The unadorned cockpit of a...
The unadorned cockpit of a Sprint Kart. Note the tape on the left rim ofthe steering wheel.
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.
Left-front suspension detail...
Left-front suspension detail from a Sprint Kart. Note the quality ofworkmanship and materials--plus there are no springs or shocks.
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.
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.
Rear detail showing lightened...
Rear detail showing lightened disk brake, axle, and chain drive.
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.