Starting Karting
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The Association of British Kart Clubs was formed in 1990 to act as an interface between kart clubs and the governing body, the MSA. The clubs are represented by a Steering Group which is elected each year during the ABkC AGM, held in the Autumn.  The ABkC Steering Group contributes to the MSA regulations and is granted seats on all the major MSA committees associated with karting.

Up until 1997 the ABkC produced, each year, the "Green Book" which contained the regulations for the karting class structure used by affiliated kart clubs and the association's National Championships for each class. These are held at a number of circuits throughout the country each year. The direct drive classes (classes without a gearbox) are held as part of the Super One Series, and the gearbox classes are raced in the Northern Karting Federation series. Close liaison is maintained with the British Superkart Association (the BSA), who organise the long circuit kart events. From 1998 all the MSA, ABkC classes and any sub-classes have been published in the MSA Kart Race Yearbook, known colloquially as the ‘Gold Book’. The general regulations and safety rules for the sport are contained in the MSA Competitors Yearbook, known as the ‘Blue Book’.  The Kart Regulations in the 'Blue Book' can be modified by the MSA Kart Commitee, often from an ABkC recommendation.

ABkC provides a forum for the generation of new ideas to improve and promote the sport, liaising with all parties from drivers through to manufacturers and the international kart racing federation. It maintains a website on

Taking Up Kart Racing

Do not go rushing off to buy the first Kart you see! Go to your nearest kart circuits and take a look at the classes that are racing. If you are big (greater than 6ft) and heavy (more than 13 stone) consider gearbox karts or one of the 'heavy' classes which some clubs offer, e.g. in Rotax Max..

Having viewed the options, and talked to drivers in the pits, decide upon which class is right for you. It is best to consider a well supported class so that no matter how fast or slow you may be there will always be someone to race with. Racing is all about mixing it with others. Small grids rarely give entertaining racing. Look in the magazines for local kart traders addresses, or in the small ads for used equipment.

Consider a kart racing course with a school which is approved as part of the ARKS system. A course will teach you more about the sport and the cost of racing in each class. You will also learn about driving technique and how to set up and maintain a kart and engine. It is ideal to attend a course before you make your final decision on which class to enter, and before making a purchase. The information that you will pick up in these areas will be invaluable.

Once you have decided to purchase or hire your kart some tools will be needed in order to maintain your kart correctly. Go practising several times before racing., particularly at the circuit you have chosen for your first race meeting. Then, unless you fall into one of the exemptions, you need to buy a 'Starting Karting' pack (75 incl postage which includes the costs of the first licence(s)) from an ARKS school or from the MSA, Motor Sports House, Riverside Park, Colnbrook, Slough SL3 0HG (Tel:01753 765000). A licence application form is enclosed in the pack. If you are over 18 years old, you need to have the medical certificate on the licence form completed by your doctor. If the driver is under 18 than the parent or guardian must take out a PG Entrants licence at the same time which costs 18 but is included in the pack price for the first one. Then once you feel you have had enough practice, you need to book an ARKS driving test with one of the approved ARKS schools or a participating club. This costs 95 (incl VAT) plus the hire of any equipment. You must join a Kart Club. There are many clubs in the country. By joining an ABkC affiliated club you are then allowed to race at any ABkC club circuit, and participate in the ABkC national championships. If you are good enough to finish in the top fifteen (top nine in gearbox) you can use that seeded number for the next year. Some clubs have test days and offer special rates to members for these and race days. Apart from your kart you must have protective clothing which includes a crash helmet approved for racing, an approved racing suit (CIK homologated with embroidered number and year code found under the back of the collar), gloves and boots giving ankle protection.

Approved helmets include the Type A/FR (Red Label) which may be phased out in a few years.  (The Type A (Blue Label) or B is not acceptable and neither are the EC22-05 standards often found in motor-cycle shops.)
The Snell SA2010 are the current US standards and are acceptable. (The SA95 standard being over 10 years old is no longer allowed but the SA2000/2005 are still acceptable.)
Snell K98 and K2005/K2010 are karting only standards, and are also acceptable as is the new CMH & CMR2007 standard which are mandatory for all under 15's racing.  They are designed especially for a good fit on kids, and are much lighter in weight.

