When it comes to go-kart racing, we usually try our best to keep our lap times as short as possible. This may include optimizing and customizing our karts, improving our driving skills, as well as training. One often overlooked method is tire preparation, in particular, finding the best go-kart tire prep formula for racing.

The tire prep formula increases the grip of your wheels on the track conditions, which in turn allows you to reduce your lap time. Tracking is one of the most important things to rely on in go-kart racing because skidding slows you down. This article will look at the best formula for preparing cardboard tires for racing.

Please note that some go-kart racing competitions and leagues may not allow the use of tire prep formulas. In this case, use the draft formulas carefully and only in personal matches.

How to apply racing go-kart tire prep?

Using the tire prep formula for go-kart tires is very simple, however, there are a few steps to consider before getting started. You can follow the step-by-step guide below for an efficient tire prep process.

1. Determine how many apps you need

The first step in getting your tire prep for go-kart racing requires planning. You need to decide how much coverage you want to put on your tires. You can calculate this by understanding the type of track you are dealing with and the current condition of your tires.

As explained earlier, the lower the grip of the track, the more tire prep formula you should apply. This means that a low-bite path will usually use a bit more than usual. You should apply 4 ounces to the outer tire and 3 ounces to the inner tire. For a medium-bite caterpillar, you should apply 3 ounces to the outer tire and 2 ounces to the inner tire.

If you are racing on a high-grab track, you should apply 2 ounces to the outer tire and 1 to the inner tire. If you think the track conditions are too steep, you can even skip tire prep altogether. In the meantime, consider this as a base, as we’ll get into the details in step 4.

You should also consider the condition of the tires. New tires usually have less grab because they are softer. In this case, you can either sand the tires or apply a thicker layer of tire prep compound. If you are using worn tires for your race, you may need less because they already have a good grab.

At first, it may be difficult to recognize the number of layers and the amount of application, but after a few times, you will get used to it.

2. Place your kart on a stand

During the process, you should have easy access to all four tires and make sure none of them are touching the ground. For this reason, I recommend placing your kart on the stand. You can use a go-kart racing stand or any other stand that does not come into contact with your tires. In this situation, a go-kart racing stand is always preferable.

Once your kart is on the stand, make sure you can move all four wheels of the kart. When you apply the tire prep formula, you must move all four of them. You can move the tires by holding the wheel or axle, so make sure these areas are easily accessible and not blocked.

Also, note that you should do this indoors. It is best to tire prep in the go-kart stand in the garage or anywhere else, as you need to let them dry naturally, and they should not get wet either.

3. Clean the new tires

Most people use a set of brand-new tires, others may use a set of cleaned tires that have had the rubber removed. Either way, the first step you should take is to clean your tires. This is because the first layer of gloss rubber is more of a protective coating around your tires and will disappear within two laps, so there is no point in treating it.

There are several ways to clean the newest tires: you can take them for two or three quick laps around the track surface and then move on, or you can use sandpaper to remove the first coat, although it may take a little longer a few laps around the track.

4. Apply the tire prep formula

After you rub the tires, make sure that there are no traces of rubber left on their surface. You can just use a dry cloth and wipe both rear tires. Your tires are now ready to use with the tire prep compound.

You should carefully read the instructions on the tire prep container. They usually indicate how much of the tire prep formula should be applied and how the formula should be applied. If you are using a homemade rubber compound or are unsure, you can continue reading for general recommendations.

Regarding the use of rubber compounds, you can choose from three different methods. You can use a spray, brush, or roller. You can select which is more convenient for you. I prefer to use a brush because it ensures that I can cover the surface of the rubber evenly coat, and it also doesn’t stain it.

You can use the chart below as a guide on how much tire prep formula to put on your go-kart tires.

For low-bite routes

  • 4 oz on the outer tire
  • 3 oz on the inner tire

For moderate bite marks

  • 4 oz on the outer tire
  • 3 oz on the inner tire

For high-bite paths

  • 2 oz on the outer tire
  • 1 oz in an inner tube

The first thing you will notice is that the outer tire takes more compound to fill the tire than the inner tire. This is because the outer tire has more contact with the track, especially when cornering. This causes more wear on the outside tires and therefore requires more grip and a larger formula.

As you can see, the smaller the trail bite, the thicker the pad needs to be to give you more grip. However, there is another way to do this. Instead of using it in one application, you can apply half or a third of the required amount in 2 or 3 separate applications.

It’s entirely up to you whether you want to apply all of your tire prep coats at once or spread them over several thin layers. Just remember that the last use of your tires should be at least 48 hours before the start of the race so that they are properly dry.

As you can see, the smaller the trail bite, the thicker the pad needs to be to give you more grab. However, there is another way to do this. Instead of using it in one application, you can apply half or a third of the required amount in 2 or 3 separate applications.

It’s entirely up to you whether you want to apply all of your tire prep coats at once or spread them over several thin layers. Just remember that the last use of your tires should be at least 48 hours before the start of the race so that they are properly dry.

5. Cover the tires with a second coat and let them air dry again

Once the tires are dry, a second coat can be applied. Some tire prep formulas recommend two or three coats before use, but be sure to check this ahead of time, so you have plenty of time before the race. From here, you can simply repeat the coating and air-drying steps.

6. Mount the tires on the rims

If you want to go further, you can take a syringe and treat the inside of the tires. With your tires on the rims, spray tire prep into the vents and rotate the tires a few times. Again, a rubber roller is ideal to preserve it and help get the chemicals into the tires.

This provides the advantage that it treats the rubber on both sides, ensuring that the chemicals do not wear off after a few sessions on the track. Some people also cover their tires with cling film after treatment to prevent the chemicals from evaporating, but it is not necessary.

