Cheap race car or a KZ-2 race kart. Opinion
Based on the expenses for an MX-5 and KZ kart
So you want to go racing, on a budget. What should you do? A question as old as time.
This research has been based on the cost of going Mazda MX-5 racing or KZ-2 kart racing.
Let's start off by analysing the initial cost to buy the vehicle. The cost for the newest race ready MX-5 is about £55 000 with second hand cars at about £10 000 to £15 000. Of course as with any motorsport the more you spend initially the more competitive package you will get. A KZ class kart will set you back about £10 000 for a top end machine or it can be as little as £1500 for just a hobby KZ kart, or a very competitive used one at around £7500.
Now we will look at the specs ow what you are getting for that cost. The newest MX-5 has a 2L engine with 181 bhp that will do 0-62mph in about 6,5 seconds. Of course an older one would be slower. Basically all KZ-2 karts, new or older, are the same spec, they have a 125cc water cooled engine, producing around 50 bhp. That may not sound much, but the kart excluding driver is about 80kg so that results in a 0-62mph time in about 3,5 seconds. The maximum speed is heavily dependent on gearing, but having no proper aerodynamics it is about 120 mph with 145 for the Mazda.
Specs for MX-5 and KZ-2
Once you purchase your vehicle of choice you will either begin racing, which will require that you purchase new tyres for both or used ones for testing or fun. A new 15" MX-5 tyre is about £170 with a used one at around £60. For the kart the price is £40 per new tyre and £15 per used tyre.
Assuming you don't hate yourself you will need one or more additional sets of wheels in order to have another set of slicks on standby and a set of wets. A new set of wheels for the Mazda is about £400 or a used set at £300, with the cost for kart wheels at a set for £170 and a used set at £80. Of course these prices are heavily dependent on the make and type of wheels. For both the car and kart there are aluminium and magnesium wheels with the option of steelies for the car as well. Furthermore there are other differences like Low-Volume, Standard or other type wheels which may make the rims more or less expensive. For example OTK MXC kart wheels are £400 with the MXJ being £250, or DWT Low Volume wheels at £170.
The equipment needed is slightly different for car and kart racing. For car racing you currently need a suit, gloves, boots and undergarments certified to the FIA 8856-2000 standard, meaning that they are fireproof. The helmet is to be fireproof and HANS compatible. For kart racing you can use a fireproof helmet, which doesn't need to be HANS compatible as you can only use a neck collar if you wish. The suit you need is a CIK-FIA certified Level 2 suit, which is not fireproof but is abrasion proof. As for the gloves and boots, you can either use ones for car racing or kart racing. Using a car racing suit for kart racing is in some cases not allowed, in others forbidden as those suits are only fireproof and not abrasion proof.
Depending on what you're looking for be that racing or just fun track time there are different fees you need to take in to account. Either licensing and registration fees for racing or just track day and track entry fees if you're looking for a bit of fun. Prices shown are based on fees in the UK. Although they may differ depending on track and championship.
Some other cost to consider are the cost of transporting the car to the track which will require the purchase of a dedicated trailer or so, whereas for the transportation of a kart you can use a trailer if you want to be able to have everything at your side or just stick it atop a car or inside an estate. So you can get away with considerably less if you go the karting route. That although is heavily dependent on how and where you race.
Furthermore in with the Mazda you can possibly get away with very little in regards to maintenance cost thought the racing season, whereas on the kart you will need to change a piston at about 50-100 liters of burnt fuel, depending on how you drive and a change of conrod at about 200-300 liters of used fuel. The cost of a piston is about £75, conrod price is about £150. If the sanctioning body allows it you can change these on your own and save up on that cost or if not send them over to be changed at a cost of around £50-150 for both.
KZ Karts, the cheaper way to go faster!
For me any kart will always come out on top. Especially a KZ-2 will always be twice as fast and at least half as expensive as any cheap race car. Also on a kart you can pretty much change all the settings you can on a car and you will have a better choice of tracks to go to and in many cases better grids to race against. If the choice is a GT4/GT3 car or kart, I would go with the car but still use the kart for training.
Get yourself in a kart as soon as you can and see what I mean. In a car you have a roll cage in a kart you feel completely exposed and thus have a greater perception of speed. Finally karts are able to produce closer and better racing than many types of car racing as they are not aero dependant and because of the nature of the karts themselves and kart tracks.