indoor karting

My Favorite Kart League Racing Experience

My Favorite Kart League Racing Experience

The racing that I didn’t compete in.

Through conversations with my racing friends, it often comes up where we talk about our favorite moments in racing.  In many cases, it’s a moment here and there, but rarely does it become an entire race.  Today, I’m going to tell you of such a race and if you’re one of my racing peers, then you’ve heard this before.  I often talk about this “favorite” race of mine because there’s so much to learn from it. 

How we came into this racing league late …

I’m going to start off with this race isn’t so much about me, but instead about my son, Senna.  Senna enjoys racing and has started racing at the age of eight when SyKart allows for kids to start racing.  Senna and I had been going to the track for a year or so enjoying our practices whenever we could get away.  Sometimes we could get races in a couple of times a week to a couple of times a month.  Senna also plays club soccer and as some of us know, that sport takes up a lot of time and unfortunately a lot of time away from the track.  It just so happened that Senna’s soccer practices were on the same night as the junior racing league nights and with an expensive bill for soccer, that was the priority at the time.  So we opted to sit out a season of junior league races.  At the end of the soccer season, however, there were a couple of weeks where Senna could race in the final two races of the league season.

Starting our race from last position …

We showed up for the second of the last race and while Senna had not been a part of the spring racing league, the competition amongst the racers was closer than expected.  Only a couple of points separated several of the kids at this point in the season.  Now my son, Senna, who hadn’t raced all season comes in out of nowhere and is going to disrupt the points.  Several of the parents were upset and didn’t want Senna, a ten-year-old at the time, to race because it was going to upset the points.  Some parents knew Senna and welcomed him in.  Other parents didn’t know him and were furious that he was even allowed to race this late in the season.  Fortunately, the management there knows of Senna’s racing abilities and quickly put the upset parents aside stating that he had every right to be there and that he had raced in league races before. 

… the front runners were faster and there was a gap that was forming …

Senna got into the kart and we strapped him in. Unfortunately, Senna had to start in the last position for a couple of different reasons.  One is that we missed qualifying and the second is that he hadn’t raced against this group of kids before.  However, he knew the drill and knew what to do.  Now, normally Senna and I run comms and I can give him real-time feedback on the things he’s doing right and wrong out there. However, when it comes to league racing, we don’t run comms because people get upset and think we’re cheating. So I just let him go out there and “figure it out” (that’ll be a blog for another time).  As the race started, Senna quickly made his way through the pack of about five or six kids.  The front runners were faster and there was a gap that was forming that Senna had to make up for.  Fortunately, he was putting down the fastest times and was making up time pretty handily. Senna found his way up to the second position and was really putting pressure on his friend Enzo.  There’s an old saying in racing that, “you can drive faster to catch someone but passing them is something different.”  Senna got to experience that first-hand. 

Senna leads Junior Racing League in the final race of the season.
Image Courtesy of RacingForBeginners.com

The event became all about race craft

Now on to why this was my favorite race.  Once Senna had caught Enzo, Senna had to figure out how to pass him.  Everyone could see that Senna was trying different things in trying to pass Enzo. There were attempts on passing on the inside, the outside, in the middle of the corner, after the corner, over-under passing as well as under-over passing.  You could tell that Senna was thinking out there and “trying” different things. More importantly, things that I had not taught him yet.  It was amazing to watch his mind at work.  During all this cat-and-mouse driving and with Enzo doing well to block, the third and fourth-placed drivers had made up over a half a lap gap on the two and then was starting to put the pressure on the two of them.  With one lap to go, Senna went in to make a dive on Enzo to make the pass.  However, Senna knew he wasn’t going to be able to make the pass on the inside and over broke to avoid hitting Enzo.  During this whole time, Senna raced cleanly and made every effort to not make any contact with his competitors (later on in higher-ranked leagues, Senna will discover that others will easily spin him to get past him when they can’t).  With the failed attempt at the inside pass on Enzo, Senna had lost all momentum of the kart, and second place soon became fourth place and that’s how the race finished.

After one of the best races of the year

Dejected, Senna sat in his kart a little bit longer than the others before working his way to the crowd.  The funny thing is that the kids were very sportsmanlike and all the kids were happy and congratulated one another.  Some of the parents who knew Senna was also very excited for him and the show that he put on.  The other parents who didn’t know him though were still complaining and wondering why he was allowed to race and now their child had missed out on some points. Many of us though, were reliving the race that we had just watched, and several of the track workers and other racers had said that was the race of the week, if not the year!  You could tell that Senna was not in his normal mood and that he was as “professional” as he could be.

