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Getting Started

Karting is the most dynamic form of motor sport in the world. Simple in concept and easily accessible to the average Australian, it has grown since 1958 to become a professional, well-organised sport in every state and territory of Australia. The instinctive thrill of driving a racing machine capable of incredible performance at relatively little cost, remains one of the main attractions of kart racing today.

Karting has developed into a diverse sport today with 100 circuits nationwide that run every kind of karting event from a club day through to international championship races. There are events held somewhere on every weekend of the year, giving endless opportunities for you to race or just practice as often or as little as you wish. Karting is an incredibly diverse pastime attracting weekend hobby racers through to professional drivers.

The kart itself has developed immensely and remains the centrepiece of the sport. Basic, although impressive in appearance, a modern racing kart is a highly developed, sophisticated racing machine. Every component on the kart has been specifically designed, tested and manufactured to be a vital part in the performance and reliability of a kart at full racing speed. The main part of the kart is the chassis or ‘frame’ which is designed to flex at specific points. This allows the kart to corner at the best possible speed under the given track conditions. The kart also has a number of adjustable components, which alter the karts handling.

The engines used are purpose built for kart racing. The entry level, beginner classes use identical engines of equal performance and are quite reliable. The more advanced classes use faster engines that offer increased performance. The tyres used are also purpose made for racing.

Sprint Karting in Australia has several associations and clubs, each have different rules and classes.  For example most clubs in NSW are aligned to Karting NSW .  Some tracks in NSW fall under Karting Australia.  Below are examples of some of the classes.  Please check your kart meets the requirements for practice or racing under your chosen club and karting association.


Popular Kart Classes

from BAM Media on Vimeo.


The following are the most popular engine/chassis combinations for each of the classes.

Cadet 9 (6 – 9 years)
The purpose of this class is to teach young people to drive karts of restricted performance at a limited cost. Competitors use a Vortex 60cc Mini Rok fitted with a restrictor plate or Comer SW80 engine with a clutch. Drivers aged between 6 and 7 are only able to practice and must be 7 years of age before starting racing.
Approx. Power – 6hp

Cadet 12 (10 – 12 years)
Using the same principal of the Midgets class the Rookies use a Vortex 60cc Mini Rok or Yamaha KT100J engine fitted with a restrictor plate.
Approx. Power – 8hp

KA4 Junior (12 – 16 years)
With two weight divisions this class allows close competitive racing in karts with reliable engines (IAME KA100 Reedjet (fitted with a restrictor) or Yamaha KT100J) still fast enough to teach the basics of racecraft at a low cost.
Approx. Power – 11hp

KA4 Senior (15+ years)
The engine used is the reliable IAME KA100 Reedjet (fitted with a restrictor) Yamaha KT100J which is the same as used in the Junior National class.
Approx. Power – 11hp

KA3 Senior (15+ years)
Utilising the IAME KA100 reedjet or Yamaha KT100S, this class offers relatively low cost, yet fast and competitive racing. The Clubman class, as with all ‘controlled’ classes, uses a single brand and compound tyre, with wet weather tyres also an option for inclement conditions.
Approx. Power – 16hp

TaG 125 Restricted (Touch And Go – Formula Rotax, IAME X30, PRD Galaxy etc) (15+ years)
The TAG Restricted class caters for entry level competitors using push button or key start engines such as the Rotax MAX, X30 and PRD Galaxy engines fitted with a restricter plate. The engines used in these classes are watercooled and are fitted with a clutch and provide an easy step from beginner into the more powerful 125cc Open categories.    In Australia a D (P plate) or C Grade license is required.  The can be obtained by contacting your local club.

TaG 125  (Touch And Go – Formula Rotax, IAME X30, PRD Galaxy etc) (15+ years)

The TAG class caters for higher level competitors using push button or key start engines such as the Rotax MAX, X30 and PRD Galaxy engines fitted with a restricter plate. The engines used in these classes are watercooled and are fitted with a clutch and provide an easy step from beginner into the more powerful 125cc Open categories.   In Australia a B grade license is required.  To obtain a B grade license,  you will need to complete in 9 Tag 125 Restriced races first.

