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Karting Terms Explained

Glossary of Karting Terms

4SS
Four Stroke Sprint, Karting Australia’s low-cost, low-maintenance Class designed for an easy entry level into the sport.

Ackerman
The Ackerman effect is the increase of toe-out on the front wheels as the wheels are turned in a curve. The toe-out increase is reverse-proportional to the turn radius, i.e. the steeper the curve, the more toe-out. Just optically the effect seems to be that the inside front wheels appears to turn 'more' than the outside front wheel, which is in line with the observation that the inside front wheel actually needs to traverse a tighter curve than the outside wheel. It depends on the track if you really need Ackerman steering or not. In order to implement Ackerman steering, a special steering column is needed in which the two tie rods are not mounted into the same bearing hole, but rather in two separate holes which are located next to each other, and by a certain angle offset to the left and right of the kart's centre-line. Thus, the two steering-column-side ends of the tie rods will have rotated to a different angle (as measured relative to the centre line) when the steering wheel has been turned. This in turn will cause the tie rods to pull the pitman arm of the inside spindle more inward than the pitman arm of the outside spindle is pushed outward.

Apex
The inside portion of a turn or curve where the kart should be closest to the curb in order to take the fastest way around the track. Hitting the apex just right will be an important art to learn for every new driver or new track.

Baulk LIne
A line marked between the exit of the out grid and the edge of the track that marks the point that once crossed a kart must be operating under its own motive power. A kart that has crossed this line and is not under its own power will be deemed a Non Starter.

Bead breaker
A tool used as part of dismounting tires from wheel rims. This tool presses down on the "bead" of the tyre closest to the rim and pushes the lip of the tyre away from the lip of the wheel.

Bin It
To destroy your kart by crashing on your own - Bring your kart home “in a bin.”.

Blue printing
What the engine builder does to a new, stock engine to make it competitive. It is a costly procedure in which the new engine is taken completely apart, and all parts are machined to the (hopefully allowable) limit, in order to get as much performance out of the engine as possible. Non-blue printed engines are often not as competitive.

Bound up, Binding or Gripped up
When a kart has too much grip for the conditions, the tyres are planted to firmly to the track and not letting the kart behave or “release” the way it should, this often results in understeer, slower lap times and lower engine rpms.

Camber
Camber is part of kart wheel alignment setup and is the number of degrees that the top of the tire is tipped inward (negative camber) or outward (positive camber). It affects handling. Depending on the frame, it might be adjustable by eccentric plates on the top or bottom of the kingpin.

Caster
Caster is part of the wheel alignment setup and is the amount of degrees the top of the kingpin leans towards the rear of the kart. It affects handling, on some frames this is adjustable by adjusting eccentric plates on the top or bottom of the king pin.

Chief Steward
The Official who has the highest authority at an Event to enforce compliance with the Rules.

Clerk of Course
The Official(s) is responsible for the general conduct of the Event in accordance with the Rules. Should a Driver wish to lodge a protest, they are to do so by approaching a Clerk of Course.

Clevis
A small component that threads onto the brake tie rod and connects the rod to the master cylinder.

CMS
Karting Australia’s Competition Management System is commonly referred to as the CMS. After obtaining a Licence, Drivers are provided with a log in to the CMS page and karting events.

Control Fuel
The Supplementary Regulations may state that only fuel from a specific Service Station is permitted to be used.

Compound
Various types of tyres will use different compounds, i.e. rubber mixtures. The compound determines the stickiness of the tyre i.e.: a soft compound tyre has more grip but wears out faster and a hard compound tyre lasts longer but does not offer as much grip.

Cut Through
A shortened circuit used at Club Events sometimes used during the Formation Lap. If it is to be used during the race meet, it is advised during the Drivers Briefing and there are instructions provided to Drivers.

Direct drive
Karting without a clutch. The crankshaft is directly connected to the rear axle via the chain. Thus, the kart engine cannot run when the kart is not in motion. A direct drive kart needs to be push-started.

DNF
An acronym for Did Not Finish the Race

DNS
An acronym for Did Not Start the Race

Drivers Briefing
At every Event, just like in other forms of motorsport, there is a Briefing for the Drivers to provide specific information from the Senior Officials. At Club Events, this Drivers Briefing is generally conducted prior to the start of the day’s on track action and held on the Out-Grid or in the Clubrooms.

Drive sprocket
The small sprocket mounted on the outside-portion of the crankshaft. It is connected via the chain with the rear sprocket. Also called the drive gear.