From disappointment to discovery

When we got to the car, he broke down and started to cry. I let him have a moment and then I asked him why he was so upset?  He responded with, “I didn’t win.”  After what seemed like a minute of silence and him crying, I began to laugh.  I pointed out some key breakthroughs that he completely missed out on during that race.  One, he started at the back of the pack.  Two, he made his way up to second place and he was fighting for the lead. Three, he was “thinking” at full speed and trying to find a way around Enzo.  Four, he raced cleanly and didn’t wreck anyone.  And last, I asked him, “at the end of it all, did you have a good time?  Meaning did you do the best you could and enjoyed with all the discovery?” Still somewhat sobbing, he shook his head yes in agreement.  I confirmed with him that I was in no way upset with his placement for the day. This was a very important day for him in discovering that there’s more to racing than just driving fast.  You also have to build your race-craft. 

Lessons learned from the race.

As a parent and a coach, I am a little happy that he was upset that he didn’t win. This tells me that he wants to fight for the lead and he wants to win. Winning is not everything, however, it’s good to try for the win and to never give up. Also, I reminded him that he’s not a “paid” driver, nor a “professional” driver and it’s experiences like these that will make him a better driver. It’s better to learn this stuff now, than later when a paycheck, a professional drive or connecting with a sponsorship is on the line.

The journey gives meaning.

I replay this race in my head all the time.  I really enjoy him winning but this race was probably one of the most important races for him and recognizing that there’s way more to racing than being upfront.  Being up there is only half the fun, whereas getting up there is just as thrilling.  Some people find it odd that my favorite race of his is one that he didn’t win.  I guess it depends on what you define as winning.  With Senna learning so much about racing in that one race, I’d take that over any of his other wins.  However, one could argue that one of the main reasons why he has won as many races is because of the lessons he’s learned from that one race.

The evolution of a new racer.

On a side note, Senna went on to win the final race. Further upsetting the points and several of the parents who protested against him racing so late in the season. The following racing season, Senna went on to get pole in every race, except the last race, and won every race. That final race… that’s for my second favorite race of his and for a different blog.

Guest Blogger: Bernie R. – Coach


A Quick Idea to Improve Kart Stability in corners

A Quick Idea to Improve Kart Stability in Corners


Correct hand position can make the difference between being stable and consistent and all over the place. But what IS the correct hand position?

Correct Hand Position

Over the years I have noticed many drivers use different techniques to manage their steering and body position. Some pull at the steering some push, some lean in and others lean out.

Now as for hand position some people say your hands should be at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, but I find in a rental kart you’re not always able to reach this far because the seat is set so far back. For this reason I set my hands at 9 and 3.

I think the important thing is that you’re consistent because I have seen some drivers who are very fast who set their hands at 8 and 4, take Adam Kellerman for example, who is arguably one of the fastest indoor kart drivers in USA.

Now when you consider the actual geometry and mechanics of the kart, I think there is a clear optimal method to position yourself for corners and braking. When steering, Pushing with the outside hand, should be more favorable than pulling with the inside hand. So hands above 9 and 3 should win.

The reason it’s important is that we want to help the kart chassis flex (although indoor karts tend not to flex much at all). The idea is to bring the inside front wheel down and to create cross tension between the front and rear wheels. This causes the kart to have better traction.

Is it a huge advantage? Probably not, but a lower inside front wheel and lower outside rear wheel gives you a small advantage that will add up over a session. And everything adds up.

So what are your thoughts on this, where do you hold your hands?

What can I work on to be faster in a kart?

What can I work on to be faster in a kart?

Drunk Vs Sober

Over the years I have considered at depth, what makes the difference between the fastest kart racers and the rest of the drivers? One afternoon a thought came to mind…

Here’s a question for you.. “What is the difference between a drunk driver and a sober driver?”

How about …

  1. Balance
  2. Timing
  3. Reflexes
  4. Judgement
Why are drunk drivers less capable?

These give us 4 strategic dimensions to work on your kart racing.

  1. Improve Stability and Balance through posture and mechanics.
  2. Improve Timing, through track awareness and timing techniques
  3. Improve effect of bad reflexes through track awareness, timing and racing lines.
  4. Develop race craft through tricks and techniques to passing. (better judgement)

Now that we have some targets we can think about exercises that we can develop to work on each area. Note that not every dimension requires us to be on the track. We could work on timing and balance in a numerous ways. If you get creative you can really open your possibilities.

Accumulation theory

There are many subtle little tricks we can learn to develop small advantages within each strategic dimension, these little advantages accumulate to become an overwhelming edge that bring consistent speed and position in race situations.

I wont go into detail on each dimension but if you are looking for areas that you can develop to improve your ability then these are 4 areas to begin.

I will say, how you sit, how you turn, how you use the steering and brakes. How you try to use timing instead of reflexes, how you use your eyes and how much you try to prepare in advance and pre-empt the track ahead. All of these things accumulate into an accumulation of advantage.

This makes the difference between driving something like a drunk driver vs driving like a well balanced driver who knows in advance what is coming.

See you on the track.

How to avoid the mistake of sliding in a Go Kart

How to Avoid the Mistake of Sliding in a Go Kart

Fixing up Sliding & Drifting

Sliding: It looks cool, feels fast, but the truth is, it is slower than molasses and is a sure fire sign of an inexperienced racer.

