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Driving Today

Go-karts Come of Age

Karts have spawned racing careers and have become big business.

Today, go-karts -- or, in today’s nomenclature, more simply just “karts” -- have become big business. Both outdoor and indoor kart tracks are flourishing despite an economy that is in the doldrums, and karting is gaining speed as one of the most up-and-coming sports for young children, teenagers and even adults.

More than 80,000 people between the ages of 22 and 35 are actively involved in the karting industry, according to the industry publication National Kart News. And according to Road Rat Motors, a key supplier of karts, there are no signs of it slowing. There once was a time when you could only rev up your kart in a local school parking lot; today there are 100,000-square-foot indoor facilities created just to accommodate kart tracks.

Karting has also become a key spawning ground for professional and amateur auto racers. Road Rat Motors estimates that nearly 90 percent of all professional drivers got their start in karting, including Jamie McMurray, six-time winner of NASCAR Sprint Cup races. McMurray and fellow NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger, who also got his start in karting, competed in the U.S. Rotax Max Karting Grand Nationals last month at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

McMurray says driving a kart allows him to escape from the high-pressure world of Sprint Cup racing and still do what he loves. Compared with auto racing, kart racing is exceptionally affordable. Road Rat offers adult racing karts for as little as $1,399. It could get you hooked.



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