Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
It was a good year of racing in the TAG kart. The kart counts are up in the class, with several new people joining this year. With a vehicle to haul the kart in I was able to race more. The kart ran well and with some seat time I've improved a lot. And I did all this for not that much more than I was spending on rental karting! Here's a wrap up of the year.

After a busy spring, the first race I planned on attending in May was rained out. So in June I had my first race of the year. A good field of 9 showed up in TAG. I finished the heat race 2nd and the feature 4th. Despite being out of the kart for about 8 months, the kart felt good and my pace was close to the guys in front of me. I got some bad starts and the racing was mostly uneventful, except for when someone broke a wheel hub and their wheel and tire came bouncing right infront of me!

My next race after a long layoff including two weekends in California for the sport kart grand nationals was the “money race”. The normal club races at my track don't pay, but for this day, basically the track doubles the entry fee and offers 50% payback for the purse. Not really that great a deal, but at least they paid back 50% positions. The result of this was 7 TAG karts were split into 2 races, TAG and PRO TAG, with some guys opting not to run for money. Things were going fine until a few laps into the second practice. I tried out an adjustment to the carb that didn't work out, I was getting no power down the straight. As I reached down to adjust the needle back, a kart came slamming into my left rear tire. I was very surprised, I didn't suddenly slow or weave. It was practice and people go slow all the time for various reasons. I guess I should have been keeping track of where the guy behind me was. The result was both our karts were wreaked, mine had a bent rear axle and I was done for the day, while the other guy rolled his backup kart out of the trailer! It was a nice introduction to “money” racing for me!

Fortunately I would able to buy a used axle from another racer for cheap, and although I had to buy new axle keys, it was still much cheaper than the $225 Arrow axle. I was able to replace the axle and get back out a month later, for another club race. This time the field was 7 karts. In the heat I finished 2nd. In the feature, I tried to keep up with the leader but he slowly pulled away and I was pretty content with settling for 2nd, until he suddenly pulled off with a flat tire. This put me into the lead, and I had the rest of the field covered and took my first feature win.

In September, I raced in the Maryland Sprint Divisional at Nicholson Speedway. This was my first time ever in my kart at a track other than Sandy Hook. I enjoyed the track, it is even shorter than Sandy Hook but much smoother! The first half is basically a moderate speed decreasing radius hairpin, then a straightaway split up by a high speed kink. The second half of the track I felt was very technical, more so than Sandy Hook. There's heavy breaking into a left hairpin, which leads right into another quick right and left back onto the main straightway. During practice I got up to a decent pace quickly, but the kart seemed to lack some grip. In the heat and the feature, I dropped a few more tenths, but was still a few tenths off the leaders. I finished 4th/ 5 in both the heat and feature. It was a fun day and I'm looking forward to going back, maybe with some setup changes, a shorter gear and some fresher tires.

A few weeks later, I returned to sandy hook for another club race, there was another good turnout of 9 karts, and I again finished both the heat and feature in 4th place in a competitive field. My laptimes were slightly slower then what I'd run in the earlier in the year, which confirmed to me the tires were dropping off a bit.

In October I did a practice day which my friend organized. The track usually only hosts races for karts on Sundays and isn't open for practice during the week, so it was nice to have a practice day to try some adjustments to the kart and for me, let some friends who I know from the rental leagues try out a higher power racing kart. Minus a few spins, the day went really well!

In November I ran the last two races of the year on consecutive weekends. After the practice day, I had around 40 heat cycles on my tires which I'd had since last year, so it was nice to have a fresh set for the last 2 races. For the first race day I drew a high number and was supposed to start 8th of 11. However, several drivers dropped out during practice or opted to start from the rear, so I actually started 4th. On the start I got to 3rd, then a few laps later made the pass for 2nd. I figured I would finish there, but with a few laps to go the leader had an incident with a lapped kart and I took the heat win. In the feature I cruised to the win while my competitors behind me battled their way though the "action".

The last race of the season was pretty action packed. I drew a high number again and started 9th of 12, with several other fast guys starting at the back. In the first turn there was an incident right in front of me with one kart driving onto the rear of another, then another kart getting caught up and catching air. I was able to avoid them but was second to last after t1. Passing is really tough and I ended up managing to pass a few slower karts but then spinning on a pass attempt. Someone got a bad run out of turn one and stacked up a few karts going into turn 2. I tried to take advantage and go to the inside. The kart in front of both me and the kart I was trying to pass slowed sooner than I expected. I braked harder because I thought I might nail him when he turned in and ended up spinning 90 degrees to a stop at the apex of the turn. The guy behind me slid into my side, pretty much doing the same thing trying to avoid me. This was actually my first spin ever in the TAG kart. Fortunately there was no damage to either kart and I got going immediately, actually passing the guy I was initially trying to who ended up having to go through the grass. After all that I finished the heat in 5th.

