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Does Body Weight Make a Difference in Go Karting Lap Times?

heavy set man stands next to skinny man with weight vest on at go kart place

Does body weight make a difference in go karting lap times?


Tell us if this has happened to you. You’ve just set a blistering lap time at K1 Speed, beating your friends and family by half a second or more. But you didn’t win. Instead, there’s some scrawny kid on the track who obliterated your lap time. But that couldn’t be.


You’ve been raised on a diet of cars and racing since birth. As a child, you drew racing lines before stick figures. You’ve beat your friends at racing games, from Pole Position to iRacing. “It’s because he’s (this many) pounds lighter!” you declare as you munch on your loaded pulled pork nachos in the Paddock Lounge. But does weight really make a difference in go karting?

The Heavy Man vs the Slender Man

Tyler, our social media guy, weighs a little over 183 pounds fully clothed. I, Ryan, weigh around 232 pounds – about a 50-pound difference. On track, Tyler and I are pretty close despite the weight difference. Typically, only a tenth or so separates our fastest laps. We’ve both got a ton of seat time in our electric karts and know the two tracks at Irvine like the back of our hands.  But are we the same driver? Am I exceptionally good, but my weight is holding me back from being better? Is Tyler really that bad of a driver, where the best he can do is the same as someone 50 pounds heavier?

Testing if Weight Affects Go Karting Lap Times

To test if weight makes a difference in electric go kart racing, we had Tyler eat a ton of fast food for a couple of months, so we could eliminate much of that 50-pound deficit. Just kidding. We picked up a 40lb weight vest from our local big box store. When wearing this vest, we were able to add the pounds onto Tyler without risking a premature heart attack. Plus, the weight is all where the body is, not added to different parts of the kart, creating a realistic simulation.

Our Electric Go Kart Lap Times Without Weight Penalties

To set the benchmark at where we stand normally, we took turns driving the same kart around Track 2 in Irvine. Tyler posted a best time of 20.037 and average lap time of 20.319. I completed my race with a best time of 19.789 and an average lap time of 19.999 seconds.


Now at this point you might think that it already proves someone who is heavier can produce a faster lap time than someone lighter. And you’re right. But the question is, can we do similar lap times when weighing an additional 40lbs. Furthermore, can I still beat Tyler’s normal weight time when I’m 90 pounds heavier?

Our Go Kart Lap Times with Weight Penalties

With Tyler packing more than 220 pounds with the vest on, he did set a slower lap time in the same kart. By a minuscule two-hundredths of a second (.02). But his average lap time was even faster than when he 40 pounds lighter by around a tenth. The reason?


Tyler explained that while the vest itself hampered how he shifted his weight in the kart, it also helped push the kart down firmer onto the ground, eliminating some of the sliding he was experiencing in some of the tighter turns. He was able to charge harder into the corners with this new-found grip.

So Does Weight Affect Your Go Karting Lap Times?


In all the weight DID NOT matter when go karting, as both of his sessions were within a tenth or two – nothing unusual to a typical experience at K1 Speed.


We can already hear you: “Well, yeah, maybe not 40 pounds. But something like a 100-pound difference would definitely do it.”


(Continue scrolling down for our update: after losing 50 pounds am I now faster than my old 230-lb self?)


Can You Beat Someone Who Weighs 90 Pounds Less Than You?


So I put the vest on, weighing 270+ (we discovered the scale we purchased had been previously returned, and was a little off by around 3-5 pounds – hence no specific weights here). Could I beat Tyler’s 20.032 he set when he weighs 180-something? Sure, it’s not 100 pounds, but it is 90 pounds or so, enough for us to see.


With vest on, I stepped back into the same kart we’d been sharing, and off I went. I set a fastest lap time of 19.957 and averaged 20.155, beating Tyler’s 180-pound fastest lap. Nearly 100 pounds heavier and I still could beat him. Take that, Tyler.


“But, Ryan! You were slower than your usual weight time!” – I hear you. And you’re right. But it took a bit of adjusting to the difference of kart handling. As a result, I just didn’t hook together a decent lap like I was able to from muscle memory at my regular weight. It was a little clumsier – more barrier taps, slight overdriving – the usual. It was unquestionably do-able, however. At the end, I was really only about a tenth off in average time. With that much of a weight difference, it’s nothing.


What was most surprising is that I was still only a second off the track record, despite being only 25 pounds away from the maximum weight the kart can support. Having a heavier body weight does not make you slower at karting.


Final Thoughts


In the end, we’ve learned that body weight is not a valid excuse at K1 Speed. We’re confident it plays more of a role when racing gas-powered karts, given that you have a power band you need to stay in the entire time. But since our electric karts produce instant torque, it eliminates any advantage that lighter racers may have. So don’t feel so guilty next time you order that double cheeseburger, and instead practice more at your local K1 Speed.


Read More: Can You Lose Weight By Racing Go Karts? >>

UPDATE: Are You Faster When You Lose Weight?

Since we first published this blog, I (Ryan) have gone on to lose a little over 50 pounds through diet and exercise. In fact, now I’m even lighter than Tyler was! So since I’ve lost weight, am I faster than my old self? In other words, is 177-lb Ryan faster than the 230-lb Ryan from our first video? Watch the video below!

