If you’re reading this, you probably fall into one of two broad categories:
#1 – I want to give it a go
#2 – I think I like the idea, but tell me more
If you’re #1, just keep reading.
If you’re #2, click HERE
So you want to get started, but you’re not sure how to go about it.
Hurricane make it easy for you by letting you know how, and walking you through the process.
There are a number of steps, and here’s what you need as a minimum:
- You need a kart, obviously.
- You need a place to race it.
- You need a little bit of equipment.
But let’s take things in order.
There are very few tracks in Australia that aren’t licensed tracks and assuming you’re going to race on one of them, you’re going to need to be licensed. However, in order to get a licence, you have to join a kart club. So…
JOIN A KARTING AUSTRALIA CLUB
I know we’re biased, but Hurricane Go Kart Club is good choice. We’re the friendly club. You will have access to the track for racing, practise (free of charge), be able to take part in competition against similar karts and participate in the club championship and other activities.
For more details about joining, see Club Membership.
GET A KARTING AUSTRALIA LICENCE
Along with the licence comes a bunch of karting rules and regulations in a Karting Manual, available as a book or online. There are different grades of licence, but you will start off with either an E-grade or a D-grade licence.
An E-grade licence is valid for practise only. If all you want to do is race around the track casually, this is all you need.
A D-grade licence will allow you to race in competition.
In both cases, you are required to display P-plates.
You will need to complete a minimum of 4 meetings to the satisfaction of the stewards before you can upgrade your licence. During these meetings, you will start each race for your class of racing from the back of the grid displaying P-plates (unless there is qualifying).
The licence also relates to your age division, of which there are 4.
i) Cadet 9s Age 6-9
ii) Cadet 12s Age 9-12
ii) Juniors Age 12-15
iv) Seniors Age 15 and over
Obviously, there is some overlap in ages there. This is the simplified version. . Details are in the Competition Rules section of the Karting Manual, but it will be easier to talk to a club member about it.
I’ve read enough. Where do I join? HERE!
GET A KART
This can be a difficult decision, as there are a number of choices to make. Firstly, what is your budget? Do you want a brand new race kart, or could you live with a second-hand one? You get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean you have to have brand new gear to have good gear. As long as it’s in good condition, your kart will generally not be the limiting factor in your lap times – you will be. At least, until you gain some experience. So why pay for performance you can’t use? (The other side of the argument is; why not have performance available that you can access as you improve?)
Secondly, you have choices for kart engine and chassis.
It can get complex and the details are beyond the scope of this guide. You really need to talk to people who are involved in the sport already.
The karting community is a pretty friendly one and most people will be happy to give you their advice. Karts shops are also good places to get advice. There is so much information available online; forums, chat rooms. That kind of stuff. I’m only going to cover the basics, starting with ENGINES.
For Cadet 9s, there are 3 engines to choose from:
Vortex Mini Rok. This is new engine type introduced in Australia in 2015, so there aren’t many 2nd-hand ones around. This the only Cadet 9 engine eligible for State Championship events.
Comer. Been around for ages. Can get plenty of them 2nd– hand.
Yamaha (The “J”). Same.
When you are looking to buy, READ THIS
In Cadet 12s, there are 2 engines eligible.
Vortex Mini Rok. This is new engine type introduced in Australia in 2015, so there aren’t many 2nd-hand ones around.
Yamaha (The “J”). Can only be used for Zonal and Club level events. Been around for ages. Can get plenty of them 2nd– hand.
When you are looking to buy, READ THIS
Juniors have a number of engines to choose from. However, if you’re just starting out, there are only 2 eligible engines.
KA100. Like the Vortex Mini Rok, this was new to Australia in 2015 and, like the Mini Rok, there aren’t many 2nd-hand ones around.
Yamaha “J”. Been around for ages. Can get plenty of them 2nd– hand.
When you are looking to buy, READ THIS
It’s more complex for Seniors. Choose your class before you choose your kart or engine. Choose your class before you choose your kart or engine. I said it twice because it’s important if you don’t want to waste money. You should get a chassis to match your engine and you have a choice of engines.
- KA4 class. This is a lower performance class, which also comes with lower running costs. There are 2 engines eligible.
The Yamaha KT100J, commonly called a “J”. Been around since forever.
The new KA100 (with restrictor). First introduced in Australia in 2015, so there aren’t many 2nd-hand ones around. The only one that can be used in a National Championship.
As the engines are lower performance, it is critical to drive smoothly to be fast, which makes it a good choice for learning racecraft, which will benefit you no matter which class you drive in.
- Sportsman KA3 class. This is a medium performance class. Speeds are higher, so are the costs. 3 engine options.
The air-cooled Yamaha KT100S (the “Clubbie”)
The water-cooled ARC
The KA100 (without restrictor). The KA100 will have a slight performance advantage, but they’re difficult to find 2nd-hand.
(If you get the KA100, you can use it in junior classes and senior classes from club competition right up to the National Championship level. Theoretically, it could be only engine you ever need.)
- Restricted 125 class. There is a wide range of engines available, delivering their power differently and requiring different driving techniques to get the best out of them. They are fitted with restrictor plates to reduce their power output and lap times are pretty similar to Sportsman.
Being water-cooled, there are more ancillary parts, which add to costs and increase the number of things that can go wrong or be damaged.
Advantage: Once you have the experience (and the correct licence grade), you can remove the restrictor plate and you have a higher performance engine.
Disadvantage: You cannot compete at a National or State Championship level in this class.
When you are looking to buy, READ THIS
Okay, so that’s a brief overview of engines. What about CHASSIS?
Cadets first. Bear in mind that people increase in size as they get older, through to their teens. Whatever chassis you choose may still be in good condition when it’s no longer big enough. The make is not critical. The only restriction is that it must have a minimum wheelbase of 880mm.