For the feature there were more incidents, but fortunately I wasn't involved in any. On the start I saw the guy on my outside somehow spinning to the outside of the track on the entry to turn 1 (you can barely see this in the video). I spent most of the race stalking and trying to pass a kart in front of me, who was not making it easy! He eventually spun off with some sort of mechanical issue. At least one guy in front of me got caught up in an incident, so in the end I managed to finish 2nd, on a day where I think everyone had some issue or got involved in some sort of incident.

In the year I finished with 2 wins, 1 2nd in 5 club races, not bad for my second year.

11/02/2013: Tools for karting

Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
Wondering what tools you need to work on a kart? The good news is you might not need much more than basic tools you already have. Almost all CIK style karts have metric hardware, and socket head cap screws are common, so you'll need some good tools to work with those. Here's what I usually bring to the track with some notes:

Basic socket set - A 1/4” sockets were recommended to me to prevent over-torquing, but I already had a 3/8” drive set so that's what I use. My set has metric (4-19mm) and standard (which I never use on the kart).

Additional sockets – I bring a 21mm deep socket for the spark plug, and a 22mm socket to remove the front hubs (necessary if you want to change the front track width.

Socket Extensions – 3 inch and 6 inch, necessary to get to lug nuts on the wheels.

Hex Keys/Allen wrenches – I have 3 sets, which come in handy for different uses, although I don't always bring them all to the track. One is a long handle round ball end t handle set, which is good for speed and hard to reach places. I also have a shorter t-handle set with flat ends which is good for getting higher torque to tighten or loosen bolts, and a L shaped key set with one flat end and one ball end, which is pretty good for both.

Combination wrenches – A basic set of wrenches with one open end and one box end, sizes 8-17mm

Air pressure gauge – one which can measure to approximately a quarter psi is nice. One that only measures to 30 psi or less is also more precise/easier to read.

Tape Measure – Necessary to measure the position of the hubs on the rear axle to change rear track width.

Rubber mallet – comes in very handy for example to remove the rear wheel hubs from the axle, or remove the wheels from the hubs.

Screwdrivers – I just use the screwdriver with changeable heads that came with my basic tool set. The only time I typically need a screwdriver is to take the airbox off to clean it or choke the engine to start it in the morning.

Tape – duct tape and electrical tape

Pliers – one needle nose and one channel lock style

Safety wire and pliers – I've had to redo the safety wire when I've taken certain things apart, for example the steering wheel and brake caliper, although I've never actually needed it at the track. There are special safety wire pliers that help with spinning safety wire.

Flashlight – self explanatory

Multimeter – I bring a cheap multimeter since I have one, I have used it to check the battery voltage at home but have never needed it at the track.

Adjustable wrench – a small one, don't think I've ever used it.

Files – round and flat file. Never used them but might come in handy for something.

The more important/more frequently used tools are at the top of the list. I fit everything in one small toolbag. I also bring a box of spare hardware, and a box of spares parts/lubes/cleaners/rags. If there's something I don't have, I can probably borrow it from someone else, but I can't remember the last time I've needed something I didn't have in this list. If you don't have any tools at all, I think you could buy everything you need here, in a mix of cheap(aka Harbor Freight) and mid priced (aka Craftsman) for a few hundred dollars. You could probably add or remove a few things (especially near the end of the list) as you see appropriate. I also have a few specialty tools like a bead breaker and tire mounting tool which I haven't included here.
Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
This spring I picked up a 2004 Honda Pilot to haul my kart around. I got it after considering all the options for some time. In the end I got the Honda Pilot because I decided I wanted a vehicle that I could store the kart inside (as opposed to a trailer or pickup with an open bed), and the pilot was most suitable for me in terms of size, price, and what I liked. A trailer would just be a huge hassle for me in terms of parking/storage. And a pickup wouldn't allow me to leave the vehicle with the kart in it outside comfortably were it would be exposed to the elements and possible thieves. The Pilot is among the smaller SUVs that can fit a kart comfortably (which means it gets better fuel mileage, I can fit it in my garage, etc) and I find it to be a nice vehicle overall that I can use for other purposes sometimes. It's a nice vehicle as a daily driver, although I still usually drive my Honda Civic which gets much better mileage.

