Probably the biggest barrier to buying a kart was concern over whether the Dad/Mechanic role was really for me. Walking around the paddock area and watching the Dads busily tinkering between every session really made me doubt whether I would a) be able to do it and b) enjoy doing it. I’ve never been mechanically minded; I didn’t really know how an engine worked; what a piston did, or a carb, crankshaft – you get the idea. I spent a lot of hours reading forums such as those found on the karting1.co.uk and karting.co.uk, as well as collecting strange looks from my other half as I watched YouTube videos such as ‘How A Carburetor Works‘! In the end I concluded that, whilst kart maintenance was something definitely out of my comfort zone, I was going to go with it – hopefully I’ll pick enough of it up to get by in the first few months.
As it turned out, there was a second part to this role I had not foreseen – transporting the kart!!! I own a Clio and changing cars was definitely not something I was prepared to do. Obviously if you have a van or a nice 4×4 then this might not be an issue for you but I *really* did not fancy the idea of towing. I looked around for lightweight options and quickly realised that trailers like this weren’t going to be in the running and it was only when someone recommended the camping trailer and board approach that I became more open to the possibility of towing. It still feared me with dread – what with the kerb weights, towing weights, noseweights (there’s a great resource to be found on the National Trailer & Towing Association web site if you want to find out more).
I wasn’t overly convinced about maintenance or towing and my clearance of this hurdle was more of a slump over than a jump but never mind – onto the last question…
So your son (or daughter for that matter) has done the arrive/drive thing and you’re thinking about buying your own kart? Before taking the plunge and sinking not an insignificant amount of money into karting you need to be absolutely certain that this is the right thing for you both. To this end there are three questions to which you need to be able to answer ‘YES’. The first:
Will my son enjoy karting?
Assuming you’ve some arrive/drive experience (if not then look for something like Teamsport’s excellent Half-Term Karting events – I can’t recommend these highly enough as a first place to kart) then you really need to get yourself to a track and watch a race or practice day. There is a *huge* difference in performance so it’s a good place to gauge not only what you both think of the speed difference but also what else goes on in the background (more on this later). If you like what you see then contact the local karting club to see if they stage open days where potential new members can try out the different classes of kart. This really is the best way to determine whether or not your son is going to enjoy karting. Our first time was a bit of a mixed bag (early spin = loss of confidence) so we rented a kart from a friend and did a practice day a few weeks later: he was a rolling road block at times but absolutely loved it and didn’t take anybody else out.
Question 1 = answered 🙂
It’s been little over a month since I seriously started considering getting my son a kart of his own. I’ve never owned a kart before and I am about as far removed from being a mechanic as it is possible to be; to the point I gave up on my petrol hedge trimmer after two months as I didn’t like messing with the choke, the petrol and the fumes!
Since my son was deemed big enough to drive an adult arrive/drive kart around 18 months ago, I’ve been indoor karting with him – prior to that I’d karted four times in 40 years! Things have snowballed since looking to get him a free test in a ‘proper’ kart a few months back and I’ve spent a month investigating the costs, the options, trying to pick up everything I could to make an informed decision on whether to take the plunge and buy a kart. I figured this blog might actually help others in a similar position, whilst also allowing me to think out loud and maybe get some expert opinion where things get vague (I am a noob, remember!).