Fix the slide, and it’s the surest way to beat all your buddies, qualify for advanced status, and challenge the veterans for fast lap honors.

Added Bonus! This applies to real cars as well.

Why is slding slow?

Indoor karting is all about managing a very small amount of energy, because you have very little horsepower in your engine you can only build your energy up slowly. Once you have momentum you have to bring that energy into a turn, carry it through the turn as you rotate the kart and then make use of whatever you have left on the exit of the turn. Every little bit makes a difference because if you can save energy in a turn then you need less energy to get back up to top speed.

Sliding throws your energy and momentum away in the turn.

After a slide, on the exit of the turn, you have to kind of start all over again building up your momentum energy.

If you slide, fast drivers will just drive around you like you are parked still, and in many cases a slider WILL be parked still.

There are 3 types of slide.
1. The Entry slide
2. The Middle slide
3. The Exit slide.

Just about all drivers are guilty of losing speed at some time to these three types of slide, even the pros. But here’s what you need to know to fix them.

By Entry, Middle and Exit, we are talking about corner phases.

In the image above we are approaching from the left and exiting on the right. 

It is important to start thinking about how each phase also has an optimal assigned purpose, and although they seem obvious they have profound consequences on your ability to be fast.

Goals for the Entry.

Our assigned purpose is to SLOW DOWN! We do NOT want to also be doing anything in the middle and exit that causes us to slow down, we want ALL decreases in speed adjustment to happen in the entry phase.

Goals for the Middle turn.

 Our purpose is to Balance, or to get control of the kart and spread the forces evenly between the front and rear tires. This will let us maximize the momentum and lock the kart to the ground without sliding. This sets us up for the next phase. It is not so much about acceleration here, as it is about balance, many pros only coast through this phase and wait wait wait for balance before trying to accelerate out. Remember if you are doing it right, you are already at the limit of traction here. 

Goals for the Exit.

We want to be doing things to Accelerate us. As a base line, until you get the hang of it, you should wait until you have passed the very middle “apex” of the turn, which is about when you pass the middle of the inside bumper, before you start to apply the gas. Do this and you will always be balanced before you accelerate. And Don’t rush it! Squeeze on easy and steady.

Fixing The Entry Slide. This is a slide that begins on the entry, it might carry on through the middle and into the exit, but it begins on entry.

On Entry we need to SLOW DOWN. Seems obvious right? But it is NOT just braking, there are actually several things things you can do to slow down, whether you know it or not, many drivers ALSO do these slow down things in the other phases of the turn, and this is where the mistakes begin that lose you speed.  These are ALL the slowing actions…

  1. Braking 
  2. Letting off on the gas 
  3. Turning the wheel MORE into the turn, (includes wiggling your hands when IN the turn)
  4. Sliding the rear

Note that each idea has different degrees of slowing potential, so the transition times can be gentle or violent. And in general we want our transitions to be precise, but smooth and gradual, and where possible as gentle as handling a vial of anthrax.

So in an ideal situation, ALL your slowing actions happen in the ENTRY phase of the turn.

For example “Turning the wheel MORE into the turn”, you only want to be adding steering when you are in the entry phase, if you are adding more steering in the middle and exit phase then you are making a mistake that is slowing these phases. If you think carefully about what you are doing in turn where you seem to be slow, you can find these mistakes on your own.

The second goal of the entry is to get your kart SET for the turn, in an optimal way. In almost every situation, with very very rare exceptions (which won’t matter until you are seasoned pro), you should be LEANING OUT OF A TURN – NOT INTO A TURN! And you do this on the straight before the entry – NEVER after you have turned the wheel in, always before. Take my word for it, it’s critical to speed in an indoor kart. There are very real reasons for this that any pro can explain to you.

If you slide beginning on entry, it almost always just means you are coming in too hot, or braking too late. Generally here we mean your rear wheels are sliding. It is possible that your front wheels are sliding too, but generally this does not happen until mid turn.  It’s the same cause though, coming in too hot. So start slowing down earlier!

The fastest deceleration will happen in straight lines, so in general if you want to brake late and more effectively, you should look for ways to brake in straight lines BEFORE you turn the wheel. You have rear brakes so lean backwards when you brake to put your weight on the rear – YES it makes a difference – the easy way is to lift and keep your head up high when you apply the brakes.

Fixing The Exit Slide. This is a rear slide that begins on the exit, after a stable entry and a stable mid turn entry.

Before we discuss the middle slide, we will look at the most common error, the exit slide.

Exit slide almost always means you are getting on the gas too early, but it can also mean you are offline and turning in too early. In general though, with even a little practice we can make any line stable with the right foot and hand work, so the exit slide can be a little deceiving when you are chasing the last .100 seconds. Even being slightly off line you can still qualify if you fix this one, you just won’t beat the fast guys until you fix the line.