Here is a pic of the PIlot with all the kart and all the stuff I bring to the track normally.
Kart In Honda Pilot

I remove both sidepods, the front bumper, and both rear wheels and hubs before loading. I find this to be the easiest way, although it can fit with the wheel and sidepod on one side, and also probably with the front bumper. To load the kart, I push the kartstand up over the hatch opening and simply lift and slide the kart off the stand and into the vehicle. Unloading is similar. After doing it a few times, it is relatively painless and safe. I then load the kart stand on top of the kart. Lifting the kart stand in and out in the right position is the most laborsome part of the process, and I had to do some experimenting to figure out the position that was easiest and safest, which is seen in the photo. I tie down the stand to a hook on the left side of the cargo area to prevent it from moving around.

I then load the front bumper under the front fairing and the sidepods to the sides of the kart. A small airtank, the rear wheels, two small boxes of parts/spares/consumables, a small gas can and bag of tools fit to the back and sides of the kart. My driver gear, personal items and a small cooler are stored either in front of the kart, in the area right behind the front seats, or the front passenger seat. There's room to squeeze in a few more things in necessary like another set of tires, and I can keep the front passenger seat clear too if I'm bringing a friend to the track. The whole process probably takes 10 minutes.

If I get to the point where I need or desire to haul the kart in a trailer, I could tow it easily with the Pilot. Overall, it's worked out very well.
Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
Since I got my TAG kart, I'm constantly looking up the satellite views of random tracks when I'm bored. In my research I noticed there was no complete up to date directory of tracks in the country, so over the last few weeks, I decided to attempt to document all active sprint tracks in the United States, (and many inactive ones too). Below is what I have so far, if you notice any mistakes or omissions, let me know. If you're interested in being added as a contributor definitely let me know too. I'd like to document all paved and dirt ovals too, but that's a lot more tracks that seem to come and go frequently so I don't have the time to undertake that on my own.

View Sprint Kart Tracks in a larger map

As of 2012, there are 110 tracks in the United States with active regular traditional sprint kart racing. For fun I did some analysis, using the list of largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSAs).

Regional Breakdown:

It's no surprise that regionally, the West Coast and Florida have the the best sprint karting scene, with virtually every major population center (in the top few hundred MSAs) in these regions having at least one if not multiple kart tracks within driving distance. A lot of top karters, a lot of the karting industry, a lot of big races and a lot of karting history are all from these areas.

The Mountain states have a perhaps somewhat surprisingly good coverage of tracks. Denver, the largest metro area in the region has 3 pretty close in yet is only the 21st largest MSA in the country, with a 4th track not to far away in Colorado Springs. That's way more tracks then many more populous areas. The second and third biggest population centers in the region, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas each have a solid kart track (in terms of size and facilities). Although the upper mountain states cover a lot of area and don't have many tracks, there aren't big population centers here.

Most parts of the Midwest are well covered. Some of the top karting tracks in the country are located in the midwest, such as Concept Haulers Motor Speedway (Norway) 70 miles from Chicago, and New Castle Motorsports Park, 45 miles from Indianapolis. So although several big cities don't have a kart track very close in, from almost all major cities there are several kart tracks within a few hours drive, with a mix of small club tracks and national level circuits. Additionally there are several annual temporary street kart races in the midwest, and even a series of street races based around Indianapolis.

The North East from New England south to Maryland has a decent amount of tracks, but considering the concentrated population in the North East relative to some other parts of the country, I feel the region is still somewhat under served as a whole. For example, New York is the biggest population center in the country and has 3 kart tracks in or near the area, but none are national level tracks that the Southern California and Chicago areas have.

The South (minus florida) has some tracks sprinkled throughout, but with only a few exceptions most are tiny club tracks. Although the two biggest MSAs in the region, Altanta and Charlotte, have recently added major top level tracks, the rest of the region may be active in other forms of racing but sparse in terms of left and right turn sprint tracks.

The Plains states don't have much sprint karting either, with only a few tracks in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, and no active tracks I could find in Nebraska, or North and South Dakota. However, with none of the top 150 MSAs, there are no major population centers in these states.

Most Under Served Areas:

I looked through the list of MSAs and determined several under served areas where a new kart track would make sense.

