The most common type of engine used in karting. Besides the KT-100 from Yamaha, there are also engines from Parilla, Vortex, Comer, Honda. An excellent discussion on how a 2-cycle engine works can be found here. 2-cycle engines need special fuel which contains oil in order to lube the internal components and bearings, since it does not have its own separate engine oil system like a 4-cycle engine.
A type of engine used in some karting classes. The most common engines are manufactured by Briggs, Honda or Tecumseh. An excellent discussion on how a 4-cycle engine works can be found here.
The Ackerman effect is the increase of toe-out on the front wheels as the wheels are turned in a curve. The toe-out increase is reverse-proportional to the turn radius, i.e. the steeper the curve, the more toe-out. Just optically the effect seems to be that the inside front wheels appears to turn 'more' than the outside front wheel, which is in line with the observation that the inside front wheel actually needs to traverse a tighter curve than the outside wheel. It depends on the track if you really need Ackerman steering or not. In order to implement Ackerman steering, a special steering column is needed in which the two tie rods are not mounted into the same bearing hole, but rather in two separate holes which are located next to each other, and by a certain angle offset to the left and right of the kart's center-line. Thus, the two steering-column-side ends of the tie rods will have rotated to a different angle (as measured relative to the center line) when the steering wheel has been turned. This in turn will cause the tie rods to pull the pitman arm of the inside spindle more inward than the pitman arm of the outside spindle is pushed outward.
A plastic contraption, which looks like a bottle with a rounded bottom, which is placed over the air filter. The air box has either two or three holes, which allow air to enter the box. It is mandated by many clubs and series' since it supposedly reduces the noise level of the engine.
Most karting engines are air-cooled, i.e. the engine is radiating off excess heat in the surrounding air. These engines typically have fins to accomplish this. Air cooled engines are simpler than water cooled engines, but are typically louder as well and are overheating more easily.
A device to filter the air before it enters the carburetor. There are foam filters, wire-mesh filters, and some people just have a sock over the carburetor. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these means. The wire-mesh filters appear to be most common these days.
Air filter spray
A special spray used to clean wire-type air filters. Special light oils may also be used to clean foam-type air filters.
A portable, pressurized tank that will make inflating tires a breeze. Highly recommended.
The positioning of the front wheels of a kart relative to each other. There may either be either toe-in or toe-out. The rear wheels are always perfectly aligned, since they are mounted on a stiff axle (as long as the axle is not bent).
The inside portion of a curve where the vehicle should be closest to the curb in order to take the fastest way around the track. This is often, but not always, the geometric center of the turn. Hitting the apex just right will be an important art to learn for every new driver. Driving a late apex, i.e. hitting the inside curb after the geometric center of the turn, will often result in higher lap-times, while hitting the apex early will often result in disaster. Certain track characteristics might warrant a late apex or early apex, though. Strictly speaking, the apex is actually always the geometric center of the bend. However, drivers tend to use this term to describe the clipping point, i.e. the point where the car is closest to the curb and travels the slowest.
As the name implies, racing on an oval track, made from asphalt. See speedway.
Racing on a hard, smooth surface (asphalt, concrete) as compared to dirt racing. Slick tires are used. The kart setup may differ significantly from dirt racing.
A round, typically hollow metal bar on which the rear wheels are mounted. The brake disc(s) and sprocket (gear) are also mounted on it. The axle sits on two or three rear axle bearings, depending on make and setup of the kart. The bearings are mounted in the axle cassettes. Axles of different thickness are used, the thicker (stiffer) ones in the faster classes where the tires typically develop more grip and the flexing of the frame should be less.
A tool for dismounting tires from wheel rims.
Where rotating parts are mounted in. The front wheels are mounted on bearings to the spindles, while the rear axle is mounted on either 2 or 3 bearings, which are housed in the axle cassettes, to the frame. They need to be replaced occasionally, typically once a season.
A term used to describe the kart slowing down excessively in the turns because both rear tires are planted too firmly. See also under steer, as that is the extreme case of binding. See handling.
A black flag is show to a driver by race officials when he/she is disqualified, i.e. needs to end the race instantly. This typically happens because of a rules violation. See also flag man.
Another term for torsion bars.
What the engine builder does to a new, stock engine to make it competitive. It is a costly procedure (several hundred to more than a thousand dollars) in which the new engine is taken completely apart, and all parts are machined to the (hopefully allowable) limit, in order to get as much performance out of the engine as possible. Non-blue printed engines are often not competitive.
Various plastic pieces and panels attached to the kart. The amount and measurements of the bodywork may be regulated. Typical pieces of bodywork are: The front nose, side pods or side panels.
A great source of knowledge for any new karter. There are some excellent racing books and even specific karting books. Good books are certainly worth the investment and will save you allot of time, money, and disappointments. For a selection of good racing books, click here.
The systems to slow down a moving vehicle. In a kart with only rear brakes this consists of brake pedal, brake tie rod, master cylinder, brake hoses, brake fluid, slave cylinder, brake pads and brake disc.
The brake disc is mounted on the rear axle. The disc is aligned to sit precisely between the two brake pads, which in turn are mounted into the slave cylinder. When the brake is applied, a lot of heat can be generated from friction on the brake disc. Hence, various designs and materials are used for the brakes. The disc is typically grooved in a manner that is designed to facilitate heat dissipation. The disc is vented. There are also double disc assemblies, which are more resistant against warping. There are also 'floating' brake discs, which have the benefit of aligning themselves. The brake disc is also called the brake rotor.
Brake actuating rod
A different name for brake tie rod.
Brake fluid fills the master cylinder, the brake hoses and the slave cylinder. It is specially design to withstand the heat in the brake system and to transmit the mechanical pressure from the brake pedal hydraulically to the slave cylinder. Various brands are offered. When the brake fluid is replenished, care needs to be taken not to introduce any air bubbles into the brake system. Air will compress under pressure, make the braking performance less predictable, and give it a 'squishy' feel.
There are typically two brake hoses connecting the master cylinder with the slave cylinder. (Several slave cylinders on karts with front brakes). The hoses are made of a clear plastic, to make it easier to check for undesired air bubbles in the brake fluid that flows through the hoses.
There are typically two brake pads mounted to the calipers inside of the slave cylinder. When the brake is applied, the brake pads are pressed down by the calipers on the rotating surface of the brake disc. Through friction, the kart is therefore slowed down. Brake pads need to be replaced quite regularly.
The brake pedal is typically located on the left side of the kart, i.e. a kart brake is operated with the left foot, which takes some getting used to. The pedal itself is typically quite simple, often not more than a thin, bend metal bar, secured with only one simple joint on the frame. The pedal is connected to the master cylinder via the brake tie rod.
A different name for brake disc.
Brake tie rod
The brake tie rod connects the brake pedal to the master cylinder via the clevis. It essentially transmits the movement of the brake pedal to the brake system. The brake tie rod is also called the control rod or the brake-actuating rod. Also, see tie rods.
Manufacturer of a 4-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
The front and back of the frame is protected by additionally mounted metal bars, the bumpers. These bumpers are adding a few inches to the length of the kart. Their height and length may be regulated. If the kart is equipped with front nose, this nose is mounted onto the front bumper. A number plate is typically attached to the rear bumper.
