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Curtis Ruth
Posted 2013-03-09 7:23 PM (#16316)
Subject: The Beginner's Guide to karting

PKRA Champion

Posts: 1070
Location: Glendale,AZ
This is a work in progress and something that I have been working on for a while. Let me know your thoughts people. We need to work on getting people into the sport, participating in it, and enjoying it for years to come. It comes with making good decisions getting in.

The Beginners Guide To Karting In Arizona

If you’re thinking about getting into the sport of karting, welcome!
With a little preparation, it can be an enjoyable and thrilling experience.
We hope this guide will help get you started.

There are some things you should know prior to diving in so that you can make choices that will allow you to enjoy karting and remain in the sport for years to come.  

When starting in karting, one of the most important things to decide on is, do you seek the competition of side by side racing, or the speed and excitement of solo practicing. Don’t worry; you can always change your mind later.

There are a few practical things to take in to account before moving forward.
Where is the local kart track or tracks?

What are the local clubs / organizations near you?

What type of racing do they offer?
When do they run racing events and practice days?
What are the regulations that they follow on practice and race days?

What are the costs for Membership, Practice Sessions, and Race Entries?
What is your estimated yearly budget?
How will you transport it to the track and back home?
What days will you be able to go to the track?
What are your storage options?
Once you have figured out these items you’re ready for part two.
Go to the local racetrack or tracks on a RACE DAY to see the karts in action, the classes run, and the participation in the classes to see what gets your juices flowing.
Get a pit pass, walk the pits and talk to the drivers, spectators, kart shop representatives, and other participants. They will be glad to talk and welcome you to the sport.

The used market is pretty healthy with modern clean equipment that can be had at great introductory prices but can come with unknown reliability or maintenance issues.  
Do not seek or expect to find the best deals on Craigslist. Usually this equipment is out of date and not compliant to the rules run currently in your local market. Unless you know what you’re looking at, Buyer Beware!
Visit the local kart shops (Plural)
Try to arrange a test drive in a kart.
The PKRA.COM Discussion forum can be a great resource for information, scheduling, and even used equipment. There are other forums out there that speak to karting at other levels.
It’s usually best to keep within a 5 year window of production. Older karts can be harder to find replacement parts and support.
It’s much easier to buy a brand of chassis that has local parts availability.
Buy a brand of engine that has local parts availability.
It is not recommended you get a shifter kart as your first kart. While thrilling to drive, the experience can be overwhelming. The performance of a Shifter can place demands on your body and wallet you may not be ready for. It is not uncommon to find Shifter setups for sale after only a few sessions.

Get out and enjoy karting!!!!!

Edited by Curtis Ruth 2013-09-27 9:30 PM
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Erica Odello
Posted 2013-03-13 8:54 AM (#16324 - in reply to #16316)
Subject: Re: The Beginner's Guide to karting

Posts: 59
Location: No Pho
I'd love to see a version of this on the regular pkra site. Great job.
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Curtis Ruth
Posted 2013-09-27 9:30 PM (#16862 - in reply to #16316)
Subject: Re: The Beginner's Guide to karting

PKRA Champion

Posts: 1070
Location: Glendale,AZ
Added to our website in the publlic domain. Please share and spread to get people rollin.
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Gianni Basso
Posted 2013-09-29 4:34 PM (#16864 - in reply to #16316)
Subject: Re: The Beginner's Guide to karting

Posts: 7
Great article and helpful information for a newbie like myself trying to enter the sport of karting
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Rich Cordova
Posted 2013-09-30 9:02 PM (#16865 - in reply to #16316)
Subject: Re: The Beginner's Guide to karting

Posts: 18
Location: Glendale AZ
Why do you race?
“A need, a need for speed”…. Cheesy, yes, but the desire for speed is what initially sparked my interest is Karting. Couple that with a mechanic’s hand and love for tinkering with just about anything and you have a match made in heaven! Motorcycles, cars, ATVs… you name it and I have driven it. Fast. Really Fast. A love of all things fast has been with me my whole life from the time my dad turned me loose at 8yrs old to race my pedal bike down a mountain in Albuquerque to a Honda CB400A at 15 (chicks dig guys on bikes, right?) to my first car, a Ford Curry (yep, built with my two hands) and countless motorcycles and cars since. I never met something with wheels that I did not like, nor an opportunity to race that I did not take. There has been many a project, many an all nighter in the garage, many an object of my affection in between that first bike ride and my present day passion of outdoor Karting.

So what lead me to the steps of Innovative Karting and the local race track, PKRA? A date with the fiancé! Must have been a pretty awesome date right? Not too bad (honey, if your reading this- it was WONDERFUL)! Went to dinner and then we went to the indoor go- kart track up the street. Sure, it was fun, something that I had done off and on wherever I lived (Missouri, Florida, New Mexico- they all have similar tracks) but never had done much exploring after a few exhilarating laps and a goodtime. Something about this gorgeous Arizona evening really intrigued me with the thought of racing the kart outdoors, with the breeze flowing, and especially no ridiculous governors. Outdoors? Racing? Tinkering? SPEED? The race was on!

Countless hours of internet research later, I decided I was going to begin my karting adventure with a Shifter Kart. YES. A 90MPH FULL ON RACING MACHINE. Schumi, Senna, Vettle- you name a great and chances are they started their career in a shifter. And I was bound a determined that would be me! After finding a killer deal on a 125cc dirt bike motor , I was excited to begin shopping for a chassis and of course, tires, and whatever else was needed to go FAST ( a race suit was on that list somewhere- after all, I had to dress the part, right?) Then I met Curtis, owner of Innovative Karting. Curtis, the destroyer of dreams. My dreams of speed and power and shifters, Oh my! He told me to start on something with less power, slower, more cost effective. Looking back now, a few thousand laps more and a lotta money less, it was very sensible and I dare say, sage advice. But at the time, all I could think was : WHAT was this guy saying????! I want to go fast! I want to be faster than anyone else!

