with someone, don’t look directly at them, look at the apex instead.

Tip #5 Don’t lean in, Do lean out of turns.

This is a bit of an advanced tip and it has to do with the mechanics of the standard rental go kart. The reason is because karts are made to go faster when they are rolling with their weight biased towards the outside of a corner. When you lean in towards the center of the turn, you actually create a braking effect on the kart. This is all a very technical thing and you can go and research about solid rear axles and how leaning in causes a braking and sliding effect. It actually reduces your traction and acceleration when you lean in, and improves your traction and acceleration when you lean out. Now the thing is, again you have to lean early, you don’t want to wait to the last minute because you’re going to mess up your balance and timing. And the thing to remember is that balance is everything. Perfect balance means you can increase your roll speed through a turn, which means you can push the limits and go faster without losing control.

So how else do we achieve balance?

Tip #6 Steady hands, don’t wobble the steering wheel when in a turn.

Now in the very middle of the turn you are likely to have the highest G forces and the only thing keeping you from sliding is the down-force on those tires. The problems come when people try to adjust their steering in the middle when under maximum load. The other thing intermediate and newer drivers will do is change their acceleration and braking in the middle of a turn instead of keeping it steady. The more steady you can keep things then the more traction you will have because as the weight rocks around left to right and forward to back, you will only have as much traction as your weakest moment. Once you lose it, you’re in damage control. So how do we do this?

When you have a perfect turn in point and get your timing perfect, there is a kind of set and forget process. You set your turn in, the weight shifts a bit, you steady it, maybe with a little counter action to balance out. Then you get ready to hold steady through the turn and ride it out.

If you turn in too early you wont be able to do this, you’re going to have to add more steering input as you go through the turn, particularly on the exit. If you are doing this, then you are definitely slow.

If you turn too late you might have to miss the apex completely or keep adding more steering input on the entry than you need.

Ultimately once you reach the apex you want to be either holding steady or releasing the steering pressure (preferably). Because if you are releasing steering pressure then you are accelerating.

This is the typical process of slow in, fast out.

Tip #7 Head up, lean back for hard braking zones.

This tip really makes a difference for shortening braking distances, and is especially helpful when passing. It is common for newer drivers that are racing to lean forward more and more. The problem is when you do this you take downforce away from your back tires and you become loose. John Kimbrell the multiple US indoor national champion, always pushes his seat all the way back and leans back, no matter the kart. As you become more experienced you will be able to tell a difference when you lean forward and backwards with your braking and your cornering.

That being said, sometimes a kart is really bound up, and it wont accelerate out of turns. In this special case you want to try and lean forward to get the weight off the rear so the kart will not drag out of turns. Usually though a kart that drags out of turns is because you got on the gas too early and did not allow the weight to stay biased towards the front enough to roll through the turn. Remember when you get on the gas the weight will shift to the rear and if you have not completed the turn fully the rear axle, being a single solid bar will push both rear wheels to the ground at the same time. In this case the kart will start wanting to go in a straight line, because the axle is solid and both wheels must travel at the same speed. Now you are in a situation where the front wheels want to turn and the larger rear wheels want to go straight. They will fight, and often the rear wheels being larger will win.  If the rear don’t win, then either the inside rear wheel will drag and spin, or the outside will drag and brake. Either way, this is a situation where you are slow because the rear wheels are dragging the kart down.

Tip #8 Sharp and Snappy inputs when entering turns under hard acceleration.

For slower corners with hard acceleration on entry.

This is the kind of corner where you haven’t had time to get up to full speed and you’re still accelerating, it’s usually one of a complex of turns. In this case it’s a very different situation because your weight is going to be rear biased, and the front wheels are going to struggle to steer. You wont need to brake for this kind of corner. Instead of being slow and steady and soft, you actually want to be snappy and jerky with your inputs. You will want to jarre the kart into and through the turn but you do NOT have to worry about getting on the gas too early because the back will not be light. The back only get’s light when you are entering a corner under high brake pressure. So be mindful of the difference.

Tip #9 Slow and steady inputs when entering turns under heavy deceleration.

For fast corners with hard braking on the entry.

