My former co-worker Ken was racing in the Greeley Grand Prix this weekend, so I went to check out the qualifying rounds. There were lots of ultra-low frames on 10-inch tires (and that’s the outside diameter) making lots of noise and enormously big heads sticking out of them. Oh wait, I mean normal-sized heads in ultra-small race cars, also known as go-karts. I never saw Ken but learned a lot about these vehicles. A few facts about them:
- Some weigh only 175 lbs., or less than half of most motorcycles (and many drivers!)
- Engines typically were one-cylinder two-stroke engines running pump gas and putting out 28 or more horsepower.
- Some go-karts had one gear; others had sequential transmissions with as many as six. (Those go-karts were referred to by the announcer as “shifter-karts.”)
- They can accelerate from 0-60 in ~3.5 seconds!
- Top speed is said to be about 135 mph!
- They can pull ~2-3g on the skidpad!
- These performance numbers, aside from the top speed, are better than any street car and on par with Formula 1 race cars.
- A racer who usually raced Porsches, Vipers, or Corvettes would practice in his shifter-kart, then race in his Viper which would subsequently feel very slow in comparison.
- Go-karts are like bicycles in that they usually don’t have suspension.
- Go-karts generally cost $5500 new or $3000 used according to a guy I talked with.
It was fun watching these little cars in action, and I’m sure even more fun to drive. That said, I’ve concluded I don’t really have a great interest in picking up go-karting as a hobby. Go-karts are limited to the track, and just don’t have the same aura to me as a sports car. Or a motorcycle. So for racing, I think I’ll stick with running and time-trialing instead.