The LO206: I’m done with cars. I found something better.

LO206: Cars are great…but they suddenly seem boring.

This is an exciting post for me to to be putting out there – this is the first post in Racers HQ history to feature another writer.

Before we jump into the LO206 topic I want to welcome Jake Reihl to the growing list of contributing writers for Racers HQ. I met Jake over a year ago when he introduced himself while in the creation stages of the Rags To Races podcast where he produced excellent free content for the entry level racing driver.

I’ve been talking about the Briggs and Stratton LO206 racing kart for several months now. This underrated, low budget karting series is the perfect solution for so many issues facing aspiring racers. It’s:

  1. Surprisingly affordable (Less than $3000, a fraction of many autocross cars)
  2. Ridiculously spec (No modifications allowed, hard tire compounds that last a season, engines that last two years with zero maintenance)
  3. Competition is fierce and goes up through the national level

(More about the LO206 at: Racers HQ Podcast Episode 10: The next (and most affordable! step for the serious autocross racer, Episode 23: Get out of autocross with Tom Clark of DRT Racing)

Jake recently sold his track car to acquire an LO206 and I’m excited to have him share his insights about why and how he’s doing this. Make sure you welcome Jake by exploring his podcast and stopping by the Rags To Races Facebook page.

Here’s Jake. Enjoy!

-Matt

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Yep, I tossed the Miata.

I’ve always been in love with the idea of wheel-to-wheel racing.  I’ve done my share of autocrosses and track days, but always wanted the added thrill of sharing a small space with another driver and vehicle.

A few years ago I bought a ’91 Miata with the intent of building myself a budget enduro car to compete in Chumpcar/LeMons/WRL.

I started stripping the car and buying parts as I could afford them.  I constantly scanned Facebook, Craigslist and other pages looking for parts on the cheap to build a car that fits my budget.

While building my car, I got my speed fix working hard as a crew chief for a good friend who drives an RX-7 in the SCCA Majors Tour.  I learned as much as I could about race craft, car setup and running a competitive race team in a high stress situation.

That real world education came to a head this year at the first race of the Majors season for my friend.  While attempting to push the car to the absolute limit he lost control of the car and was hit going into corner 1 on the first lap of the first race of the weekend.

After all was said and done over $5000.00 worth of repairs were needed to get the car back on track, not to mention the loss of funds since the car couldn’t get back on track for the rest of the race weekend.

I’ve been saving all my spare pennies and nickels to not only build my car – but I also planned to take over driving responsibilities once my friend retires next year.

This incident made me realize something. If I have even the smallest incident in the Miata or RX-7 my season, and possibly the next, is over.  No one can truly be competitive with this on the back of their mind.

Cheaper than any budget racer.

I think it was Ross Bentley who said “race where you can afford to dominate.”  This has been on my mind since the corner one incident with my friend’s car.

If you know me or listen to my podcast you know that wheel-to-wheel racing has always been my dream.  But once I started running the numbers the most sensible and fun answer in my mind was kart racing.

Don’t get me wrong – kart racing at the highest levels is very expensive and out of my price range.  I neither have the wallet or fitness level at this point to run at the upper echelon of karting.

There’s been a lot of talk here on RacersHQ.com and several of the Facebook groups I belong to about Briggs and Stratton LO206 karts.

(Racers HQ Podcast Episode 10: The next (and most affordable! step for the serious autocross racer, Episode 23: Get out of autocross with Tom Clark of DRT Racing)

I did my research and found that not only could I afford a competitive LO206 kart, I could afford repairs from on-track incidents and be able to run for points in a series.

The Briggs and Stratton LO206 kart isn’t the fastest thing on four wheels, but it’s a beast to handle on track.  Sixty to seventy miles per hour in the straights and upwards of 2G’s in the corners.  All of this with your hind quarters about one inch off the ground!

The illusion of speed is amazing, but the competition is even better.  On average, you’ll see 20-30 LO206 karts on track at once any given race weekend.

Since the karts are pretty much the same, there’s close battles going on all over track.  Whether you’re in first or last place, you’ll be fighting for position.

Talk is cheap. I’m doing it.

After weeks of searching, I found what I felt was the deal I needed: a newer kart chassis and complete race setup including extra gear sets, 2 sets of wheels/tires, data-logger, and kart stand for a price I could afford.
After talking to some friends who kart race about this particular setup, I pulled the trigger and brought it all home.

To make space in my garage, I ended up selling my Miata project to the same person I bought the kart from.

So far, I’ve spent about $2700.00 to put myself into a kart.  This does not include the money I gained back from the sale of the Miata.

What this figure does include is the cost of the used kart package, fluids, maintenance items (Brake Cleaner, Carb Cleaner, spare nuts and bolts, etc…), a 10’x10’ canopy to work under, small folding table to use as a workbench at the track, a new set of tires, personal safety gear, driver instruction and track rental to get a feel for the kart, and a separate tool box and tools to carry with the kart.

I now have a complete racing package and I’m ready to run wheel-to-wheel anywhere they run LO206 karts.

A club level event costs $70-80 for entrance fees.  Tires last multiple seasons.  Even large, national-level racing is “cheap” compared to SCCA Club races.

I actually entered myself into my first race.  A national level race on the city streets of Elkhart, Indiana.  The cost of the event is $195.

This includes entrance fees, pit passes, one year membership into USAC Karting AND a free set of Hoosier Tires for the race.  I wonder why more people aren’t going kart racing.

You can find out more about Jake by listening to his podcast, Rags to Races (free on iTunes and Stitcher) or by visiting him on social media (Facebook, TwitterInstagram). You can also email him directly at ragstoraces@gmail.com.

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