Go-karts are often the “gateway” into other forms of racing. Lots of folks start very young, but it’s a fun way to enjoy speed and work on your race craft at any age.
Sheetal and I have been going to few tracks nearby in between our other racing adventures. We’d like to share our experiences with you 🙂
Table of contents
- Karting locations near Seattle
- Gear and accessories
- What do I need to know?
- Gallery (with regular updates!)
We’re lucky to have few options in the Seattle area, providing a variety of karting experiences. Gas vs Electric, indoor vs outdoor. Quick walk-in session in between running chores or a large track far out for bigger events. There’s something for everyone 😉
Here are the places we go to:
- K1 Speed – https://www.k1speed.com/seattle-location.html
Electric carts, indoors. Fun for parties, if I’m not mistaken minimum party size for group reservation is 8. Can get crowded, so walk-ins in peak hours (weekends!) can lead to quite some wait time. Friendly staff, who will accommodate additional requests out of peak hours (e.g. if you want to race only with your group but didn’t make a reservation).
- PGP Motorsports – https://pacificgp.com/
Gas carts, outdoor track. The track is long and quite technical, high speeds, high level of competitors. It’s a bit of drive to get to, but – it’s adjacent to Pacific Raceways! So if you’re into motorsports in Seattle area, you’re either already super familiar with this location, or will inevitably become introduced to it 🙂
- Sykart – https://sykart.com/tukwila/
Gas carts, indoor track. We’ve only been once, but it was fun and I’d recommend checking it out. It’s the sheer convenience of the K1 Speed’s location that makes Sykart a bit of a less enticing oferring from folks from the Eastside (but for same reasons, likely a better choice for folks living in Seattle).
- The Ridge Motorsports Park – https://www.ridgemotorsportspark.com/karting
Gas carts, outdoor track. Similarly to PGP Motorsports, this is a great 2-in-1 option – the karting track is a copy of the adjacent road course. Funny enough, we’ve been going to the road course (this is where my first IRDC race took place!), but didn’t have a chance to try out their go-karts just yet.
Gear and accessories
For optimal experience, there’s few items I’d recommend purchasing. While you can enjoy karting by booking races on the above locations and just showing up, if you know it’s a sport you enjoy, getting your own gear makes it even better, safer and more hygienic 😉
Please note that I treat karting as a hobby, I’m not a member of any league, and certainly don’t consider myself an expert on the laws in this space. This is more of a practical look at how to enjoy it as a hobby, safely and conveniently.
Alright, let’s take a look at the gear.
Every place you’ll go to will provide helmet rental, likely with an extra fee for a head sock (balaclava). But if you know you’ll spend more time driving, and it’s not a one-time event, I’d recommend buying your own helmet. Motorcycle helmets work well, tend to be a bit lighter than car racing helmets, and you’ll find a good selection in any motorcycle shop. If you have a helmet you race your car in, those will work fine as well. From my experience, karting places have never been strict on certifications, etc. (as opposed to car racing!). Which I think makes sense, considering speeds involved. Also, you can decorate your own helmet, add a name, stick GoPro mounts and all 😉 I still recommend using balaclava for hygienic reasons and to keep the helmet clean for long.
Full face helmet is required by majority of karting places.
Good fit is important (to loose and it will be sliding around, turning on your head and won’t provide right level of protections, too tight and it may give you a head ache and you’ll bite your cheeks).
I generally recommend picking up the most popular entry-level motorcycle helmet HJC sells in any given year. Here’s a quick look at HJC i10 – Buy on Amazon.
I had bruised ribs 3 times in my life. It sucks. Breathing hurts. Sleeping hurts. The feeling of ribs “rubbing” in your chest is something that I’d prefer to not be aware of. Seats in go-karts are hard, short, and their lateral supports is very lacking. This leads to large force being applied to a small area of your chest, if you were to come into contact with another cart or barriers. And that leads to pain. Rib protectors help dissipate that force over larger area of your chest.