 Each class is required to use an approved control tyre.  Please check with your club or local kart supplier for the appropriate class tyre.


Chassis are available in three sizes - Senior, Junior and Cadet.   The chassis stiffness also needs to match the power of the engine and the weight of the driver to achieve optimum performance.   Chassis stiffness is primarily determined by the chassis tube thickness.  Common sizes are 28mm,  30mm,  30/32mm amd 32mm. Other factors include torsion bars, rear axle stiffness and diameter.   Faster classes and heavier drivers require stiffer chassis generally.   e.g. a 85KG senior driver in TAG class should use a 30/32mm amd 32mm chassis.



Most of the engines used today in karting are high performance; purpose built, 2-stroke 60cc, 100cc or 125cc engines and need regular servicing.  

Most competitive racers will have the top-ends serviced every 8 hours.


Hours between major rebuild
Rotax, X30, MiniROK, Reedjet

40 - 60

Restricted 125cc

 60 +


  50 litres

Yam J or Comer

  40 - 60

Yamaha S20 - 25


Power drops off after 8 hours of use.   The power continues to reduce over time and is not noticable when driving.  An engine with 20 hours on the top end could be one second a lap slower than when fresh.  This could be difference between winning and coming last!

Racers generally will have their engines services every 8 hours. 

Recreational drivers typically will drive for a total of one hour in one full day. This could equate to years of driving for the average recreational driver between engine rebuilds. Racers typically drive for a total of fourty minutes on a race day.

What costs are involved

What the costs of new equipment
Cost (AUD) for new equipment




$4,000 - $6,000


$3,000 (100cc), $3,950 (125cc), $6,000 (gearbox type)

Tyres (set of four)

$235 - $275




$249 - $1,400


$120 - $800

Shoes and Gloves

$140- $250


$200 - $500


$0 - $300+

Running costs include: daily practice license, fuel, lubes and consumables such as tyres, chains and sprockets.

TaG (Touch and Go) or Direct Drive?

Most karts fall into one of these categories.

TaG provides the convenience of an electric starter motor and a clutch. As the name implies, just press the start button and go. In Australia, a B grade license is required.

Tag Restricted - Entry level class with the convenience of a 125cc push button start. This class uses a restrictor plate (cost around $35) on a standard TaG engine, which limits the power to about 20 HP. Once a B grade license is achieved, the restrictor may be removed.

Direct drive (Yamaha engine) is popular all over the world but only race at specific clubs in Australia. These karts have fewer parts and are lower in cost to purchase. Direct drive karts however need to be push-started, which can look quite acrobatic if done by the driver. Usually, the kart is started with the driver seated and a helper pushing the kart until the engine fires.  Clutch - A clutch can be added to most Direct drive motors. An external battery operated started is required to start the engine. Clutches will be compulsory for all Australian karts in 2009.

Shifter/Open Performance  - provides the highest performance and require a high-level racing license. These engines are started externally or by pushing the kart.  An A or B license is requird.

New or Used

2.2 - Assessing a second-hand chassis from BAM Media on Vimeo.

One of the biggest costs in karting is rebuilding an engine. Used karts are often sold at a time when the engine needs major work. Do not believe anyone that says, “The engine has low hours on it”. Verify it for yourself. Ask the seller for the contact details of their engine builder and then call them. Engine builders are a friendly bunch of people and want your future business.

Reputable kart resellers do not jeopardise their credibility by offloading karts that need a lot of attention. Used karts sold through shops are more likely to have straight chassis and engines with genuine hours. Dealers offer a big advantage in that they provide ongoing free information. This information will help you obtain the most value out of the sport and quicker lap times. On the other hand, a person selling their kart through the classifieds do not want repeat business. Watch out for those seemingly cheap deals. You could end up with more trouble than you bargained for. A supposed bargain kart purchased privately could end up costing substantially more than one from a shop once all the hidden costs are added in.

Is the frame bent? An expert may be needed here. Things to look out for are

  • Is the front wheel alignment the same on both sides?
  • Is the caster and camber the same on both sides?
  • Lift the rear of the kart and then put it down slowly whilst looking at the bottom of the tyres. Do they both touch the ground at the same time? Do the same with the front?