Don’t rush in too fast, try to brake a little bit earlier, softer and steady without jamming on the brakes hard. Just give yourself a couple more feet than you think you need. If it’s a heavy braking corner, then brake in a straight line and don’t try to brake AND turn at the same time. As a general rule try to coast into the turn once you have completed braking, and give the kart time to re-balance and settle the weight back down into the rear. This settling is important because if you jam back on the gas too soon and too hard, you’ll go into a slide. As a general rule, wait until you have reached the apex before you get back on the gas. You can stomp as hard as you like then.

The main idea here is that you want your weight transitions to be slow and steady, you want the inertial pressures to build up slowly and steady. Ultimately you want to attain a point of balance where you can hold steady through the turn and make the most of your rolling speed.

Tip #10 Be mindful of how the weight shifts from front to rear and side to side, maintain balance, and you maintain traction.

Now we get to the really advanced stuff that you can work on for years. The ultimate driver is very mindful of all the things that can shift the weight of the kart. Subtle effects can cause slides when you are under maximum loads. Take a sweeper for example, these are usually very easy turns to get into, you just blast into them at full throttle, usually from a straight. The sweeper is a large corner with slowing down needed, or is there? Often at the very peak of the sweeper it just gets too much and you pass the limit of traction. Knowing this most drivers will let go of the gas and give in. The problem is as soon as you let go of the gas under maximal load, your weight will shift forward just slightly. But that’s all that’s needed under maximal load to create a slide every time. A lot of drivers think this is normal. But often it is not, the expert drivers do not slide here. How do they manage it? They know that modulation is probably needed in the turn, so they modulate their throttle on the straight before the sweeper, even though there is no chance whatsoever of losing traction on the straight. You see the weight shifts before the turn, lifting the inside rear wheel up lightly. The front wheels bite down and the rotation into the sweeper starts in earnest. Then they the expert stomps on the gas and accelerates into the sweeper with an enhanced outward weight bias that raises his outside down force on the tires. They then drive full throttle through the section that everyone else slides in. This is how the expert is mindful of the weight transfer and subtle ways the weight shifts around under maximal load. You see any input will shift the weight, be that brakes, gas, steering, and the movement of your body.

So the tip here is that when you are analyzing your sessions and thinking about where you are sliding a little, think about what you are doing to move the weight around in the kart. Come up with a strategy to create the weight distribution that you need for optimal traction and control. It’s not always easy to implement these strategies because they often seem counter intuitive, you will find yourself accelerating when you are usually letting off the gas. This is what sets the expert record crushers apart from the above average drivers.

How to use Weight Transfer to Increase your Speed in an Indoor Go Kart

How to use Weight Transfer to Increase your Speed in an Indoor Go Kart

Weight Transfer is probably the last thing you will develop a sensitivity to when learning how to be competitive in a go kart. It’s one thing to be aware that there is an advantage to managing the shifting of the weight, quite another to make use of it consciously. It took me years, but I’m going to save you years of head scratching and give you the secrets.

The problem is that our reflexes are not really fast enough to deal with changes in inertia. I mean the average person has a visual response time of about 0.250 seconds. We see something happen, it enters our brain, gets converted into some kind of neural pattern, we concoct a plan to deal with it, signals shoot down our nervous system and we execute the plan. Then we gather input from our actions, visual, audible and tactile, another plan is concocted and we shoot more signals down the nervous system to the controls. By this time another 0.250 seconds have passed. So 0.500 seconds have passed between situational awareness and the beginnings of adaptation.

So how far do we travel in half a second?

Just 22 mph is about 30 feet per second. You’re going to travel about 15 feet in half a second.
Even at just 2.2mph you’re going to travel about 1.5 feet in half a second.
That’s pretty slow, and 1.5 feet is an eternally long distance to be off line in a go kart.

If you are 1.5 feet off a line, or late to a turn in, off from an apex, you are WAAAAY off pace.

late and off apex
IF you turning in 1.5 feet late, and maintain the exact same arc (because you’re travelling at the exact same speed), then you would add 1.5×2=3 feet to the length of your track. Whatever the case, you’re going to add length and time to your lap time.

So reflexes can’t possibly be what the top drivers use to maintain consistent laps that are within 0.250 of a second of each other on EVERY lap.
And it also can’t be what you use to manage weight transfer.

So what’s weight transfer about? How do we manage weight transfer?

First of all, let me give you a little secret here, the primary tool in the expert drivers toolbox, is timing.

The more perfect your timing, the more perfect you are going to hit your marks. And really that is the secret to being online and it’s also the secret to managing weight transfer because weight transfer is part of having a consistent plan for how you are going to navigate the track.

