Types of Kart Racing
Go Kart racing is a versatile sport, encompassing many styles of tracks, including sprint racing, pavement and dirt oval track racing, and road racing.
Sprint racing takes place on short, purpose-built permanent or temporary road-style courses (both right and left hand turns) and are typically of short duration (eight to 20 laps). Sprint drivers are from all age groups, from 5 years to senior citizens. PSGKA conducts sprint races on its permanent 3/8-mile course at the Mountain Hi-Way race track. A typical race day program includes practice sessions, time trials and a series of two or three heats with winners determined from point totals accumulated during the day.
Sprint racing is the most popular type of kart racing with nearly 100,000 competitors in North America. Typical maximum speeds for sprint racing approach 90 m.p.h., depending on the type of engine.
Oval Track Racing (Speedway)
Oval track kart racing takes place on traditional “big car” speedways or purpose-built kart racing ovals, and includes drivers five years and older. Surfaces include dirt (or clay) and pavement. Oval tracks can be temporarily constructed inside of buildings such as arenas and exhibition halls, and therefore are popular in the winter. While sprint-style race chassis are popular in oval track kart racing, many manufacturers now build karts with chassis offsets specifically for “left turn only” (LTO) applications.
Special body work, including wedges (pictured above) are also used. Typically, a jackshaft gear set up is used for shorter tracks, while engines are similar to those used in sprint racing. There is also a class for dual-engine karts at many tracks. Cascade Karting Association promotes races in Western Washington under IKF rules. It is not uncommon for sprint racers to convert their karts to race oval type tracks.
Road racing takes place on large tracks, such as Pacific Raceways or Portland International Raceway, and are typically timed events similar to sports car races. Drivers range in age from 12 years to senior citizens. Speeds for road racing often exceed 100 mph. Both sprint type chassis (known as “sit ups”) and lay down chassis are used in road racing.
Many classes of racing karts seen at road races are unique to that type of racing, including super karts. While tracks include dedicated sports car tracks, they also can be temporarily constructed on airport runways. Road racing events may be support events to larger car races.