Karting is a fun activity that comes with a learning curve. And like most things in life, learning happens through making mistakes. Today, we will talk about some common go-kart mistakes that beginners make when they start racing.
This article will be tightly related to What Causes Go Kart Accidents and How To Prevent Them that I wrote earlier. It’s a good article if you have a few minutes of spare time.
Go-Kart Mistakes to Avoid on the Track
The Mistake of Driving With One Hand
A mistake that many people make is thinking that driving a go-kart is the same way as driving a car. The idea is the same, but the mechanics of it are different.
Today’s cars use either power steering or electric steering, making it very easy to turn the wheel. The vehicle does most of the work for you, so letting one hand off the steering wheel is not a big deal. Even if you move your wheel slightly to either side, you will still be in control, and nothing serious will happen.
Go-karts, on the other hand, use mechanical steering. That means that you must do all the work. The power of your hand muscles is what turns the wheel. And if you have ever driven a go-kart, you know how hard turning the steering wheel is.
On top of that, a go-kart has a precise wheel, and any slight movement will cause your kart to change direction. Having two hands on the wheel will help keep the car steady, and you will react faster to any slides or drifts.
Don’t Slide or Drift the Kart
Drifting a car is a lot different than drifting a go-kart. In a car, you keep moving forward. That movement helps you go around the corner quicker and pushes you forward faster when coming out of the curve.
Doing that in a go-kart is a mistake. You are most likely to come to a complete stop before moving forward. If you are trying to win a race, drifting and sliding will cost you valuable seconds, and you might not achieve an expected result.
Not Using the Brakes Correctly
If you are sliding and drifting all over the track, you are not using your brakes correctly. Most people will drive too fast and then hit the brakes hard right before the corner, thinking they can stop in time. At the same time, they will attempt to change the direction and will spin out.
The right way to slow down is to let off the gas, decelerate into the corner, and then accelerate gently when you are exiting the turn. By doing this, you are avoiding the spin and are coming out quicker out of the curve. Just make sure that you do not let off the gas too early; you might lose a spot.
You will use your brakes once, maybe twice, and only at the sharpest corners on most tracks. And even then, braking should not be hard but gentle and measured.
For a more detailed explanation of how to use your breaks correctly, read the breaking technique article.
Not Using the Right Racing Line
The racing line is the line that allows you to turn the least and use the slightest steering input. In other words, the less you turn the steering wheel, the faster you will go through the corner.
The best racing line to take is to start wide and aim at the corner’s apex. Once you are past the corner’s apex, start to accelerate toward the wide side of the turn.
The best way to understand how to use the racing line is to look at the image below.
If this is not enough click here to learn more about go-kart cornering.
Not Using the Entire Track
I see many new drivers trying to stay too close to the side or taking the corners too sharply. They are not using the racing line described above.
The track is wide for a reason, so use it to your advantage. Use every inch of the track; go as wide as you need to go faster.
Not Looking Ahead Far Enough
For some reason, new drivers always look straight in front of them. They do not realize how fast the kart will get to the point. That, of course, causes all kinds of issues and accidents.
Always look as far in the front as you can to get a clear picture of what’s going on there and to help you determine what the best racing line is.
Don’t Block Other Drivers
A typical mistake in a go-kart that many people make is thinking that they can compete with anyone. Chances are, there is always someone better than you.
New drivers think they are going fast, especially if there is no one in front of them. What they do not realize is that there is a faster driver behind them who wants to pass.
By being slow and not using the correct racing line, they block everyone else from passing and creating traffic.
If you are one of those drivers, please be courteous and move to the side. Let us faster guys have fun and not worry about crashing into you.
Bumping Into Other Drivers
Professional drives use bumping as an advantage in two ways.
- To put pressure on the driver in front, causing him/her to make a mistake.
- To push the kart in front of the racing line so they can slide inside a corner and take them over.
If you are not a professional driver, please do not bump into other people. Bumping might be fun for you, but it does not have to be fun for the other person. It can also cause injury in rare cases.
Respect their space and avoiding bumping into other people.
Taking the Race too Seriously
Again, if you are not a professional driver and you are at the race track with your friends, try not to be too serious about it. Karting is a fun activity, so try to keep it that way.
Avoid making these mistakes and taking the go-kart race too seriously. You might cause accidents and raise unnecessary tensions between friends.
Mistakes to Remember
To avoid common go-karting mistakes, keep these things in mind the next time you go racing.
- Keep your hands on the wheel.
- Don’t drift or slide; that will only slow you down.
- Decelerate in most situations; only use your brakes when you have to.
- The racing line is the key to success, don’t use it right, and you will lose every time.
- The track is ample for a reason; use it to your advantage.
- Learn to look ahead; kart is faster than you think.
- Stay out of the way of other faster drivers.
- Don’t bump other people; no one likes to be bumped into.
- Have fun, and don’t take racing too seriously.
So there you have it, the most common mistakes that new go-kart drivers make. I hope you have learned something new and that you did not recognize yourself in many of the things listed. And if you did, now you know what you are doing wrong, so go out there and fix it.