How to get your child into karting

Buildbase has been sponsoring rising go-karting star Ty Cuthbert for the past three years. We caught up with Ty’s dad Chris to get some advice for those hoping to follow in his footsteps.

It took just 15 minutes at an indoor track for the then eight-year-old Ty to fall in love with karting. Weekend fun turned into lessons at a Cadet Academy and within six months the club had entered him into the British Indoor Championships where he came fourth. This year Ty made it to the Ultimate Karting Championship for the first time, racing as part of the Sodi team.

My role has been manager, mechanic, promotional aide, but above all that I’m his dad so support Ty in every which way I can. I’ve learnt some lessons along the way and here are my tips for anyone helping their child get into karting.

  1. Identify a passion

Ty’s passion for karting was clear from day one and it hasn’t waned. It doesn’t matter where he comes in a race, he’s always excited, beaming and ready to go again. Outdoor karting is very expensive, so it’s really important not to jump into it. Get your kids out karting indoors and see if they enjoy it. If they get a buzz from it and there is a clear passion, then you can progress from there.

  1. Learn from the bottom up

Don’t think you have to start getting into teams straight away. Teams are expensive, so it pays to start from the bottom. There is lots to learn from club rounds, so start at your local club, get to know people and go from there. After that, if they can go into a championship then go for it. Ty’s first championship was where he first started, at his local track at Wombwell.

  1. Make connections

There are lots of dads and family members on the grid that will help you set up, offer advice and share experiences. Whether in person down at the track or online, it’s a really friendly sport and very easy to get talking to others who just want to get out there and have fun.  You should be able to find your local karting track online relatively easily.  Facebook has loads of groups for different classes and ages.

  1. Buy second hand

Don’t underestimate the financial commitment. Kart, engine, tyres, wheels, tools, sprockets, chains, and the kit list goes on. There are also track and race fees. Everything mounts up, so make any cost saving you can.

Lots of people buy everything brand new, but like loads of other people we couldn’t afford to do that, and you really don’t have to. We don’t have a huge car, so we got a trailer off someone on Facebook. New tyres can cost £150, so we bought them from someone who had used them for one race for about £25. We only bought new when we got into the Super One Series as they are mandatory.

  1. Be prepared to invest time

The time commitment is massive. For a local race we’re up at 5.30am Saturday and Sunday to get to the track and set up and we don’t get home until about 7pm. You’re on your feet all day. When Ty’s racing my heart is pounding and when he’s not I’m doing something to the kart such as changing a spark plug or cleaning the carburettor. In between that you’re planning where you’re going next, booking hotels and ensuring you’ve got a bank of spare parts.

  1. Consider the skills required

I was an engineer in the merchant Navy so am mechanically minded but once he got into outdoor karting we hired a mechanic who doubles up as a coach. It’s usually a daily fee of around £100 a day. They are amazing people who dedicate their lives to it and we’ve had fantastic people over time.