Don't make the mistake of thinking of these critters as just over-sized go-carts. They have about as much in common with your garden variety go-cart as a chimp does with Einstein. Using the gearbox and engines from a motorcycle and 4-wheel disc brakes, these unique little machines are at the top of the food-chain when it comes to karts. Even though the SuperKart's small 250cc engine produces only 95 horse power, pound-for-pound the SuperKart has more horse power than a Chevrolet Corvette. Aerodynamically designed and running a ground-hugging one inch off of the ground, SuperKarts can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than three seconds and can stop on a dime - going from 100mph to a stop in about 2 seconds. Build with a low center of gravity, a stronger chassis than your traditional backyard go-cart, the ability to corner at almost 3 g's and using tires that are only six inches in diameter, SuperKarts are proof that good things DO come in small packages.
Though there are actually four classes of SuperKarts (80cc, 125cc, and an International and National 250cc), the major classes in the United States are the 250cc Formula E (F/E) and the 250cc Inter-Continental E (or IC/E). The 250cc Formula E is a twin cylinder with a 6-speed gear-box, while the 250cc Inter-Continental E is a single cylinder with either a 5 or 6 speed gear-box. Both use liquid cooled Grand Prix motorcycle engines (such as the Honda RS250 or the Yamaha TZ250) or, in the case of the Formula E, an engine specifically made for karting such as the BRC250.
Raced worldwide and likened by some to a miniature Formula 1, SuperKarts can sometimes reach speeds of over 150mph. Though often raced on the same famous circuit tracks as the Formula 1's and Indy cars, due to the smaller fuel tanks races are typically only 20 and 25 miles long (in the U.S. they are a timed 30-minute race). Like an Indy car or Formula 1 racer, SuperKarts are definitely not for the beginner. Drivers must be at least 18 years old with at least 2 years of shifter kart (or comparable) driving experience. Some of the SuperKart drivers have been involved with racing bikes or cars, however many of the SuperKart drivers start out driving in the Sprint karts, moving up to the 125 Shrifters and then on into the SuperKarts. Many drivers from both the Formula 1 circuit and NASCAR started their careers in SuperKarts. Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Darrell Waltrip and Tony Stewart are among some ex-SuperKart drivers that any NASCAR fan will be familiar with. On the SuperKart tracks drivers become accustomed to the high-speed, close-contact driving and can use the small vehicles to better their coordination and car-handling ability and learn to make split-second decisions.
Because of the small engine size and light weight of the karts, the Superkarts offer the excitement of the larger race vehicles, but use very little fuel compared to the larger vehicles. In this age of ever-rising fuel costs, this can be an important point. Also, rather than the $300,000+ price tag for your traditional race car, a Superkart can be yours for between $12,000 and $25,000. Quite a difference, don't you think? With all that they have going for them, is it possible that Superkarts will be the vehicle of choice for tomorrow's race fans?