The same goes for Juniors. They tend to grow, too. For Juniors, though, if they start to move into the higher power classes, the chassis choice becomes more complex. If you’re just starting out, it’s not a good idea to get a chassis designed for a higher performance engine. How do you know? Get the right advice. (Click HERE for the right advice)
Seniors. If you’re racing KA4, no point buying a chassis designed for a KZ. (Or vice-versa) Speak to people and get advice. Beyond that…well, how can I put this? Which car is better – Ford or Holden? Try convincing a Holden man that Ford is better. Or vice-versa. My pit buddy and I race in the same class. We have different chassis. Recently, we swapped karts for a practise session. He came in at the end of the session declaring he would never buy the chassis I’ve got. He hated it. And yet, our lap times are usually within a couple of 10ths of each other. Having said that, the chassis you choose can make a big difference.
If you’ve got a chassis that very few other drivers have, there are not many people who can give you advice on setup, and setup is very important to get the best out of your kart. The correct setup can vary from track to track, from one week to the next, even over the course of a day. Some chassis are easier to adjust and set up than others. Again, speak to people. At the track and at Kart Shops. The Right Advice.
GET YOUR GEAR
You have to move your kart around. Trailer, van, or back of the ute? Your budget. Your choice.
Around the pits, you’ll need a trolley to move it.
Safety gear isn’t an option. Full-face helmet with visor, suit, gloves, boots. They’re all of a minimum standard. (In the manual, or ask at a Kart Shop). You can cut corners on cost when it comes to most things, but one thing you should never cut corners on is your helmet. It’s the most important piece of equipment you’ll own in karting, and can be vital for your safety.
Tools are an good idea. You’ll struggle if you haven’t got any. Generally, you can start with just a few of the basics and build up as you go. What tools do I need?
GET A BUDDY
Karting is a friendly sport and drivers young and old are always ready to help out newcomers. Ask on our Facebook page. Come out to our next race meeting and start talking. Find someone with a bit of experience who is willing to share it. There are plenty of them out there. People in the class you choose to race are going to be on similar equipment, so they are obvious choices. Just don’t be surprised if the advice starts to dry up once you start beating them!
You’ve got club membership, a licence, a kart, the gear, hopefully some advice…..Mate, it’s up to you. Go and have some fun! See you on the track.
Tell Me More
Okay. It’s motorsport, so it can be expensive. But it’s the cheapest form of motorsport there is, it’s where virtually all the world’s top drivers start, and there is a massive difference between how much it can cost and how little it can cost.
You can get club membership, a licence, helmet & other apparel and a ready-to-race kart for less than the cost of a good mountain or road bike. Nonetheless, it is still going to cost you hundreds of dollars to get into it, so let’s look at those costs a little bit.
Club membership with Hurricane is $130 for a year, which is very reasonable when you consider that you get so many opportunities to get out on the track and turn hundreds and hundreds of laps free of charge. (Have you checked out how much 10 laps at your local kart hire track will cost?) And $130 is the most it will cost. There is no “joining fee” or “administration cost.” Membership for juniors is way less than that. However, be aware it is an annual fee, not a once-off.
Karting Australia (KA) administer the sport in Australia, and they require you to have a licence. The fee for that depends on what kind of licence you want.
You only want to practise? $100. You want to race? This bites a little more. $310.
Why the big difference? I’m not an advocate for KA and I’m not going to pretend that I know all their overheads and their reasoning. But I do know that insurance is expensive and if you race, there is an insurance policy covering you if you get injured and KA also have insurance indemnifying them. I know that they send officials around the country to help run meetings, wah, wah, wah. Like I said, I’m not an advocate. The licence fee is also an annual charge.
Equipment means ready-to-race go kart, trolley, safety apparel (helmet, gloves, race suit, driving boots), transponder, tools and maybe some spare parts. If you’re worried about how much this will add up to, then you’re probably not going to be buying all new equipment. You can get all of that secondhand – realistically – for $1500. Maybe less. It may not be a championship winning kart that will have you at the pointy end from the start, but it will be all you need to get out there and have some serious fun.
One caveat: Never cut corners when buying a helmet. It’s the most important piece of equipment you’ll own in karting, and can be vital for your safety.
What are the ongoing costs?
That’s a more difficult question to answer, because a lot of that depends on you.
- There are fees for each race. There are clubruns and open meetings. You can enter in more than one class. The more you race, the more those fees will add up to.
- Similarly, the more time you spend on the track, the more fuel, oil and tyres you’ll use.
- And the more time you spend racing, the more likely you are to have racing incidents that might damage part of your kart. It doesn’t always happen, but it does happen.
- Eventually, your engine will need a service. Ring, piston, rebuild. Eventually.
But. You want a figure, don’t you? If you chose to race once a month & practice once a month, if you chose a lower performance class (where you have a choice of classes), and stayed out of trouble (read: accidents) on the track, you could easily get change out of $2500 for an entire year.
This takes into account some replacement spark plugs, chains and tyres, club membership, licence and race fees.
Having given you that figure, I now have to strongly recommend that you should do more than just read an article on a website. You should talk to a variety of people involved in the sport. Drop into a kart shop. Come down the track on race day and ask around. Give Amy a call.
What if I buy all this stuff and I don’t like it?
Don’t like karting? How could you not like karting? I’m not sure I understand the question.
Seriously, though, that’s a fair question, particularly if you’re a parent buying it for your child. Hurricane invites you to have a go. Try before you buy, sort of thing. We offer you the opportunity to have a free test drive of a real racing kart on our track. Discover the buzz.
Contact our secretary, Amy, for details CLICK HERE