Some people just gotta learn from experience, right? Well, count me in that group. I was bound and determined; shifter was the way to go. Shifter was the ONLY way to go for this speed demon, um, angel. After a few of the previously mentioned all nighters on the garage, I am finally ready to take it out for the first time. Man, I felt sorry for the poor souls I was gonna be flying by that day, all the while saying “yeah, I am new to this, must just be a natural talent”. Well, let’s just say that it didn’t quit happen that way, but overall not too bad. Yeah, I did tell people I was new, but the “natural talent” part was left out. First time, I go out of the pits, spin and killed it (the motor that is)! OK, okay, “I’m new” can I get another push? This played out a couple of times that first outing, but overall I got home stoked, got some sleep,all the while dreaming of my next outing which will surely be timed in competitive numbers with the “ experienced locals”. Ahh, sleep! Ahh, PAIN! I awoke to ridiculous pain in my ribs, felt like I had been kicked around by a donkey! But man, it was worth it! Hooked!

.... Ribs heal up a week or so later got back out on track... more laps... first races... a few trophies here and there and a bunch of purchase receipts showing a bunch of money spent.
Wanting to get faster, I inquired of Curtis “ how do I get faster? More consistent?” He says to me "More seat time" OK. More seat time it is... more race gas, mix, tires, pistons, radiator, tires, oil, tires, brakes, tires, chains, tires, tires. Always more tires! My fiancé suggested and investment in Michelin, bless her heart!

My new found addiction was exhilarating, fast and a lot of fun those first few years . I raced and tinkered and raced and tinkered some more. All that tinkering ( insert engine rebuilds) and thirsting for the just a tenth of speed more, well just like any addiction, it also drained the bank. I hit my limit. No, not speed wise. Cash wise. The scrounging for the next set of tires, brake pads, race fuel, etc for the upcoming races was quickly maxing my modest budget and more importantly, minimizing the fun that set me out on this adventure to begin with. Not to mention, severely limiting my seat time and joy riding in between races, Dumping volumes of money into a shifter was no longer a solution to the basic issue of race craft. I finally understood what Curtis was telling me all those years ago. To go fast, you have to start slow. Like any wondrous work of architecture, you first have to build a solid foundation. The intricate lines of the race track are like a bowl of pasta. Only the trained eye can search these out, find them and make the smoothest strand their own. And you can bet, to obtain the “trained eye” in karting, you must start slow, rack up “seat time” and only then will you be comfortable enough in you and your instincts for them to appear. THAT you can take to the bank! Starting out, a shifter kart gobbles up track faster than you can think, faster than your instincts and faster than a majority of wallets can keep up with.

All this eventually lead me to debating whether I want to continue with karting . The speed, fun and friends I had made were all still there and something I did not want to lose. The plethora of time, frustration ( the tinkering had turned to a chore by now) and money, were all things I did want to lose. And lose fast. After much pondering and the luxury of experience guiding my thoughts now, I made my decision to say “goodbye” to Shifter and hello to World Formula. I was worried that the slight decrease in speed would lead to a decrease in joy and fun. Did I really want to go slower? Now, sitting here writing this note after my first track day running the WF, I have found the shifter was stunting my ability to become a better driver. The raw speed and power was masking issues and opportunities to grow. I have found that I can actually relax, get comfortable and think about how entry is going to set me up for the next turn or the next one after that. You might say, I have found the smoothest stands of pasta and found more than I ever thought exist. It was fantastic and I learned more today than I did the first 6 months in a shifter. On top of all that, no maintenance!!! I had time to hang out in the pits, shooting the breeze and enjoythe beautiful Arizona weather. No jet this. No mix that. No multiple sets of tires every track day. And more importantly, no kissing the paycheck goodbye! Just check the oil, lube the chain, check your pressures and put gas in it!
I don’t begrudge my shifter adventure. I best learn from experience, remember? But for those that don’t and are considering the options, I have 2 pieces of advice. One) If you are truly interested in the craft and building a solid speed foundation, the World Formula is the way to go. Don't get me wrong, if you have the budget of a small country the shifter is ridiculously fast and exciting to drive. But remember the gap between how fast you are and how fast the shifter kart is. It is HUGE. However, the gap between you and a World Formula is a lot smaller. And that makes the gap easier to close. Plus you will have lots of extra money for food at the track, dates nights for your next adventure and so forth!
Two) Take the advice from someone that knows how to go FAST and WIN.... Curtis Ruth at Innovative Karting. And while you’re there, tell him I sent you. Maybe he will give me a discount for that new race suit I am eyeing. Hey, worth a try, right?
Thanks for reading my two cents that turned into a dollar.

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Bernie Lacotta
Posted 2013-10-01 1:23 PM (#16868 - in reply to #16316)
Subject: Re: The Beginner's Guide to karting

PKRA Board Member

Posts: 333
Well stated Rich. VERY WELL STATED!! Thank you very much for telling your story. Very glad that you did not follow the common path, that being if your first kart is a shifter it may very well be your last a very short time span. Again, thank you very much for your insight.

Edited by Bernie Lacotta 2013-10-01 1:25 PM
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Cliff Kujala
Posted 2013-10-01 4:27 PM (#16869 - in reply to #16316)
Subject: Re: The Beginner's Guide to karting

PKRA Vice President; PKRA Champion

Posts: 98
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Hi All,

On the new PKRA website, which will launch soon, there will be a page dedicated specifically to providing this type of info for new people. The info above is great, and all info added to this thread will be reviewed and considered for inclusion. All ideas welcome.
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