So if sliding on exit, the first thing to try is to just get on the gas later. And the next thing to ask is, “Should I turn in later?”. You will know if you need a later turn in, because the other drivers will seem slow on the entry but pull away from you on the exit while you are still stuck trying to turn.

If you find you can not get full throttle until you are way past the middle of the turn, then you DEFINITELY have a bad line. You need to turn into the turn later, so delay your entry a bit and wait a bit more before you turn in. Start by deciding EXACTLY where you will turn in, and make sure you can hit that spot consistently. Then make adjustments, if you think you need to get on the gas earlier, move your turn in point forward by about 3 inches at a time, until it feels right.

Remember now you might need to slow down on the entry a little bit more to make it work. Don’t let that bother you, as any pro will tell you, the secret trick is to be SLOW IN and FAST OUT. As you will soon learn, fast in and fast out, generally doesn’t work, because it places you too close to the limits and messes up the balance and transition phases. Fast in-fast out strategies are very inconsistent and unstable, and the regular mistakes result in catastrophic loss of speed. Also the only way to make fast in fast out work, is to drive a big wide sweeping line, which makes the track so much longer, that you never make up for the time lost. That’s when you experience the feel of drivers pulling away from you in turns while you are still stuck rotating in the turn.

Fixing the Middle Phase Slide. This is a slide that begins after you have slowed, are approaching the apex and getting ready for the exit.

Take note of the shape of the driving line in our diagram, note that it arcs more in the Entry, then it opens out in the Exit phase and is almost straight in the exit. This is the classic slow in fast out line, with a slightly late apex.

Remember TURNING INTO a turn slows you down a little, so TURNING OUT should speed you up a little. Note the shape of the arc through the middle, it almost holds steady through the middle, without increasing, while it starts to open at the apex.

If your entry was stable and you start to slide in the middle, it could be several reasons, but generally it means you did not get set up for the turn early enough, and you are still trying to make radical inputs. 

In general you should be all set by the middle, and not need to be slowing down or speeding up, or changing lines. You should be holding steady and either coasting or making very very very subtle movements to maintain control and balance.

The reason coasting the middle works so well, is that during your entry phase a lot of the weight is thrown to the front of the kart, which makes the rear of the kart light. You have almost no traction at all in the rear, if you are doing things right. By coasting, the weight gently returns to the rear wheels and evenly distributes between front and rear wheels, giving you maximum rubber to carry the turn. As you begin to release the steering input more weight shifts to the rear and front pressure drops and the rear tires are given downforce to accelerate you out.

Hit the gas too early, before that weight has balanced, and you lose the back end (slide). OR another type of problem can happen, called the push, because the back plants and the front gets TOO light, you lose front steering. OR another problem called the BIND, where the back wheels plant – the weight shifts rearward and all four wheels fight causing a braking effect as you try to accelerate out. SOLUTION: Be patient – wait for the balance.

As you become a pro, you will learn to develop ‘the feel’ to be able to push the limits, and there definitely *tricks* that can be taught to cheat the balance, but it all begins with mastering the balance in the middle through coasting first.

Review of kart sliding problems and solutions

                              – BRAKING TOO LATE    – SLOW DOWN EARLIER

                            – ADJUST YOUR SPEED EARLIER**

                        – OFFLINE – APEX LATER

Remember the purpose of each phase
Entry = slow down
Middle = Balance
Exit = GO GO GO

Advanced TIP: Middle slide often happens because we are able to get into a corner with stability, but then in the middle suddenly realize we need to make an adjustment. Already being at the limit, even with a slight throttle blip or fractional twitch of our steering, we lose traction slightly.  If you find consistent mid turn instability, begin by asking yourself what the adjustment is that is causing it, and then resolve to do that adjustment earlier, even if you don’t think you need it yet. You almost always find after this modification to your line that you get more acceleration through a turn. This will really help you in a sweeper turn.

If you find Indoor Karting fun, and want to learn from the best drivers, come and jump into the racing leagues, they’re open to all skill levels and you are guaranteed to get faster.

FAQ Frequently Asked Questions about Indoor Karting

FAQ Frequently Asked Questions about Indoor Karting

How much weight can a go kart hold?

I’ve seen public rental indoor karts handle drivers up to 400lbs and possibly more. Rental tracks usually don’t like allowing drivers much over this weight because things start to break but usually if you can get into the seat, they’ll let you drive it.

Can you wear glasses go karting?

Yes you can totally wear glasses inside a helmet, even with a head sock on. The only problem is that sometimes they can become misaligned and you might need to adjust them.

How fast do indoor go karts go?

This would depend on the length of the straights at your indoor karting track because the small kart engines need time to spin up to top speed. This also depends on how much horsepower your tracks karts have. The standard combustion indoor karts by Sodi have 6.5HP, 9HP and 13HP engines. Some tracks have elevation to deal with too but not a lot of indoor tracks have this problem, most are flat. Straight sections of indoor kart tracks range from 50 meters to 150 meters. Sometimes those straights are connected through fast corners and this allows the karts to reach higher top speeds.