Try This Experiment Yourself!

Challenge a friend of different weight and similar driving skills to this challenge and see what your results are! Find your nearest K1 Speed by hitting that little ol’ red button below.

  • Jimmy Dell

    I think that most F1 teams could tell you why these results are what they are.

  • Donovan Scott

    Thanks for the cool article and info. It upsets me that I can’t use that excuse any more for electric, but I’m grateful for the practical knowledge. 😉
    NIce job! Now I’ll just have to practice more!

  • Ritter

    That’s electric Karts with tons of torque and speed limited.

    • Staff Writer

      Correct! It might make more of a difference in gas karts, but not at K1 Speed.

  • Walt Galen

    Why are the carts at K! so hard to turn. It is a severe effort to turn the wheel and i am not weakling.

    • Staff Writer

      Hey Walt! This is because there’s no power steering on our karts – just like a lot of real race cars!

  • Derek

    Can you run the same experiment on track 1?

    • Staff Writer

      We’ll keep that in mind, Derek!

  • Keith Vavrinak

    So in the end, weight doesn’t make a BIG difference, but it DOES still make a difference. And while it may not seem like 2 tenths of a second is much, if you look at the 100 monthly best times, two-tenths of a second can separate 20 spots on the list! In that case it’s pretty significant!

    • Staff Writer

      Fair point, Keith! I guess what we’re trying to say is that if you come with your friends/family or even in one of our racing leagues, weight doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to lose. Driver skill likely plays the largest role in your lap time.

  • Ami Legare

    is there a weight limit for operating the karts?

    • Staff Writer

      Hey Ami! Our karts can accommodate drivers up to 300lbs. See you at the track!

  • Linda Siniscal

    The K1 Speed in Hillsboro, OR has a great staff. I want to thank Justin for helping me take care of my grandkids rides. You guys are great we will be coming back. I’m not sure if there is anywhere else I could post a review but would be glad to do so if you just send me any other information I may need.

    • Staff Writer

      Hi Linda! We’re very happy to hear we were able to get you sorted out with your grandkids’ rides. We always welcome reviews on Yelp and Google! Thanks again for the kind review, and we can’t wait to see you all again soon!

  • Michelle Lynn Casper


    • Staff Writer

      Hello, Michelle! The weight limit for our karts is around 300 pounds.

  • Jim B.

    I realize that in a “rental” situation, that this may be a an impossible task, but perhaps within your “racing league” with “regular” (same folks competing regularly) drivers, and to make it really “fair” weight wise, you could weigh each kart with driver “on” and then weight each kart Up to the heaviest competitor of the group, with “add-on” weights.

    I was working “out of country” back in the mid-1970’s to mid 1980’s and took a break from drag racing (front engine “rails”/dragsters) for a few years and returned to Go Karts, which I first raced when I was 12 yrs old while working part time at a Go Kart dealer & setup shop (racing chassis, Not “rental” types),and running in C-Open class and we were sponsored by McCulloch at the time.

    Under the WKF rules there at the time, each Kart (we owned our own, of course) & driver had to “weigh-up” to the heaviest driver/kart combination in the class, at all races in the division, which made it Very competitive due to driver skills rather than a better power to weight ratio, as ALL karts (regardless of engine/kart class) also had to run identical tires (brand & compounding),same fuel,same oil,same engines(I was running in the 2 stroke Sprint chassis class w/a Yamaha K100), Non “tunable” chassis (in our “Sprint” Class/chassis), No mods allowed and all engine bolts were drilled, wired and sealed by the division Tech Inspector after a full pre-season engine tear-down & inspection. Anyone caught with engine mods after the fact, was Immediately terminated from racing at All of the WKF Sanctioned races for One season on a First offense, 2 seasons on a second offense, and for life after or If, a 3rd offense.

    The same rules of being barred from racing, were also applied to Any driver caught racing “dirty” (bad “manners” during a race), which also helped to “even out” the playing field even further, by getting rid of “aggressive” personality/”win at all cost,by whatever means” types on the track.

    Anyway… just a thought about equal weight combinations. I will be within a “fairly” reasonable driving distance to the new K1 facility at Lee’s Summit in Missouri when it opens in 2023, and looking forward to trying out an electric kart, just to see “how they act” and handle… I’ve Never raced at an Indoor track,in the past, either… will be a new experience for a 70+ year “young” racer. 😉

    I realize also, that with electric power and a high torque to hp ratio, that “uneven” weight combinations may not be as critical as with gas powered karts, but I was just thinking that “even” weight combinations would Definitely eliminate any possible “he/she is lighter than me,arguments” and force it into truly “Driver Skill” racing at your “racing league” races, at least.

    Sorry for the long “rant”… Best wishes to you all and for all your future endeavors. Have a great 2023!

    • Staff Writer

      Hey, Jim! Thanks for your comment and suggestions. We look forward to seeing you at our Lee’s Summit location next year! Have a great year as well!

  • Ethan ingersoll

    I had an awesome experience here at k1,

    • Staff Writer

      We’re happy to hear that, Ethan! Thanks for stopping by. Hope we get to see you again soon at the track!



    • Staff Writer

      These two drivers are pretty equally matched, Armando. But you’re entitled to your opinion!

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