Please note that the costs given here are only a rough approximation.
For used equipment – see adverts in karting magazines or forums, or through your local club. Used gear may be on offer at race events, and once a year at the Kartmania show boot sale. Purchase of 2nd hand equipment – between £1200 – £3000. This cost may or may not cover everything to get you started and on the track – that is:
- 2nd hand Kart chassis and engine
- Boots, helmet (try to buy the best you can afford)
- Race suit, gloves etc.
It is possible to get a 2nd-hand kart and engine for under £1000, but this would not be as competitive.
Alternately you can hire a kart if you do not want to go to the expense of purchasing until you know if Karting is for you.
A rough guide to prices – One day hire (that is 6 x 10 minute sessions) for a practice day would be in the region of £250 to £350 or more including Racewear, use of mechanic and expert advice.
To hire a Kart for a race day – from approx £250 including Racewear, use of mechanic and advice on track lines etc.
To go club racing with your own equipment is a very economic form of motor sport, yet offers higher grip and faster acceleration than most affordable car racing. Entry fees are usually about £60 – £80 and you will get a short practice, two or three heats and a final. In the more economic classes your tyres will last several meetings, although at championship level most drivers will use a new set per meeting. In addition you need to buy fuel and racing 2-stroke oil for your kart, and have the engine rebuilt every so often. At a club meeting you can expect to put about 30 to 40 minutes of use on the engine, and you might rebuild it every 3 to 8 hours depending on the class. A sealed Rotax Max engine only needs rebuilding about once per season, and 4-stroke engines only need periodic changes of valve springs and oil changes. Rebuild costs will be between £300 to £500 or more. Other costs include the occasional new chain and spark plug, different sprockets for different tracks, cleaning fluids and chain lubrication spray and some basic tools including a tyre pressure gauge and pump. So what are you waiting for, come race with us!
The main classes are split into Bambino for 6 – 8, Cadet Class for 8-12 years old, Intermediate for 10 – 14, Juniors from calendar year of 12 to end of 16th, then seniors from calendar year of 16th birthday. All categories for those under the age of 16 have a minimum driver weight, taken with helmet and race suit on, except Bambino. The weight is specified in the Kart Yearbook (known as the Gold Book).
See the Kart Table for a full listing of the major Motorsport UK authorised classes.
All prices are only approximations for a new ready to race Kart, excl VAT.
Go to the Videos page for short promo introductions to each class
The Bambino class uses a very small kart with a Comer C50 engine, registered with the importers Zip Kart. The tyres are all weather Le Cont, meaning that separate slick and wet rain tyres are not required. Top speed is about 38mph. New karts cost from about £1900.
The class is for 6 – 8 year olds, who must undertake a special training and competency programme before sending for their licence for time trials, or take the ARKS test for racing. For a time trial only licence download the Bambino Training Record Card from the Motorsport UK website. Find out where the nearest club or school is that offers the training, contact Zip or the local club or ARKS School (www.arks.co.uk). Download a licence form (the first licence is free) and get it ready with two photographs of the driver to take to the training centre. The parent or guardian also needs a PG Entrant licence. One photo is required and the forms need to be sent off together once endorsed by the ARKS Examiner or Instructor after the training. The details of the training can be found here
For a Bambino Interclub race licence, after sufficient practice follow the page on getting a licence, buy the Start karting pack and book the ARKS test. When the driver moves up to Cadet, they exchange their licence for a normal kart Interclub and become a novice again.
There is a Motorsport UK Championship for the class, visiting many clubs round the country. See the British Kart Championship website. Zip will also have a list of clubs offering training programmes. Some clubs, but not all, offer Bambino events at their regular club meetings, go to the Clubs Listing for club details and make inquiries locally.
Rather than dive straight into governed racing it might be better to have some experience at an arrive and drive indoor or outdoor commercial circuit. Some have special Bambino training classes.
Ideal start for 8-12 years old. There are several options so check the local club before deciding. They all have direct drive with a centrifugal clutch, some with electric start, some with a pull start. Approx top speed 50mph. Fitted with side pods and nose cone for safety. Cost approx. £3000 to £5000 plus vat. A new race prepared Honda sealed GX200 engine can be obtained for about £700 plus vat. Go to here for more information on the class. The classes may be raced together. The upper age of 12 is so that smaller children may stay in the class, but usually drivers will move up to the Intermediate classes as they get too heavy to be competitive. The 900mm chassis from 2017 to 2022 can be used in Cadet alongside the newer 950mm chassis.
