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Gentlemen and Ladies! Start your engines! If those words make your blood rush, then you should consider go-karting for fun and profit! All over the world, people are gassing up their tanks and revving up their motors hoping to be the next championship racer on their track. You can win prizes, money or just do it for the fun. Karters like to tinker and one thing they all have in common is a need for speed.

A go-kart is a small gas powered car that seats one person. The driver sits only a few inches above the ground and there is no body on the car, just a chassis. Depending on the style of kart you can go from 40 to 100 miles per hour. Experienced karters recommend some passive viewing before jumping behind the wheel. Watch some races, hang around a track, get the feel of the sport by reading magazines and books.

When you're ready to give it a go check the phone book for a track near you where you can rent a kart by the hour. These tracks may offer classes where you will be taught maintenance, safety rules and basic driving skills. Practicing outside of a race is very important. Be sure you can start, stop and turn without any problems.

Investing in your own kart is a big decision. It's time and money. You can buy used karts or parts to build your own, but be careful that you’re not buying anything bent or broken. A beginner may be better off spending the money with a good kart shop so you know what you’re getting. A kart kit (which has everything you need to get started) can run around $2,000 dollars. You will have to pay track fees from 50 to 100 dollars, gas and oil and new tires for almost every race. If you’re not interested in racing, just riding for fun you can get away with a lot less.

If you're ready to feel the burn, look into these different styles of karting:

Sprint Racing - a Sprint Kart looks like the original 50’s style with a seat that let’s the driver sit up straight. This is to give the driver a better view and better control since sprint courses are full of turns. Drivers average about 70 miles per hour.

Enduro Racing or Road Racing - They are called Enduro since they take endurance to run. These karts are designed so the driver is in a reclining position like a luge driver. This reduces wind resistance and helps the car go faster. Enduro cars can go up to 125 miles per hour

Superkarts - These are fairly new and were first designed in Europe. They are described as "expensive flying lawn chairs with clutches." Drivers are between the sit-up and lie-down positions. It has six speeds and a clutch and can go up to 165 miles per hour. A Superkart can cost you 15,000 dollars and are expensive to repair and maintain.

Like many sports, karting can be dangerous if you’re not well prepared. You’ll always see an ambulance standing by at a race but that is there for everyone’s protection, it is rarely used to take someone to the hospital. Drivers must wear a helmet and clothing that protects them from bumps and scrapes. Because the engines are noisy, earplugs are recommended as well. And for the those of you with long hair, (guys included) be sure it is well secured beneath a helmet to keep it from catching in the moving parts of the kart.

To race in most of the official competitions in North America, you will need to belong to one of the two kart associations, International Kart Federation, or World Karting Association. They will help you determine your ‘class’ for racing which is based on your age, experience and type of car you drive. Being a ‘licensed’ member of one of these associations helps assure that all drivers will operate in a safe manner and within the rules.

Karting can be an expensive hobby, but it's also one that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Moms, dads, son and daughters can all enjoy a day at the races.