Rarely have I seen a kart go over 40MPH, more often they peak at around 30-40MPH. A lot of tracks use rev limiters and restrict their karts even further. I believe Sykart in Oregon is under 30MPH while Victory Lane in Charlotte might actually get above 40MPH because they often have very fast and long track sections that allow the karts to get up to speed.

Is go Karting hard?

I wrote a quick article about this here. The short version is that karting is easy and drivers of all ages can have fun at an indoor track any day or night of the week.

Is Go Karting Fun?

Karting is one of the most fun things you could ever do. I wrote more about this here.

Can you flip an indoor go kart?

The lack of power and 100% surround bumpers of indoor karts make the likelihood of flipping an indoor kart pretty low. But after observing some 10,000+ races I have seen some rare situations where indoor karts have come close. In most indoor tracks there are safety bumpers around the karts which protect the wheels from touching each other. This goes a long way towards protecting the karts from flipping.

In one rare situation I saw a session where 6 karts came side by side in a wide area of a track. The track progressively narrowed and one of the karts became pinched down onto the wall. The kart tipped over sideways and then flipped up on a pole finally coming to rest at almost 90 degrees to the ground. It did not flip, it did not roll over, but it stood upright while the driver sat strapped into the kart until a worker could come over and lift him down. Nobody was hurt and we all had a good laugh.

So in spite of how rare it might be, I think there are rare situations where it is remotely possible, and maybe a 1 in 10 million event.

How fast can a 9hp go kart go?

The 9hp kart can reach a top speed of about 45 MPH but in order to do so you need a straight section about 20 seconds or more in length. If a track only allows about 5 to 10 seconds then it’s more typical to see top speeds under 35MPH. It really depends on how much time you allow the kart to get up to speed.

Does go karting hurt?

Karting does not usually hurt and there is usually enough safety equipment like helmets and padding available. You are usually fully enclosed and protected by bumpers. However, there are always maniacs who can turn a fun day into a dangerous situation and being slammed in the side at 40MPH when you’re at a dead stop can break ribs, and easily dislocate ribs and deliver neck injuries. These kinds of injuries are most definitely painful. Be careful on an indoor track, and make sure to follow all safety guides if you don’t want to hurt yourself and others.

Is karting physically demanding?

I had a friend once who started karting just so he could lose weight. He dropped almost 50 lbs. Now while a 10 minute session wont wear you out totally, you’d be surprised at just how much energy it takes to actively race a go kart. Don’t jump in a kart if you don’t want your clothes to get wet and sticky from sweat, its pretty demanding, YES.

Does go karting Burn Calories?

Go karting will burn many more calories than just sitting in a chair. Especially if you’re trying to race competitively. It is not uncommon to be completely out of breath in a 30 minute session and in longer sessions I have seen drivers unable to hold their head up from the G forces. How many calories? I can’t be sure but I would say at least 300 per hour and possibly 400 if you’re a larger person and fighting G forces. Karts can hit up to 4 G’s and can easily hit 2 G’s in turns, those extra G’s put your body to work.

Is Indoor karting a sport?

Absolutely yes. Each year drivers from all over the world gather for National Indoor karting championships, regional championships and international karting championships. Karting is a fantastic sport for drivers of all skill levels and I encourage you to look for local racing leagues near you.

What do you wear under a go kart suit?

Some drivers wear shorts and jeans, or just underwear. Some drivers wear safety equipment like a rib protector. Take for example this K1 Rib Protector on Amazon a very common choice.

Is go karting a good date idea?

Honestly, unless your date is an amazing driver, go karting is probably not a good date idea. The reasons are that you’re not together on the track and its a very competitive environment. You neither want to be beat by your partner and nor do you want to beat then at anything. It’s also a very dirty environment. I have not seen many dates go that well at the track. Especially if this is your first time in the environment, you are both going to be very uncomfortable and intimidated.
But hey, there are going to be those who loved it and found it exciting, so test your partners sense of adventure. Just be ready for a tense time.

Is go karting like driving a car?

Go karting is much like driving a car, up until the point it becomes a race. And the thing is, when you hit an indoor go karting track, it is absolutely a race. This is where things change, because if you are slow, you become like a pedestrian walking around a Nascar track. You’ll likely get hit and bumped by faster drivers, so you need to develop some humility.

Do indoor go karts have front brakes?

No most indoor karts only have rear brakes.

How do you go on a go kart for beginners?

Its fairly straight forward, one foot for accelerator, one foot for brake, 2 hands on the steering wheel. Head up, and face towards corners (so you can see who is inside you). Go and Stop and you’ll be fine. Check your local Google Search for an indoor kart track near you, just jump in and have a go, you’ll be fine.

Are indoor go karts rear wheel drive?

Yes indoor karts use a rear wheel drive system where both wheels rotate at a uniform rate because of a solid rear axle.

How do brakes work on a go kart?