DSQ
An acronym for Disqualified

Durometer
A device used to test how soft or hard tyres are, it uses a spring-loaded pin to measure the resistance in pushing the pin into the face of the tyre. To be accurate as a comparison tool the tyres should be measured at the same temperature, pressure and in the same position on the tyres.

Formation Line
The red line painted on the circuit. This line indicates the point on the track when a Driver is required to be in their correct starting position prior to the start of a race.

Front track
Front track is part of the setup and depending on preference can be referred to as the distance between the two front wheels, or the distance from outside to outside of the wheels, or even by the thickness in mm of spacers on the stub axle. The front track changes the handling of the kart and can be varied by adding or removing the spacers from the inside to outside of the hub on the stub axles, or by using different length and offset stub axles and hubs.

Grid
Short for starting grid. The order in which the drivers line up for the race start. This order is can be determined through qualifying or random draw. The driver who managed to end up in the first position is known as being in "pole position".

Hopping
A nasty handling characteristic in corners where the rear tires alternately grip, slip, grip, and slip, that causes the chassis to bounce up and down in the turns.

IAME
Manufacturer of a 2-stroke engine used in some karting classes.

In-Grid
The In-Grid is a fenced off area where the Drivers return to after completing their on-track session. If directed by an Official, Drivers (with their karts) will need to be weighed in this area in order to ensure compliance with the rules.

Kingpin
The bolt or pin that connects the stub axle to the frame. The positioning of the kingpin in the frame affects caster and camber. This position is adjustable in some frames

Minimum Weight
Each Class will have a minimum weight that a Driver must comply to when weighed with their driving equipment and kart. The checking of this weight is completed at the Scales located in the In-Grid at the completion of the race.

Notice Board
Every Track will have an Official Notice Board where information such as results, grids and other relevant information surrounding the event will be posted.

ODS
Observed driving session is a task that all new drivers must undertake and successfully complete at their club prior to being able to compete on a KA licensed Racetrack. The purpose of the ODS is to satisfy officials the new driver is capable of driving a kart in a safe and controlled manner.

Out-Grid or Dummy Grid
The Out-Grid is a fenced off area where the karts are taken to get ready to go on track.

Over steer
When during cornering the rear tires loose grip before the front tires, the rear of the kart will slide towards the outside of the curve. The kart rotates 'over' what the steering input suggested. It looks fast, but tends to slow down the kart, since the rear, tires end up sliding sideways across the surface, effectively scrubbing off speed. Another term for this condition is loose.

Parc ferme
Parc Ferme is a restricted area that is under the control of the Chief Scrutineer, an area dedicated to the checking of karts and engines with compliance of the rules. No karts can be touched or worked on in these areas without permission or unless under supervision from a Tech Scrutineer. Some races may even store fuel or tyres in these areas where they can’t be tampered with.

Piston Stop or Engine Stop
A tool or device that is either screwed into the spark plug hole or fits in the ring gear teeth that will stop the motor from rotating so that the clutch or crank nut can be undone or tensioned up. If it is a tool that is inserted in the spark plug hole it is usually made of plastic or nylon so that it does not damage the piston.

Race Format
The Supplementary Regulations will outline the Format of Racing for the Event. Each Event can be different, whether the grid positions are decided by a random draw, qualifying or points from previous races in the Event.

Race Control
Also referred to as the Tower. The building generally located adjacent to the Start/Finish line, where the Senior Officials and Timing Officers manage the Event.

Racing line
Not necessarily the shortest, but the fastest course around the track. When driving the racing line, the vehicle is taking the curves with the largest possible radius, allowing higher cornering speed that will also carry more speed along the straights.

Race Order
The order in which each Class will take to the Track during an Event.

Rear track
Rear track is part of the setup; it is the distance from outside to outside of the rear wheels. It can be varied by moving the wheel hubs inward or outward on the rear axle or using different length and offset hubs or wheels. Varying the rear track changes the handling of the kart. There are regulations regarding the maximum width of rear track that a kart can have.

Ripple Strip
A profiled concrete strip on the outside edge of a track corner, constructed to a specific profile, to deter karts from driving off the track.

Rotax
Manufacturer of a 2-stroke engine used in some karting classes.

