Beginners Guide To Karting at PKRA
Whether you plan to go racing, drive your kart around during practice, or just see how it goes, be sure to do two things:
- Visit the track during practice sessions (typically Tue-Fri nights and weekends - see calendar) and/or races. You'll get a good sense of what's involved and just about anyone is willing to answer your questions and help you out.
- Visit the local kart shops (see bottom of page). They can give you specifics on what's involved and what it will cost.
If possible, test drive a kart. You could try a rental kart, or perhaps someone will let you test drive theirs. Keep in mind that it will take some time to become proficient.
You'll need to decide what kart and engine you want to start with. Classes are designated by engine type and age group
- For children 5-7, the only choice is a Kid Kart. Beginner night (Tuesdays) will teach them the basics.
- Four stroke (LO206, World Formula) is generally a good starting point for older children and adults. They are generally easier to handle, less expensive and require less maintenance than the two stroke karts.
- Two stroke (Tag). These karts get more power from a higher revving two cycle engine. They go faster, but are generally more expensive to purchase and maintain. They also use softer tires which wear out faster.
- Shifter. These require a significant amount of skill, as they have the highest powered engines and use a 6 speed gearbox with all-wheel brakes to acheive much faster acceleration and braking. They can be overwhelming, and we don't recommend getting started with a shifter. It is not uncommon to find Shifter karts for sale after only a few sessions.
If you plan to come out very often, you'll likely want to join PKRA to enjoy reduced practice and race fees. Two membership levels are offered (see the Membership Page for more information):
- Bronze $240: Reduced practice fee of $10 (vs. non-member fee of $40), and $35 race entry discount.
- Silver $540: Same as Bronze level, but with unlimited free practice.
Buying a Kart
There are plenty of quality used karts available at a significant discount to new, but like any other used equipment, there is a risk that you get stuck with some else's reliability or maintenance issues. It’s usually best to keep within a 5 year window of production; there's a greater chance the kart will be in better shape, and it is generally easier to get parts for. It’s best to buy a brand of chassis that has local parts availability (check kart shops for advice). The local kart shops frequently have used equipment for which they are aware of the history. Classified Ads are another source. Be especially careful of Craigslist - frequently this equipment is out of date and/or in poor condition.
Don't forget the safety equipment. You'll need a full face helmet with proper certification (better to buy from a kart or race shop; a basic motorcycle DOT helmet isn't sufficient), a neck brace, karting suit or jacket, gloves, and ankle length shoes. Children 12 and under require a chest protector, and we recommend a rib protector for all.
Practice / Training
It's best to start off on beginner night (Tuesdays). The first time, you'll get to go out by yourself, and someone is there to give you basic training/advice. At some point, you'll likely benefit from some coaching from an experienced driver. Ask around - we don't maintain a list of coaches, but we do have a lot of good drivers.
If you aren't having fun, then you're doing it wrong! Don't take things too seriously, and don't let your temper get the better of you when inevitably something happens you don't like.
This is primarily a volunteer organization. If you enjoy youself at PKRA, it's because people volunteer their time to keep it running. Find some way to give back and volunteer to make PKRA great.