The Rules of Go Kart Survival
May 4, 2006
You may think that driving a go kart is safe, but when you're screaming down the track at 160 mph anything is possible. Sure, most go karts do not reach speeds this high, but by following a few safety measures you can make your go kart experience fun at any speed.
Back in the olden days, when the only go kart tracks in the neighborhood were located at the nearby family fun centers, accidents were few and far between. But with the specialized go kart tracks and the higher speeds we see today it is wise to be aware of and to follow a few simple safety precautions. With the lower speeds of yesteryear it was easy to drive safely, but times have changed. Nowadays you must be aware of what can happen on the track and be prepared for it. But with a little bit of preparation go karting can be a thrilling experience. Racing takes all forms, from ATVs to scooters, from motorcycles to mopeds, but go karts are the only form that will give you the thrill of Formula One racing without as much of the danger.
It's hard losing control of a go kart when it's traveling at a top speed of 5 mph, but it's a very common thing at 60 mph. It's the drivers who have the attitude "it won't happen to me" that seem to end up in trouble more often. And when a driver thinks of his gokart as a toy instead of a racing vehicle that's where the trouble can begin. But on the contrary, it's the drivers that take safety precautions seriously that have the most fun with the least accidents. So driver beware.
There is a certain amount of risk at any speed, but most accidents can be prevented with some common sense and preparation. From the type of go kart you buy to the type of safety equipment you use can determine your level of risk. Anything is possible once you're on the track, head injuries, broken bones, fires and more. That's why it's necessary to have all of your safety measures in line before actually climbing into your gokart.
The first step to being safe is to race your go kart in a class that you are prepared for. There are many go cart classes that will cater to every age range from kids to adults and to every experience level from none to professional. Learning to drive a go kart is a skill that can be mastered fairly quickly, but becoming a great driver may take a much longer time. It's best to drive in a class with drivers of your same experience level. Once you improve your skills you can then advance to the next carting level. Racing against drivers that are much better than you can spell trouble on the track, so it's smart to move up in class only when you have acquired the skills to do so.
With the high speeds we see today is it actually possible to race go-karts safely? There are two answers to that question. On the one hand, if you are well-prepared with safety in mind it is possible to keep your risks low and remain relatively safe on the track. On the other hand, any sport can be dangerous if you haven't carefully prepared and throw caution to the wind.
So exactly how fast are we talking about when we say that go karts reach some amazing speeds today? A normal racing kart can reach speeds of up to 60 mph. But an enduro kart can get up to 90 mph and a shifter kart 160 mph or possibly even faster. Now that's burning rubber! Flipping your vehicle over or getting hit from the side at any of these speeds is not something you want to do. That's why it's important to take precautions at every stage.
We have already mentioned that if you don't feel comfortable at these high speeds you can race in a class that matches your experience level. So don't start sweating just yet. The number one cause of accidents is carelessness. And no matter how careful you may be you must remember that you will be racing against drivers that may not be as careful. So race in a class that fits your comfort zone.
Helmets are a must at any speed. Find a quality helmet that will protect you from serious head injury if the unforeseen should happen. Head injuries are usually the most serious of injuries when racing and avoiding these types of injuries is priority number one. Clothing is also important. Go-carts carry fuel which can catch fire in a crash. This is why it's important to wear a fire-resistant racing suit, gloves and protective shoes. If the front of your gokart should hit another car or barrier it's the feet that most often get injured. A special pair of shoes can protect you from many foot injuries.
Buying a safe go kart is another important thing to think about. Most gokarts these days have a cage that protects the driver during a rollover. They also have strong side bars that prevent injuries when another driver rams into the side of your vehicle. These are two important safety features that you should not be racing without. It's better to spend a little extra money on a well-built go kart than to skimp and leave yourself less protected. In order for you to have fun you must lessen your risks as much as possible.
We have presented only the main safety precautions in this short article. By keeping safety as your number one goal your go karting experience should be a fun one instead of a risky one. And with a little practice maybe we'll be watching you race alongside Tony Stewart one day.
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