The day I’m writing this it is January 7th 2016. I am stoked. I called the guy at the New Jersey Sprint Series and gathered a whole bunch of information. When I got off the phone with him my head was spinning and I’m sure I had more questions but just could not digest all the information that he had gave me. This man was a professional and was extremely patient and helpful in answering my questions and steering me in the right direction.
We started our conversation off by discussing the 2016 Raceway Park Karting schedule. As of this writing it is not official but he seems to think that there will be 14 race dates and 9-10 practice dates ranging from March till November. This will be plenty to fill my plate for the season. I plan to run the entire season at Raceway park so 24 dates will be more than enough. I may not make all of the dates but I want to make the races.
Our conversation then move on to equipment, it seems that motorsports are expensive. I knew this going in but I was leaning towards Karting because of this. It still seems that it is the lesser expensive of the other options, but is more than I expected. I was half thinking that I could purchase a used kart and get another project car. It seems like the project car will have to wait.
So, as stated in his earlier email, kart chassis are going for about $2500 for a good used one. Purchasing used you need to look out for damaged frames. They can be bent or tweaked in a way that makes them not as true as can be and since there is no suspension on the kart, the frame does all the work. I’ve seen some Karts on Craigslist but am leery of the condition of them. They look good but I will probably stick with this guy since he is running a business and doesn’t want to have a bad name. He does state that the used Karts that he sells are straight and true. You can go with a new chassis and can spend as much money as you want, but to get started I think I’ll go used. I did ask if the chassis was damaged if you could still run it and he said yes, as long as it’s not dragging on the ground it really doesn’t matter.
I then discovered that the engines do not come with the Karts! I had originally planned on running the TAG Heavy class but have reconsidered and will probably be going with the PRD spec class. The classes use the same chassis so if I want to move up I would just need to switch engines.
The TAG Heavy class uses and engine that is more powerful since they do not limit the RPM’s of the engines and you can run any gear that you want. This class is pretty much open on carburetors and gearing. They also use a softer tire that gives more grip, but wears out faster. To be competitive in this class, replacing tires (at $220 a set), will be a weekly occurrence. The engine package that the New Jersey Sprint Series recommends for this is the IAME X30. That is IAME’s newest engine package which costs $3200. I did not expect that, and is a big factor in me changing my mind to run the PRD spec series which uses a less expensive engine. Maintenance on these motors is also more costly since they do not limit the RPM’s with gearing the engines need to be rebuilt more frequently. At approximately $600 for a complete rebuilt that will add up.
PRD spec is what I will probably start running this year. This will keep me pretty close to on budget and allow me to get my feet wet. Since the chassis are the same, I can move up in class by just buying a new engine. The PRD spec engine is $1800. This puts my total Kart package at around $4500 with chassis, engine, and engine mounts. These engines also don’t need to be rebuilt as frequently since they limit the RPM’s that they spin at so they last longer. They are able to do this with gearing and the PRD class tells you which gear you can run. This seems like a more level playing field since all the Karts are running the same gear with the same engine package. They all also run a specific carburetor to keep power down. Another cost savings is that they run a harder tire, since they don’t have as much power, which means that they don’t need to be replaced as often.
I also had some questions about the safety equipment that was needed. It’s pretty straight forward, you need a driving suit, gloves, neck brace, and a helmet. He stated that he would be able to get everything for me but recommended that I try out some helmets to see what I liked. As long as it’s Snell rated it will be fine. I live right next to Englishtown Raceway so I asked him where I would be able to try out helmets. Unfortunately there is nothing around here but he recommended going to the Motorsports 2016 Expo in Philadelphia to try out some helmets.
There was one last thing that I asked about, and that was if I could do this alone and how people got their Karts to the track. Some people have trailers, some use pickup trucks, and some even shove them in the back of SUV’s! So going it alone is ok, seems that Karter’s are wanting to be helpful and if this guy is any indication they sure are!