How is that? Well weight transfer is NOT something you manage by the seat of your pants when you are in the moment. I’m not sure if that is a surprise to you, but for the longest time, I thought that’s what it was all about. But it’s not.

Managing weight transfer really happens off the track, when you’re analyzing what is happening after the fact.

Managing weight transfer is all about having a technical awareness of the geometry of the kart, and being able to model in your mind how the inertial mass is being shifted and displaced as you go through different sections of the track. Then, knowing how the weight is being shifted in your model, you work out how that is affecting the traction levels and grip through those sections. Invariably that’s where time is gained and lost, from loss and gain of traction.

So managing weight transfer is all about modeling the effects of inertia and this usually happens in analysis, while off track.

Now it is possible to do this somewhat while you are on the track, and it makes a huge difference to your ability to be adaptable to new conditions and different karts. But usually the answer to a problem section of the track doesn’t come until you’ve got off track and thought to yourself, ‘what the hell is going on here?’. Some of my biggest ‘ah ha!’ moments have come when I examine slow motion helmet video, frame by frame, of my fast laps. Often I will examine a corner where I was exceptionally quick for some mysterious reason, and ask myself, ‘why was this fast?’. At this point I start to model in my mind how the inertial displacement is unfolding and what I am doing that is causing this, and how I might repeat it. Quite often I realize the answer and driving inputs change for that section.

By driving inputs I mean this. There are many ways you can shift the inertial mass of your kart around, here is the arsenal of your weight transfer toolbox.
Acceleration (blips and pulses on the gas)
Deceleration (throttle let off, coasting, slight frontal down force)
Coasting (gentle and gradual re-centering of weight displacement)
Steering input (left and right displacement – but also when under load of a turn, forward and rearwards weight displacement when you increase and decrease steering input)
Brake input (jarring frontal down force)
Body position, (leaning forwards and backwards, head up, head down, leaning left and right, hopping in seat)

Sometimes giving an input that does not seem necessary at the time can give you an advantage in RPM, or traction, and both.

Lets consider parts of the track where you might often lose traction, or where it is easy to lose traction.

A brake zone where you come in hot and often lose traction.
If you find the back gets loose under brakes. Well there’s always the suggestion that you’re just braking too hard and too late, and so lighten up a bit and brake earlier. Often the problem is related to trail braking, where you are turning and braking instead of straight line braking. Our suggestion to newbies is to straight line brake and don’t brake and turn the kart at the same time, this means you brake earlier and straight, then let up and coast into a turn, and wait to get back on the gas at the apex. But for an expert driver, trail braking is definitely where you want to be. The thing that makes braking more effective in a kart is to lean far back in your seat and lift your head up high and back in the seat, because it adds downforce to your rear brakes (and you don’t usually have front brakes in an indoor kart). Doing so can give you a surprising boost in traction. This is managing weight transfer to a degree. You’re shifting weight to give you an edge.

But in the above scenario your modeling of the shift of inertial weight, shouldn’t end there. As you enter a trail brake scenario, the bulk of your inertial mass starts to move from the front center to the outside front wheel, while your rear wheels get light. If you are ever to get out of this turn with any kind of advantage in acceleration, you need to think about how you’re going to transition the inertial mass back to the rear wheels and how you will return down force to the rear of your kart. This is invariably why you tend to slide in these corners, because there is no down force in the rear.

Consider a turn where you came in under brakes and need to accelerate to get out of it, and you tend to slip a little as you go through the turn.
The easy and natural fix for this kind of problem is to wait wait wait after braking as you go through the turn, coast, coast, coast, and get on the gas later, typically at the apex. This works, full traction, and no slide. And this is what we tell newbies to do, because we know it’s just timing, and it will absolutely work. But this is not what the expert drivers do.

Note that the weight is loaded up to the outside front of the kart. Now note all the tools in our arsenal. There are several tools that can shift the weight from front to rear. Releasing brakes, releasing steering input, coasting, acceleration, and blips and pulses on the throttle. They will all displace the weight to varying degrees, some more aggressive than others. Note that the most aggressive would be to just accelerate, say by pushing your foot to the floor. But this wont work, because the back is light, so the back will just slide out from under you. So the next thing you can do, is blip and pulse the throttle. It turns out, if you do this on the entry of a turn, for a split second, you wont slide out of control. In fact you’ll push the weight back to the center and rear of the kart, and you’ll gain rear traction. From this point you can squeeze on the gas and be accelerating out of the turn, a full kart length earlier. The blip technique I just described we came to call ‘the double blip’ because you apply the throttle in a 1 and 2 motion.