Before racing an MSA sticker costing 2.50 or so from a MSA Scrutineer must be affixed to the right hand side.  It is blue except for the karting only standards when it is a green sticker and yellow for the CMR helmets.

From 2007 the MSA also offers a Kart Clubman Competition licence for Tyro, Endurance and Bambino racing.  This costs the same 36 as the Kart National B & B (Novice), but can be applied for on the day of a race with no need for a medical or ARKS test.  The club will carry out competency tests before you are allowed to race.  A new Kart Tyro sprint race system has been introduced or alternatively Endurance Races must be a minimum of 60 minutes duration, with at least one driver change or re-fuelling stop.  Engine power must not exceed 15bhp for seniors and 10bhp for Juniors.

After you have your National B Novice competition licence, which is free to under 16's, otherwise is 36, you will need to compete satisfactorily in five races and gain upgrade signatures from the MSA Steward. During this time your kart will have to use black number plates, and start from the back of the heats unless there is timed practice. After that you may keep your National B (Novice) licence, upgrade to National B, or obtain another six signatures at a minimum of three circuits and then apply for a National A licence. If you keep your National B (Novice), you must bring the licence or licences that have your five signatures to prove you are no longer a novice.

Youngsters could also find out if their school has a karting team, see

Additionally marshals and officials are always needed by kart clubs, you can find out more from and


Boys and girls can experience karting in a Bambino kart between their 6th and 8th birthdays.  No races are held, but instead drivers are sent out at intervals and timed.  Everyone gets a certificate, graded according to the time achieved taking into account the engine size.  The only engine allowed is the 2.5bhp Comer C50 two stroke with a logbook from Zip Kart, whilst tyres must be the Le Cont all weather type.  Drivers have to be assessed for competency by an ARKS Instructor or Examiner before going out in an MSA event.


Boys and girls can start kart racing at the age of eight in Formula Cadet. The IAME category uses a sealed 60cc Parilla Gazelle UK engine which has been chosen by the MSA to take over the prime category from the Comer engine from 2013 and is thus used in the Cadet British Championship raced in the Super One Series. It has a direct drive with a centrifugal clutch. Approx top speed 50mph. Fitted with side pods and nose cone for safety. Cost approx 2300 - 3000. The Honda Cadet, with an un-sealed 4-stroke engine is cheaper at around 2000 upwards, and a good economic starting point. It also has an ABkC National Championship within the Super One series. A new race prepared Honda engine can be obtained for 450 plus vat.  The two classes may be raced together.    The upper age of 13 is so that smaller children may stay in the class, but usually drivers will move up to the junior classes by the age of 12 as they get too heavy to be competitive.  The Comer Cadet using the W.60 engine will still be raced at many clubs and has a national MSA championship in the Super One but no seeded numbers are issued.

Note that all junior classes and some senior classes have a minimum driver weight, weighed with boots and helmet on. Check the class regulations for the exact weight.

4-stroke Classes

As well as Honda Cadet there are two further budget 4-stroke classes. Honda Junior utilises two Honda GX120 or 160 engines and is aimed at eleven to seventeen year olds, whilst Honda Senior uses two Honda GX160 engines for seniors of sixteen or older. Like the other classes, juniors may move into seniors in the year of their sixteenth birthday. Only certain clubs run 4-stroke classes, e.g. the Formula 6 Association. The Honda senior prokart is also often used in endurance racing over several hours with teams of drivers sharing karts. As well as the budget 4-strokes there are several bespoke racing 4-stroke engines. The newer World Formula offers economical 4-stroke kart racing, and is modelled on the CIK's legacy world wide formula but little raced in the UK.  Not all clubs offer 4-stroke racing though, whilst some specialise in this aspect of karting. When the class regulations are not in the MSA Kart Race Yearbook (the 'Gold Book') the regulations can be found on this site i.e. World Formula, Junior Honda and the Honda engine regulations with appropriate MSA KTE approval and on the MSA website.