Indoor karts have a rear disk brake system that squeezes 2 pads against a rotor. The rotor will slow the rotation of the solid rear axle. Many modern braking systems disable the accelerator when you are applying the brakes to avoid safety issues for the driver and to protect wear and tear on the engine.

What engine do indoor go karts use?

The most common indoor karting engines for Sodi karts are the Honda 6HP GX200, Honda 9HP GX270 and the 13HP GX390. In some locations throughout the world Sodi uses 125cc two stroke engines. the Engec Brushless is another common karting engine for electric karts.

Do go karts have a clutch?

The most common indoor karts have automatic clutches so you do not need to use a manual clutch.

How long is a go kart race?

Most standard karting sessions are about 10 minutes long. Racing leagues can run endurance sessions of 20 to 30 minutes. In some national events there are special races that go for 12 to 24 hours long and involve relay teams.

Do indoor go karts have gears?

99.9% of Indoor rental karts do not have gears. There are some exceptions though in the world because some use DD2 two speed racing engines.

How do I get good at indoor go karting?

Practice. Go to a track more than once per week and race 4 races per visit. Read my articles and you’ll get good in no time. But Practice, Practice, Practice. Get your ‘seat time’.

How do I start go karting?

Just look up your local indoor track, and visit with a drivers license. They should have helmets and all the safety gear you need to get started. Take your own helmet and some good sturdy clothes if you have them.

What is a shifter kart?

A shifter kart has gears, and is not usually used for indoor kart rentals. They are very fast and very powerful.

Do you need sneakers for go karting?

You don’t need sneakers, but you don’t want open toe shoes. So Sneakers are great for karting.

Is indoor karting safe?

Indoor karting locations are under a lot of pressure to make sure that their rides are safe. For this reason karting locations use helmets, seat belts and large seats and bumpers to protect the passengers. One of the most common karts is the Sodi, take a look at one here.

Is go karting scary?

Go karting can be intimidating at first because a race track can be very foreign and there are people barking orders at you and waving flags at you. It can seem like it’s just another bumper car race like any Disneyland ride but it can become serious racing very quickly. Once you have done it a few times, it’s no more scary than your first day at school.

Do go karts have traction control?

Karts don’t have modern computerized traction control so you can drift them out, however karts don’t like to slide and have a tendency to slow down and bog when they slide out. So while the traction control is not on purpose they do have a limited traction control by nature of their mechanics.

What does trail braking mean?

Trail braking is a n advanced braking technique where you both turn the steering wheel into a corner while braking at the same time. Normally the safe way to brake is in a straight line. The problem happens when you turn the wheel because there is less traction when you steer. That’s because a kart likes to do one thing or the other, you can turn or you can brake, but when you ask the tires to do both, they get over worked. The most advanced drivers use trail braking because it allows you to go very deep and fast into a turn but it’s not something easily managed by beginners.

Can you wear glasses go karting?

Absolutely just slip the glasses on after you have put on your helmet, they should stay in place just fine.

Shout Out to Bernie at Racing For Beginners

Shout Out to Bernie at Racing For Beginners

If you’re looking for another website for karting advice on your journey to excellence, may I recommend my good friend Bernie and his son Senna. Bernie goes through the motions of being a dad with a kid in karting and has great perspectives on challenges of coming up through the ranks and coaching a young one with talent.

Bernie is a friend of mine who frequents my favorite track Sykart Tigard Oregon. He has come a long way with his son Senna, who by the way handsomely smoked me on the track the other night. LOL. Go Senna!

So here’s an article of his that talks about the voice within that we have to contend with when we’re trying to get our race on. Sometimes that voice is on our side, and other times it’s our worst enemy. Bernie puts together a great article.

Anyway, I hope you like his site as much as I do.


Bernies site has great advice for parents with kids in karting.

10 Mistakes Karters Make that Cost Speed

10 Mistakes New Karters Make that Cost Speed


When I first hit a go kart track I had challenged another driver to a race. Little did I know back then, but this guy had raced for years in the Skip Barber series and had even trained with Bob Bundurant.

At that time I took great pride in my ability to be able to control a car under a slide. I thought this was some kind of skill.

What happened next was a complete embarrassment, the guy began to destroy me and lap me like I was a grandma on sleeping pills.

I was completely confused but amazed, how was he doing this? Why was he able to do this? What the hell was going on?

That began a lifelong journey for me, I was making pretty much all of the mistakes I mention here. But I’m going to save you the years it took me to learn about them.

In this article we look at 10 mistakes that kart racers make when trying to drive fast. There are many things that can slow us down in a kart, but eliminate these and you’ll be much faster in no time.

Mistake #1 Sliding

A cardinal rule of karting is that “Sliding is Slow, Traction is Fast”. There are many reasons why we slide and we will look at some of those here. The problem is that when we slide it practically puts the brakes on the go kart. You could almost say that the ‘anti slide’ design is a safety feature of the design, but it’s actually a design intended to allow a go kart to be faster in corners.

