Those of you who’ve been racing karts for years, think back…how many parts do you use that have been with you since day one. Not tools or gear, but actual parts that you bolt on to your kart and make use of every time you’re on the track. Chances are it’s a very short list, and that’s because almost every part on your kart can be considered a ‘wear item’, including the chassis. That’s sort of unique to karting; vintage car racing is hugely popular in the US, and it’s not uncommon to see cars that are thirty…forty years old still racing lap after lap. Sure, many of their parts may be new (or NOS), but the chassis may be the very same one that was raced in the 1960’s. Vintage karts exist, but they’re few and far between.
It’s probably the combination of our ultra-low ground clearance, and the fact that the chassis itself is made of steel – which has a finite life when it’s entire job is to flex and twist – that makes a chassis essentially expendable. 60 mph encounters with tall curbs and off-camber roads will scrape the bottom of the chassis, and thousands of newton-meters of force travel through those same tubes to let the chassis work. Theres plenty of debate over whether a kart chassis can be truly ‘worn out’ from use, but one thing is for sure, and that is that you can scrape and flatspot the bottoms of those chromoly tubes of your brand new kart as quickly as one bumpy parking lot race. Enter my nemesis, Metal Fatigue.
We can slow this evil nemesis down, but to do that, we must make a sacrifice! Enter my savior, Chassis Protectors.
These sacrificial parts have become a little more prominent in recent years, and I think they should be an essential part on every karters ride. Spending a little on these now will make your chassis last much longer, and give you much better peace of mind when you’re chasing down 1st place and hopping those curbs in the chicane.
There’s a huge variety of chassis protectors on the market, some protect the waist of the kart, some protect the rear brake rotor & sprocket, others are more universal and can bolt on anywhere you need it. Some are made of high impact plastics, others made of metal. Me? I went with these .120″ thick stainless steel beauties from Precision Karting Technologies, and this brake rotor guard from Fastech-Racing to protect my $700 rear ceramic brake rotor.
I’ve tried plastic chassis protectors in the past and wasn’t too thrilled. More specifically a teflon-impregnated plastic wrap that did a fine job, but wore out quickly and wore down the paint on the chassis. The only solution in my mind was a metal product that would hold up longer and wouldn’t make the chassis look like crap.
The PKT Skid Plates install fairly straightforward – just position where you want them on the kart, mark and drill holes in your floor pan, and secure with the provided hardware. The rotor guard is as simple as clamping to the frame rail. I’ve yet to test either out on the track, but i’m confident that they’ll do their job and protect my investment. Here’s a few more shots!