Formula TKM

Formula TKM can claim to be one of the U.K.’s most popular kart classes but only now in certain areas so do check at your local club. There are three classes, Junior TKM for age eleven to seventeen, and Senior TKM Extreme for those sixteen or over. As always, experienced Juniors can move into seniors in the year of their sixteenth birthday. To make racing equal and keep costs down, all the categories use a Tal-Ko TKM BT-82 piston port 100cc (115cc for Extreme) engine to a strict non-tuning regime, but the Junior categories have restrictors between the carburettor and engine to limit the power, with different sizes and class weights to suit the size of the driver. Maintenance costs are reasonably low. As in all racing kart classes, the minimum all-up class weights in each class vary to cater for the different age and driver sizes. (Lead ballast is used to bring the weight up to the minimum weight if necessary.) Additionally only chassis that have been registered for the class are permitted, and maximum retail prices are set each year. Optional clutches are permitted, in which case a portable external electric starter is needed. Without this direct drive karts need to be pushed to start, initially with the rear wheels off the ground until enough speed is reached to start the engine. TKM is recommended for those starting 2-stroke karting, so long as it is raced at your local club. Top speeds are about 65 to 70 mph.  More information is on the Tal-Ko Website.  Tal-Ko have introduced a TAG (electric start) option.

KFJ (KF Junior)

A CIK (European and world wide) class for 13 to 16 year olds (from year of 13th birthday if prior experience). The engines for the KF series are all derived from the base KF4 125cc TAG (Touch And Go - electric on board starter) two strokes from many manufacturers with different restrictions for the different classes.  For instance KFJ is restricted to 14,000rpm and a specific carburettor type.  Mainly raced at British Championship level within the Super 1 Series, with some clubs also catering for this class. It uses relatively grippy tyres and provides a route for Juniors to partake in world level karting. The chassis must be CIK homologated which means all the parameters have been registered for use in a particular class. Not really a class for beginners!

Rotax Max, DD2, Rotax Junior Max and MiniMax

The Rotax Max uses a racing pedigree 125cc 2-stroke direct drive engine with an onboard clutch and electric self starter. The engine is quite powerful, although the maximum revs are limited, making the karts almost as fast as KF2. The engines are much lower maintenance than the 100cc alternatives, and are sealed so that only approved dealers can service them, making sure no unapproved tuning is carried out. Rotax Max is the senior class, with Rotax Junior UK the junior equivalent for 13 to 17 year olds. The junior engine uses a less powerful cylinder and MiniMax is an even more restricted version for 11 to 15 year olds. Becoming very popular but careful consideration as to racing experience is needed before choosing these classes to start in. Rotax offer an all expenses paid World Final for selected senior drivers qualifying from their home championships.  These are now the most popular classes in the UK.  There is a Rotax Max/177 class for the heavier drivers which is gaining in popularity.   The Rotax family classes are the most popular karting classes in the UK.  The Rotax DD2 class uses a similar 125cc two stroke engine, but has two gears changed with steering wheel mounted paddles, but this does not currently have a championship series in the UK. 

Gearbox Classes
For drivers over 16 years on short circuits. For long circuits like Donington or Cadwell Park drivers can start so long as they are no longer a novice (except Darley Moor, which caters for novices), and are over 16 years old in the 125 and 210 classes, and over 17 for the 250 classes. ABkC national Super 4 short circuit championships are raced in the Northern Karting Federation (NKF) series.

Junior Gearbox 80

This class uses an 85cc TM or Honda 2-stroke engine with 6 gears and a clutch and is for 13 to 16 year olds, all other gearbox classes being for seniors over 16. With its four wheel braking it offers juniors an experience close to a single seater race car or of course the senior gearbox categories. This class no longer has a national championship.  It's not raced anywhere at the moment.