A kart with a roll cage and seat belts. Most popular on ovals.
The calipers are located inside of the slave cylinder. The brake pads are mounted to them. The calipers are moved via hydraulics, which in turn presses the brake pads onto the rotating brake disc.
In 4-cycle engines the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves is controlled by the camshaft. The camshaft rotates over the end of the valves, periodically pressing them close via eccentric lobes. Please click here for a great explanation.
Camber is the number of degrees that the top of the tire is tipped inward (negative camber) or outward (positive camber). It affects handling. Most karts will have some negative camber. Depending on the frame, it might be adjustable by repositioning the kingpin. See there for more details.
A short name for the 'can type' of exhausts used in many karting classes. These are typically either the sportsman can or the super sportsman can (SSX).
Short for carburetor.
A device, which mixes the fuel with oxygen before it, enters the cylinder in which it will eventually detonate. This mixing is necessary, since without oxygen there would be no explosion, or burning. The carburetor that is mandated on most classes, which utilize the KT-100, is the Walbro. See carburetor pulse line.
Carburetor pulse line
A hose that carries the pulse signal, which operates the fuel pump.
The combined settings of the high-speed needle and the low-speed needle, which determines the ratio of the fuel - oil mixture.
Caster is the amount of degrees the top of the kingpin leans towards the rear of the kart. On some frames, this is adjustable. It affects handling. Check out the description of kingpin for more information.
The bearings of the rear axle are mounted into the axle cassettes, which in turn are mounted into the journals of the frame. The cassettes are typically solid metal pieces, machined to provide a snug fit for the bearings.
The chain connects the sprocket on the engine to the sprocket on the rear axle. When the rear sprocket is changed, the length of the chain needs to be modified. Special tools are needed to install and remove a chain, most notably the chain breaker. The chain needs to be taken care of by applying some kind of lube. Which lube is the best is also a topic of heated discussion. There are different kinds of chains, which are distinguished primarily by the number of links per foot. E.g., the #219 chain has 39.2 links/foot, the #35 chain has 32, the #40 chain has 24 and the #520 has 19.2. The very first number of the chain designation indicates the size of a link (called a pitch), in 1/8th of an inch. E.g. in a #35 chain, the pitch size would be 3/8th of an inch, in a #520 chain it would be 5/8th of an inch, etc. The #219 is an exception, though; its pitch size is 2.45/8th. The subsequent one or two numbers are used to distinguish even more details of the chain, e.g. characteristics of the pin, thickness of the plate, etc. A specific sprocket will therefore require a specific chain, since the gap between the teeth determines the pitch size, which is applicable. The finer the teeth, the more gear ratios can be tried without varying the size of the driven sprocket too much. The #219 chain is the chain with the smallest pitches; hence, it will allow the use of more fine-teethed sprockets. A popular variety is the '#35 space chain'. See also oilier.
The term is actually a little bit misleading. What is meant is the correct alignment of drive gear and driven gear such that they are located in the same plane. Otherwise, the chain would have to run 'around a corner' so to speak.
A very handy and necessary tool that allows you to link and unlink the chain. By tightening a screw, the pin that holds two chain links together can be removed or re-inserted.
A curved metal or plastic shield, connected to the engine on one end and the frame on the other end. It is located above the chain, and prevents oil to be flung from the moving chain onto the driver. More importantly, it protects the driver from metal shrapnel’s entering his/her body in case of a broken chain!
The Cylinder Head Temperature is measured and displayed on a temperature gauge. If the temperature gets to high, the driver may have to richen the fuel. If it is not hot enough, the driver makes the Fuel leaner, i.e. increases the air to fuel ratio. Good temperatures for the KT-100 are 325 to 350 degrees (F).
Commission Internationale de Karting. French for 'International karting committee', an international karting governing body.
Kart racing is done in classes, i.e. only karts belonging to a specific class will race against each other. There is a huge variety of classes, which is typically quite confusing to a beginner. Apart of novice classes and senior classes, classes which differentiate according to the weight of driver and kart, there are also various 4-cycle and 2-cycle classes, classes which differentiate according to engine manufacturer, different exhaust systems, different kinds of tires, direct drive or clutch etc. The most common classes in 2-cycle racing are novice sportsman, sportsman, super sportsman, pipe (a.k.a. KT-100) and the direct drive class Formula-Y. For a beginner, it is important to see which class is popular on the local racetracks, since you want to compete against more than just one or two others.
Various more or less poisonous substances which are used to remove dirt buildup, oil, grease and other stuff from parts and engine.
A small component that threads onto the brake tie rod and connects the rod to the master cylinder.
The clutch allows the engine and drive wheels to be disconnected (such as when idling at a stop) when disengaged, and the engine and rear wheels to be connected when fully engaged. Shifter karts have a manual clutch that must be engaged/disengaged manually by the driver, other clutches automatically engage or disengage (slip) based on the engine RPM. This stall speed can be changed (modifying the clutch) and therefore is part of the setup. Well-known manufacturers of clutches are Horstman and L&T.
The holder holds the hub assembly of the clutch so the starter nut can be removed. This tool might be specific to the brand of clutch you are using.
Oil used to lube the inner parts of a wet clutch. It needs to be checked and replenished regularly (after every race). Oil may leak out of the clutch, which makes wet clutches just a tad messy.
A tool that is necessary to remove a clutch. The puller removes the hub from the crankshaft. This tool might be specific to the brand of clutch you are using.
Various types of tires will use different compounds, i.e. rubber mixtures. The compound determines the stickiness of the tire.
A tool to measure the pressure in the cylinder at the top end of travel of the piston. Comparing this pressure to the baseline, which was established for this kind of engine, can give indications of the internal conditions of the engine. Low compression usually means poor performance. The tool is inserted in the slot for the spark plug after the plug was removed.
These days more and more kart racers use computers to analyze their lap times and other data, just like the professional racing teams. Of course, the right software is needed. Computers are heavy equipment, so it is advantageous if the software runs on small and portable computers as well, e.g. the Lap Tracker which also runs on the Palm Pilot.
A metal rod inside of the engine that connects the crankshaft to the piston. Having this rod break in a running engine would result in major damage, which is just one more reason to have your engine regularly re-built. The purpose of the connecting rod is to translate the up-and-down motion of the piston into the rotational motion of the crankshaft
The area with which a tire makes contact with the road surface. The larger the contact patch, the more grip the tire will develop. The size of the contact patch is also determined by the load on the tire.
A different name for brake tie rod.
An abrasion resistant material, which is used to manufacture the karting suit and potentially the gloves and shoes. It is not fire resistant, but it protects when the driver is scrubbing over the ground after an accident.
A pin made from a thick wire, folded such that one end of the pin will have two wire ends. The pin can then be used for the same purpose as safety wire, by bending the two wire ends apart, after the pin has been inserted into the hole, such that the pin cannot slip out anymore.
The part of the engine, which houses the rotating crankshaft. On 2-cycle engines, which use the reed valve or rotary valve principle, it also contains the intake for the air - fuel mixture. The crankcase is located inside of the sump.
