How To Transition From Karts To Cars

All professional drivers started their careers with go-karting. However, not everyone who races go-karts becomes a Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, or Ayrton Senna. Though many karters don’t take up the hobby to start a racing career, it can lead many to improve their driving  while acquiring the control and focus of a professional race car driver.

Karting gives young drivers the fundamentals of racing and car control but they need to recalibrate those skills when they shift to race cars. There are very big differences when driving these two vehicles, and knowing the differences is half the battle.

If you’re into kart racing and want to transition to car racing, we outline the differences between the two and give you a few tips to make the adjustment easier.

Differences Between Karts and Cars

The major difference between karts and race cars is karts don’t have brakes in front. Karts also don’t have the usual gears, shocks, springs, rollbars, and rear axles. This absence requires a shift in driving technique.

Using a brake pedal is often the hardest to learn, so braking properly is key to improving your time on track. For drivers who started racing with karts that have no axles and front brakes, they use a different strategy and timing to release their brakes, turn, and accelerate.

In a car, the driver “trails the brake.” This is when the front brake puts the weight on the front tires, helping the car turn. Drivers who shift from karts to race cars need to develop balance in handling the brakes and throttle.

Tips for Transitioning to Race Cars

1. Learn Optimal Braking

Brake pedal modulation could be the biggest learning curve for karters. Braking too easily and then braking harder at the end is a common error. The driver should instead try to hit peak brake pedal pressure Initially and release the brake all the way Into the apex of the corner.

Drivers should also maintain consistent brake pressure. Small adjustments on the pedal box can help. They could also use a brake pressure sensor so they can compare how and where they are braking compared to other drivers.

A karter should learn to release the brake as they reach corners to maintain rolling speed and have enough weight on the front tires to turn. The quicker they master trail braking, the sooner they’ll master race cars.

2. Use a Racing Car Simulator

A  car simulator will do wonders for karters who are making the transition. You can explore transition programs like the one we run here at Focus Driver Performance. Our program includes five simulator sessions that are two hours each where you can learn different aspects of race car driving. These sessions include:

●     Weight transfer

●     Brake techniques

●     Using gears to your advantage

●     Throttle application

●     Basic racecraft

These sessions focus on aspects that are different between karts and cars: the braking techniques required for different cars and gears.

A simulation will help drivers adjust to car racing and give them the foundation they need to speed up. They will become accustomed to the gears, throttle, and brakes as they make necessary adjustments to their muscle memory.

From Karting to Car Racing

Race car driving is a sport that requires focus and physical discipline. But it also requires mastery of a machine that’s moving at very high speeds. Starting your racing career with karts is only the beginning.

If you’ve decided to take your motorsport up a notch by transitioning to car racing, you’re in for another kind of experience. It may take relearning some skills but putting in the hours and practice is well worth it once you notice yourself expertly handling a different and even more sophisticated vehicle.