Plus – although this is subjective – they look cool and maybe even intimidating (“this guy brought all that gear?!” 😄).
Here are some popular options:
- K1 Race Gear – carbon fiber rib vest
- This is the one I use, costs around $100, Buy on Amazon
- K1 Race Gear – karting Pro-Lite rib protector
- Another popular choice, different style, $70, Buy on Amazon
I would not recommend using armor jackets used for motorcross/atv/mtb, as those focus on another type of protection (spine, arms) and don’t provide the most important one needed in go-karts – side of chest/ribs.
I usually don’t use gloves for karting, but use them for road course. I’d advise against using motorcycle gloves (too thick) and recommend either buying karting gloves, or using your racing gloves.
Plenty of options available:
- And you can probably get away (as long as they’re comfortable!) with mechanics gloves, lots of options there too, e.g. this one from Sparco
I like to try them on before buying if possible, but then again – if you don’t need them super urgently, and have no shop available nearby, ordering online and returning for another size if needed is another option.
Some places forbid using our own cameras and instead will try to up-sell whatever action cams they have available for rental. Prices of those are not very reasonable, so I don’t like when that happens. For other places – bring a GoPro or other camera of your choice to make lasting memories! And if you have your own helmet, you get to choose the right mounts and angles ahead of time, to make sure the footage looks epic.
Here’s some options:
- GoPro Hero 10 Black – I use this one (EDIT: GoPro 11 came out in October 2022, check it out here on Amazon). You can buy it from GoPro’s website where they often have good deals and it will include cloud subscription (great for seamless backups of the endless footage), or buy on Amazon.
What do I need to know?
You’ll have a quick briefing (think: driver’s meeting!) if you’re new to go-karts (don’t be shy to raise a hand when staff asks if this is anyone’s first time, the instructions take couple minutes and there won’t be an exam at the end 😉).
Here’s couple handy tips:
- familiarize yourself with flags – in locations with electric gokarts they will just stop everyone in case of a spin, but it’s always good to know what’s going on, and flags are the main way of communicating with drivers in motorsports. Here’s a quick reminder (credit to Sykart):
- one more thing on the topic of flags – if you see blue flag, let others pass. Go Kart tracks can be quite narrow, and no one likes the person holding the traffic…
- in electric go-karts, lift-off gas pedal when braking, don’t waste precious electric juice,
- be safe, be respectful (especially as you build your skills and confidence, keep in mind that in a free-for-all session you will continue to race with first-timers) and have fun!
This article is going to be kind of a log from my go-kart adventures, in a similar manner to how the Fused Glass Art article includes description of all our visits 🙂
6/26/2012 – K1 Speed
My first visit to K1 Speed! I still have the time slips from it (which is how I got the date after all those years, since I’m writing this article in 2021). But looks like I was too excited and forgot to take any photos 😉
12/18/2015 – K1 Speed
I took few years break, for no particular reason other than – adult life can get busy! But always a blast to stop by for few races.
3/12/2016 – K1 Speed
This time I stopped by with few friends (hi Sunny and Seiji!). Friendly competition, no foul play, the day ended as fun as it started 😄
8/15/2021 – K1 Speed
This was the first visit in series of our summer karting in 2021. Sheetal and I started visiting K1 much more regularly.
8/16/2021 – K1 Speed
And we came back next day, which was Monday – for a special drift event!
Those karts get very tail-happy on hard, plastic tires. Lots of fun, and good practice for gentle throttle control.
8/28/2021 – PGP Motorsports Park
First visit to PGP Motorsports Park (and probably… 20th visit to Pacific Raceways? 🙂).
And after our races, we got to watch Drag Racing event at Pacific Raceways:
9/8/2021 – K1 Speed
Now we both have safety gear! Bruised ribs are no fun (ask how I know… ouch).
12/31/2021 – K1 Speed
Last session before the end of the year 🎆
1/12/2022 – K1 Speed
And the first session of the new year 🙂
Sheetal got 0.001 second away from my time!
<to be updated with our next visits 🙂>