Go-karting is a sport popular among driving enthusiasts of different ages. People love to drive karts around the tracks and compete in the process. But this game also has its fair share of problems. An important one is the speed difference between light and heavily weighted drivers.
It is believed that heavy drivers are at a disadvantage in go-karting as their karts don’t get up to the speed as their competitors. Today, we will discuss this matter and try to understand the reality of this issue. So without further ado, let’s discuss how much weight actually matters in go-karting.
Extra Weight Slows Down Heavy Drivers – Myth or Not?
If you’re a go-karting fan, you must’ve heard that weight could slow down heavy drivers. But while it is a common understanding, there is still a lot of conflict on this matter. Many believe that it is just a myth that weight affects the kart speed, while others disagree. So let’s look at this problem and solve it using physics.
According to Newton’s Second Law, force is directly proportional to acceleration. And the acceleration of any moving body is proportional to its speed. In this scenario, mass remains constant and multiple for the required speed. Now, let’s apply this information to go-karts.
To move your kart from rest, you must apply significant force on the engine to accelerate. Now, this amount of force is dependent on various factors, including surface area, friction, quality of tires, etc. But these factors also include weight. The more the weight in a kart, the more force it will require to accelerate.
And keeping in view the above information, we know that the more force we lose in this process, the slower your kart will be. Hence it is, in fact, true that weight slows down the karts of heavy drivers.
That said, this is only true for linear tracks. Because on turns, the heavy drivers actually get better momentum. Let’s see the difference between curvy and straightway tracks to learn better.
Curvy vs Straightway Track
The track surface can also make a huge difference when it comes to go-karting. While straightway tracks are better for light drivers, the curve tracks and corners benefit heavy drivers. Let’s look at the physics behind this process to learn better.
Unlike straight paths where forces are linear, curves work on centrifugal forces. These forces push away the moving body from the center of the circle. They do so under the influence of gravity, and in the process, they increase the subject’s speed.
Not sure how this works well for heavy drivers? Let’s see.
You have to slow down for sharp turns in a go-kart as it risks your kart to flip over and rig. This phenomenon is worse for lightweight people as they’re at more risk in this situation. But the heavy drivers benefit here because their weight provides them a stable ride and helps them corner smoothly without losing much speed.
As a result, they gain back their lost momentum from the linear path. And eventually, they cope up with the light drivers if they use the cornering technique smartly. If you’re wondering whether you’d fit in the go-kart in the first place, then check out this article that we wrote on this topic.
Karting Tips for Heavy Drivers
If you are a heavy driver and a fan of go-karting, the following tips will help you stay on top of your game:
Use traction smartly
As a heavier driver, you will feel more traction than your competition. Traction is the contact of kart asphalt with the ground. The more contact there is, the more friction it will produce. As a result, your kart will require more force to accelerate.
The heavy drivers suffer from this problem, but they can easily use it for their own gain. You see, while traction might slow you down, it also gives you stability. So it will help you drive smoothly even in rough conditions like rain and slippery tracks.
Cornering will help you
Cornering gives heavy drivers some time to gain their momentum. But you should be careful in the process. Sure, cornering favors heavy drivers, but you can’t be reckless. Practice your moves and see what works best for you.
Avoid sliding as much as you can
Sliding is a no-go zone for go-karting. No matter what your size is, avoid sliding as much as you can. It makes you lose control over the kart, resulting in accidents. Especially for heavy drivers, sliding can be a huge issue.
To avoid this, make sure to press your brake just at the right time before turning. If you are late to slow your car, it’ll result in sliding, leaving you in a panic to control your ride. And once the slide is over, you have to work all over again for the speed. That is why avoid sliding so that you don’t lose your momentum during turns and curves.
FAQs Regarding Weight of the Driver and Go-Karting
Do heavy drivers find indoor karting difficult?
Yes, indoor tracks mostly have limited space and narrow turns that make a difference in the driving of heavy and lightweight drivers. They have small turns that don’t provide much help with the cornering. And the traction and the bind are much greater here. That is why you see a difference in the performance of different-sized drivers in indoor settings.
Is weight the only factor for the difference in lap times?
Yes, but technically no. Lap time can be altered due to many reasons. Yes, weight is indirectly one of the reasons behind the difference in drivers’ lap times, but not the only reason for it. It is dependent on tires, weather conditions, engine power, and other factors. So, just because there is a difference in performance between two drivers, you can’t say it is only because of their weight difference.
Go-karting is a fun sport with a sense of competition. It is a highly enjoyed activity among children and adults of all ages. But just like any other sport, this one also comes with its fair share of lacking, one of them being weight difference.
Above, we discussed how weight could affect the performance of drivers and eventually their lap times. We understood the science behind this process while also looking over some tips to help heavy drivers on the track.
Now, you should do your research and look for ways to improve your driving. And later, practice the tips in your next karting session to see the improvement.