Mastering the Art of Kart Racing: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Speed, Techniques, and Karting Strategies

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Updated: September 08, 2023
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Mastering the Art of Kart Racing: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Speed, Techniques, and Karting Strategies


Karting was the first entry into motorsport for many former and current Formula 1 drivers. The racing karts are not comparable to Formula One cars, but the same physical laws govern driving techniques. You can gain valuable experience dealing with engines by maintaining and fine-tuning go-kart engines. The only exceptions are the electric karts.


Karts with an electric motor are increasingly used in go-kart tracks today. Of course, these engines do not sound as good as the older two- or four-stroke engines. However, you should not compare a good electric motor with a car scooter


Electric motors can accelerate much faster, making inexperienced pilots more fun, as speeds are more easily achieved. In addition, electric karts are far more environmentally friendly and more easily meet the ever-stricter environmental requirements for noise and exhaust emissions.


Most karters think your kart is worse than your opponent's if overtaken at the exit of a turn or at the end of the straight. In truth, however, all karts are equally fast and accelerate simultaneously.


The Reasons for Slower Lap Times


Some karts are faster than others because of the weight of the karts and the technique with which they are driven. Most of the time, however, drivers lose their turns, bad brakes, wrong cornering technique or bad endurance, and lack of concentration at the end of the race.


Of course, it does not help to read the tips only; an improved karting technique you learn only through training, training, and even more training.


Kart Driving Techniques


The Cornering Technique In Karting


Very important for a fast lap time is the right cornering technique. Not only in Formula 1 but there are also various driving styles. There are also differences in the go-kart. What type of cornering is fast, and which may only feel fast, can be found on this page.


The kart is always fastest when all tires run straight (no steering lock) and the kart does not slip. To avoid unnecessarily losing speed or momentum, one tries to go through a curve in karting or other motorsport series with as little steering lock as possible. If the kart driver steers more than is necessary, the kart slips over the front axle and is inevitably slowed down by the under-steer.


Slipping and drifting too much costs time. A slipping, for example, over-steer kart corner exit costs valuable speed and the decisive tenths of a second. Therefore, the driver should always try to get a clean corner exit, as the speed at the corner exit or the momentum from the curve is crucial to getting around the track quickly and, thus, driving a fast lap time.


At corner entry, slight over-steer is allowed and often even required to get around the course quickly.


However, this can be difficult to describe in theory because, in practice, it depends on the correct feeling of the kart driver, not to slip too much and to hit the right corner at the turn entrance.


Summary Of Correct Curve Technique


Approach the curve on the outside, apply brakes, and then turn into the curve. (Possibly turn on the kart to turn slightly during braking and retract cross into the curve; do not overdo it, and be careful not to provoke too much over-steer!)


The driver neutralizes the balance by slightly counter-steering, pressing the accelerator pedal, and steering his kart slightly over-steer towards the vertex. 


The driver should be careful to hit the apex inside and listen to the engine speed and the tires to detect too much slipping early. If the kart slips too much in this phase, the cornering speed is slower, and the kart driver loses time.


Curves vertex: Here, it should be adjusted for any slides at the latest. The view goes to the corner exit; the driver accelerates with a neutral balance without slipping out of the curve and can be carried out to the outside.


Here are some quick tips for karting



The Ideal Line


The ideal line compromises the fastest and shortest line through a curve. Therefore, the ideal line is also the fastest timeline in terms of time. You should approach a curve on the outside, pull inwards to the apex, and then let yourself be carried out again at the corner exit. This one drives the curve in a round arc.


It is the prerequisite for optimal acceleration out of the curve. Therefore, the driver must pay to take as much momentum through the curve as possible to the next straight.


Although the ideal line is similar, there are always slight deviations. For example, you drive a 90-degree curve rather sharply, i.e., steer more directly to the vertex at the curve entrance. 


A 180-degree turn is rather "bulbous" and round in comparison because you reach the vertex later; thus, a far outrun from the curve is better.


Bullying should be done as straight as possible, with as little steering as possible, and choose the shortest and most direct line. The same applies to curves that can be traversed at full throttle.


If there is a change of direction immediately after the turn, the kart driver should not carry himself out completely. Normally, it would be best to hold the output of the first curve approximately in the middle to better position yourself for the next corner.


In practice, some deviations are compared to theory depending on track conditions, bumps, etc. It would be best if you always kept the speed at the corner exit as high as possible and already, during the middle of the curve, aim the curve exit to prevent momentum loss.