The axle which sticks sideways out of the engine and which is turned, potentially thousands of times a second, by the up-down motion of the piston inside of the cylinder. The piston is connected to the crankshaft via the connecting rod. The clutch typically mounts on the crankshaft, outside of the engine.
In oval racing the weight is not evenly distributed across the frame since some wheels have to carry much more load than others do. The percentage of weight on the right front vs. the left rear wheel is called the cross weight.
Manufacturer of a 2-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
Part of the engine in which the piston is moving up and down. The detonation of the air - fuel mixture takes place in the cylinder. The cylinders end in the crankcase at the bottom and the cylinder head at the top.
A part of the engine, which is mounted on top of the cylinder. In effect, it is the 'lid' on the cylinder. The cylinder head houses the spark plug and (on 4-cycle engines) the valves. The cylinder head is mounted to the cylinder by 4 to 6 screws, which need to be tightened very carefully in order not to damage the head. The cylinder head on air-cooled engines is equipped with fins for cooling. The Cylinder Head Temperature (CHT) is measured and displayed on the temperature gauge.
Karting without a clutch. The crankshaft is directly connected to the rear axle via the chain. Thus, the kart engine cannot run when the kart is not in motion. A direct drive kart needs to be push-started. Since you don't need a starter or a clutch, some people claim that it is actually a less complicated and less expensive way of driving. The direct drive classes (e.g. Formula-Y) are typically quite fast. While in the US direct drive tends to be more exotic, in the rest of the world direct drive is standard.
Contrary to slicks, dirt tires have a profile, which is useful when racing on mud, sand or dirt. See dirt oval.
As the name implies, dirt racing on an oval track, made from dirt or clay. See speedway.
Racing on dirt (sand, clay, mud) as compared to asphalt racing. Special dirt tires are used. The kart setup may differ significantly from asphalt racing.
Another name for the gauges that are typically attached to the steering wheel.
A fast moving racing vehicle will create an area of low pressure, a relative vacuum, behind it. Another vehicle can use this low pressure area to its advantage, since in that area the air resistance is reduced, i.e. it will be able to go faster, gaining on the leading vehicle. The first vehicle is said to produce a draft. Also, see drafting. It should be noted that for slower classes of racing (i.e. many classes of sprint karting), draft is not much of an issue. The effect is more pronounced in faster kinds of racing (F1, CART, IRL, NASCAR, etc.).
When a vehicle takes advantage of another vehicle's draft and thereby manages to either keep up with or even gain ground on the leading vehicle that is producing the draft. The second vehicle is said to be drafting. It is interesting that a drafting vehicle even increases the speed of the leading vehicle somewhat. The trailing vehicle's presence in the relative vacuum produced by the first vehicle will straighten out the air turbulences behind the leading vehicle. These turbulences would otherwise have slowed down the leader. Thus, especially in NASCAR races in can often be observed that several vehicles forming a train are moving faster than an individual vehicle. In most classes of karting, drafting is not a big factor due to the relatively low speed.
Other name for drive sprocket.
The small sprocket mounted on the outside-portion of the crankshaft. It is connected via the chain with the driven sprocket. Also called the drive gear. See also gear ratio.
Other name for driven sprocket.
The larger sprocket mounted on the rear axle. It is connected via the chain with the drive sprocket. Also called the driven gear. The size of the driven sprocket is measured in teeth. See also gear ratio.
The drivers' meeting is where the participants on race day are briefed about club rules and regulations. It is very important to attend this meeting since one might also receive information about schedule or rule changes.
A kind of clutch, which does not rely on oil for heat dissipation like, wet clutches. A dry clutch is lighter and offers less resistance friction. At the same time, they might burn out more easily than wet clutches. Wet clutches are also typically used in heavier classes. Dry clutches are also most suitable for lighter, slower classes.
A commonly used type of sticky-tape, which holds racing vehicles together in pretty much all forms of racing.
A device used to test the stickiness of tires. It is usually applied during tech inspection right after the race has been completed, to see whether a competitors tire does not exceed the legal amount of grip.
Also called 'Dyno'. A machine that allows the engine builder to measure the torque and horsepower of an engine.
Not necessarily mandatory, but highly recommended. Kart engines, especially the 2-cycle ones, can be very loud. Earplugs will protect your ears, and will allow you to concentrate on your driving, without your brain being distracted by the engine noise.
The Exhaust Gas Temperature. As the burned fuel - air mixture exits the engine; the temperature of the spent gases can be measured. The higher the temperature, the more efficiently the fuel - air is burning. The temperature can be displayed on a gauge, usually mounted to the steering wheel.
Kart racing on the large road-racing courses (e.g. Sears Point or Laguna Seca). Typically, special enduro karts are used for this type of racing, with the lay down enduros looking the most dramatic. Obviously, the setup is very different and speed tends to be quite a bit higher. There is also 'sit-up' enduro racing, in which ordinary sprint karts are used, just with a larger fuel tank, and often an oilier. Enduro races typically do not last a (small) fixed number of laps, but rather a pre-determined amount of time, e.g. 30 minutes, 45 minutes, etc.
What drives the kart? There are many different types of engines (2-cycle and 4-cycle, air cooled and water cooled) as well as many different manufacturers. The most common engine in karting is the KT-100 from Yamaha. The most important parts of an engine (some of which are external and may be provided by a third party) are: cylinder, cylinder head, piston, crankshaft, carburetor, exhaust, spark plug and valves (on a 4-cycle engine).
The effect of slowing down a vehicle by keeping the clutch engaged while in high gear without opening the throttle enough to maintain speed. The engine will want to drop to lower RPMs since not enough fuel is supplied to maintain the current RPM. Nevertheless, the vehicle is still going so fast that the engine would be forced to higher RPMs. Since the engine is difficult to turn over without supplying fuel, the energy of the moving vehicle will be transformed into the up-down motion of the moving piston inside of the engine. Essentially the opposite of what happens when fuel is supplied to the engine. A clutch-kart typically cannot take advantage of engine braking, since the clutch just disengages below a certain RPM. In addition, engine braking is not an effective way of slowing down a vehicle and is therefore not often used in racing. The brake is many times more expensive.
An individual or company, which specializes on engine blue printing and re-building. Some are better than others are, and you don't want to waste your money, since these are expensive procedures. Pick the one, which seems to be winning at your local tracks.
Heavy-duty pieces or piece of metal with which the engine is mounted to the frame. The engine mount allows forward and backward positioning of the engine to accommodate various gears and chain lengths.
The system that allows the exhaust gases to escape from the cylinder. On a 2-cycle engine, this is attached to the back of the cylinder. Through the design of the exhaust, the power output of the engine can be affected. Some of the karting classes mandate restrictive exhausts for the beginner or slower classes. Sometimes the word 'exhaust' just refers to the exhaust gases. Commonly used exhausts for 2-cycle karting are the pipe, sportsman can and SSX.
A round, spirally shaped thing made from a soft material that seals the exhaust system to the engine. It is about 2 inches in diameter.
Springs that are held in tension to hold the exhaust system to the engine on a 2-cycle.
