Beginner Go-Kart FAQ
Thinking about down-sizing your leisure driving to a go-kart?
These are the most important things we think beginners should know when going from real-world driving to the track.
Is a go-kart considered a car?
Yes. Technically, a go-kart is a small sports car.
It may not be street-legal, but it still has all the necessary components that make it a car.
So, is go-karting like driving a car?
To some extent.
The basics of driving a go-kart and driving a car are the same, as are many of the vehicles’ working components.
Go-karts have both accelerator pedals and brake pedals for accelerating and stopping, just like a car, and, of course, a steering wheel for steering.
Some go-karts are also manuals with gearshifts and clutches.
But there are definite differences in handling between a standard car and a go-kart.
And those differences affect the way you drive.
Is it hard to steer a go-kart?
Steering a go-kart isn’t hard exactly, but it is different than steering a normal vehicle.
Go-karts have more sensitive steering, which makes each turn of the wheel more effective, but also makes it easier to oversteer and to lose control.
Once you get used to how much speed you can handle on turns and the way a kart maneuvers, steering a go-kart is really no harder than steering a car.
But you can’t just transfer the way you steer a vehicle to properly steering a go-kart.
You will find a kart to be considerably more responsive.
Do you need a license to go-kart?
At most recreational go-kart tracks, you do not need a driver’s license to drive.
In fact, many kid-friendly tracks allow drivers as young as 5 years old to operate (smaller and slower) go-karts. (Some tracks even allow 3 and 4 year olds!)
However, all tracks have minimum ages, and the minimum age on certain tracks can be as old as 14, 16, or even 18 years old.
There are also a handful of tracks which require you to be either an adult (18 years old) OR to have a valid driver’s license.
So, while you don’t really need a license to go-kart, it can expand your track options.
How old do you have to be to drive a go-kart?
It depends on the track.
Between 5 and 18 years old minimum, generally speaking.
What should you wear to go kart?
Something comfy you can move in and close-toed footwear. (Many tracks forbid open-toed shoes.)
Avoid anything too loose or dangly that can tangle in kart components.
You may also get dirty from the kart or track, so keep that in mind when choosing your clothes.
And, of course, wear the helmet the track provides (even if it isn’t mandatory).
What should a beginner know before getting on a go-kart track?
For those who are go-karting for the very first time, we think three things are most essential:
1 – Don’t be tense.
Even for expert drivers, climbing behind the wheel of a new type of vehicle, like a go-kart, can be intimidating.
It’s normal to be a bit nervous your first time out.
Just don’t let those nerves tense your body up.
Go-kart tracks are full of tight curves that create momentum, and the best way to keep from getting (too) sore while you drive is to let your body move with that momentum.
So, try and keep loose.
2 – Don’t dive right into racing.
It’s tempting as a driver to try, but you’re not going to win your very first go-kart race.
(Unless everyone around you happens to be newbies too.)
Your first few times out, even if you are on the track with other karts, don’t try to race, just practice driving.
As already discussed, steering a go-kart is different than steering any other type of vehicle.
So, your first few laps around the track should be about getting comfortable with the kart’s handling, instead of trying to win a race.
3 – Focus on the turns.
While going fast in a go-kart can be loads of fun (and you will be able to go faster the better you get at driving), it’s mastering turns that wins races and makes karting more fun.
So, always focus on the turns ahead.
It’s the rare go-kart track that has long enough straight stretches to reach a kart’s top speed.
Instead of trying to max out your kart’s speed, focus on reaching the highest speeds you can reach while still maintaining smooth and steady steering.
And that’s it! While this by no means covers everything about go-karting, it should be enough to get you started.
So, happy karting!