Right Brakes for Solid Karting


Finding the optimal braking point can be harder than you might expect. You should always ensure not to block the wheels but to break the adhesion brake. Standing wheels extend the braking distance as the wheels build up fewer grips.


Generally, the kart driver should rather be a few tenths too early on the brakes to slow down. If you drive too fast into the curve and miss the vertex, you lose a few important tenths of a second. 


Of course, too early braking costs time, but it is more important to hit the apex and, if possible, to enter the curve on the inside.


Touching the right braking point requires a few laps of practice. Hardly a driver drives out of the pit lane and directly finds the perfect braking point. Especially beginners or occasional drivers usually brake too early - they underestimate the possible cornering speed. 


With more risk-taking and training, the driver quickly discovers why the lap time was insufficient.


Furthermore, it would be best if you kept the braking distance as short as possible, always as strong brakes as possible, and not too long to stay on the brakes. If you brake later, the motto is fast - assuming the driver hits the turning point.


Check Some Advanced Tips For Pro Karting.


Overtaking the Opponent


What would karting be without positional struggles? It's certainly pretty boring. Even the correct overtaking should be learned. Anyone who overhauls without overtaking losses and obstructs other kart drivers will quickly see the black flag (flag rules). Also, in karting, there are several fairways to overtake the person in front.


The Right Seating Position in the Kart


The sitting position in the kart can make the first difference in the lap time. It is important to sit comfortably. That one should not sit there as in the domestic living room chair is self-evident. 


An upright posture is ideal. The steering wheel and the pedals should be comfortable to use. If not, the seating position can be adjusted forward or backward on almost every kart.


The sitting position and the posture influence a decisive factor in karting: balance. One should not forget that the kart driver with its approx. 70-80 kg makes up a substantial factor of the total weight. 


For example, if you put the seat forward, more weight is put on the front axle - the kart tends to over-steer. If the seat is positioned at the rear, the weight distribution is more tail-heavy - the kart gets more grip at the rear and tends to have a lower balance.


Also, leaning outwards is an important way to influence the weight on the wheels. Especially in the rain, many drivers take advantage of this opportunity and lean outwards to shift more weight on the outer wheels to increase grip and cornering speed.



Sitting Position and Chassis Height


The height of the chassis and kart has a decisive influence on the static and dynamic wheel load. Generally, the more weight you put on the front axle, the more grip you have, and vice versa. 


The same applies to the rear axle. Therefore, you should take the opportunity to adjust the kart's seat forward or backward and thus achieve a uniform load on the front and rear tires.


The higher the center of gravity, the greater the load changes in the longitudinal and transverse directions. 


If the chassis height is changed only at the front or only at the rear, then at the same time, you influence the caster, i.e., you may change several factors at the same time - and optimization here is usually only possible with sufficient experience and various test runs.




Another way to gain time by sitting is bumping. It is often observed that the kart driver jumps in the kart immediately after the turn.


It makes the kart on the rear axle lighter, and the speed increases faster. However, this hopping should not be repeated; otherwise, the effect fizzles. How much this method makes is difficult to say and depends essentially on the type of karts (engine power) and a few other factors.


Karting in the Rain


Karting in the rain requires a lot of skill. It is not without reason that many good drivers recognize their driving performance in the rain. The reason is obvious: The complete grip level of the karts is reduced, so the limit is harder to find, and driving errors are punished quickly.


If the kart track is wet, the driving line changes on the track because the rubber on the ideal line in the dry forms a lubricating film with the water on the track, making the ideal line extremely slippery. 


That's why the kart driver rides the rainline on wet roads. The curves should rather break in the middle since there is hardly any rubber. The curve is driven from the center to the outside to avoid the rubber on the track.


Mostly, the kart driver quickly senses whether and how much the traction differs depending on the line in a curve.


Tips & Tricks for Karting


The right fit is important for karting. Firstly, fitness will make you lighter; you are also fitter and can control the kart better. 


Even if it does not look like it at first glance, kart racing requires special fitness, such as constant steering, braking, and accelerating, and all these activities usually take their toll on bad fitness after a few laps, especially during longer races.


Rules & Regulations


On a kart track, different rules apply; among other things, you have to be able to react to the flag rules. There are usually at least three flags on a kart track, but seven flags are not used on each. If these are used, you should know what they mean and how you should behave.


In addition to the flag rules, however, there are also basic rules of conduct that must be adhered to to not endanger another driver. Of course, these rules also jangle around the track and the equipment of the kart track for karter’s protection.


Tips for Fast Driving


Every kart driver has the same goal to drive faster than the competition. Easier said than done, the driver now thinks, because the competition is usually faster than a dear.