Washington D.C - The 7th most populous MSA in the United States, it's the only MSA in the top 30 with no kart tracks within 90 minutes from the core city! Two tracks exist outside of Baltimore, but they are small club tracks. The closest major karting is New Jersey Motorsports Park almost 3 hours away. The economy in D.C. has been pretty strong through the recession, the population continues to grow steadily (2.18% from 2010 to 2011, behind only Dallas and Houston among top 20 MSAs) and the ranks among the highest income metro areas in the country. If a track was built in the Virginia suburbs, the track could draw from the rest of Virginia to parts of North Carolina and West Virginia, including 44th ranked MSA Richmond, VA (less than 2 hours away) and Hampton Roads 36th MSA (3 hours away), which are also pretty much sprint karting dead spots.

Nashville - The 37th most populous MSA has only one small club track 50 minutes away, and is near the middle of a huge dead zone for sprint karting throughout the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. A major karting center could draw from places as far as Memphis where there are also no sprint karting venues.

Charleston, SC - It's only the 78th largest MSA but it's growing at a rate of 2.68% (from 2010 to 2011) and does not have any active sprint karting within two and a half hours. It has a growing economy and pretty nice weather for a longer racing season.

Albuquerque, NM - The biggest city in New Mexico, in the fast growing southwest, and 57th MSA in the country had one track for sprint racing, practice and rentals but it's currently closed. I still think there's potential in the area though; neighboring Arizona has built several modern sprint tracks, but these along with tracks in West Texas and Colorado are over 5 hours away! If those tracks in Arizona are successful, I don't see why one in Albuquerque wouldn't be at least worth a shot.
Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
As promised a while back, here is a breakdown of my karting budget. I'll try to attach a detailed budget spreadsheet but below is a summary of the key areas.

Startup costs included purchasing the kart, parts and tools. For the kart I purchased a used Arrow AX-9 chassis ($800) a new PRD Fireball TAG engine package ($1500). I ended up spending quite a bit on parts (many new) and paid someone to prep the kart and mount the motor for me. So the total cost for the kart ready to hit the track was $3300. Tools included a kart stand, tire mounting tool, air compressor, and many other smaller items (mostly karting specific as I had basic tools already) and amounted to a bit under $500.

Entry fees: I've only raced at one track, where the combined gate fee and entry is $50. From my research $25-75 is typical for a day of karting at a sprint track. I brought a friend most times and paid for him, which costs extra. total for 4 races this season was $250

Consumables include things like tires, gas, cleaners, lubricants and spark plugs. I bought one set of Bridgestone YLB tires for $215. I use 100 octane gas, NGK spark plugs, Burris 2 stroke oil, Motul chain lube, all typical for karting. Also need some wd40, brake cleaner, simple green, rags/paper towels etc. Total for 4 races was $285.

Transport is the money to get to you and the kart to and from the track. I don't have a trailer or a vehicle capable of fitting the kart inside, but I have been borrowing one so my only transport costs are the gas to get to the track (90 miles one way). Total was $237.

Repairs/Crash Damage: In 4 races I had no crash damage and one rear hub fail. I replaced both rear hubs for $110.

So not including startup, that comes out to $886 for 4 races or $221.5 per race.

However moving forward I'm expecting some differences. I'm planning to use the same set of tires into next season, I'm planning to get my own vehicle which should save some on transport (better mpg), and I'm also expecting some additional costs, mainly a top end motor rebuild after 10 hours or so (20 club days) which I estimate at $500. So here is my estimated prorated budget for a club race day in the long run:

tires 8 races $27
gas 1 gallon $8
oil 1 qt $4
spark plug 8 races $1
engine wear 20 races $25
repairs/crash damage $20
transport $40
entry $50
total $180

I'll report back on how accurate this budget turns out to be. More competitive races will obviously cost more. If you own a kart and have any insight, feel free to comment.

09/20/2012: TAG Karting Videos

Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
Here's just a few helmet cam videos of me in the TAG kart for my first few races.

The first video is on very old tires with very little grip left, you can tell I was sliding around quite a bit:

The second video was on new tires, I gained over a second and a half!

Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
So as I've mentioned I bought a kart over the winter. I have a Arrow AX-9 which is around 5 years old, with a new PRD Fireball engine package. I've really been enjoying karting so far, and I have to say, more so then I ever did racing the car in the past 2 years. The night before a kart race now, I feel mostly excitement; before a SCCA race I felt mostly anxiety and stress. After a kart race I feel exhilaration; after a car race, I felt mostly relief. Every time I've gone out I've just gotten better and had more fun. I hope that trend continues! Here's a few points as to why so far, I'm enjoying karting over car racing.

