Karting, “the purest form of motor sports,” as Ayrton Senna said, is the fastest growing form of motor sports in the S.A. and is already hugely popular around the world. There are about 100,000 karters in the United States alone, encompassing all age groups, from children as young as seven years, all the way to the more seasoned participants, even well into retirement age. The sport sees competitors of both genders and is truly something for the whole family to enjoy.
While many might participate out of pure enjoyment, for others it is a serious stepping-stone towards a professional racing career. Most current Formula-1 drivers have started racing with karts, and many still drive karts between seasons to keep their reflexes and skills honed. Because it is relatively affordable, it is a perfect venue for learning the basics about competition racing, vehicle setup, engine tuning, etc. All of this while having a whole lot of fun. No other racing vehicle will allow you to get as much seat time with any given budget as a kart!
That is simple: Just like any other racing activity, the purpose here is to reach the finish line first! The beauty of karting is the seemingly simple nature of these vehicles: No suspension, no differential, no roll-bars, no seat-belt systems. Just four wheels and an engine.
This simplicity is exactly what keeps the cost of karting down compared to other forms of motor racing. It also makes it easier for the novice racer to comprehend the vehicle in its totality and to identify and focus on those components that may be adjusted or tuned for optimum performance. The act of changing the tunable settings on the kart is straight forward in almost all cases, and it can be done without expensive tools or complete pit-crews. However, getting this tuning right for the fastest lap time takes a lot of experience. It is almost like chess: Learning the rules is simple; mastering the game can take a lifetime!
Specifically designed competition race karts are extremely responsive and agile vehicles, not at all comparable to fun karts you may find at indoor karting or other rental venues. They provide fantastic handling and cornering capabilities and propel the driver around the race track, just a few millimeters above the ground. Being successful in the top levels of kart racing requires the same peak physical condition, and mental strength as other forms of racing.
The amazing and exciting driving characteristics, the fun and friendly atmosphere at the club events and affordability, combined with the possibility for a young and talented driver to make this the start to a racing career, are the main factors for the increasing popularity of karting.