No master has fallen from the sky - to get faster, that means first of all training and again training. Keep the following tips in mind:


  1. Less Is More


Although kart beginners tend to slow down too early, there are often the kind of riders who rush into every turn as if there is no tomorrow. It's more important how fast you get the kart out of the bend than how fast it gets into it. One should always have that in mind. Take the momentum out of the curve, an absolute prerequisite to be able to drive a fast lap time.


  1. Minimize Slipping


Slides take time. Many try to find the decisive tenths by over-steering, driving, and drifting. That's what's wrong. A slight over-steer at the corner entry is OKay, but it loses speed when the kart is completely crossed.


  1. Listen To The Tires


Especially on indoor kart tracks, the wear & tear of tires is hard to ignore. As a driver, you should always pay attention to your tires. On most indoor kart tracks, the tires squeak before the kart slips too much and loses grip. Even at the limit of adhesion, you can hear tires squeak on most indoor road surfaces.


  1. Pay Attention To The Speed


Listen - not only to the tires: the engine speed also gives the driver feedback. The higher the engine turns, the faster the kart drives. If you overdrive too much, you will also hear this on the engine - the rpm goes down, and the speed is lost.


Tire Tuning


In motorsport, the tires are the only contact with the road and, thus, an important factor for the karts' performance. Kart tires can only function optimally when the operating temperature of the rubber compound is reached. 


In addition, make sure that the ratio between front and rear tires is right. That is, both axes should ideally be equally stressed. It guarantees an even balance and is the basis for a good setup.


Stress on the tires, which at the same time also causes wear due to road friction. Orienting yourself on the tire image and air pressure would be best when tuning the setup. It is an attempt to determine which tire may be overstretched or underutilized. A common mistake in tuning is overstressing the front tires.



Tires Condition


The tire pattern is mainly affected by the road condition, line temperature, kart chassis, air pressure, and driving style. Ideally, the tire should be worn evenly over the entire surface, i.e., the tire should be roughened over the entire tire width. It should be noted that the front and rear tires should be worn equally strongly.


Tire pressure


The cold pressure is set to a base value on the cold, approximate tire on all four wheels, which may differ from front to rear and right to left. The cold air pressure is about 0.2 bars lower than the warm pressure because the air pressure increases with higher tire temperature.


After a few laps, pressure should be measured on all four tires immediately after the race. The higher the tire pressure, the higher the load on the kart. As a rule of thumb, the higher the difference to the cold pressure, the higher the tire temperature and the tire wear. 


Of course, the warm pressure also depends on the laps covered since it only reaches its maximum after a few minutes of driving and remains constant.


If the pressure is too low, the tire will take too long to build up a grip, or it will not reach its optimum grip level (the wrong ratio of tread temperature to contact surface.) 


If the air pressure is too high, the tire will quickly reach a high grip level. Because the contact surface is very small and thus faster, a higher temperature is reached - up to the overheating of the tread and resulting in grip loss. 


Of course, tire wear increases extremely. It is one of the most common mistakes in tire air pressure tuning.


Fitness in Karting


Physical fitness is an extremely important aspect not only in Formula One. Drivers who do not regularly sit in the kart feel this repeatedly - at least the next morning in the form of sore muscles.


Because when karting, muscle groups are charged, which is otherwise hardly claimed. The back and neck musculature, arm, and hand areas are loaded during karting. Therefore, drivers with back problems should think twice if they should get into the kart. 


With the adrenaline and the excitement of driving, you can feel the pain in the muscles on the day after, often with a rude awakening. Those who go-karting can optimize their fitness and muscles for karting.


For endurance, it is usually enough to go jogging regularly. It strengthens the cardiovascular system and minimizes the signs of exhaustion after karting. You train the body relatively accurately to the resulting load by driving yourself. 


The required muscle parts are strengthened under regular load and thus automatically regulate the resilience and endurance when karting.




Drinking is essential in karting. The kart driver should have enough fluid even before the race or training. While driving, the driver also loses many minerals by sweating. 


Therefore, it is recommended to take special sports drinks / ISO drinks. A water bottle or apple juice is enough if you do not have these. If the driver complains of muscle pain or muscle cramps, this may be a sign of magnesium deficiency.


Why Is Karting So Exhausting?


Many kart drivers who go into the kart for the first time underestimate the physical strain. From the outside, you just sit comfortably in a kart and steer around. However, as kart racing involves countless muscle parts often never used in everyday life, many kart beginners find driving very strenuous. The real remedy is usually only the more regular driving in the kart.


