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Karting 101: What is Go Karting & How To Drive a Go Kart

two people enjoying go karting at k1 speed

Want to learn what go karting is and how to drive a go kart? Then you’ve come to the right place! That’s because we’re going to tell you exactly how to drive a go kart for the first time and understand what go karting is. 

First, What is Go Karting? And What’s a Go Kart?

Go karting is the sport of driving go karts. Go karts are fundamentally a small-scale four-wheeled vehicle, not too dissimilar from a car. In fact, go karts share many of the same characteristics of a car including: a steering wheel, tires, brakes, an engine/motor, and gas/brake pedals. 


The major difference with go karts is that they’re usually stripped down to just those major parts without all the luxuries that your road car has. So you often won’t see things like suspension, plush seating, a stereo, and so on.


Read More: The Invention and History of the Go Kart

What Does a Go Kart Look Like?

shot of K1 Speed Storm electric go kart, used as head image in gas kart vs electric kart blog

Go karts can come in all shapes and (small) sizes. Some are made to look like smaller versions of road-going cars, while others look like miniature race cars. Above you see a picture of what an adult go kart looks like at K1 Speed. 


The go kart is low to the ground and features small wheels/tires, a steering wheel, throttle and brake pedal, seat, and a roll hoop for safety. 


Go karts tend to be substantially lighter and have a shorter wheelbase than your average car. This means they can accelerate quickly and are much easier to drive. As a result, they’re also a lot more fun to drive than most cars!

How Fast Do Go Karts Go?

The speed of go karts can vary considerably, depending on the kart itself. Many go karts you can buy for kids are limited to 9mph or so. Whereas professional superkarts can approach top speeds of over 150mph! 


The two kinds of electric go karts at K1 Speed also differ in speed. Our junior karts for kids can approach speeds of up to 20mph. And our adult karts can take you up to 45mph – the fastest of any indoor go kart racing experience.


Read More: The Difference Between Gas and Electric Go Karts

How to Drive a Go Kart For the First Time

people racing go karts at k1 speed

Here are 6 things that’ll prepare you on how to drive a go kart for the first time:

1. Make sure you can operate the kart safely.


When you sit in the go kart for the first time, the most important thing to do is make sure you can operate the kart safely. This means that your feet can reach the pedals and easily press them down all the way. You’ll also need to easily reach the steering wheel, ideally with your arms bent a little. 


2. Learn the Controls


Ok, you can reach the pedals and steering wheel – next, learn the controls. Make sure you know which pedal is the brake, which pedal is the throttle (gas). The throttle pedal is usually on the right, while the brake pedal is on the left. Unlike driving a car, you’ll be using your left foot to press on the brake, rather than using your right foot to do both. 


It’s also important to know how to reverse in case you find yourself pointed in the wrong direction on the track. Most K1 Speed karts have a red button on the steering wheel. At a complete stop, press and hold the red button then press on the throttle pedal. Your kart should slowly reverse. Release the red button when you are ready to go straight again. 


3. Warm Up Your Tires


Use your first lap on the track to warm up your tire temperatures. You can do this by slowly weaving back and forth on the track (while being mindful of other karts on track!). Warmer tires will give you better grip and traction on the track than cold tires and will decrease your likelihood of spinning. 

4. Build Up Your Speed


It’ll probably take you several laps before you memorize the track. Just take it slow in your first laps. Discover areas that can be taken faster and areas you’ll need to really slow down for. Then, gradually increase your speed until you feel you’re going fast without losing control or speed. Make sure your steering is smooth – not fast and jerky – and try to keep your car in a straight line as much as you can.


5. Obey Rules / Flags


When you’re out on the track, make sure you obey the rules of the track and the flags that are waved. Since this is your first time at K1 Speed, we’ll give you a safety briefing prior to getting into the kart to go over the rules of the track and what each flag means. It’s important to pay close attention to this briefing and ask any questions you may have so that everyone has a fun and safe experience. 

See Rules & Flags

6. Go Karting is Physical!


One thing that may surprise you when you start go kart racing at K1 Speed is how physical it actually is. There’s a reason why the pros are athletes! There’s no power steering on our karts, so the steering wheel will feel a lot stiffer to turn. Additionally, these karts can corner at fast speed and produce g-forces. So you’ll be feeling the forces on our body as you drive quickly through our turns. Don’t be surprised if you’re a little out of breath by the end of your race! 

How to Be Faster at Go Kart Racing

racing instructor at k1 speed illustrates go kart racing tips

That’s all you need to know how to drive a go kart at K1 Speed for the first time, but you may be wondering how you can now go faster. Thankfully, we offer private 1-on-1 lessons at our tracks. Simply ask our front desk about this opportunity. 


And be sure to read our blog post with some tips to drive a go kart faster!

Time to Drive and Do Some Go Karting for Yourself!

Now that you know what go karting is, how to drive a go kart, how fast a go kart goes, and other essential information, you’re all set for your first K1 Speed indoor go kart racing experience! Use our buttons below to find the nearest K1 Speed location to you, or learn more about what you should know before going to our track!

  • Tom Robinson

    How old do u need to be to drive. Go cart?.

    • Staff Writer

      Hello Tom! There’s no age requirement here, only height. Kids need to be at least 48″ tall to drive our junior karts, and the height requirement for our adult karts is 4’10”. See you at the track!

  • karl d clintsman

    I have a special needs daughter. Do you have 2 seater go karts available so that she could ride with me and get the experience?

    • Staff Writer

      Hello Karl! We’re very sorry but we currently do not have any two-seaters at our locations. Only single-seaters.

  • go karts

    Thank you for sharing this informative post on how to drive a go-kart! Driving a go-kart is such an exhilarating experience, and it’s great to see tips and tricks being shared to help beginners get started.

    • Staff Writer

      Thank you!

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