Part of the helmet. The clear thingy in front of your eyes. Some may be equipped with tear offs, some may be tinted, etc.
The bodywork in front of the driver. The nose cone is part of the fairing, but also the 'driver fairing’, which is mounted before the steering column.
Air-cooled engines are typically covered with cooling fins. These fins are increasing the surface of the cylinder and cylinder head, which increases the heat-transfer from the engine to the surrounding air.
Highly recommended and often mandated. There should be one mounted to every kart stand and in every trailer and workshop. During towing, the extinguisher should not be in the trailer but rather in the towing vehicle, for obvious reasons.
The race official who is displaying the flags and who has the power to start and stop a race, thus controlling the race. Since he/she is also in control of the black flag, it is a good idea to always keep on good terms with that person.
The race officials will communicate with the drivers via flags. Every driver should be familiar with the flags and their meaning used at their track. Flags will be shown by the flagman.
A piece of metal tube with a specific length that connects a pipe style exhaust to the cylinder. The exact length of the flex may vary and affects the driving characteristics. A different track may need a different flex. Hence choosing the right length flexes becomes part of the setup.
In the karting context, flexing is what the frame does when cornering, since there is no suspension on a kart, and there is not differential on the rear axle. As a result, the inner tire in a curve would scrub. The flexing allows the inner tire to slightly lift off the ground, reducing tire scrub. Stiffness, i.e. the flexing ability of the kart can be changed through various means and greatly influences the handling.
A class of karting, which uses the KT-100 engine, sticky tires and a direct drive.
The frame is where seat, engine, wheels, etc. are mounted on. Various kart manufacturers will offer different frames. Depending on who you ask, you will get different suggestions on which frame is the best. Some people claim that European kart frames are better than American ones. This topic is always good for a long and heated discussion among karting fans. The frame is also called chassis. A frame is designed to allow flexing during cornering, which is quite an important point. You might want to read more about the flexing. The constant flexing during cornering will eventually wear out a frame. Because the frame has to work so hard, the younger the frame, the better. Mileage may vary, but don't buy a frame which is older than 5 years, if you plan to be competitive. Older ones are typically quite cheap and will do great to get some experiences in karting. To get an overview of just some of the many kart frame manufacturers, click here.
A piece of the bodywork of the kart, attached to the front bumper. On most short tracks, on which the karts do not achieve very high speeds, such a nose piece is used for optical reasons, but also to protect the feed of the driver, to prevent the front wheels to touch the rear wheels of another kart, etc. Depending on where you race, a nosepiece might be mandated. Check your regulations. For some it is just an optical improvement or a good place to put stickers.
The distance between the two front wheels. It can be varied by adding or removing the spacers from the spindles. Varying the front track changes the handling of the kart. Front track is part of the setup.
See gas. The fuel for 2-cycle engine is a gas / oil mixture. The oil is needed to lube the internal components of the engine, since it does not have a separate engine oil system like a 4-cycle engine.
The fuel filter is part of the fuel line. It is a clear piece of plastic, which contains a filtering material. The purpose is of course to prevent any impurities to enter the carburetor.
The fuel line connects the tank to the engine. It is typically made of clear, flexible rubber. Somewhere in the middle of the fuel, line is the fuel filter. The fuel line should be changed at least once a year. It should be made from non-hardening rubber, and all fuel should be drained out of the fuel system after use.
A small tool, which makes it very easy to measure the gap at the bottom of a spark plug.
It is possible to run 'pump' gas, but most people will use race gas, which has a higher-octane level than pump gas.
A gauge is a device that displays a measurement vale. E.g. the tire pressure gauge. However, in the world of karting, one usually means the displays mounted to the steering wheel when referring to gauges. These particular gauges are most commonly the tach and the temperature gauge, measuring RPM and CHT respectively. These measurements are essential to proper driving and tuning of the kart. Other measurements may be taken as well, e.g. the EGT. Many gauges on the market can display 2 or even 3 values, so that only one unit needs to be mounted to the steering wheel. The most popular brands are Digitron and My-Chron. Such gauges are also referred to as displays. To get an idea about the options and pricing of these gauges, click here.
A term used for various things. Depending on the context, it means the gear ratio or a specific driven sprocket.
The ratio between the sizes of the drive sprocket and the driven sprocket. Different ratios can quickly be set by changing the size of the driven sprocket. In non-shifter karts, this is the only way to change gears. Also called the reduction ratio.
The manual transmission on a shifter kart.
Gloves are mandatory safety equipment for kart drivers. They are needed to protect the hands in case the driver us ejected from the kart and slides over the ground. Abrasion resistant gloves are preferable, even though this is usually not enforced. The glove should fit tightly. Karting gloves do not need to be fire resistant.
Short for starting grid. The order in which the drivers line up for the race start. This order is usually determined through qualifying. The driver who managed to end up in the first position is in pole position, while the driver on the last spot is simply in a bad position.
The stickier a tire, and the larger the contact patch, the more resistance against scrubbing the tire will have. This means higher cornering speed and acceleration/deceleration. Also called traction.
The overall driving characteristics of a vehicle. Different handling characteristics may be favored by different drivers or may be necessary for different tracks, track conditions, etc. Handling is influenced by many, many factors, and it is the racer's constant quest to search for the 'perfect' setup, which provides the best possible handling, as perceived by that driver. Only some of the factors are: frame, engine, clutch, tires, driver, weight distribution, front track, rear track, etc.
What you wear on your head in order to protect it from crashes impacts, etc. A full-face helmet is highly recommended. Acceptable helmets for karting need to be Snell rated, i.e. examined and approved by the Snell Foundation. Currently, SA-95 (auto sports), M-95 (motorcycle) or KA (karting) rated helmets will be acceptable. However, safety standards will change and you should always check the latest regulation of your standards body. Karting helmets do not need the fire resistant inner lining that is used for many other racing helmets, which significantly increases the price of those helmets.
An adjustable pointed screw in the carburetor, which leans the mixture at high RPM when screwed in and when turned out, richens it. See needles.
Manufacturer of a 4-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
A nasty handling characteristic in corners where the rear tires alternately grip, slip, grip, and slip, that causes the chassis to bounce up and down in the turns.
Manufacturer of a 2-cycle engine, called HPV, used in some karting classes. In addition, a manufacturer of very common kart clutches.
The hub sits snugly on the axle, and has the wheel rim mounted to it. Essentially, it connects wheels and axle.
Manufacturer of a 2-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
The idle setting determines the RPM the engine will hold on its own, without depressing the throttle. It can be adjusted on the carburetor via the idle adjustment screw.
Idle adjustment screw
See idle setting.
International Karting Federation, which is the governing body for most of the karting going on in the western part of the US.
The opening in the engine casing through which the air - fuel mixture (in a 2-cycle engine) is sucked into the cylinder. The carburetor is located in front of the intake port. See also piston skirt.
Slots in the back of the kart frame in which the axle cassettes for the bearings of the rear axle are mounted.
Karters of American Racing Triad. Governing body for most of the Midwest of the US.