There are other tricks you can use to finesse the weight transfer to the rear wheels, like in some instances it helps to release the steering pressure slightly as you apply the gas. If you find yourself in a loose kart, say during the cold of winter, you can try to add this as well. Some drivers don’t pulse the throttle at all, they just use a release of steering input to assist the rear loading, then they reapply steering input as they come on the gas and pass the apex.

Consider the sweeper. I have a whole article dedicated to the sweeper here

A sweeper is corner where you can enter under full throttle and can usually power all the way through.
The standard trap of a sweeper is where you chicken out under load and release the throttle in the middle of the turn, this shifts the weight forward and makes the back wheels light, and you invariably go into a slide. This is known in racing circles as ‘snap oversteer’ and is a rather fundamental lesson in weight transfer.

As I outline in that article, the trick to the sweeper is to manage your weight transfer by causing your weight to initially lurch forward on the entry by letting off the gas just before you turn in. This allows the front wheels to bite. Then you stomp back on the gas and hold everything steady all through the turn. Without this set up, the kart will often slide out and break loose in the middle of the turn.

So all throughout these examples you should be picking up a pattern here. If you have a problem you need to be asking, ‘okay, what is my weight transfer doing? what am I doing to cause this?” And whether you have a problem or not, you should be asking, “what is my optimum weight distribution going to be in this situation, and what can I do to help achieve this?”. Where you answer these questions correctly, is where you gain an edge over the other drivers on the track. And that’s going to take mental visualization and modeling in your mind.

Lets look at some other scenarios.

Consider a very slow turn where you need to accelerate all the way through it, from start to finish. This is where you run into problems with the solid rear axle, and binding. The problem is that the solid rear axle wants to turn both wheels at the same velocity and when the kart goes through a turn the inside circumference is always shorter than the outside. If your weight is rear biased, because you are under acceleration, and you have come in flat to the ground, the rear wheels are going to go into a battle. Basically your inside rear wheel will act like a brake, and it will fight your engine.


So what can we do about this? Well go karts with solid rear axles are designed to tip over onto 3 wheels when you turn the steering wheel. This works better when the kart is slowing down, than when the kart is accelerating, because the inside front wheel is designed to push down, while the outside front wheel lifts up. When you are decelerating and turning the forward weight bias causes the kart to tip over onto 3 wheels and the inside rear wheel pretty much lifts into the air. I call this ‘The Tripod Effect’. But when you accelerate into a turn, from a very slow start, all your weight goes to the back of the kart onto the solid rear axle, you can lose steering control, but usually it just puts the brakes on and you don’t really realize it, because it seems like the kart engine is powering away and accelerating. You’re often slow, and you don’t know it.

So there are several things in the weight transfer toolbox to assist the tripod effect. In a particularly bad kart, that tends to ‘push’ that is, you turn the wheel and it just wants to go straight, you can jab on the brake slightly to throw the weight forward and to force frontal down force. If you have to do this, you’re going to be slow anyway, you have a junk kart, but it’s often going to be faster than just trying to drive through it.

The first technique that we offer to new drivers is to just release the gas a split second before you turn the wheel in. This causes the front wheels to bite down and tips the kart over. Then you reapply the gas and drive through the turn. This is usually quicker, but doesn’t always get a good lift.

My favorite technique for managing this situation is the ‘snap in’ steering technique. This is where you aggressively and quickly snap the wheel into your turn, with the goal of throwing the kart up quickly onto it’s outside wheels, you can often do this, without lifting the gas at all. To execute it, you kind of over steer your input way beyond where you would want your natural steering input, then you release the steering input back to your ideal. It plays out like a quick 1, 2, 3. You then rely on the lateral inertia to hold your kart up in the tripod position. I used this technique to give me an edge back during the Oregon State Championship, it freed my kart up all through the infield giving me a huge edge. I used a regimen of weight lifting off track to build the strength needed to sustain the ‘snap in’ during the 30 minute race.