The simplicity. A kart is a much smaller and simpler machine compared to a car. On the kart, between races I need to clean and inspect the kart, charge the battery, lubricate the chain and a few other things, check the spark plug, buy and mix some gas, and mount a set of tires a few times a season. Maintenance on the car involves a lot of additional tasks, for example just the basics include changing the engine oil, tranny oil and rear end oil, changing brake pads and rotors (x4) and bleeding the brakes. These tasks are more time consuming then the basic maintenance of the kart. Stuff is going to break on any racing machine, but the stuff that breaks on a car is generally more difficult to fix, requires more tools and frankly, on a 2500lb car, can be physically harder for a scrawny guy like to complete! Finally, I can store and work on my kart in my own single car garage (and still park my car in it most of the time too) while with the car I had to store it an hour away so working on the car was pretty much a whole day commitment. And if I need my mechanics help on something, I can get the kart to him in a minivan or suv by myself, instead of a truck and trailer. For my second kart race all my help backed out, but it wasn't a big deal, I was able to run the kart myself, and even load and unload the kart myself. I never felt comfortable enough to run the car without help. Overall, I found the preparation time for a car race was around 4 times longer then that for the kart.

The affordability. Our race car cost about the same to buy as it cost me to get my kart and motor and have it set up by an experienced kart mechanic. Some people might say, that means karting is expensive, it costs the same amount to buy a tiny kart as it does a whole racecar! However, the cost to run the kart for a race day is in the range of 5 to 10 times cheaper then running the car for a weekend. Broken down by day, my estimate is, karting operating expenses are 2-4 times cheaper compared to car racing. This is an "apples to apples" comparison of a club kart race vs. club racing in an affordable car class. Sure, some will point out a kart race motor costs almost as much as one for a car, but consider the big expense items for a low budget racer (kart or car). Kart tires (which aren't cheap themselves) still cost 1/3 of what it costs to buy and mount race tires. A full size race car goes through brakes much faster then a go kart, and there are 4 times as many pads and rotors to replace. And the race car uses approximately 6-8 times more fuel then the kart per day on the track.

The performance. I stated above that the initial costs to enter car racing and kart racing were about the same, but for the car, we bought into the cheapest competitive local club racing class. We were like the Formula Vee of production car racing. For the same price I bought a TAG kart, which is typically the second fastest karting class available in the US after a Moto/ICC/KZ2 shifter. If a shifter kart was F1/IndyCar, TAG would be GP2/Indy Lights, much higher in performance then a Formula Vee! In the spec RX7 race car, we had 110HP/2500lbs and went 110MPH on the front straight at summit point. That's less horsepower and less top speed then my Honda Civic street car! For me, racing is more about the racecraft and technique rather then the speed, but still, having lower performance then a economy street car is certainly not that exciting. At 28HP at 350lbs, my kart has two times higher power to weight ratio than my race car! In our spec rx7 class, we ran a spec DOT "r comp" tires, which offered good grip, but not as much as a true racing slick. In the local TAG class, we run medium compound racing slick tires, and with a rear width of 7.1 inches, they're about as wide as the tires on the spec rx7! The result is according to my data and rough calculations, the kart generates at least 25% more cornering force compared to my race car. (2gs vs. <1.5gs)

The helpfulness. My friend referred me to his old kart mechanic who helped me set up my kart and get the parts I needed, all for a very reasonable price. When I went to pick up the kart he showed me the basic things I needed to do to maintain the kart and get it on the track. I can't tell you how helpful this was. My first few times out I didn't have to worry about if the kart was set up right or if the thing was about to fall apart. These were all things I didn't have when starting out in the RX-7. And once at the track, everyone was very friendly and welcoming. Don't get me wrong, overall the SCCA paddock was very friendly too, but with cars things are more spread out and a bit more isolated. The kart club environment just feels more open and relaxing to me. And although karting is very fragmented, it's honestly still closer then club car racing. In karting, there's many different chassis brands, but ultimately 2 different basic chassis designs, and a dozen or less popular motors, across all karting! Chances are, the guy next to you will be able to help you if you have a basic problem. At an SCCA weekend, among 200 entries there might be 80 completely different cars. And if you're in a mazda and the guy next to you is in a ITA Honda, or heck, a formula car, he probably doesn't have a clue about your car. Further, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of guys running TAG karts in the country, while there might be 50 or so actively running a Spec RX-7 or IT-7. So it's a lot easier to find information online if I have any problems are questions about my kart.