A thin, long metal bar with a square profile, just a few millimeters thick, but usually several inches long. Key stock is used to prevent rotating of brake discs, driven sprocket and wheel hubs on the rear axle. These things, which are mounted on the axle, have a small groove, similar to the long groove, which can be found on the rear axle of a kart. The key stock is inserted there, being half nestled into the groove on the axle, but sticking out far enough to grip on the groove of the hubs, sprockets and discs.
The joint that connects the spindle to the frame. The positioning of the kingpin in the frame affects caster and camber. This position is adjustable in some frames. For a discussion of these terms, see this wonderful document on Pete Muller's karting website.
The amount of degrees the top of the kingpin leans towards the center of the kart. Most frames have 'pills' that the kingpin fits into for easier adjustments. The caster cannot be changed without also changing the kingpin inclination.
The most commonly used engine in the air cooled, 2-cycle karting world, manufactured by Yamaha. Just because it is the most commonly used engine does not mean it is the most favorite one. But it is mandated in many classes. 'KT-100' is also another name for the pipe class of karting.
Manufacturer of a very common kart clutch.
The most important measure whether changes to the setup are successful is a decrease in lap time. These days specialized software can help to analyze the lap time data you collect. Click here for a particularly good example of this kind of software.
A form of enduro karts in which the driver lays almost flat on his/her back. This extreme 'seating' position will improve the aerodynamics, which becomes a factor with the high speeds of enduro racing. The other kind of karting, used in the sprint and short-track speedway races is the sit-up variety.
When the air - fuel mixture is too rich, the driver may adjust the needles to lean out the mixture, i.e. increase the air to fuel ratio. If the engine runs too lean, it may get too hot which can severely damage the engine. The piston may be stuck inside of the cylinder.
The tire load is a term for the weight placed on a tire. The larger the load, the bigger the contact patch, which in turn will increase the grip of the tire. It is important to understand that the load shifts and changes during a drive. In every corner the load is shifted to the side, during acceleration it is shifted to the back, under braking to the front. Tires are constantly loaded and unloaded, which needs to be understood by every race driver.
As in: "The kart is loose". Another name for over steer.
An adjustable pointed screw in the carburetor, that leans the mixture at low RPM when screwed in, and richens it when turned the other direction. See needles.
'Left Turn Only'. Another term for an offset kart.
The master cylinder is a little box, mounted on the brake pedal side of the kart. It is connected to the brake pedal via the brake tie rod, and to the slave cylinder via the brake hoses. It converts the mechanical pressure applied by the driver on the brake pedal into hydraulic pressure, which is converted back by the slave cylinder into mechanical pressure, slowing down the kart. Also, see brake fluid.
Modified karts with a roll cage, wing, 5-point harness, and wrist restraints. Usually raced on small, banked oval tracks. Most mini outlaws are powered by 250 cc & 500 cc motorcycle water-cooled engines. In some areas, t125 cc motorcycle engines and modified Briggs & Stratton engines are raced. If you have ever seen a winged sprint car (most famous being World of Outlaws) than you have a good idea what a mini outlaw looks like.
A term for the air - fuel ratio that is adjusted via the needles on the carb.
Since there are no seat belts in a kart, the driver may be ejected in case of an accident. To prevent serious injuries and strains on the drivers neck, a neck collar must be worn. It's a thick, padded ring or half ring, which is worn around the neck. It limits the tilt motion of the head (when wearing a helmet). Neck collars are mandatory.
Screw adjusters to alter the air - fuel ratio in the carburetor. Typically, there as a low speed needle and a high speed needle, except in some stock 4-cycle classes where only 1 carb adjustment needle is present. Oftentimes one can see a driver reach down to the engine and fiddle around with something during the race: The driver is adjusting one of the needles.
A simple piece of metal tubing, which is mounted to the frame between the wheels. The side panels are typically mounted to it. The nerf bars are not mounted very tightly (in fact they often appear loose and wobbly), so that they don't prevent the frame from flexing.
A measurement that does not fall within the tolerances set in the manual.
Nomex is a fire resistant material used for racing suits. Karting suites do not need to be made of Nomex, though, since the driver is unlikely to be exposed to any flames, even in the event of an accident. Nomex is expensive, and is used for underwear worn by racers and inside of the helmet. In general, karters do not need to wear anything made from Nomex.
Another term for front nose.
Another term for front nose.
Novice sportsman class
A special class of karting, which is technically identical to the sportsman class, but in which only absolute beginners are allowed to drive. The perfect rookie proving ground and the preferred beginners class.
Plastic plates on which the kart number is displayed. A number plate is attached to the rear and maybe front bumper via tie wraps.
Oil is used in various ways in karting. For one, there is the oil, which is mixed into the fuel of a 2-cycle engine. It provides the lubrication for the engine parts. Specially formulated oil for 2-cycles, either organic or synthetic, is used. 4-cycle engines will use ordinary engine oil, which is not mixed into the fuel but filled into the oil-system of the engine. Then there is special clutch oil that is used in wet clutches for cooling. Finally, oil may be used to lubricate the chain. See also oilier.
Is placed under the kart to catch all of the dripping oil and other substances that would otherwise end up on the ground and in the ground water. Be good to the environment.
A device, which constantly applies oil to the chain during the race. An oilier is not needed in all types of karting. It is most often used in enduro racing (due to the longer duration of the race the chain needs to be prevented from drying out) and dirt racing.
Many speedway karts are 'offset karts'. I.e. the right rear wheel might be bigger and might be located further outside than the left rear wheel. The frame of these karts is designed to reflect this. The reason being is that there is consistently more load placed on the right rear wheel in oval racing. Also called LTO.
Some forms of karting (and many other forms of racing) take place on oval tracks. These may be dirt ovals or asphalt ovals. An oval may be either banked or flat. See speedway.
When during cornering the rear tires loose grip before the front tires, the rear of the kart will slide towards the outside of the curve. The kart rotates 'over' what the steering input suggested. It looks fast, but tends to slow down the kart, since the rear, tires end up sliding sideways across the surface, effectively scrubbing off speed. Another term for this condition is loose. See under steer, handling.
An impound area used in CIK type races to store your tires and fuel in, presumably to prevent tampering before the race.
Some clubs will not use qualifying runs to determine the order of the starting grid for heat races, but will instead chose these positions in random. For each driver a random number is chosen, the pea picks.
Manufacturer of a 2-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
A special kind of exhaust that allows the most power to be developed by the KT-100. It is connected to the cylinder via the flex. Since this is the least restrictive kind of exhaust, it is used in the fastest classes of 2-cycle racing.
A class of karting that utilizes a pipe style exhaust. Typically, this class races a KT-100 with clutch. However, various direct drive classes will use the pipe as well. Also known as the KT-100 class.
A round metal cylinder, which is attached to the top end of the connecting rod, inside of the cylinder. On the up stroke, the piston compresses the air - fuel mixture within the cylinder, which is then forced downward when the air - fuel mixture ignites. This downward motion then drives the crankshaft.