Sometimes it is advantageous to lean forward in a kart. I discovered this once while watching a video of driver who pulled off a freaky fast lap. He gained his magical moment in a chicane. A chicane is a complex of turns that create like an S in the track as it leads onto a straight, it’s usually used to slow the track down a bit. Now normally he leaned back through the chicane and leaned out relative to the entry of it, but he was chasing a very fast kart that had twice his horsepower, and for some reason he sat up on this particular lap and threw his head forward as he exited the chicane, not only that, instead of leaning out when he entered the chicane, he leaned in. That’s very odd, it seems the very opposite of what we would expect and it was the very opposite of what he did usually. When we examined the delta for his time through the chicane, he had picked up 0.100 of a second in that section. Well well? why did this happen? We wondered. When we modeled in our minds what could possibly be going on it started to come together.
First it became evident that leaning out on the first turn, was not helping him at all, it was better than he tried to set his weight up for the exit of the chicane, because the displacement of his weight from left to right while navigating the middle of the chicane was too unsettling. He might not be in the optimal position for entry, but being in the optimal position for exit gave him an advantage as he pulled onto the straight. So we learned there that leaning into a chicane in prep for the exit is the key to a fast chicane. Next his head thrown forward put his weight more towards the front of the kart and off the rear of the kart. This would give him bite as he turned into the final turn and onto the straight that followed and would free up any potential binding that might happen because of the weight transfer from the left rear to the right rear. The exit wasn’t enough to induce any kind of slide, instead he had rear binding problems that were retarding his ability to accelerate out of the final turn. So leaning forward gave him bite, and freed up the bind. After this examination we both started doing this in this section, and it was a consistent 0.100 seconds for us every time. We were in different weight classes at the time, but we both won our racing seasons easily. Little secrets like this in every turn gave us the edge.

So hopefully by now you have an idea of what it means to manage weight transfer to your advantage. It’s all about modeling in your mind how the shift of the inertial mass of the kart is affecting the handling of the kart. You can model to fix problems, and you can model to imagine the theoretical optimal weight distribution. With this in mind, you can concoct unique and optimal tactics for each turn.

With that I will leave you with a problem to ponder. Let’s say you have drawn a random rental kart and upon driving it, you realize that it wants to veer off to the right. What could possibly be causing this? And so what would the optimal place for your weight be? You can be sure that one of those wheels is dragging against the others when you try to drive in a straight line. Taking away down force for that wheel is not going to solve the problem, but it will give you a better time than if you just left things be.

The trick to winning an indoor racing season is that you just need to be able to drive the junk karts better than everyone else can drive them. Weight transfer will give you that edge.

How to Stop your Indoor Go Kart from Sliding in a Sweeper turn.

How to Stop your Indoor Go Kart from Sliding in a Sweeper turn.

If you find your kart sliding in a sweeping turn, (a long steady turn of maximum throttle from entry to exit) even if you are breaking loose slightly, then you’re losing time to the guy who makes it stick.

So you need to start thinking about WHY the kart might be slipping at that spot. In racing parlance we’re about to enter the realm of ‘weight transfer’. The first thing to ask is, “what is your inertial mass doing?”

More precisely, ‘is your inertial mass shifting about? (of course it is) and what are you doing to cause it to change?”

What is inertial mass? Think of it as the direction of force on your kart. Under deceleration the inertial mass is biased towards the front, and under acceleration your inertial mass moves towards the rear. But there is also down force which exerts itself on your tires and is a combination of the total mass and your center of gravity.

The first rule for increasing traction in a go kart, is LEAN OUT of a turn, DONT LEAN IN
If you lean into a corner then you move your center of gravity towards the inside wheels, this lowers the downward pressure on your outside wheels and raises the downward pressure upon your inside wheels, this in turn creates an increased lateral (sideways) g force on your outside wheels. This effectively creates a lower center of gravity, and with less down force on the outside wheels and an increased lateral pressure the kart is more inclined to slide, than it is to tip over.

Direction of force relative to rear wheels due to center of gravity.

The counter to this is that as you lean outwards you shift your center of gravity over your outside wheels which lowers the lateral g force on your outside wheels and creates more down force, because it effectively raises the center of gravity relative to the outside wheels. This effectively increases the grip. So we might only be talking the difference of a few pounds, but when you are at the limits, this makes all the difference between being able to ‘stick it’, and ‘busting loose’ such that you have to deal with a slide.
With respect to leaning, you want to lean out BEFORE you begin the turn, because you want the lateral shift to happen while the inertial stress of the kart is neutral, which means lean while on the straight. If you lean after the turn in, it causes a shift in the inertial mass AFTER the tires are loaded, and that is a good way to bust yourself loose too. Some drivers place cushions in the side of their seats to stop their inertial mass from sliding around in the seat for this reason.

