Many Parents Consider Debt for Kids’ Karting Career

Formula 1 is one of the most popular sports in the world. It gained even more notoriety after Netflix released “Drive to Survive,” a series that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the racing world. The first step for most Formula 1 (F1) race car drivers is go karting.

Every parent of a young kart racer wants to give their kid the best chance to be the next Lewis Hamilton or Danica Patrick. However, the cost to enter and thrive in this world is strenuous for some parents at best and unsustainable at worst. With this high entry barrier, some parents are not even able to consider karting for their children. Others have to go into a staggering amount of debt to make their children's dreams come true. The world of karting is not for the faint of heart, and without the proper financial resources, the sport will quickly drain you dry.

All the Kids Are Doing It These Days

ESPN reports that their audience for F1 race coverage has doubled to around 1.5 million views per race. And according to Nielsen, global viewership is set to top 1 billion this year thanks to the docuseries.

With more than 75% of viewers being under the age of 35, it's no surprise that more and more young children are wanting to pick up the sport. While more young people are aspiring to join the world of motorsports, there is no denying that the cost of karting is not cheap for parents. CEO of Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, Toto Wolff, reportedly said that motorsports need to be more affordable for children. He added that for working-class families, motorsports is often inaccessible and unaffordable.

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It's a Stretch

F1FAll is an official provider of F1 news and resources. They surveyed 1200 parents of children who participate in motorsports. 58% of parents believe that the high cost of karting severely stretches their finances. The cost of racing in general discourages 48% from encouraging their children to take up the sport. And 65% said that they don't believe that motor racing is an inclusive sport because of the exorbitant costs involved.

Parent of the Year

58% of parents, however, said that if it came down to it, they would consider going into debt if their child seemed serious about a motorsports career. The average parent said they would take on around $35,185 of debt to allow their child to continue racing.

Parents were also polled about which sport they think their child would be most likely to succeed in and have the potential to become a world champion. 24% said motor racing, 19% said football, 17% said soccer, 17% said golf, 9% said boxing or MMA, 7% said basketball, and another 7% said ice hockey.

35% of parents stated that the high costs associated with motor racing are the main reason they would discourage their child from participating in the sport. A larger portion of parents, 65%, said that the danger involved in the sport would be the main reason they would dissuade their child from participating.

“There’s no denying that while F1 continues to increase in popularity among viewers, it may be placing a serious strain on parents’ finances if they decide to fund their children to start the sport,” said a spokesperson for F1FAll.com. “It’s an unfortunate reality that the sport is considered an exclusive one; however, there are moves towards addressing this within the racing industry, including team members speaking out about these inequalities.”

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Valid Concerns

Injury statistics on karting show that almost half of the people who sustain injuries are under 24 years of age. The most common types of injuries sustained in karting are whiplash, fractures and broken bones, head trauma, and burns. With this level of injury potential, it is no surprise that the danger aspect is more of a red flag for parents than the high entry costs.

A Sport for the Elite

Karting is considered to be the most affordable stepping stone to motorsports. However, it is also known to be a sport for the elite and a playground for the rich.

The kart itself costs around $8,000, and a decent set of gear will set you back another $1,000. If your child wants to participate in any championships, there are costs and fees associated with that as well. Parents also need to account for fuel, consumables, repairs, and travel. For a year of competition, parents can expect to spend a whopping $11,000 just to get started.

Other costs that need to be considered are the engine, the chassis, safety equipment (fire-resistant underwear, race suit, gloves, helmet, rib protector, and neck brace), tools (kart trolley, jerry cans, spanners, sprockets, foot pump, and tire pressure gauge to name a few), consumables (fuel, tires, and chemicals), championship costs (entry fee, racing license, and travel and accommodation), and spare parts costs.

Consider Secondhand

To make karting more affordable, it is recommended that parents invest in secondhand parts. Drivers can still expect a good performance from an engine and chassis that are less than 4 years old but not brand new. There are also second-hand tools that are available, or you can borrow tools from other drivers. Shopping around for a better deal is also a good idea.

Karting is overall expensive to start in and expensive to maintain. Even with secondhand equipment, the cost to participate is still high. For some parents, the cost alone is enough for them to discourage their children from participating. Others are willing to make sacrifices and take on debt to help make their children's dreams a reality. There are many financial factors to consider when exploring karting, and while it might not be for everyone, for some, the financial sacrifice is worth it.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.