Our beginner's guide to driving a go kart

Ace Karts on 10 January 2019

Go karting is an exhilarating sport that almost anyone can enjoy. While most of us know what it's like to be behind the wheel of a vehicle, we're never encouraged to drive as fast as we want.

Go kart racing is the perfect excuse for unleashing your inner speed demon. Racing for the first time can seem a little daunting. Especially when you're racing with a few mates who've already had their fair share of time on the track.

To give you the extra edge on your first time racing, we've prepared a beginners guide on how to drive a go kart. Read up on our racing tips before your first race and show your mates you're not a pushover.

Book an arrive and drive race session to practice your go karting skills.

1. Wear comfortable clothing

It may seem like one of the most obvious tips, but you'd be surprised how many people don't recognise the importance of wearing the right clothing. We recommend wearing comfortable clothing that's not too tight or too loose.

Remember that you'll be sitting down for an extended period of time while you're racing. So ditch those super tight jeans for your next race session. You're visiting a raceway, not a fashion runway.

We also recommend wearing trainers or runners for go kart racing. Rock up to the Ace Karts track in anything with heels or an open toe and our friendly track staff won't let you race. It's nothing personal, just a safety precaution.

 how to drive a go kart2

2. Picking the right go kart

Picking the right go kart can have a massive effect on your racing performance and lap times. Here at Ace Karts, you can choose between three different options including the Super Kart, Rookie Kart, and 2Seater Kart.

Each kart is designed for different skill levels. If you're learning how to drive a go kart for the first time, we recommend using the Rookie Kart. Driving in this slower kart makes it easier to hone your skills for turns and manoeuvring.

When you're feeling more confident with driving around a track, we recommend upgrading to a faster model like the Super Kart. With a higher top speed and more responsive handling, you'll have everything you need to start smashing out personal best times.

driving a go kart

3. Driving in the right position

How you position yourself in a go kart can affect your driving performance. It's very important to get yourself in a position where you can comfortably reach the pedals. You need easy access to the brake and accelerating pedals so you can react and move fast with the track's racing turns.

Ideally, you should be able to reach the pedals with your legs slightly bent. You should also be able to reach the steering wheel without having to lean forward to reach it. Adjust the position of your seat until you can comfortably reach the pedals and steering wheel.

When you're learning how to drive a go kart, it's also important to grip the steering wheel correctly. We recommend gripping the wheel with your hands in a quarter-to-three position. This grip position will give you more precise control and help you achieve faster reaction times around turns.

Driving in the right position

4. Practice with the pedals

Before the initial race with your friends, we recommend taking a few practice laps to get used to how the kart handles. Practice pressing the pedals all the way down to get a feel for just how sensitive they are. Just don't press both of them down at the same time!

Unlike a real car, the brakes on the kart are only on the rear wheels. It's just one of the reasons why you should be braking hard instead of softly when you approach a corner. When you approach the apex of a turn, you should gradually release the brake before coming off it and accelerating.

Practice with the pedals

5. Picking up speed

Like any keen rev-head, you'll want to reach top speed with your kart so you can start passing your fellow racers. One key aspect to focus on is your ability to drive in a straight line.

The more time you spend driving in a straight line, the more chances you have of reaching your kart's top speed. Braking, turning, or skidding will reduce your kart's speed. It's just one of the reasons why it's so important to master the art of approaching the apex of a turn.

When you're approaching a turn, focus on positioning yourself on the outside of the track. Start applying your brakes just as you're approaching the apex of the turn. Applying this technique will help maximise the amount of time you spend driving in a straight line.

Picking up speed

6. Avoid drifting

While it might look awesome, drifting can significantly slow you down on the track. It will decrease your momentum. Drifting is commonly caused by braking during a turn. So focus on braking more before a turn. 

Drifting can also be a sign that you're turning into a corner too sharply. When you're learning how to drive a go kart, resist the urge to pull off a sharp turn at every corner.

Sharp turns can cause you to slide out wide when you're exiting a corner. Focus on gradually turning your wheel when you hit the apex of a turn. Aim for the outside of the track when you exit a turn and you won't have the urge to turn so sharply.

Avoid drifting

7. Navigating around drivers

Try and keep a fair distance between you and other drivers on the track. Every bump can significantly slow you down. The same goes for any quick adjustments to avoid crashing into drivers. Swerving away from drivers can interrupt a perfect approach to a turn.

Try your best to focus on your own driving. It's very easy to get distracted by rival drivers that can put you off your own rhythm. Focus on perfecting your approaches to turns and you'll naturally start catching up to your opponents.

When you get more confident with your driving, it can be beneficial to take note of where other drivers are passing you on the track. If they always pass you on a right-angle turn, it could be a sign that you need to improve your approach on these.

Navigating around drivers

8. Look ahead

Learning how to drive a go kart for the first time can be a daunting experience. Driving so low to the ground can make it feel like you're driving twice as fast. A common mistake that beginners make is looking only a few metres ahead of their kart.

When you're only looking a few metres ahead, you significantly reduce your vision of the track in front of you. Your brain needs more time to process the track ahead of you in order to prepare for the next manoeuvre.

Focus on looking at least one stage ahead of where you are. So when you're at the apex, you should already be looking at the exit of the turn. When you're exiting a turn, you should already be looking ahead for the next turn.

Look ahead

Practice your moves at Ace Karts

Learning how to drive a go kart is easy when you're at a top-notch facility. Driving at Ace Karts you'll enjoy a full racing experience with high-quality safety equipment and professional track staff to guide you.

Our race track features a series of intensifying bends designed to give you a real-life racing experience. Driving on our track gives you the opportunity to test your cornering skills. The final section of our track features a massive 105 metre straight that enables you to push your kart to its maximum speed.

Organising a racing session with your mates is as easy as sharing our Facebook page and tagging anyone you want to invite. Work out who's coming, book your exclusive race, and start learning how to drive a go kart.

Book an exclusive race session with your mates and start learning how to drive a go kart.