Getting Started in Karting
Over the past 70 years, kartsport has evolved from a simple weekend pastime to a Nationally and Internationally organised competitive form of motorsport. Even so the original appeal remains the same. Karts are still the most inexpensive way to enjoy the thrills and excitement of motor racing in a safe and controlled environment.
Whether you're 6 or 66, male or female, looking for family fun or downright serious competition, the versatility of kartsport provides it with all. From its inception in the late 1950s, kartsport has always been a part of motor racing.
There was an explosion of interest as the world discovered the fun of kartsport. The number of weekend participants grew rapidly and soon a need developed to organise the sport and set rules for competition and the New Zealand Kart Federation Inc. was formed in the early 1960s. In 2002 the New Zealand Kart Federation Inc. changed its name to KartSport New Zealand and is recognised as the organisation controlling all kart racing in New Zealand. It consists of a number of Clubs and people who are affiliated or registered with KartSport New Zealand. KartSport New Zealand has a signed agreement of mutual recognition of the organisation by the national body controlling four-wheeled motorsport in New Zealand, MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ). Through MSNZ affiliation to the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA), KartSport New Zealand are delegated the authority for control of kartsport in New Zealand by the Commission Internationale de Karting (CIK-FIA).
KartSport New Zealand also issues International Competition Licences and Starting Permissions on behalf of the CIK-FIA for competion overseas (apart from Australia) plus Trans Tasman Starting Permissions for KartSport New Zealand licenced competitors to compete using their NZ Licence at events in Australia sanctioned by Karting Australia.
In just over 40 years, kartsport has spread to most countries in the world and become a truly international sport. The popularity of kartsport stems from the fact that it offers so much, to so many different types of people. Kartsport can be an inexpensive hobby in which the whole family participates. Kartsport can be a sport in which the young learn the use of motor vehicles and rewards of competition. Kartsport can be for the mechanically minded who like the challenge of extracting every ounce of performance from a racing machine. Kartsport is exciting, safe, fun and affordable motorsport for everyone. The first look at a kart is usually deceptive. It's hard to take anything so small seriously, yet closer scrutiny reveals that whilst a kart is simple in construction, it is quite sophisticated in design and theory. The chassis of a kart is also its suspension as it is designed to flex and maintain its tyre contact with the road. A modern kart chassis incorporates a multitude of adjustable parts that can be used to enhance its grip or road-holding. The use of lightweight materials developed for other forms of motorsport reduces the weight to make exciting performance possible from the small motors.
Tyres play an important part in the performance of karts and the relatively small tyres used are a direct development from Grand Prix Racing. In many kartsport classes, tyres are restricted to one make and compound for longer wearing and reduced costs. Even so the same principles apply to optimise their grip as in other forms of motorsport. The successful karters are the ones who learn to set up their karts to obtain the best performance from their tyres and it is for this reason that so many of todays top drivers and Grand Prix stars learn the basics in kartsport.
The sport enjoys an enviable safety record. Drivers are required to wear purpose-made and approved driving suits or leathers, approved safety helmets, gloves and lace up shoes that cover the ankles.Karts have an inherently safe design with a low centre of gravity making them very difficult to turn over. Being so close to the ground the impression of speed and excitement is high. With minimal weight and a very large tyre contact area, they slow or stop very quickly under brakes or when a driver gets offline. Race meetings are run by the 20 affiliated Clubs throughout New Zealand and are a controlled form of motorsport carried out on permanent sprint tracks, motor racing circuits or dirt (speedway) ovals.
Whilst today's kart bristles with modern technology, its construction is simple in terms of both motor and chassis. Parts are easy to fit and there are many specialised kart shops and engine builders throughout the country who can assist with all aspects of maintenance from selling the smallest part to complete engine rebuilding services. Kartsport does not have a high powered approach, friendly expert guidance and advice are in abundance so maintenance of a kart chassis and engine becomes a matter of common sense with a little expert guidance as required. With little need for a string of mechanics, panel beaters, spray painters, welders and the like to act as pit crew, the most common assistance competitors have is their families. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and friends make perfect pit crews and create the atmosphere of a true family sport which is very strong throughout all levels of competition. Kartsport caters for age groups from six years upwards and it is not uncommon for a number of people from the same family to compete, mums and dads, brothers and sisters.
Perhaps the greatest benefit the entire community derives from kartsport is the involvement of the young in a healthy, competitive sport which invariably produces better drivers. What better grounding for a girl or boy than a sport where they can develop their confidence and driving skills.
This means that these drivers may have years of supervised motoring experience well before they are old enough to qualify for a road licence.
Kartsport develops a sense of responsibility and competitiveness while providing safe and exciting motorsport for families and individuals both young and old. Kartsport is not a free sport and damage to equipment is frowned upon by officials, parents and competitors alike. Karters learn the basic mechanical understanding of their karts and develop a sympathetic approach to its use.
It can be a sport that will give you a good grounding for future development within a motorsport or simply be a fun way to spend your weekends. Young karters will soon be tomorrows road drivers and kartsport teaches car control, defensive driving techniques and an appreciation of other vehicles in close proximity to each other and most importantly the dangers of overdriving. All this and more in a controlled, friendly family atmosphere where the focus is just as much on fun and enjoyment as it is on the competition itself.
- Cadet ROK - Competitors aged 6 years and under 10 years.
- Vortex Mini Rok - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 9th birthday and under 13 years.
- 125cc Rotax Max Junior - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 12th birthday and under 16 years.
- Vortex Rok DVS Junior - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 12th birthday and under 16 years.
- Vortex ROK DVS Senior - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 15th birthday and over.
- KZ2 - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 15th birthday and over.
- 125cc Rotax Max Light - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 15th birthday and over; Minimum weight of kart and driver 165kg
- 125xx Rotax Max Heavy - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 15th birthday and over; Minimum weight of kart and driver 185kg
- Rotax DD2 - Competitors aged in the calendar year of their 15th birthday and over.
Buying a Kart
Once the appropriate class has been established the next step is to set about purchasing the correct kart.
The kart must conform to all of the required specifications and rules. If buying new, the kart will not come with an engine and this will need to be purchased separately. Buying second hand can be cheaper and the kart may come with an engine, but again it is essential to ensure that both the kart and engine meet the rules and specifications for the particular class.
There are a number of excellent kart shops throughout the country who will be only too pleased to show you the various options of makes and models available, both new and second hand and some of these shops are listed on the Links page of this site. However, some of the best advice about buying a kart can be obtained from the karters themselves and these people will always go out of their way to assist and offer advice to new people in the sport. The best way to obtain this advice is to go along to a kart meeting and talk to the people there and look at the various karts being used. You can also join the the New Zealand Go Karts and Parts Facebook page which often have second hand karts for sale.
We are here to help
Got any questions? Feel free to drop us an email and we will be happy to help answer any questions you may have.