A go kart has a solid rear axle, and that means that both rear wheels must always rotate at the same speed. That’s a problem in corners because the arc travelled by the inside wheel must always be less than the arc travelled by the outside wheel. And so because the wheels are the same size, the left rear and right rear tires go into a battle for control when in corners.

In a standard car this is handled by a mechanical marvel known as the differential. The differential allows each wheel to be able to travel independently of each other.

And so the inside wheel of your car can travel more slowly than the outside wheel. But a go kart can not do what the differential allows and if both wheels are flat to the ground then one of them must act something like a brake, skipping and losing traction.

To facilitate this the go kart is designed to ‘tripod’ or tip over onto 3 wheels, where the inside rear wheel lifts off the ground. This allows the inside rear to spin freely while the outside rear handles traction and rotation of the corner. A go kart is able to go quickly through a turn. because of that inside rear wheel lift.

But now consider what happens when the kart slides. That inside rear wheel that is lifted into the air, all of a sudden, comes slapping down onto the ground. At the same time the kart twists and the rear steps out. The rotation of the kart must now deal with two rear tires in battle because when they are flat the kart wants to go in a straight line, not turn.

All of this effectively puts the brakes onto the kart and it is not uncommon to see a kart come to a dead stop after a slide. It is also not uncommon to hear the engine bog down under load as the kart struggles to complete the turn.

Even a very slight slide is going to place a minor braking effect on the kart and throw energy to the wind. At the upper levels of racing it is often just a battle to see who micro-slides the least as they push their karts to edge of the limits.

Mistake #2 Turning and braking at the same time when under maximum brake.

To facilitate this rear wheel lifting the kart is also designed to shift the weight forward while under brakes and to lift the rear inside wheel off the ground when you are turning slightly.

When under a lot of braking pressure BOTH wheels actually become light. This creates a problem that can take half of your braking power away when you turn the wheel.

Now while trail braking (turning and braking at the same time) is an advanced braking technique, many drivers don’t know how to do it correctly and end up coming into turns way too fast and spinning out of control.

The correct way to brake at maximum force is to lift your head up, lean back, and brake in a straight line. Note how the back wheels become light and effectively lift off the ground when under heavy braking.

Mistake #3 Getting on the gas too early

So now that we have established that sliding is the enemy and why let’s consider what happens when you get on the gas too early. In a nutshell, you slide. 

The reason is because the forward weight bias created under braking needs time to settle the rear wheel down force again. Usually this is handled by coasting for a short while to allow the back wheels to seat themselves.

As a general rule you should wait until you reach the apex (The middle of the turn) before you attempt to reapply the gas.

Consider the kart in the middle of the image here. The rear wheels are still slightly light and effectively without downforce, while in the middle of a turn and before reaching the apex. If you try to apply gas at this stage of the karts imbalance you will induce a slide.

The solution is to wait, and don’t get back on the gas too early. 

Mistake #4 Braking Too Late

There is a common misconception amongst intermediate drivers that the trick to being faster than others is to apply the brakes later than others. Indeed it has the potential to make your straights longer, so why not?

The problem is that it increases the forward bias and jarres the weight transfer violently when you slam on the brakes at the end of a straight. It becomes impossible to maintain control and balance after a certain point.

The best way to brake is to find a moderate point at which you can begin squeezing and slowly increase the pressure with a smooth consistent build up. Then use timing and a “brake point” at which you begin to control your speed into the turn. If you find you are coming in too fast, (because you have a loss of control on entry) then move your brake point forward and brake earlier. If you find you can easily take the turn then you can move your brake point forward.

By dialing your brake point in like this, you can eventually have perfect brake control on every turn.

Mistake #5 Getting off the gas too late

This mistake is somewhat related to mistake #4. Before you can brake you will want to get off the gas. You dont want to be braking and accelerating at the same time either. So at some point you need to make the transition from racing and accelerating to decelerating. Sometimes we have to coast before we make the transition to braking.

In some turns we dont brake, we only lift off the gas and coast for a while before getting back onto the gas.
A common place where this kind of mistake occurs is in sweeper turns. Sweeper turns are deceptive because as you enter them you are at no risk of sliding, but as you get more into the turn the lateral forces build up and eventually you have to release the gas or suffer a loss of control.

But it is often the release of the gas that actually causes the loss of control. This is because as you lift off the gas while in the sweeper your weight shifts forward and the rear wheels lose their downforce. This is the classic case of ‘snap oversteer’ and it is caused by getting off the gas too late.

On the contrary the faster driver lifts off the gas early and as he enters the sweeper for a brief moment. This causes the kart to dip forward and tilt over, establishing firm front and rear outside grip first. Next the fast driver reapplies the gas as others with less experience have to lift and lose control.

As a result the pro travels at full acceleration through zones that others are sliding and scrambling to maintain control.

