After purchasing a kart, joining the Club, obtaining a competition licence and doing some practice laps you should be ready to compete at your first race meeting. This can be a little daunting for a new karter so we will try to outline some of the more important points here. Remember, if in doubt, always ask someone from the club as they will be more than happy to assist you.
A couple of points to note first of all. Firstly it is a requirement for all new competitors to have an additional back number plate fitted with a large black cross on it. This is to let other competitors know that you are new and you should ensure that you have this fitted before you get to the track. Secondly you should be very familiar with and know exactly what each flag used at a race meeting is for. Again it is a good idea to learn this before your first meeting. The rules for all flags can be found in the KartSport New Zealand rule book that you will receive when you get your licence.
You will need to pack all your gear (and kart) into a trailer or suitable vehicle for transportation to the track. Make a check list of things to take such as petrol, oil, tools, licence, race suit, helmet, wet weather gear etc so you will not forget anything. Try to get to the track early so you will have plenty of time to unload, get a pit space and set up and complete all of the preliminary formalities that need to be done before racing commences.
Most race days have the same format and while the times may vary slightly between club days, the following is a reasonable guide to times and what needs to be done.
Gates will open around 7.00am so you should plan to arrive around this time or shortly after. Unload your kart and equipment and set up a site in the pits and then park your vehicle. The kart needs to be scrutineered before you can race and you will also need to enter for the days event.
Scrutineering will be available from maybe 7.30am until 8.30am so you should have plenty of time. When you take your kart to the scrutineering area make sure that it is clean and that you also have your race gear and licence with you. The scrutineers will check your kart for legality with the rules and also for safety. If something is not correct you will be told about it and asked to go away and fix it before returning to have it rechecked. If your kart passes scrutineering you will receive a pass card.
Following scrutineering you must enter for the days racing. Payments are made at the shop and entries are taken in the tech shed behind the shop and weigh shed building. You will advise what class you will be racing in, your kart number and sign the indemnity form. Minors under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the indemnity form and that person must be present with the competitor for the entire day. If you are racing in a class other than the Novice class, tell the race secretary that this is your first meeting and they will arrange for you to start off the back of the grid for the whole day.
Once these formalities are completed you should then ensure that the kart is prepared ready to race. The tank should be filled with petrol and oil (mixed to the correct ratio) and then ‘pumped up’ to ensure that it has reached the carburettor. If this is not done the engine will be hard to start or may not start at all.
Do a final check of the kart to make sure everything is tight (especially the wheels) and then check the tyre pressures. Pressures will range from approximately 14 to 22 psi depending on the temperature of the day and the track conditions. Generally the hotter it is the less tyre pressure required. Check with more experienced people to get some idea of where to start and then adjust as necessary as the day progresses. It is also necessary to oil the chain with a correct type of chain oil lubricant. Finally if you are running a clutch make sure you have the correct type and amount of oil in the clutch.
At this point it is a good idea to change into your racing gear and then take the kart to the scales to check the weight. All classes are controlled with a minimum weight for the kart and driver and this is checked each time you complete a race. For details of the weight required for each class see the Classes page of the KartSport.org.nz website. If you do not meet the minimum weight required you will need to bolt on some additional lead to bring the weight up to what is required.
At around 9.00 to 9.30am there will be a drivers briefing. You and your pit crew (and parent or guardian if under 18) must attend the drivers briefing where the steward for the day will outline important points about the days racing and tell you what he/she requires from all the drivers. If you are unsure about anything now is the time to ask !!
Following drivers briefing there will be tuning runs (practice) in classes. This is an opportunity for you to go out on the track with the other competitors from your class and warm up the engine and tyres, tune the carburettor and get a feel for the track and how the kart is handling. Usually you will getone short tuning runs prior to the start of racing.
Just prior to racing check the notice board where you should find the grid draws for the day. This will tell you what grid position you will start from for your first four races if the meeting is running to the standard KartSport New Zealand race format. If some other format is being used this will also be displayed on the notice board.
Make sure you get yourself and your kart up to the dummy grid in plenty of time before your race is due to go out. When the race immediately prior to yours leaves the dummy grid to go out onto the track you should position your kart in the correct place on the dummy grid. Make sure all your racing gear is on, suit done up, gloves on and helmet strap securely fastened. The pit steward will advise you when it is time to start your engine or push out onto the track. On the first lap you must keep in formation behind the karts in front and the field must line up in two straight lines when approaching the starter. If the starter is happy he will wave the green flag or turn off the start lights and the race will be on !!
At the end of the race after receiving the chequered flag return to the pits via the pit shute where you and your kart will be weighed and then it will be time to return to your pit and prepare for the next race.
Always ask people for help and advice and before long you will be a pro.