This is the basic operating principle of a 2-cycle engine. The inlet for the air - fuel mixture is opened and closed by the bottom rim of the moving piston, while the outlet of the exhaust gases is opened and closed by the top rim. No additional hardware is required which makes this the simplest and cheapest form of 2-cycle engine. The widely used KT-100 is a piston port engine. The disadvantage is that opening and closing of this inlet/outlet happens relatively slowly; hence, there is some backflow of gases into the carburetor, which reduces performance somewhat. See also reed valve and rotary valve.
The controlling edge of the piston, i.e. the edge that opens and closes the intake port.
One or more rings around the circumference of the piston, used as a seal between the piston and the inside cylinder wall.
A device that allows the race organizers to easily tells if you have paid for pit insurance and signed the applicable waivers. Usually a colored wristband.
Race official that helps line up the races and keeps the show moving.
Another term for spindle arm.
The staging area in which racing teams are setting up shop on race day.
The driver who starts from the top of the grid is said to be on pole position. This preferred position is usually earned through qualifying.
The most important ingredient to be a successful racer. The more practice the better. Without enough practice, no race wins. It's that simple.
Some clubs and organizations require a tech inspection even before the race starts. This usually is mostly concerned with safety of driver and vehicle.
The pulse signal is the sudden pressure change (positive and negative) occurring as the piston moves up and down inside the cylinder. This pulse signal is what cycles the 'pump' in the carburetor. It is carried by the carburetor pulse line.
As in: "The kart is pushing in the corners". Another term for under steer.
The positions on the starting grid are determined through qualifying. The format may differ from series to series or even club to club. It usually involves either timed runs around the track or heat races. Some clubs may use the pea pick. See pole position.
The person with overall responsibility for conducting a safe race. The final word.
Not necessarily the shortest, but the fastest course around the track. When driving the racing line, the vehicle is taking the curves with the largest possible radius, allowing higher cornering speed that will also carry more speed along the straights.
A device necessary for water-cooled engines to cool down the water. It is a gray flat box, which is usually located on the other side of the driver than the engine itself.
What needs to be done to many engines every 3 to 6 races? This is a costly job, done by a professional engine builder. All parts are checked, replaced, and machine to specifications if necessary. If this is not done regularly or properly, major damage to the engine can occur when a part breaks due to material fatigue.
The distance between the two rear wheels. It can be varied by moving the wheel hubs inward or outward on the rear axle. Varying the rear track changes the handling of the kart. Rear track is part of the setup.
Other term for gear ratio.
A more advanced (expensive) form of 2-cycle engine technology, compared to the basic piston port variety. Backflow through the air - fuel intake is reduced through a reed valve, which works similar to the heart valve in the human body. The valve is located lower than in the piston port engine, on the crankcase. See also rotary valve.
A rib protector is a very necessary piece of safety equipment, designed to protect the driver's ribs during crashes and even hard cornering. It has happened that drivers snapped their ribs just by cornering with a high lateral acceleration. Since karts do not have any seat belts that hold the body of the driver in place, the ribs can be pressed very hard against the side support of the seat. If not outright broken, ribs are very easily bruised. The rib protector will prevent this.
When the air - fuel mixture is too lean, the driver may adjust the needles to richen the mixture, i.e. decrease the air to fuel ratio. If the engine runs too rich, you may notice a loss in power. The engine doesn't pull as good anymore, since there is not enough oxygen in the cylinder for effective combustion.
Where the tires are mounted on. Generally, there are one-piece rims and two-piece rims. Two-piece rims consist of two cup-like halves, which are screwed together, while one-piece rims look like a spindle and consist, as the name suggests, of only one part. Today, one-piece rims are more popular, even though some people maintain that tires are easier to change on a two-piece rims. Sometimes, these are also referred to as one-piece or two-piece wheels.
An open-ended ring that fits into a groove on the outer diameter of the piston. Its chief function is to form a seal between the piston and cylinder wall. Most karting pistons have two rings, but some only have one an example being the Rotax engine.
A new racer. Can be any age.
A more advanced (expensive) form of 2-cycle engine technology, compared to the basic piston port and even reed valve variety. Backflow through the air - fuel intake is reduced through a rotating valve, which is driven by the rotating crankshaft.
Rotations Per Minute. How many times the piston goes through one up-down motion per minute. The higher, the faster. Every engine has an optimum RPM range. Shifter karts can stay in tat range by shifting appropriately, clutch karts will need to adjust the clutch as best as they can. The RPMs are displayed on the tach.
Every kart club will have a certain set of rules (usually those of the applicable governing body), which are compiled in a rulebook. Every driver needs to understand the rulebook to ensure the kart complies with the rules so it will not be disqualified during tech inspection.
A stiff wire, which is used to secure screws and pins on the kart, so that they will not fall off during the race. Typically, a screw would have a thin hole drilled through it at the end, which extends past the nut. The safety wire would be threaded through this hole, so that the nut could not come off anymore. An alternative to the safety wire can be a cotter pin.
Used to measure the weight of the kart. With several scales, or one scale and more effort, the proper weight distribution of the kart can be measured. In addition, the kart (with driver) will be placed on the scales during tech inspection.
When a tire does not rotate in the same direction or with the same speed as the kart moves, it scrubs over the road surface. When the kart is under steering, the front wheels are 'scrubbing off speed'. Since the rear axle in a kart does not have a differential, the inside rear tire will scrub as well. See also frame.
The seat on a kart should be tight, so that you can sense every motion of the kart with your body. In addition, it will prevent you from bouncing around uncontrollably in the curves, since a kart does not have any seat belts. Padded seats are nice, but not a necessity. By moving the seat around or up and down, you can significantly change the handling of the kart, since you will have achieved a different weight distribution. The seat is mounted to the kart via seat struts.
Components that mount the seat to the frame of the kart. The placement and number of struts can alter the handling of the kart by changing the stiffness of the overall structure (which alters the flexing ability of the frame.
The seating position greatly affects handling (see seat). However, extreme-seating positions will also impede the drivers ability to control the kart comfortably at all times. Turn the steering wheel and make sure that at no time the arms are fully extended. In addition, when depressing the pedals, the knees should not be fully extended at any time.
A different term for 'getting the engine stuck'.
The sending unit is pushed over the end of the spark plug that is accessible from the outside. The spark plug cable is attached to the plug via the sending unit.
A kart's setup is the set of all variables of the system, i.e. the setting of all those things that can be modified on the kart (which is a lot). A different setup may induce different handling characteristics, or may be suitable for different track conditions. E.g., a kart may have a 'rain setup' and a 'dry setup'. The setup may also be different for different drivers. Some of the things which make up a specific setup are: rear- and front track, seat position, weight distribution, etc.
A type of kart that has a manual transmission, usually derived from a motorcycle design. It is usually a 5 or 6 speed transmission. Since with a manual gearbox the driver can keep the engine in its optimum RPM range, shifter karts tend to be (much) faster than clutch karts.
High-top shoes (covering the ankle) must be worn by a kart driver. Even though special karting shoes are offered, many drivers wear either high-top running shoes or wrestling shoes. The sole should be thin, so that your feeling-sensitivity is not reduced. Abrasion resistant shoes are recommended.
A piece of bodywork mounted to the nerf bars. Good place to mount the side number panel.