So while leaning out before all kinds of turns will help, it is not so much the ‘positioning’ of your inertial mass that causes or fixes sliding in a sweeper, the real enemy is the ‘changing’ of inertial mass while you are in the middle of navigating the turn.

A very common cause (but not the only cause) for sliding in a sweeper is Snap Oversteer. This is a condition where the back wheels break loose (usually slightly) in the middle of a turn. Particularly a turn that *should* be able to be taken at full throttle. Lets call this sliding area the drift zone. The primary cause for snap oversteer is a shift in the inertial mass that causes the tires to lose traction. And the number one culprit for this shift in the mass, especially in a sweeper, is releasing from full throttle while in the middle of a turn.

The key here is not THAT you lifted the throttle, its WHEN you lifted the throttle.

Here’s several ways that karters of various skill levels try to handle this situation.
Novice karters just keep their foot planted and ride out the drift zone, losing all kinds of control. They’re terribly slow even though they feel fast and create congestion out of the sweeper.

Intermediate drivers feel the drift coming on and THEN release the throttle to regain control. They experiment with timing for reapplication of power because if they try to get back on too soon, they drift more. Eventually they find their sweet spot and they can get through without sliding. So they basically use a coasting technique.

Advanced drivers pre-empt the drift and back off the gas slightly early BEFORE the drift zone, maybe going through the drift zone at 3/4 throttle to maintain control. They’re not coasting, they’re throttle modulating. It’s a bit quicker, and it’s really hard to execute.

Expert drivers blast through the drift zone at full throttle with no slide or slip whatsoever.

So how do expert drivers do it?

Well first of all, lets examine why the drift happens in the first place.
Snap oversteer is basically the consequence of the mass or weight of the kart being redistributed in the middle of a turn when the wheels of the kart are under maximum load. The redistribution causes a loss of down force and / or an overloading of the tires ability to hold traction.

While mass redistribution can happen in many ways, such as having unstable and shaky hands, the most common way that mass redistribution happens is when you let off the gas while your tires are under maximum inertial load.

That’s a bit counter intuitive to most drivers, surely letting off the gas slows you down and gives you more control?

But consider what happens to your weight distribution in the following scenario.
1. You come down a straight at maximum speed and hold your throttle at full power as you turn into your sweeper. No problem at this point, no slide, almost no lateral (sideways) pressure. Your center of mass is basically centralized but starts to slowly move to the outside center as you enter the turn.
2. As you enter the mass stays centered and your load starts to build up on the outside wheels. No problem holding traction at all at this point.
3. Now you start to approach the zone that the kart starts to get loose, usually somewhere near the apex. You’ve ran this corner many times, you just KNOW it’s going to get loose right up ahead. You’re almost halfway into the sweeper. So what do you do?
Most drivers will get off the gas.
But consider what happens next.
As you release the gas, the kart slightly decelerates and your centralized inertial mass starts to move forward. This causes the down force on the rear wheels to lessen and the forces on the front wheels to increase. Now in some vehicles (with suspension) under such conditions the front wheels might break loose if under maximum load, but in a kart what typically happens is the rear wheels lose their grip and back begins to step out. You just CREATED the very thing you KNEW was going to happen, by letting off the gas.
What you actually did wrong, was that you let off the gas, TOO LATE!

“Okay, no problem!”, you say. “so I’ll let off a bit earlier and maybe control my throttle through that zone”. Now you’re thinking like an Advanced Driver. So you change your strategy and at about a quarter of the way through the turn you back off the gas, and sure enough you are able to get through with no slide by modulating at 3/4 power through the trouble spot. This is REALLY hard to do consistently, especially in inconsistent rental karts, so I really have to commend the drivers that can pull this off. But guess what? You’re still going to be creamed by the Expert Driver.

All right, so here’s the secret. Let off BEFORE or AS you turn into the sweeper. “WTH??! thats waaay too early”, you say. Well I know this probably seems counter intuitive because you have absolutely no threat of losing control way back at the start of a sweeper, but let me explain what this does.

First of all, immediately after letting off and turning in, like within a split second, you want to stomp hard on that gas and hold it down hard with no intention of letting up all the way through the sweeper.

