The Art of the Kart: Fine Tuning the Relationship

           Racing is a different sport than most.  Many sports use a simple object, like a ball, which isn’t allowed to be modified, and the emphasis is on the players and teams to do their best with the equipment that’s given to them.  Can you imagine soccer if every team was allowed to make their own ball? It would completely change the characteristics of the game and what it takes to be successful.

            In racing, success is determined by the performance of not only the driver, but their equipment, too.  It’s a 50/50 relationship.  I see a lot of kids around the paddock who do their driver duties, but go no further.  Sure, if you have mechanic who does the work and lets you focus on your driving, then great; but, you can’t ignore the importance of the relationship that you as a driver have with your machine.

            As cheesy as it sounds, being “one” with the go kart can be the difference between first place and a midfield finish.  Nobody likes driving a kart that doesn’t feel how you want it to, and certainly nobody likes a driver who blames their equipment for the results.  As Italian Motors’ technician, Henry, likes to say, if you don’t understand the go kart, then how can you understand what it’s doing?

            Each race brings new challenges, and there are always adjustments to be made; but, unless your kart is in tip-top shape, don’t bother making set up changes. You can take a straight, well-maintained go kart with factory setup to any race and be competitive without having to change anything other than maybe gear changes. 

           But successful racers know there’s more to it than that. Michael Valiante taught me that the best drivers know how to work on their kart

          So I challenge everyone reading this to take the first steps toward a successful relationship with your go kart.  Take time after every session or race to wipe down your go kart. Look at it, and feel every inch of it as you go: feel your chain tension, check the tightness of important nuts and bolts that can go loose, check your brake pads.  See something questionable – write it down and ask a professional.

         Performing these simple tasks consistently will create better results. Not only can your results improve, but you’ll experience the satisfaction of controlling your own destiny and being the best driver you can be.