Enduro karts like these can travel over 100 mph on superspeedways. Nerves are required.
The type of karts run by both IKF and WKA are similar and have a number of different classes. No matter what the class, there are two basic types of race karts in the beginning Junior classes.
First, there are the Sprint and Champ Karts, which run mostly on small dirt ovals. The driver sits in the upright position in both styles. The lower-slung Sprint Karts have the driver sitting low in the cars with the engine sitting immediately on their left side. The fiberglass body is clean and quick.
The Champ Karts, a more recent addition, are the only karts that look like a real full-sized racer and are often confused with Quarter Midgets. In this case, the Champ Kart body carries the downsized look of a nonwinged Sprint car or Midget.
The Sprint Kart also appears in the advanced classes on road courses, along with the super-quick, low-slung Enduro Karts. The Sprint Karts are similar in appearance to the short-track versions, but the Enduro Karts are a different beast. Aerodynamically clean, the driver drives from a lying-backward position with his head just barely visible, in the style of Indy and Formula 1 race cars.
This clearly shows the driving and engine position differences between an Enduro (top) and
Needless to say, it takes a while to get to the speedy Enduros, which are capable of over 100 mph on the superspeedways. It's thrilling, but it's also dangerous racing.
Imagine running at those speeds with your body about an inch off the track with a cat-quick machine at your command. Those road races usually last an hour as opposed to running a particular distance.
The Karts of the 2000s are precise racing machines far removed from the days when many were homemade. The frames are built of chrome-moly steel, and the body of the car is made of fiberglass. The high-tech braking system uses a set of rear disc brakes, and there's a super-quick, straight-steering system.
With the Sprint Karts, the bodywork is low to the ground with the driver's upper torso in the breeze. The engine sits directly to the driver's right side with the driver on the left side of the car. The Champ Karts look entirely different. As noted before, these are full-body machines with the look of modern Sprint cars. But unlike the Sprint Kart, the Champ Kart has a complete rollcage.
Karting teaches teamwork. Here a father and son discuss lap times and race strategy.
There is also a major difference between these cars and the same-size Quarter Midgets we discussed last month in "Get on Track!" Karts surprisingly have no suspension-no springs, no shocks, nothing. Barton explains that this chassis arrangement is a great learning tool for a driver. "It requires him to adjust the car by tire stagger, rear axle, and spindle adjustment, moving weight around, and wheel caster and camber," he notes.
The rules have weight limits for the karts, which include the driver. For the beginner classes, the weights range from 250 to 435 pounds, with horsepower varying from 10-18. For the advanced road race machines, which sometimes carry two engines, the weight limit increases appropriately.
Safety is not neglected in this form of racing. Gloves, approved helmets, and jackets are required, although many drivers wear complete racing uniforms. In addition, with the caged Champ Karts, approved seatbelts are required, along with arm restraints.
Karting has progressed from crude homemade contraptions to modern specialized racing machinery. It is an excellent racing vehicle for the beginner because it teaches car control and develops driver "feel." Plus it's a pure sensory blast to zip along a track with your body almost on the tarmac.
The unadorned cockpit of a Sprint Kart. Note the tape on the left rim of the steering whee
Left-front suspension detail from a Sprint Kart. Note the quality of workmanship and mater
Rear detail showing lightened disk brake, axle, and chain drive.