A piece of bodywork mounted on the side of the kart, between the wheels. The mounting hardware is somewhat more complex than the nerf bars used to mount side panels.
The variety of kart used on short-track speedways and sprint tracks. As compared to lay downs, the driver sits upright in these kinds of karts. This is acceptable, since on these shorter tracks aerodynamics is less of a factor.
Shifter Kart USA, which is a new governing body for shifter karts only.
The slave cylinder is mounted 'around' the brake disc, which contains the calipers and brake pads. The slave cylinder is connected to the master cylinder via the brake hoses. It converts the hydraulic pressure transmitted through the hoses by the brake fluid into mechanical pressure, by forcing the brake pads down onto the rotating surface of the brake disc.
When the clutch in a clutch kart is disengaged because the RPM are below the stall speed, the clutch is said to be 'slipping'.
A small ring with about the same diameter as the rear axle that will be snapped into a groove around both ends of the axle. It is there to prevent accidental loss of wheels and other necessities.
The right software can help the racer to analyze the lap times and other testing data. The Lap Tracker is a fine example of professional and affordable lap time analysis software.
A popular variety of chain, which combines certain elements of the #35 chain and the #41 chain.
Flat-sided, light metal rings of different thickness, which is positioned inside of the front wheels on the spindle. By varying the number of spacers, one can set the width of the front track of the kart, which in turns affects handling.
A little device sitting in the middle of the cylinder head, which generates an electric spark when the piston has reached the top point, and the air - fuel mixture is compressed. The spark will ignite the air - fuel mixture that will rapidly burn off. This in turn will drive the piston down again. Spark plugs are relatively cheap and should be checked often and replaced if necessary, typically every 4 to 5 races. A special spark plug tool is used to remove the plug. The temperature sensor is located around the base of the plug. The sensor to measure the RPM is attached to the spark plug cable. The spark plug cable is attached to the plug via the sending unit. The size of the gap at the bottom of the plug varies depending on the kind of spark plug and should be the gap specified by the engine manufacturer.
Spark plug tool
A special tool used to screw/unscrew the spark plug to/from the cylinder head. It looks like a long socket from a socket wrench.
Various governing bodies may require certain components of the kart (e.g. tires, engine) to fit certain 'specifications' (specs). The tech inspection will try to ensure that all components are according to spec. Some open classes do not bother about such technicalities.
Racing on oval tracks, which require its own set of driving techniques and kart setup. Oftentimes offset karts are used in this type of racing. There are dirt ovals and asphalt ovals.
The 'axles' of the front wheels. They are connected to the steering column through the tie rods. The front wheels are mounted on the spindles. The spindles themselves are mounted to the frame via the kingpin. The part of the spindles to which the tie rods are connected is called the spindle arm or pitman arm.
Part of the spindle. The tie rod is connected to the end of the spindle arm. The spindle arm sticks out backwards in a steep angle from the actual front 'axle'. Also called pitman arm.
A special type of exhaust that is used in the sportsman class. It will reduce the horsepower of the KT-100 the most of all the typical exhaust systems. It looks like short, stubby soft-drink can, with three small holes in it.
The class of karting which uses the KT-100 engine and the sportsman can type of exhaust. Since this type of exhaust is very restrictive, the karts in this class tend to be relatively slow (compared to other KT-100 classes). Since therefore the wear and tear on the kart is less and since this class often mandates certain hard (long-lasting) tires, it is the preferred beginners class. There even is the novice sportsman class, an especially for beginners.
A kind of kart racing that utilizes smaller road courses, with turns to the left and right, as compared to speedways. Sprint courses require different setup than the ovals used in speedway racing. Sprint karts are of the sit-up variety. Races usually last only a few minutes, with a pre-determined number of laps. See also: enduro racing.
There is a sprocket mounted to the crankshaft of the engine, which is typically quite small and is called the drive sprocket. A much larger sprocket is mounted to the rear axle, is connected to the drive sprocket via the chain and is referred to as the driven sprocket. The size ratio between the two is called the gear ratio. Since this ratio can be easily modified by exchanging the sprocket on the axle, these sprockets and/or ratios are also referred to as gears. You can choose between single-piece sprockets, which and two-piece, or split sprockets. In order to change the single-piece sprockets, you will have to remove the axle; the split sprockets can be changed while the axle is mounted. Thus, many prefer the split sprockets, but some claim that single-piece sprockets run truer.
A different name for the super sportsman can.
The size difference between two opposite tires, i.e. between the two rear tires or the two front tires. Stagger is only used for oval racing.
The engine RPM at which an automatic clutch tries to engage. See slipping.
A contraption on which you can place the kart in order to work on it. Often, the stand is foldable and might have wheels that allow you to roll the kart to the starting grid.
A kart does not have its own starter engine, like a regular car. Rather, like in many racecars, it uses an external starter. This is typically an electric motor, mounted together with a car battery, driving an axle that can be stuck on the outside end of the crankshaft of the engine. Pressing the button on the starter will turn over the engine. Some 4-cycle engines can be started by hand, however.
The steering wheel is mounted on the column, which is mounted through a joint to the kart frame on the other end. The tie rods are connected to the steering column, such that rotating the steering wheel will move the front spindles. A steering column may or may not support Ackerman steering. Also called steering shaft.
Another name for the steering column.
The round thing you hold in your hands and rotate left or right to steer the kart. Duh! A padded steering wheel is preferred, since otherwise the vibrations can really get to you. Various displays are typically mounted to it.
The stickiness of a tire is determined by its compound. See tires.
A kart frame is designed to allow flexing, a very important property of the frame. The stiffness of the frame is a measure for how easily it can be flexed. Fast classes which, race with sticky tires, require a stiffer frame than slower classes, which utilize harder tires. Stiffness can be changed by the setting of the torsion bars and the thickness of the rear axle.
A state of your engine that will make you pay a lot of money to an engine builder to get it fixed again. However, if the engine gets too hot, e.g. by running it too lean, the piston may be stuck inside of the cylinder. You will probably have to bring the engine to the engine builder for repair. To avoid the engine being stuck, make sure it does not get too hot. Watch the CHT and adjust the needles accordingly.
The karting suit is important safety equipment. It is typically made of an abrasion resistant material, e.g. Cordura. Oftentimes it has padding on elbows and knees, since it is designed to protect the driver in case he/she is flung out of the kart and comes crashing to the ground. Karting suits do not need to be made from Nomex, the fire resistant material used for other racing suits, since the driver will not be stuck in a burning vehicle.
The bottom portion of the engine that houses the crankcase. Towards the top, the cylinder extends from it.
Recessed area in the bottom of the fuel tank to improve consistency of fuel flow when the fuel level is low.
A different name for the super sportsman can.
Super sportsman can
A kind of exhaust used in the super sportsman class of karting. It is similar to the sportsman can, but allows the engine to generate more horsepower. Also called SSX.
Super sportsman class
The class of karting which uses the KT-100 engine and the super sportsman can type of exhaust. Since this type of exhaust is quite restrictive, the karts in this class tend to be slower than in the pipe class. Since the beginning karter can graduate from sportsman class to super sportsman by just exchanging the exhaust, this class is also very popular.