A new class for 2023, for 10 to 14 year olds, using a registered 950mm cadet chassis, so the same 950 chassis can be used if moving up from Cadet, and in many instances the same engine as well, just a change of restrictor and some other parts. Again there are several options, so see what is popular locally.
Year of 12th -16 years old. Experienced drives can start from their 12th birthday. Single engine option – TKM BT82. Chassis do not need to be homologated, but there are limitations on the karts to keep costs down. A restrictor plate between carburettor and engine limits available power and there are various options for different sized drivers. Clutch is optional for easy electric starting & recovery after a spin. Cost £4000 approx. A TAG (electric start, Touch and Go) variant is available but a clutch is mandatory in Juniors.
Year of 16th birthday and over for newcomers. Single engine (TKM BT82) and same chassis choice as for Junior TKM and with a choice of restrictor between carburettor and engine or none for heavier drivers. Similarity of regulations makes the progression from Junior TKM to Senior TKM except that the senior category is now 115cc, both inexpensive and logical. TAG option available. Cost £4000 approx.
Use a modern water cooled 125cc engine with electric self start with categories for everything from Cadet to seniors and Max 177 for the heavier driver who must weigh a minimum of 80kg. There is also a 2-speed geared kart class called DD2 but not currently raced in the UK. Cost £6000 approx. or more new.
IAME X30 Classes
The Junior and Senior X30 classes started in 2014. Be aware as not all clubs may be offering these classes. IAME covers all classes from Cadet to senior. Juniors and Seniors are similar to Rotax but not having sealed engines.
A range of classes for karts with gears and clutches from 125cc to 250cc. Speeds on tracks, for example Silverstone, up to 145mph. Gearbox karts can be bought second hand from as low as £1200. New 125’s (KZ2) cost from £8000, up to a fully equipped 250 National or International at £10,000 plus depending on options.
The above prices do not include any Racewear.
To participate in a race (as opposed to a practice day) the following must also be obtained:
Unless you fall into one of the exemptions, you need to buy a ‘Starting Karting’ pack from an ARKS school or from Motorsport UK, Motor Sports House, Bicester Motion, Bicester, OX27 8FY (Tel:01753 765000). The pack which includes the costs of the first licence (and the PG Entrant licence if needed which expire at the end of the calendar year. A serial numbered licence application form is enclosed along with a PG Entrants licence form which must be completed by the Parent or Guardian for anyone under 18 years of age. (It costs £25 per annum). After completing the medical questions (see below) you need to book an ARKS driving test with one of the approved ARKS schools or a participating club. This costs £98, plus the hire of any equipment. A Kart Interclub licence costs from £74 from 2023. Vouchers for the ARKS Test may be purchased online at https://www.trakentries.co.uk/ARKS/Add.asp
Historic & Classic Karts
There is a thriving appetite for restoring and driving historic and classic karts catered for by the British Historic Kart Club ( click here for their website ). Many kart clubs hold regular demonstrations for the karts, the biggest of which is the Shenington Historic Revival held annually in July. The karts also attend many classic car races including Donington and Silverstone and can be seen on display at the Autosport International Racing Car Show (NEC in January) and Race Retro (Stoneleigh in February). Historic and classic Karts are accepted up to 1984 / 1997 respectively and the classes used are adopted from the CIK, which also recognises this growing movement and sponsors demonstrations at various international events.
For the slightly newer karts, F100 (the spirit of the 90’s) caters for racing these iconic 100cc Formula A and ICA karts which can rev to 20,000rpm in their heyday. Go to http://www.f100uk.com/ Classic Formula C and ICC 125cc gearbox karts of the nineties can also be raced.
There are very affordable arrive and drive racing series including indoor racing at e.g. Teamsport owned facilities, and for faster outdoor racing at Club 100. These can be excellent starting points for the novice driver without much outlay. Indeed many former Motorsport UK licenced drivers continue to race at Club 100. There is also an electric kart arrive and drive series offered by Total Kart Zero.
Some kart circuits in the UK also hold unlicenced races often called IKR. These are not approved and it is best to go to a club running under the governing body Motorsport UK.
RetroRacing for historic and classic karts
RetroRacer exists for those wishing to cherish historic or classic karts see here for details.