Go-Kart Terminology: A Beginner’s Guide

There are quite a number of terms used when talking about go-kart related topics and not everyone may be familiar with them. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a go-kart terminology and glossary list for some of the most commonly used go-kart terms. You can simply look at the word and its definition or meaning on the right side. If you would like me to add any words to the chart, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add them.

2-Seater KartGo-KartsCertain rental go-karts feature 2 seats that allows people to side with an additional passenger
2-Stroke EngineGo-Kart EngineAn internal combustion engine for go-karts that completes a full power cycle in exactly 2 strokes
4-Stroke EngineGo-Kart EngineAn internal combustion engine for go-karts that completes a full power cycle in exactly 4 strokes
Ampere (A)Go-Kart MotorAmpere is the unit that is used to measure an electric current in a go-kart motor
ApexGo-Kart RacingAn apex is the point of the racing track at which you are in the closest position to the inside of the corner
Arrive and DriveGo-Kart RacingArrive and Drive is a concept at karting facilities that lets you park your car and instantly race with go-karts without any booking requirements
Band BrakeGo-Kart BrakesA band break is a traditional go-kart racing break that uses a break band and a drum to create friction
BeltGo-Kart TransmissionsA go-kart belt or drive belt is a rubber belt that is connects the driver pulley to the driven pulley of a torque converter
Bolt PatternGo-Kart WheelsA bolt pattern is the number of bolt holes and their respective positions on a go-kart wheel
CamberGo-Kart TiresCamber refers to the inward or outward tilt of the front go-kart tires
CarburetorGo-KartsA device that is attached to the go-kart engine that mixes air and fuel ratio for optimal racing performance
CasterGo-Kart TiresCaster refers to a positive or negative angle of the front spindle that the go-kart wheels are connected to
Centrifugal ClutchGo-Kart TransmissionsA centrifugal clutch is a type of go-kart transmission that engages through centrifugal force at a certain rpm range
ChainGo-Kart TransmissionsA go-kart chain or roller chain is a steel chain that connects to two sprockets, in order to to transmit rotational force
ChassisGo-KartsA go-kart chassis refers to its frame or tubing that all the parts are connected to
Chest ProtectorGo-Kart EquipmentA chest protector is a vest-like go-kart racing equipment that protects your chest and rib cage
CIKGo-Kart RacingCIK is the primary international sanctioning body for go-kart racing and stands for Commission Internationale de Karting
CompoundGo-Kart TiresA compound refers to the particular blend of materials that went into the construction of the respective go-kart tires
CrankshaftGo-KartsThe crankshaft is a rotating shaft of a go-kart engine that rotates when the pistons move
Cubic Centimetre (cc)Go-Kart EngineCubic centimeters (cc) refers to total amount of swept volume in the go-kart engine's cylinders
Did Not Finish (DNF)Go-Kart RacingA go-kart racer who started the race but did not finish it
Did Not Qualify (DNQ)Go-Kart RacingA go-kart racer who did not quality to participate in a race most commonly for not being fast enough in qualifications
Did Not Start (DNS)Go-Kart RacingA go-kart racer who qualified for a race but did not start, also referred to as a no-show
Direct DriveGo-KartsA direct drive go-kart has no transmission, where the crankshaft is connected directly to the rear axle sprocket
DOTGo-Kart RacingDOT stands for Department of Transportation and is a safety standard for go-kart racing equipments
DraftingGo-Kart RacingDrafting is an aerodynamic technique go-kart racing that takes advantage of a slipstream
DriftingGo-KartsDrifting is a driving technique where the go-kart racer intentionally oversteers in order to slide sideways
DurometerGo-Kart TiresDurometer is the international standard that is used for measuring go-kart tire hardness (Durometer is more commonly used in the US)
Engagement RangeGo-Kart TransmissionsThe engagement range of a transmission is the rpm range in which the torque converter or clutch starts to activate
FIAGo-Kart RacingFIA is the primary international sanctioning body for automobile racing and stands for Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
FrameGo-KartsA go-kart frame refers to the chassis of a go-kart, but is more commonly used with homemade go-karts
GasGo-KartsGas refers to gasoline and is the same this as petrol or fuel for a go-kart
Gear RatioGo-Kart TransmissionsThe ratio is calculated by dividing the number of teeth of the camshaft sprocket by the number of teeth of the rear axle sprocket
HANSGo-Kart RacingHANS stands for Head and Neck Support and are devices to protect the head and neck areas when racing
Horse Power (hp)Go-Kart EngineHorsepower (hp) is the output of an gas-powered go-kart engine
InsuranceGo-Kart InsuranceGo-karts can be insured depending on the country and state that you live in
IRHDGo-Kart TiresIRHD stands for (International Rubber Hardness Graduation) and measures the rubber hardness of go-kart tires (IRHD is more commonly used in Europe)
JackshaftGo-KartsAn intermediate axle on a go-kart that transfer rotations force between the crankshaft and the rear axle
Junior KartsGo-Kart RacingJunior karts are go-karts that are specifically designed for youths between the ages 11 to about 17
Lap TimerGo-Kart RacingA lap timer is a device that is attached to a go-kart which measures lap times via gps
Live AxleGo-KartsA live axle on a go-kart is an axle that directly transmits power to both rear wheels equally
