The first item to consider is "Why are you racing karts?" For most parents and kids, they are involved in kart racing for the fun and challenge offered by this sport. The fun is found in the friendships that develop, the quality time that families spend together and of course, the thrill of the racing experience. The challenge lies in developing the knowledge, skill and expertise necessary to setup and drive a competitive racing kart.
The trick here is to work to meet the challenges without ruining the fun. Heck, if you're going to be miserable, you can certainly find a cheaper way to do it than kart racing! So, how can this be done without getting frustrated and at the same time getting the best value for your racing dollar? First, start by setting reasonable and obtainable goals. Then, you'll want to document your progress so that you can have a record of your accomplishments. It is always nice to step back and say, "Look what we've done!" Once you meet a goal, of course enjoy it, but then set your sights on your next target.
Your first goal should be to put a safe kart and driver out on the track. Start by familiarizing yourself with the safety tech requirements found in the NKA manual, or contacting the person in charge of Tech/ Race operations for some guidance. Once you have a safe kart, it is time to have a safe driver. This means having all the appropriate driver safety equipment (helmet, protective clothing, neck brace, etc.) and a driver that has developed some comfort and competence in driving on the track. You'll need to spend some significant time at the track on practice days. In the beginning, allow the driver the opportunity to get comfortable before looking at lap times. After your driver can easily control the kart, and understands the rules (flags, and other race and track procedures), you can get out the stopwatch and start setting some goals. You should be looking to develop the driver to a level where he or she can competently drive fast enough to stay on the lead lap, and then, you are ready for race day.
Now, you and your driver should be feeling pretty good about what you're doing and what you've accomplished so far. Give each other a nice pat on the back, set your next target, and keep your goals reasonable. The first few races, you and your driver should be thinking about staying safe, learning more about setting up the chassis, driving the preferred race line and subsequently, improving lap times. As long as you're showing some improvement, then you're on the right track.
It is at this point that many new karters run into trouble. They loose sight of the learning curve involved in racing and think that if they buy that new, blueprinted motor, the latest greatest chassis, or similar item, then they will be instantly placed in the winners circle. Keep in mind that the most valuable tools for the new karting team is experience for the mechanic and seat time for the driver. Get the most out of the equipment that you have before even thinking about spending a dime on new or better stuff. In the beginning, you'll find more speed by improving driver and mechanic skill and knowledge than you will find in any piece of high dollar equipment. Hey this is racing, you'll find plenty of opportunities to spend money, and that's all right, but you'll have more good times and memorable moments if you focus on your teamwork and accomplishments first.
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