That's just my honest feelings, YMMV. As I've said before, I don't regret going club racing in SCCA, karting has just been a better fit for me right now. If you want more concrete numbers, My next posts are gonna be an analysis of the costs of our club racing team vs. my costs in karting so far, so stay tuned!
Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
I wrote a bit about this topic previously. Now that I've got a kart and am looking to buy something to transport it in, I'm revisiting this issue in more detail.

First off, how big is a kart anyway? I actually own two karts now, A Margay Brava and an Arrow AX-9 (long story but I bought the Margay first and it turned out to be not so suited to what I wanted so I lent it to a friend, and bought the Arrow that I race now). Both karts are a typical CIK style sprint kart, which are used for all junior (age 12-15 in the US) and senior classes throughout the world for sprint karting, such as TAG, KF2, shifter, etc. The maximum rear width of a CIK kart is approximately 55 inches, and the kart are typically run near the maximum width. Note, a gold cup style kart (typically used for 4 stroke classes) is supposed to be at least a few inches narrower. Length wise including the bumpers, the Margay is about 70 inches long, while the Arrow is 74.

Karts can be taken apart to varying degrees which significantly lowers the dimensions. The bumper assemblies on karts vary and of half a dozen or so I've inspected, generally the front can be taken off with just a few clips or bolts, while the rear may not be so easily removable, depending on the kart. On my Margay, both the front and rear can be easily removed to trim 10 inches or so off the length. Neither of my karts has a full width rear bumper, but most karts now come with them and I believe they are required to run at least halfway across the rear tires. Taking the front and rear hubs and wheels and both sidepods off takes minutes or less and leaves the widest point of the kart the width of the rear axle, minus a full width rear bumper if you have one. The most common axle sizes from what I gather are 50 x 1020mm (what the Arrow has) and 40 x 1040mm (what the Margay has) so taking the wheels and hubs off saves about 10 inches off the rear width. If you leave the front wheels on, my current setup on the Arrow measures around 46 inches wide. Additionally, if the rear axle and front spindles are also removed, the actual frame measures only about 32 inches at it's widest point and 60 inches long.

So what cars, trucks, SUVs and vans will the kart fit in? I've compiled some notes and specific dimensions for some vehicles below. I've broken the vehicles down in 3 categories.

Yes. Can most likely transport a kart with easily with little disassembly: Generally, any modern minivan or full size SUV fits in this category. I figure if the cargo area is at least 72 inches long, and 46 inches wide at it's narrowest point, it can transport a kart with at most the sidepods, rear wheels and hubs, front bumper and maybe the rear bumper off. (Rear bumper is tricky since I don't have a full width one, but a lot of these large vehicles are pretty wide a the very rear by the liftgate, so you might be able to get away with leaving it on). Most of these vehicles also have enough overall cargo volume to fit a kart stand, tools and a box or two of spares and personal gear as well.

  • 2008+ Dodge Grand Caravan/ Chrysler Town and Country Can transport both my karts with only one sidepod and one rear hub off. Could probably work just with the hubs pushed in.

  • 2001-2007 Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town and Country Slightly smaller then the newer generation, but I was still able to take my Arrow kart with just one sidepod and rear hub/wheel off, along with everything I needed for the track with room to spare.

  • 2001-2007 Toyota Sequoia Was able to take the kart with one rear hub, sidepod and the front bumper off. Tighter fit for the kart stand and all the other stuff versus the minivans, but still pretty easy.

  • 2007+ Chevy Suburban 49.1 x 101.8. Super long cargo area but still not wide enough to pass kart through wheel arches.

  • 2007+ Chevy Tahoe 49.1 x 81.4. Super long cargo area but still not wide enough to pass kart through wheel arches.

  • Maybe. Might be able to make it work: Most mid size SUVs and comparable vehicles fall in this category. Although the minimum width dimensions might seem tight, consider that you might be able to load the kart without passing the whole thing through the narrowest point, so the front wheels might be able to stay on even if they can't pass through the rear wheelhousings, for example. Most these vehicles do have considerably less cargo volume so it might be kinda tight fitting everything else you need for the track in. But they should get better gas mileage then the bigger vehicles, be more practical as a daily driver (at least for me) if you are going to use it as that and should still be capable of hauling a small trailer if you decide to move on to that. Don't take my word for it on these, I think it would be close and you should do the measuring of the vehicle and your kart yourself!