Formula KZ UK

A medium cost class using registered 125cc water cooled reed valve 6-speed engines for seniors.  This is a good entry point for the gearbox classes with good grids and plenty second hand equipment. The gearbox classes use either a hand clutch or a foot clutch just like a car. All use foot pedals for the throttle and brake.  Tuning is restricted, and a lower compression ratio helps to give the engine a long life.  The Dunlop tyres used in the 125cc classes are economical to buy and have a long life.  KZ2 may be raced at its class weight within the Open class with the Dunlop class tyres.  There is a KZ1 category, equivalent to the factory supported class racing abroad, which is the MSA British Kart Championship class raced in the Super One Series.

Formula 125 Open

The fastest 125cc gearbox class using mainly CIK homologated (registered and approved) makes of reed or rotary valve 6-speed engines but mainly used on the long circuits where it has a thriving championship. The class is very similar to the international but now obsolete Formula C. Very cheap second hand equipment can be sourced, and speeds of 90mph (short circuit) and 115mph or more on the long circuit tracks are attained.   The weight for the class is 5kg heavier than KZ so that the two classes can race together fairly equally. The non-CIK homologated karts will be permitted to run with no front fairing or bodywork, so long as they are fitted with double rail sidebars.

Formula 210

A classic class using only the Villiers 197cc engine or clones. Administered by the drivers themselves through the 210 Challenge group. Further details from Kate Bateman on tel: 01527 870834 or from The group promotes a very popular 210 Challenge which goes around the club meetings, mainly in the Midlands.

Formula 250 National

A popular class, especially on short circuits, using registered motocross 5-speed 250cc single cylinder 2-stroke engines. Like all the 250’s the karts are often equipped with large full width nose cones and rear wings. The powerful 250’s can reach speeds of 100mph on short circuits, and over 140 mph on long circuits.  This class is also the MSA British Long Circuit championship. A similar class raced internationally is SuperKart Division 2, but a different range of engines are permitted. The NKF holds the ABkC Super 4 series for the national championship. There is a 450cc 4-stroke subclass.

250 Superkart Division 2

A CIK international class.   It uses a five or six speed mono cylinder registered engine, the most popular of which is the 5-speed Honda, the 6-speed Rotax 257 and from 2004 the Gas Gas.   No longer raced at short circuit.

Formula 250E and Superkart Division 1

The fastest gearbox class with a powerful twin cylinder 250cc 2-stroke and six gears. Now two 125cc engines are allowed too, i.e. a twin engined kart. Capable of speeds up to 160mph at the fastest motor racing tracks. It is still raced for major championships as Superkart Division 1 in certain continental countries and has a CIK European Championship, but now is generally a non-professional class in the UK administered by a development group to limit further costs as 250E.  No longer raced at short  circuit tracks.

For full table of classes go here

Interesting Books:

  • "Karting Explained" by Graham Smith, published by Crowood Press and available on Amazon and from Karting Magazine.  Covers practically everything you need to know.
  • How to Start Kart Racing  (maybe out of print)
  • Radical Sports - Karting (Heinemann Library) Aimed at 8 to 16 year olds.
  • Kart Champion on a Shoestring - out of print
  • Maintaining 100cc Kart Engines
  • Cadet Kart Racing
  • Karting Circuit Guide
  • A novel for the younger readers about F1 & Karting - Speed Machines
  • and lots of DVD's and videos


Further information from:

Secretary of ABkC and maintainer of these pages...
Graham M Smith
Stoneycroft, Godsons Lane
Warwickshire CV47 8LX
Tel and Fax: 01926 812177 (H & W)


Chairman of the ABkC...
Colin Wright
2 Greenways
Berks GU47 8PJ
Tel: Tel 07841 034192 E-mail: Chairman

Back to ABkC Site Index
ABkC Website maintained by Graham Smith

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Last Updated: 29 December 2013

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