The History of Go Karts and Karting
Art Ingels is generally credited as being the inventor of the Go Kart. He built his first one in California in 1956.
These vehicles are related to open-wheel racing such as Formula One and Indy Car.
In fact, many top professional race car drivers, including Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton,
Tony Stewart , Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost got their start on the kart racing circuit.
They are simple 4-wheeled vehicles with no suspension (relying on chassis flex). They are basically just a smaller version of the professional open wheel cars and race on similar, but smaller, racing tracks.
Kart racing is generally accepted as the most economic form of motorsport available.
As a free-time activity, it can be performed by almost anybody, and as a motorsport in itself, it is one of the sports regulated by FIA permitting licensed racing for anyone from the age of 8 onward, however Lewis Hamilton started at the age of six when his father bought him one as a Christmas present.
But karting is not just for the professionally-minded. Most of the time karts are raced by non-professionals, people just out for a little fun. They have become popular all over the world and are found in most cities and amusement parks.
So what is a go kart? They are made up of a chassis, motor, transmission, seat and 4 tires. Since karts have no suspension the chassis must provide flexibility and yet retain enough stiffness to allow the kart good grip around the track and through the turns.
The stiffness of the chassis enables different handling characteristics for different circumstances. Typically, for dry conditions a stiffer chassis is preferable, while in wet or other poor traction conditions, a more flexible chassis may work better.
The best chassis allow for stiffening bars at the rear, front and side to be added or removed according to race conditions.
The chassis can be either open or closed. The closed, or caged chassis, allows protection for the driver in the event of a rollover. The open chassis does not.
Engines used in karting are typically either 2-stroke or 4-stroke. The 2-stroke engine is generally more of a specialized engine that is made by companies such as Honda or Briggs and Stratton (who also make lawnmower engines). In fact, 4-stroke engines are usually the standard type used in lawn mowers. The 2-stroke is usually more powerful than the 4-stroke and can attain up to 30 horsepower or more.
Amusement park karts can be powered by 4-stroke engines or electric motors, while racing karts use small 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines.
Electric karts are low maintenance, requiring only that the lead-acid batteries of the cars be plugged into an array of chargers after each run. Since they are pollution-free and emit no smoke, the racetracks can be indoors in controlled environments. A fully charged electric kart can run a maximum of 20 minutes before performance is affected.
These karts are generally considered a safer and cheaper way to get into racing. With the many different levels available drivers can move up until they reach the professional level. With the right mixture of talent and practice racing alongside the top pros is certainly a possibility.
Go Kart frames What to look for when buying a 'frame' or chasis for your Kart.
Karting Join in the excitement of this sport.
Buying your Kart How to buy without paying over the odds.
Racing your machine Become a racing Enthusiast.
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