  • 2010+ Toyota 4runner 45 wide x 68 long. A little short but could work with front and/or rear bumpers off or front seats moved a bit forward.

  • 2004-2009 subaru outback 42.2x73. Good length but the narrow gate opening would be a big challenge to work with.

  • 2010+ subaru outback 43x66. Looks like the newer generation is shorter then the last one.

  • 2006-2012 rav4 43 x 72. Although usually considered a compact SUV, it is actually pretty big. The side hinged door makes me question if the kart can get through the gate though.

  • Unlikely or no way: Most compact SUVs and wagons/hatches are really just too small although some might seem promising. Since the bare frame is pretty small, you might be able to get away with using these if you only need to move your kart a few times a year (like you store it at the track and take it somewhere else for the winter, or just need something to pick up a kart, but I don't see any way to use these as a primary means to transport a kart to the track.

  • Honda Element 42 x 55-67. By the looks of the exterior I would have thought it's way to short but some people seem to claim it works. This is by far the most promising vehicle of the group I've found and maybe belongs in the group above.

  • 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe 38.75 x 55.5. The cargo area looks flat and practical, but it's just way too small.

  • 2008-2012 ford escape 40.7x 66.7. MIGHT work.

  • 2007-2011 Honda CRV 39.5 x 60-67.

  • I will try to add to the list if I do more research.
    Category: Karting
    Posted by: Mike
    Previously I posted an Indoor Karting Tutorial Video, from a lap of Allsports Grand Prix. I figured I'd follow that up with a tutorial of the other rental track I frequent, Summit Point Kart. This time I've provided a narration with some more details.

    Post any questions or comments you have!

    Category: Karting
    Posted by: Mike
    Sorry to my 3 loyal readers for my lack of updates. Been busy with everything. So here's a quick update on a few things. The GT Academy ended for me with 5 days to go in the contest when my wheel broke! I was going to California the next morning anyway so I decided that was it and I would just focus on the karting in Cali. At one point in the first few days, I was up to something like 70th or so in the US, but failed to improve my time and slowly slipped in the standings. I also had the TAG kart out for the first time a month ago, it's a blast! More on that to come.

    So on to the Grand Nats. We had big group of 8 guys going repping the DMV! I flew in Tuesday with my friend John, and we met up with a few guys already there and hung out for the day. We ended getting some In-N-Out burger, chatting with the guys at Rhys Millen Racing, crashing the Sparco USA corporate office (haha!), turning some laps at one of the many K1 Speed locations in socal (awesome facility, not a big fan of the karts though) and getting some late night Korean barbecue. Not bad for my first day in cali, ever!

    Wednesday and Thursday were open practice. It was a good deal, 100/day with a whole 2 hours of track time each day. Was kinda surprised at the low turnout for practice but I guess a lot of guys already had some experience at the track. The track was awesome, by far the best parking lot track I've ever seen, with an interesting surface (high grip, but subtle surface changes everywhere), real curbs, elevation changes, and a nice mix of high and low speed corners. The karts were well maintained older Sodikart models, which meant they were lighter then the RX-7 mammoths and they had what seemed like the stickiest tires of any rental karts I've ever driven.

    From practice, I learned that even though the track was high speed, there were technicalities to master to get that last second, and I was struggling to move to the top of the time charts. That was frustrating, but I also learned the draft would be huge, and strategy and racecraft, things I knew I could do well in if I played the cards right, would count for ALOT come race day.

    So the first day of racing came and in qualifying for some reason I chose to go out and run by myself instead of waiting up for my teammate right behind me and drafting. I ended up qualifying 18th which I was not happy with! But in the race I got a feel for the racing which came very naturally and I was feeling pretty good. I moved up a few positions and went back and forth with a bunch of guys in the pack, ending up 14th. The racing was also overly aggressive at some times, but that actually improved in the later heats when people settled down a bit.