The tachometer. One of the gauges typically attached to the steering wheel, which displays the current RPM to the driver. A sensor is attached to the spark plug cable, close to the plug. It detects the electric pulses to the spark plug. This sensor is connected to the gauge via another cable, which typically is threaded along the seat and frame up the steering column.
Container for the fuel used by the kart engine. The tank is usually located below the steering column, i.e. between the driver's legs. It may be made from metal or plastic. A fuel line is connected to the bottom of the tank and leads to the engine. See also: sump.
Thin layers of transparent plastic that are layered over the face shield of the helmet. Once the top layer gets dirty, the driver can tear it off (hence the name), exposing a new, still clean layer underneath. This is most valuable in dirt racing.
End the end of the race; the organizers may elect to send a kart (often only the front-runners) to the tech inspection. Their track officials will control whether the kart fulfills all the specs. The weight will be checked, and often the tire pressure will be measured as well as their stickiness. The fuel may be tested or even the engine torn down. The inspectors may examine whatever they deem necessary. See pre tech.
Manufacturer of a 4-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
The size of the driven gear is measured in the teeth around the circumference of this sprocket. Changing gears therefore requires ‘running more/less teeth’, i.e. using a driven gear of different size.
One of the gauges typically attached to the steering wheel, which displays the current CHT to the driver. The temperature sensor is attached to the cylinder head and is connected to the gauge via a cable that typically is threaded along the seat and frame up the steering column.
The sensor, which measures the CHT, is ring shaped and located around the base of the spark plug. The sensor is connected via a cable to the temperature gauge.
Applying the brakes without any safety margin left. During normal racing, brakes will be applied to some 98% of their maximum braking capacity, or so. Under threshold braking, the driver reaches and occasionally exceeds 100% of the brakes' (more accurately the tires') capabilities. The tires may lock up. Threshold braking is obviously not recommended for every curve during normal racing, since it is very risky and the driver is bound to make a mistake, eventually. Threshold braking is therefore usually only used in qualifying or during high-risk passing maneuvers.
The pedal that is typically located on the right side of the kart. Press it down and the kart will accelerate. It is connected to the carburetor via the throttle cable.
The throttle cable connects the throttle with the carburetor. Care should be taken that the cable is not too tight, for otherwise it would not be possible to open the throttle all the way.
Two tie rods are typically connecting the steering column to the spindle arms of the spindles. The tie rods are adjustable in length. Also, see brake tie rod.
Manufacturer and tire
are typically mandated by the governing body of your race. You can get a nice overview of the different degrees of stickiness (as determined by their compound) on KAM's tire page. The stickier a tire, the softer it is, which in turn results in a higher tire grip which allows higher cornering speed. Harder tires do not provide as much grip as stickier tires, but they will last longer (several races), compared to a soft tire (one race). Harder tires are typically used in the novice classes. A tire is mounted on the wheel rim.
Tire pressure gauge
A tool used to measure the air pressure in the tires. A high precision, good quality tool should be used here, preferably with a swivel head and pressure release valve.
Manufacturer of a 2-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
Part of the kart setup that can dramatically affect handling. Essentially, it looks like the two front wheels want to drive towards each other. A small amount of toe-in improves the response during corner entry. See alignment and toe-out.
Part of the kart setup that can dramatically affect handling. Essentially, it looks like the two front wheels want to drive away from each other. Toe-out will make the kart dart rapidly into a corner when the steering wheel is turned. Toe-out is not recommended. See alignment and toe-in.
Adjustable flattened tubes, which may be attached in various places of the frame. By either tightening or loosening these bars, the stiffness of the frame can be modified, a very important variable that affects handling. The torsion bars are typically located between the left and right tubing of the frame behind the seat (parallel to the rear axle), or to the left and right of the steering column mount, connecting the front and middle part of the frame. Low powered classes running on harder tires often do not require any torsion bars. They are also called blades.
A different name for grip.
When the brake is applied after steering into a curve. Traditionally in racing, brakes are applied while the front wheels are still steering straight. Trail braking may allow deeper braking into a corner, but if not done properly can very quickly result in massive over steer, since the rear wheels are not only unloaded, but also have to perform braking duty. It gets even trickier in a kart with only rear brakes.
Many racers use a trailer to transport their kart to and from the track. When getting into karting, factor the purchase and storage of a trailer into your budget if you need one. Covered trailers are nice, and some racers have a whole workbench inside. A fire extinguisher should be mounted in every trailer. During towing, though, it should be in the towing vehicle.
An electronic device mounted to the kart, which triggers an external (track side) mechanism each time you cross a certain point on the racetrack. Some organizations use transponders to automate their timing and scoring systems, enabling them to accurately determine the starting grid in qualifying. Personal systems are also available.
When during cornering the front tires loose grip before the rear tires, the front of the kart will slide towards the outside of the curve. The sensation is that the kart is not turning as much as indicated by the steering wheel. The kart is slowed down, since the front tires are effectively scrubbing off speed. This condition is also referred to as pushing. See also over steer, handling.
A kind of 2-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
Typically the devices on the top of the cylinder of a 4-cycle engine, which allow the air - fuel mixture to enter the cylinder above the piston and the exhaust gases to exit the cylinder after the combustion. On a 4-cycle engine, the valves are operated by the camshaft. 2-cycle engines do not require valves, but may have similar devices to reduce backflow of the fuel - air mix into the carburetor on the down stroke of the piston. See also reed valve and rotary valve.
Describes the fact that the brake disc was designed in such a way that heat and gases produced when applying the brake are more easily dissipated. This helps to obtain a steady and predictable braking performance.
Manufacturer of a 2-cycle engine used in some karting classes.
A form that you sign when entering the track, waiving the right to sue the race operators for liability, as you acknowledge that racing is a dangerous activity and are doing it anyways.
The brake disc can be warped, i.e. bend. If that happens, it may rub against the brake pads, even during free rotation, unnecessarily losing energy (speed). Warping may occur in various ways (disc hits the ground, brake applied while kart was airborne, etc.).
Most engines used for shifter karts are water-cooled. These engines rely on water circulating around the engine as a means to dispose of excess heat. The water is then cooled in a radiator that adds to the complexity of these engines, as compared to the air-cooled ones. Water-cooled engines are typically quieter and do not overheat as easily, though.
Many karting classes mandate a minimum weight for kart and driver (combined), so you might have to add some extra weight to your kart. Oftentimes lead weights are used, similar to the ones used by divers. However, people tend to be innovative here. It is very important where you place these weights in order to get a good weight distribution, which will dramatically affect your handling. In addition, the weight should be securely mounted to the frame. Don't forget that you yourself are also a weight. See seat, handling.
A kind of clutch, which contains clutch oil for quicker heat dissipation. The oil will generate traction and will make this clutch somewhat heavier than dry clutches. Nevertheless, at the same time the clutch is more protected against overheating. Wet clutches tend to be messy.
Typically the combination of rim and tire. The wheel is mounted to the axle via the wheel hub.
World Karting Association, which is the governing body for most of the karting going on in the eastern and middle part of the US.