How to start karting

Thursday 13 February 2020

The vast majority of today’s professional racing drivers started out as youngsters in karting. In fact, it’s extremely unusual to come across a pro racer who didn’t begin his or her career in karts.

But karting isn’t merely a springboard to other forms of motorsport; it’s also one of the most accessible types of racing out there, as well as one of the most thrilling. Whatever your age, and whether you’re pursuing a professional career or not, getting started in kart racing has never been more straightforward than it is today.

You’ve almost certainly tried some form of karting already, perhaps with friends and family or even while on holiday. But if not, you can have a go for very little cost by heading to your local track. Fifteen minutes in a four-stroke corporate kart will give you some idea if this sport is for you. The United Kingdom is home to more than 150 kart circuits, from indoor leisure karting venues to purpose-built outdoor tracks that host the highest level of international kart racing. Almost all of those circuits offer an arrive-and-drive package, allowing you to try karting for yourself on a one-off basis.

Motorsport UK has been working to define a new Karting Pathway, outlining the various rungs of the ladder from total novice to British Kart Championship contender. The first step is the new-for-2020 British Indoor Karting Championship which provides the most accessible and cost-effective way of competing for a national title there has ever been. The series is open to children and adults alike and no prior experience in karting is necessary.

The next step before buying your own kart and running it yourself, is competing with Club100 (www.club100.co.uk). It’s a properly-structured and professionally-run championship across the country, but it’s run to an arrive-and-drive format, which means costs are kept to a minimum and competitors don’t need to own a kart or even any specialist equipment. The club uses two-stroke race karts, too, which are a world apart from the four-stroke corporate machines you might have driven before now.

Once you’ve decided to buy a kart and race at Motorsport UK club events, you’ll need a licence. The first thing to do it buy the Motorsport UK ‘Go Karting’ Starter Pack, which costs £59 and includes the cost of your first karting licence. You can purchase this from shop.motorsportuk.org. Next, you’ll need to find your nearest kart track that’s a member of the Association of Racing Kart Schools (www.arks.co.uk).

The venue will take you through the practical and written parts of the ARKS test, after which you’ll be licensed to compete in kart races in the UK.

Children as young as six can compete in karting in this country in the Bambino category. From eight years old they’ll compete in the Cadet category, graduating to Juniors from 13 onwards and into Seniors after their 16th birthday. Within each of these categories there are various sub-categories, all of which can seem bewildering at first. The best advice at this point is to go along to a club meet at your nearest outdoor kart circuit and find out which of these sub-categories are popular in your local area.