Scrutineering/Scrutineering Shed
At every event, each Driver is required to provide confirmation that their kart and equipment complies with the Karting Australia rules. This is conducted by completing a Scrutineering Form.
Every race meet has a scrutineering area where officials will check karts, motors, or safety gear for compliance to regulations.
Normally P plate drivers must present their kart for inspection at the scrutineering area before racing. Some karts will be required to go to the scrutineering area through out a race meet for random checks or after gaining a front running position in a race.

Seat Stays
Extra braces that are added between the seat and the kart. The placement and number of stays can alter the handling of the kart by changing the stiffness of the overall structure (which alters the flexing ability of the seat to the kart).

Shifter Kart
A kart with a gearbox. Most commonly comes in 80cc or 125cc two stroke configuration with six gears and hand operated clutch used for the standing start race start only.

Sign-In
At most Club Race Meetings, you are required to ‘sign-in’ to confirm your attendance. Drivers are encouraged to check at the Race Secretaries Office to see if Sign-In is required for the respective event.

Stewards Room
A room where Drivers are required to report to if they have infringed the rules to meet with the Officials of the Event.

Stub Axle
The part of the kart that the front Hub and wheel attaches to, it is also where the steering tie rods are bolted to control the steering of the kart. It attaches to the chassis of the kart via the king pin.

Supplementary Regulations or Supp Regs
An official document that is supplementary to the Karting Australia National Competition Rules that contains specific information for an upcoming event.

Teeth
The size of the drive gear/front sprocket or driven gear/rear sprocket is measured in the teeth around the circumference of this sprocket. Changing gear ratios therefore requires ‘running more/less teeth’, i.e. using a sprocket of a different size.

Telemetry
A device usually known as a Dash or Data Logger that Displays and/or stores information while the karts motor is running, or the kart is in motion. These devices can normally be downloaded after a run so that the data can be analysed to help improve lap times or solve kart problems.

Threshold braking
Applying the brakes without any safety margin left. During normal racing, brakes will be applied to some 98% of their maximum braking capacity, or so. Under threshold braking, the driver reaches and occasionally exceeds 100% of the brakes' (more accurately the tyres') capabilities. The tyres may lock up. Threshold braking is obviously not recommended for every curve during normal racing, since it is very risky and the driver is bound to make a mistake, eventually. Threshold braking is therefore usually only used in qualifying or during high-risk passing manoeuvres.

Tie rods
Two tie rods are typically connecting the steering column to the stub axle arms. The tie rods are adjustable in length.

Toe-in
Part of the kart wheel alignment setup that can dramatically affect handling. Essentially, it looks like the two front wheels want to drive towards each other. A small amount of toe-in improves the response during corner entry.

Toe-out
Part of the kart wheel alignment setup that can dramatically affect handling. Essentially, it looks like the two front wheels want to drive away from each other. Toe-out will make the kart dart rapidly into a corner when the steering wheel is turned.

Tow or Drafting
This is a practice of following the kart in front quite close and in the same wheel tracks, the following vehicle takes advantage of the front vehicle's draft and thereby manages to easily either keep up with or even gain ground on the leading vehicle that is producing the “tow”.

Trail braking
When the brake is applied after steering into a curve. Traditionally in racing, brakes are applied while the front wheels are still steering straight. Trail braking may allow deeper braking into a corner, but if not done properly can very quickly result in massive over steer, since the rear wheels are not only unloaded, but also have to perform braking duty.

Tram Tracks and No Mans Land
Tracks have a set of 2 lines just over a kart width apart painted on the track for approximately twenty-five meters before the start line, there is a set of these lines on each side of the centreline of the track. These sets of lines are often referred to as the “Tram Tracks” and the area between these two tracks is called no mans land. When a race is being started the karts must stay in their row between the lines of their tracks until the start of the race is signalled. Having any part of your kart outside of these lines before the start has been signalled will incur a penalty.

Transponder
An electronic device mounted to the kart, which triggers an external (track side) mechanism each time you cross a certain point on the racetrack. Some organizations use transponders to automate their timing and scoring systems, enabling them to accurately determine the starting grid in qualifying

Understeer
When during cornering the front tires loose grip before the rear tires, the front of the kart will slide towards the outside of the curve. The sensation is that the kart is not turning as much as indicated by the steering wheel. The kart is slowed down, since the front tires are effectively scrubbing off speed. This condition is also referred to as pushing.

Weight
Also referred to as Ballast or Lead. To ensure compliance with the minimum weight for the Class, Drivers are able to bolt lead weights to their seat in accordance with the Rules.