Pain In The Hands And Arms When Karting


Especially the hands and arms are the biggest weaknesses of untrained kart drivers. Occasional drivers often complain of clenched hands or pain in their arms. Rib pain and neck tension are also often complained about. 


Karting gloves can relieve the pain in the hands a little bit, but here, too, the only regular training is achieved in the future to go karting without pain.



Kart Buying Advice


Generally, it can be said that one should first pay attention to the visual appearance of the karts. The newer a kart looks, the better it was (probably) maintained. For appearance and look, go-kart accessories must be chosen very carefully.


First, the frame should be looked at carefully, even from the bottom. Normal is grinding marks, but it is important that the frame is straight and the pipes are not edged.


The next look at the kart buying goes towards steering knuckles and axles. The steering should not have a play and be smooth. Furthermore, one should pay attention to the steering position. 


If the steering wheel is straight, the tires should also stand evenly. The axles should be easy to turn. You should also ensure you have not been bent or driven wrong.


With the brake, the layperson can quickly check if everything is OK. If the brake pedal is depressed, the rear axle should not be able to turn. In addition, the pads should be driven evenly.


Flags and their Meanings


  • Black and white checked flag: The race is over - go into the pits in the next lap


  • Yellow flag: Danger on the track - forbidden overtaking or driving carefully and slowly!


  • Green Flag: Track is (again) released; no danger in advance. Overtaking and race pace allowed.


  • Red-yellow striped flag: Oil, dirt, vehicle parts, or onset of rain. The dirty or slippery road ahead


  • Red flag: The race or the training session will be stopped; drive slowly.


  • Blue flag: Signals the driver to overtake the driver or overtake.


  • Black flag: Disqualification. The driver has to go to the pits and finish the race or serve a penalty.



Go Karting - Behavior On The Kart Track.


Because riders unfamiliar with the handling of go-karts and are a kart for the first time can be on a go-kart track, some behaviors should be followed on the kart track so as not to jeopardize the safety of others. Normally, the drivers on the kart track are instructed by the staff. If not, you should memorize the flag rules, usually posted on each kart track.


Every driver should take prudent driving and consider slower-driving drivers. The flag rules, especially the yellow and red flags, must always be observed and followed.


Furthermore, they should never go karting in an alcoholic state. Here, your performance is overestimated very quickly. Not only do you endanger yourself, but all other kart drivers on the track as well. Also, driving the karts violates the rules of the karting tracks, which in some cases can even lead to a criminal complaint.


Go Kart Lexicon




The term "wear and tear" refers to tire wear during driving.




It is generated by aerodynamics and pushes the car by airflow to the ground. For example, it is influenced by the position of the front and rear spoilers.




Settings of a race car's suspension geometry prevent the front axle from sinking when braking.


Pit Lane


Compared to the start/finish straight arranged workshops where a racing team repairs and cares for their vehicles.




International term for the racetrack.




The rear axle's compensation unit is switched between the drive wheels to compensate for the different wheel revolutions when cornering. It is necessary because each outer wheel has to turn faster than the inner wheel in a curve.




Value for the tractive force of the motor. Based on the combustion pressure in the engine cylinder. The highest torque value is achieved with optimal combustion. The speed is usually below the maximum speed.




The term used for the wireless accelerator on F1 racing cars. The position of the accelerator pedal is accurately measured through a sensor and transmitted electronically to the throttle valves of the engine.


Formation Lap

Describes the warm-up lap just before the start. There is overtaking prohibition; the lap is used to increase brake and tire temperatures to operating temperature.




The term used for brake plates.




The term used to define gravitational acceleration. AG equals 9.81 m / s. In formula one, forces of up to 5 G occur.




Grand Prix Driver Association. Created by the Formula 1 driver to increase the safety of racers.


Gurney Flap


Designates a narrow and flexible crack edge on the front wings.




The term is used for a very tight curve, mostly a 180° curve.


Hat Trick


A hat-trick is pole position, victory, and the fastest lap on a race weekend. Jim Clark has achieved the most with 11 hat tricks so far.




It is a widely used composite in racing car construction. The principle is the multiple bonding of material layers, which ensures a stiff and flexible component.


Ideal line


Indicates the line of the race track where you can drive the course the fastest. In the rain, the ideal line is usually different to drive.




KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) is the name for a system for kinetic energy recovery. Used since 2009 in Formula 1 and meets with criticism.




1. Piers Prior, seven mistakes that all novice karters make, Redbull, 11 October 2017




3. Scott, How to Drive the Perfect Racing Line, Driver61