So here’s what happens to the kart in an ideal world.

As you let off the throttle, the mass that was centralized before now moves forward slightly and causes extra down force on your front tires right at the moment of turn in. This causes the front tires to BITE on the tarmac and the rear inside wheel becomes slightly lighter and causes the kart to tripod onto 3 wheels. This has several advantages, first it raises your center of gravity and distributes it BEFORE the tires are under any load, so there is NO chance of a sudden overloaded mass redistribution and displacement in the middle of the turn.
Next, because this strategy assists torque in the chassis, which assists the tripod affect, the solid rear axle lifts the inside rear wheel, allowing the kart to roll speed without bind.

But that’s not all, provided that you are leaning out and not leaning in, BEFORE you turned in, the chassis torque creates extra down force on your outside tires, which means you not only have extra roll speed, you also have extra traction. That’s because a kart that is in a tripod configuration has a different center of gravity than a kart that has slipped out. Consider this, if a kart has slipped out, then it has no outside traction, and in that case the rear axle plants BOTH wheels flat to the ground, and a planted inside rear wheel in a turn can only act like a brake. That’s because the circumference traveled by the inside wheel in a turn, is ALWAYS less than the circumference traveled by the outside wheel. Remember that the solid rear axle means that BOTH wheels must rotate at the EXACT same velocity.

The tripod affect is extremely important in a kart, because it frees up the inside rear wheel that is on a fixed solid axle. The steering geometry of a go kart is specially designed to create this effect, so that under optimal conditions only the outside rear wheel is touching the ground. You want this, and you want to lean out to help it.

The next thing you need is a pair of steady hands that hold your steering at a single angle and input. No shaking of the hands in the middle of the turn. or at least through the zone of highest g force. Shaky hands will redistribute your weight and upset any kart at maximal load. There are several things you can do to assist this. First have a consistent turn in point, use a mark or some reference on the track. You want a single hand movement through the turn, so if you find yourself adjusting the angle of the wheels through the turn, adjust your turn in point forward and backwards until you find the sweet spot.

Next, keep your eye focused on the apex, no matter what is in front of you, train yourself to observe everything you need to observe through your peripheral vision, while your eye is focused on the apex. The general theory goes that the kart will go, where your eye is looking, so look at the apex. This is important because when you look at the kart in front of you, you invariably end up driving like the kart in front of you. When that happens, you might have been quick enough to catch them, but now you’ll stop doing what made you faster, and start doing what makes them slower. This is a common trap.

Next use your peripheral vision to your advantage by focusing on your apex while you peripherally watch where your inside tire is actually pointing while you are in the turn. Point your inside wheel directly at the apex. This allows you to make adjustments for various changes in track conditions.

When you get it right, there will be almost no hand movement once you have initiated turn in. There will no sensing and correcting of inertial sway from left to right. You’ll just be balanced, steady and loaded with no slip. That’s how you get steady hands.

Finally DONT LIFT OFF THE GAS until you complete the sweeper. This is because any lifting of the throttle when you are under maximal load will shift your weight and upset your traction. And that lifting of the gas IS the essence of what creates the drift of snap oversteer.

Okay so one more bonus tip here. Many indoor karts have a foot stirrup that you can push your heel into, just below the brake and throttle. This stirrup allows you to create cross tension through the chassis. Cross tension allows you to change the down force slightly through the kart. I have tested this on scales in a flexible outdoor kart, and just by pushing your heel into the left front stirrup you can create a extra 10lb to 20lb weight on the left front AND right rear wheel, at the same time. Push on the right front stirrup and you create the extra weight on the front right and rear left wheels. It’s interesting how it creates down force across the diagonal of the kart.
The idea is to push your heel in the direction you are turning. So a left sweeper needs your left heel to push into the stirrup. Remember to keep it steady throughout the turn, don’t release, because you don’t want to upset the balance.
So what does this do for you? This assists the tripod effect on the kart, and releases weight, pressure, bind and drag from the inside rear wheel. Cross tension also gives you extra traction on your outside wheels.

The short version of this is. If you want to go full throttle through a sweeper then create a throttle lift off point before you stomp on the gas full throttle, and keep moving your lift off point earlier and earlier until you find the sweet spot that allows you to push full throttle all the way through that sweeper without sliding. The sweet spot is almost always way back on the straight before you even turn your steering wheel, and never when you are already loaded up and into the turn.