With racing always being an expensive hobby for the enthusiasts and a credit-testing adventure for the real addicts, there are plenty of ways to go from comfortable to destitute in a matter of months in motorsport. Thankfully, not every avenue of the racing world requires a well-heeled set of shoes to walk down, and karting is one of the most accessible routes. Sure, it costs more than a soccer ball and a pair of cleats, but the skills and thrills offered by karting keep everyone from the clueless amateur to the seasoned professional driver entertained and challenged.

Note: Karting, like all forms of motorsport, costs some money. Depending on how far and how fast you want to go in karting, it can get quite pricey, but getting out on track in a World Formula kart and turning a few laps is perhaps the cheapest way to go racing.

Not only does Darin Sturdivant brim with enthusiasm when discussing his favorite pastime, but he identifies the key appeal of the sport straight away: “I think of a go-kart is a tool to develop drivers—it just makes you a better no matter what you’re racing.” Because of the immediacy of the reactions, the lateral loading, the agility, and the physical challenge involved, karts are serious performance items that sharpen responses, improve coordination, strengthen racecraft, and test the driver in ways that bigger cars sometime’s cannot.

Photo credit: Simracingpaddock.com

Even professional drivers like Jason Plato, Dane Cameron or Daniel Ricciardo use karting to stay sharp during the off season, if not just for the sake of fun. After all, it’s thrilling to dice at 100+ miles an hour, a couple inches off the ground, with more cornering performance than most supercars, and quite a few racing cars.

Best of all, karting can offer a convivial atmosphere that is, unfortunately, all too rare in the broader world of racing. Because most karters are simply speed junkies looking for a good time, they don’t quite approach the sport with the deadly ego and single-mindedness, not to mention the money, which drive a little joy out of the sport. For fun, fitness, friends, and an adrenaline jolt that’s near-impossible to achieve without breaking the law, give karting a try—you won’t regret it.