    For the second heat, I nailed the qualifying strategy and was on a great lap coming to the last turn to take the checkered, when the guy I was drafting make a sudden (inadvertent) move to the outside where my nose was approaching the corner, when I thought he was going to stay to the inside to pass the guy we were closing up on. It was just the wrong timing and in a split second I ended up spinning mowing over a whole row of tires and cones. My best lap which was basically a throw away for the last one was still good for 14th, while the guy I was drafting (who finished the last lap) ended up 3rd! I surely would have been right there! Goes to show how much good strategy in qualifying can do. For the race though, I was confident in my kart and moved up to 8th by the finish, right on the heels of 6th and 7th place. In the process I managed to set fastest lap of the race!

    For the third and final heat of the day, I qualed 19th (don't remember what happened there) and raced up to 13th. It was another aggressive race which was a little frustrating because I felt we could have gotten a chance to move up higher if some of the guys at the back of the pack weren't fighting so hard for 15h place!

    The second day would be on a slightly more technical course, which since I was slow, would be tougher for me! But for the first race I drew a supposed fast kart, and qualified it 6th, catching a nice draft form a teammate who ended up 8th. The first few laps we worked together well, and we were staying with the lead pack. Then something happened and he dropped way back. Meanwhile I settled into a solid 8th just a little behind the lead pack as things strung out a bit, and was looking to likely finish there when suddenly the kart started falling on it's face out of the corners. This was more then some bogging, after a few laps I had no throttle for half the straightaway! In the last 7 laps of the race I went from 8th to 21st. I have no idea what happened to the kart as afterwards it was fine but I assure you it was not me! Fortunately the officials counted it as a mechanical, and I was given (by the rulebook) points for the position I was running in minus 2 positions, which I thought was very fair.

    For the 5th heat, I again nailed qualifying and ended up 3rd in a kart that wasn't even that great, or at least I wasn't that fast on my own in. Unfortunately in the race I had some contact on the first lap (the other driver ended up apologizing after the race) which put my over a curb and sent me from around 5th to 11th according to the lap chart. From there, I struggled with pace and ended up slipping back and finishing 17th. This was the first race I wasn't happy with my performance in the race, as analyzing things I feel I should have been able to hold on around 13-15th even after the first lap contact, if I hadn't been frustrated, overdrove and made mistakes.

    The final heat was non notable as I was stuck going out dead last in qualifying and had no one to draft with. I ended up qualifying 21st! I couldn't find any speed in the kart during the race and ended up finishing 18th.

    For the last day, there was a new course that no one had seen, which in theory would level the playing field but I ended up struggling to find pace in warm up again (I was hoping part of the new course would be soaking the track with water!). However, I knew strategy would be important for the 40 lap semi-final that required 2 pit stops so hope was not lost. This was also the last race for everyone 46th or lower in the points, and I really wanted to at least make the LCQ for those in points positions 21-45.

    With two poor results in heats 5 and 6, I felt like I needed a strong result to ensure I'd make the LCQ. After studying the first race, I decided my strategy would be to pit on the first lap. However, the strategy backfired when apparently several other guys were thinking the same thing and I ended up 4th in line in the pits on the first lap. The rules required drivers to stop in three stop boxes along the length of the pits, and being 4th in a tight line, I basically ended up having to stop 12 times while the lead kart only had to stop 3 (not quite that bad but you get the point...) In my frustration I ended up accidentally hitting the guy in front of me entering the last stop box and got a black flag an losing another 26 seconds or so having to repeat the stop! I was so far back now I had no draft which being slow I desperately needed. After some laps I attempted to pit early for my second stop to see if it would place me with someone else, but ended up coming out by myself again! So I ran a majority of the race with no draft which hurt me even more. It was a boring cruise to the end of the race where I finished 19th, my worst finish (not including my mechanical) yet. This was really disappointing; in the race were strategy mattered most, something I thought I could capitalize on, I had my worst finish!

    I was pretty certain I would drop out of the top 45. However, I managed to squeak in to the tail of the LCQ, holding on to 44th in points. I'll leave the LCQ commentary to the video. It's the LCQ, you gotta go for it so honestly wasn't angry at the result.

    Overall, it was a great week of racing. I have to give a big thanks to Calspeed Karting/Karting ventures, the hosts/organizers/promoters of the event. I could go on and on about about all the great things that they did all week, but this post has already gotten too long, so I'll just say they did a phenomenal job putting on a world class event. I'll try to post more about what they did so well in running a sport karting and racing event in general and why it's important later. I also have to thank Volta Grand Prix, the partner series through which I earned my entry to the event, and Indo Pratama Racing, my team which provided great support, both at the track and away from it in all the fun we had throughout the week.