MarshalGo-Kart RacingRace marshals are responsible for the safety of go-karters and are responsible to signal flags depending on the current racing conditions
Master LinkGo-kart ChainThe master link is a component on a go-kart chain has connects and disconnects the chain
Neck ProtectorGo-Kart EquipmentA neck protector is a piece of go-kart racing equipments that goes in between your helmet and shoulders to protect your neck
NomexGo-Kart EquipmentNomex is a flame-resistant material developed in the 1960s that is often used in high-quality go-kart racing helmets and gloves
OutputGo-Kart EngineThe output of an engine or motor is denominated in horsepower (hp) for gas engines and watts (W) for electric motors
Oval KartGo-KartsOval karts are a type of racing go-karts that are built specifically for turns in only one direction that are used for oval race tracks
OvertakingGo-Kart RacingOvertaking is a maneuver where a go-kart racer passes the kart in front of him or her
Racing FlagsGo-Kart RacingGo-karts flags are used indicating go, caution, stop, infraction, passing, last lap and finish line in a go-kart race
Racing GlovesGo-Kart EquipmentRacing gloves are specially design gloves for go-kart races that protect your hands from injury and cushion steering wheel vibration
Racing HelmetGo-Kart EquipmentA racing helmet is designed to protect your head from injuries in a go-kart race
Racing LineGo-Kart RacingA racing line is the optimal path around a go-kart racing track
Racing SuitGo-Kart EquipmentA racing suit is specifically designed for motorsports such as go-kart racing and protects the body against injury
RampGo-KartsA ramp is a sloping surface that is placed between the floor and a trailer, in order to position the go-kart onto a trailer
Rental KartsGo-KartsRental karts are go-karts that are available at a facility that you can rent and race with on the karting track
Roll CageOff-Road Go-KartsA roll cage is a constructed frame that is typically found on off-road go-karts which protects the driver and the passenger
RPMGo-Kart EngineRPM stands for revolutions per minute and indicated how many revolutions the crankshaft is spinning at per minute
Seat Belt HarnessGo-Kart RacingA seat belt harness is a piece of safety equipments attached to the driver and seat to protect the driver from getting flung out
SFIGo-Kart RacingSFI is a non-profit organization that sets standards for the quality assurance of go-kart racing equipment
Slick TiresGo-Kart TiresSlick tires are go-kart racing tires that have a smooth or "slick" profile
SlippingGo-Kart TransmissionsSlipping occurs when a go-kart clutch doesn't fully engage
SpeedometerGo-Kart RacingA mechanical or digital instruments that measures a go-karts speed
SpindlesGo-KartsSpindles are steering parts for the front tires that help the go-kart wheels turn when the steering wheel is moved
SprocketGo-Kart TransmissionsA sprocket is a profiled wheel with teeth that go onto the crankshaft, jackshaft, clutch or torque converter in order to transmit rotational power to the rear axle
StandGo-KartsA go-kart stand is a device where a go-kart can be placed on top of for repairs and maintenance
Starting GridGo-Kart RacingA starting grid is the starting configuration of a go-kart race
StorageGo-KartsGo-kart storage refers to a location where a go-kart can be parked and stored
TensileGo-Kart TransmissionsTensile or tensile strength is the maximum stress that a material can experience before it breaks
Tire PrepGo-Kart TiresTire prep refers to tire preparation formula and procedures that are done before a go-kart race
Torque ConverterGo-Kart TransmissionsA torque converter is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that can dynamically adjust it's gear ratio to the engine's rpm
TrackGo-Kart RacingA track is a facility built for go-kart racing that is indoor or outdoors and typically made of concrete or asphalt
TractionGo-Kart TiresTraction refers to the amount of grip your tires have on a go-kart racing track
TrailOff-Road Go-KartsA trail is a outdoor non-paved path that is designed for off-road go-karting
TrailerGo-KartsA trailer is a unpowered vehicle that is attached to a car, van or truck in order to transport a go-kart
TransmissionGo-Kart TransmissionsA transmission is a power transmission system in a go-kart, which are most commonly a torque converter or a clutch
Voltage (V)Go-Kart MotorVoltage is the amount of electrical force that drives electric current in a go-kart motor
WattGo-Kart MotorWatt (W)or kilowatt (kW) refers to the electrical output of an electric go-kart motor

How to Read the Go-Kart Terminology Chart

If you’re unsure on how to read the terminology chart above, you can refer to the explanation of it below. I’ll go through each column and explain how to read it. 


The word refers to the go-kart related term in question. These words are most commonly used in anything related to go-karts and go-kart racing.  


The category here refers to a group name of individual terms. For example, a clutch and a torque converter both belong to the category ‘go-kart transmissions’ 


The meaning here refers to the definition of the term. Please keep in mind that these terms are explained in a go-kart context and not generalized. 

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About Gerrit

Owner, Researcher, Writer & Editor at GoKartGuide.com

Hi, I'm Gerrit. I have been racing go-karts competitively and recreationally for the past 20 years. Apart from actively growing local karting communities, I run GoKartGuide and write comprehensive articles, guides & reviews about go-kart racing. I race, build, mod, & discuss go-karts whenever I find the time. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the read!

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