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Modern Karting For the Track & Trail

October 20, 2003
Filed under Features

The term “go-kart” for many may evoke an image of a rickety steel tube contraption mated to a lawnmower engine. However, modern karts come in a bevy of different shapes and sizes, and those involved in the industry say the various choices are attracting a growing and diverse group of enthusiasts.
Most karts can be categorized into one of two classifications: “Fun” and “Race.” Smaller than a dune buggy but larger than a traditional go-kart, fun karts represent a new class of four-wheeler operated by a steering wheel and pedals. Usually outfitted with all-terrain tires, roll cage and a small displacement, high torque engine, fun karts offer users an enjoyable and safe way to recreate off-road while alone or with a passenger.
Race karts fall on the other end of the spectrum.
Ask professional racecar drivers where they learned to handle their high-performance automobiles and many are likely to mention a youth spent with quick and agile race karts, machines which can blaze to 125mph via a small displacement engine and five-inch wheels.
There are an estimated 200,000 people driving karts competitively in the U.S., and conservative estimates place industry growth at about 7% each year during the past decade. While 125cc “shifter” karts are perhaps best known, various classes exist, and include riders from ages five to over 65.
Powersports Business looked into the nearly 50-year-old business of karting, and found what was once a recreational pastime growing into a formidable, and lucrative, industry.

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