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An Inside Look at Kart Racing

Picture of kart racing.
Courtesy of Jeff Snelling
Photo of teen kart racer, Levon Bates Jr.
Courtesy of Jeff Snelling

Looking to start driving but still too young to get your licence? Check out the adrenaline-fueled world of kart racing - the first step to becoming a professional race car driver.

Kart Racing - Feel The Speed

Kart racing or karting is usually the stepping stone most drivers take to becoming racecar drivers. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and many others on the NASCAR, Formula 1 or Indy Car circuit all started out racing karts when they were kids. Karts have smaller chassis, engines and tires than regular race cars but they can reach speeds well over 75 miles per hour. Levon Bates Jr. is 13 years old and has been racing karts on the World Karting Association tour since 2005. He says speed is what he loves most about the sport. "I love the speed and adrenaline. Sometimes you can't tell left or right and you just have to hang on."

Kart Racing - Start Your Engines

Karting is the easiest motorsport to get involved in - especially if you're not old enough to get a driver's licence. It's reasonably economical and most kart tracks allow kids eight and up to start their engines and begin racing. While buying your own kart can be a bit pricey, around $1000 - $5000, you can also get your racing buzz by renting one at any kart track. Karting tracks also offer driving classes for wannabe racecar drivers or for those who just want to improve their driving skills. Levon Bates Jr. races up to five times a week and competed in the Junior Division at the 2006 World Karting Championships, where he finished sixth. He's hoping to eventually race on the IRL or NASCAR circuit. "Racing is all I'm focused on now," he says, "I do homeschooling and I've cut out most of my social activities so I can concentrate on racing." Whether your dream is to become a professional driver, like Levon, or you just want to try karting as a hobby, it's a great sport for those who love speed and the rush of burning around a track.

Kart Racing - Did You Know?

  • Kart races are usually either sprint or endurance formats. The sprint format is a series of short races of a few laps with speed and the ability to pass being most important. Endurance formats are longer races and usually involve two or more drivers for each team. These races rely on a consistent kart and a good pit strategy.
  • Seven-time Formula One World Champion, Michael Schumacher, began his racing career by driving karts.
  • There are more than 100,000 people in the United States who race karts either for fun or in competitions.
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