Mistake #6 Leaning Into Turns

This is a very common problem of new drivers and even some more experienced drivers. As you go through a turn the inertia is going to want to throw you to the outside of the turn, so why not fight it like a motorcycle rider and lean over and into the turn?

There are several problems with this mistake. First the rear inside wheel has more trouble lifting, so we force the rear wheels to stay flat. That causes the binding effect and drag of the rear wheels. It also hinders the kart from gaining maximum roll speed through the turn.

The next problem is that the lateral forces created by your body have a tendency to push the wheels outwards, this makes you more susceptible to sliding.

Here is what happens when you lean out of a turn. You assist the rear inside wheel to lift. You also change the lateral down force so that instead of pushing the weight laterally you push down on top of the wheel. This gives you extra grip.

The important thing to remember though is that you MUST lean out BEFORE you enter the turn. If you start to lean when you are in the turn or going into the turn then usually this is too late, and will upset the kart balance.

So if you are going to lean then do it early, while you are still on the straight.

Mistake #7 Not Knowing and Not Looking Where You’re going

This is a common mistake amongst newer drivers who tend to look either directly ahead or directly at the driver who is just in front of them.

There are always very specific places on the track where you need to focus your attention and your eyes. Those points are your apexes, or the mid points of your turns. You need to know where those points are down to the fraction of an inch if possible.

Mike Smith (US indoor national karting champion) used to be fond of saying, ‘the kart will go where your eyes are looking’. That means if you’re staring at the kart in front of you, and you’re faster than them, you’re either going to hit them or hit what they hit. If you’re looking at the corner, you’re probably going to go around the driver in front of you and not into them.

In the image below the cross hair shows where the apex is for this turn and this is exactly where your eyes need to be. The white line on the track also shows an imaginary path, this is what you literally have to paint onto the track with your imagination so you can drive your wheels over the line. We call this the racing line and it is basically built from the apex and turn in point.

The important thing is to find your apex and to focus your eyes on that point from as early as you can possibly see it.

Mistake #8 Turning in too early or too late.

Another name for this is ‘racing into turns’. This is a common problem among new drivers who are in the ‘racing’ mode. You can imagine the situation, there’s a race on and in the hurry the driver turns in early.

In the image below the red line shows the consequence of turning in early, while the white line shows the preferred line. By turning in early the exit is choked and the driver is out of position for the next turn, which is now extremely difficult to take quickly. The white line driver on the other hand has sacrificed his entry for an accelerated next turn. These kinds of trade offs are considered and made on every track. There is a perfect optimal turn in point at every turn.

Mistake #9 Moving your hands around while in a turn.

This is a common mistake made by drivers who like to “drive by feel”. I often see the front wheels of these drivers flapping around like fish. The only thing I can liken this to is driving a ‘nautical mile’.

Now imagine for a moment that you entered a turn within a split hair of losing traction, you are finely riding the absolute limit of possibility. That is the optimal fastest way to travel a turn. But now what happens when you start quivering your hands around? Those micro movements will displace the weight and push you over the limit.

For this reason you should always look for a way to be able to take a turn by holding your hands steady on one long sweeping optimal arc. You might have to make some adjustments on entry or slowly unwind your exit but the main highest G force portion of the turn should be made and held with one steady input. This will stop you from sliding.

Mistake #10 Trying to drive by reflex and not timing.

Another problem with driving by feel is that the standard human reflexes have about a 200th of a second response time. Even in a relatively slow indoor kart, and a top speed of around 15 meters per second you will travel 3 meters before you can even twitch a response to what you are feeling.

That might as well be a mile off mark. For this reason driving is more about timing than it is reflexes. This means you need to get your bearings early, on straights before turns, and as much in advance as you can.

Always look for ways you can use timing rather than reflexes. One way to do that is to look for marks and markers around the track that you can use for timing. Cracks in the ground, paint and objects on the sides (preferably objects that wont move). This is a cheats way of staying on line, but it works very well.

I remember once while racing in the 24 hour enduro of Charlotte at VLK raceway. I was botching one of the turns every time, and I had a teammate on the radio with me asking “what’s up with that turn?”. I was in the seat for an hour and for the first 15 minutes missed the apex just about every time.

There was just something about that turn that made it impossible to naturally hit the apex.

So I started to time my turn in point by using the tires on the entry as markers. I chose a tire that was somewhere about right and decided I would turn in at that tire. I came through the turn and early apexed. That’s okay I decided next turn I would turn in at the next tire.

Again I came through the turn and early apexed, but not as bad this time. I moved my marker ahead one more tire.

This time it was different, I came through the turn and nailed the apex perfect. I kept my focus on that turn in point marker for the rest of the session and nailed the apex perfectly for the rest of the hour.

That’s how you use timing to beat feel and beat reflexes.


That’s the first 10 mistakes that slow you down in a go kart, that come to my mind. Almost all of them are basically related to avoiding the slide and staying on the driving line. I hope these ideas will help you to find speed on your track.

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.

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.