7. Inflate the tires to the correct pressure in the psi

The last step is to put the tires back on the rims, or if they are already installed, simply inflate them to the desired pressure. From here you’ll find your tires giving you a lot more grab than before and hopefully, you’ll be able to drop a few tenths off your lap time.

3 Tire prep formulas for karting

1. Pajama bite

This tire booster seems to be more popular among go-kart drivers (those who don’t use their non-branded tires). Interestingly, this formula was originally developed for use in drag racing and has become more common in other motorsports due to the amount of adhesion it can impart to tires. This formula can be used in all weather conditions.

2. Pimp juice

Pimp juice is a famous kart tire preparation formula that has recently returned after a long hiatus.

This tire prep formula is specially developed for go-kart racing to give excellent grab to your kart tires but does not mention what it does to the tire life of your kart tires. The formula is also biodegradable, making it a safer option than others.

3. Pro blend hot lap

Unlike the other two tire prep compounds, pro blend hot lap is suitable for all types of go-kart racing, including off-road karting. They claim this formula pro blend can shave half a second off lap times while making your tires last 50% longer.

Are tire prep formulas compatible with other prep techniques?

Definitive! Besides using the tire prep formula on kart tires, there are several other tire prep methods you can use to increase lap times and improve your chances of winning.

One trick you can do is scratch the kart tires, especially when they’re new. Kart tire scuffs remove the top layer, which is usually slick and doesn’t provide the best grip.

You can use a belt sander to remove the top coat and then proceed to apply the formula to the tire. The formula is easier to apply to worn tires, and worn tires usually provide a better grip on the track surface.

Go-kart tire prep on different surfaces

Some tire prep formulas also work on muddy surfaces, not just asphalt or concrete. If you intend to use the rubber compound in off-road karts for dirt surfaces, you should keep in mind that it is not as effective as asphalt.

However, it still works very well if the manufacturer’s recommended instructions are followed. Since the soil surface is not as hard as asphalt or concrete, a general rule would be to apply an additional layer or increase the amount of coating applied by about 25-50%.

Competition rules and regulations

One of the most important points to keep in mind is that many races and go-kart races do not allow tire prep formulas. I’ve been in a few races, but I’ve seen other drivers get disqualified after the race for using tire compounds that break the rules.

Therefore, it is very important not to break the rules of the competition. If you are unsure of the rules for supplying tires for a race, you can simply contact the race organizer or sanctioning authority directly.

How do I find out if tire prep formulas are legal in a race?

Kart races and leagues usually have a set of rules and regulations, particularly FIA-sanctioned races. In most cases, you can find the race regulations on the organizer’s website. Sometimes the rules are also posted when you sign up, so read them carefully.

In most cases, no specific guidance is given on how to use the tire prep formula. As you do not want to risk disqualification, it is always best to check directly with the race organizer or sanctioning authority.

How do I apply a tire prep formula?

The most effective methods of applying tire prep formulas mixtures are by brush, roller, or spray. I, personally, use a brush, so I can evenly coat my tires and make sure every inch of my tires is covered.

Applying the tire prep formula is easy, even with a roller. Basically, you can push the reel against the kart tires and rotate the axle. You can then rework the uncovered areas with a brush.

If your tire prep formula has a low viscosity, you can also opt for a spray bottle. Spraying the tire prep formula is easy, but can get dirty pretty quickly if you’re not used to it. If this is your first time applying kart tire compound, I highly recommend using a brush instead.

FAQ go-kart tire prep formulas

How do you prepare go-kart tires?

Karting doesn’t allow tire warmers, so you have to warm them up manually by putting load and cornering energy into them. The most effective way to warm up your tires is to corner hard and weave left to right on the straights to get them a little more temperature.

Do you need to warm up your go-kart tires?

All racing tires take time to warm up to optimal clutch temperature, allowing you to achieve fast lap times, so warming up the tires on the lap to the starting grid is essential for a good first lap.

How do you soften kart tires?

The best way to soften tires is to use kerosene. Take a rag soaked in petroleum and cover the tires with it. It is best to do this two to three days before the race. Now wrap the tires in foil and only remove them on the day of the race.

How do you harden kart tires?

Most will also advise you to leave your tires in the sun for a week. This will also help them harden. If you are desperate, you can simulate several thermal cycles in a hot box.

How do I make my tire rubber harder?

Soaking in acetone overnight and then letting it dry will take a few days. Rubber becomes much tougher due to the oils being removed by the acetone. Does the tire keep its shape? Soaking in acetone overnight and then letting it dry out will take a few days.

What can shorten your tire’s life?

The faster you drive, the more friction your tires create and the faster they wear out. The same goes for rough terrain, as it puts more stress on the tires and reduces their lifespan. Too much weight in the car.

Does oil destroy rubber?

The fatty acids found in cooking butter and fat contaminate the gum and break it down quickly!

What makes tires go bald fast?

Two common causes of premature tire wear and uneven tire wear are improper tire pressure and out-of-spec alignment conditions.

Do tires wear faster on the front or back?

Since most cars these days are FWD and the front tires are responsible for the acceleration, steering, and most of the braking, they typically wear out faster than the rear tires.

Does gravel destroy tires?

It’s sharp and jagged and does more damage to stock tires than just about any other driving surface.

Conclusion go-kart tire prep formula

Tire prep formulas can give you a significant lap time advantage over those who don’t. Think of it as a tire on steroids. This has caused many karting organizations to ban the use of these prep formulas.

However, some tire prep formulas may be difficult to see. However, some leagues still allow the use of tire prep formulas, and you just need to check with your race organizer if you can use them. If you do, you should follow a few simple steps to apply your tire booster.

Using a tire prep formula can end up saving you a few tenths of a second per lap, which certainly adds up throughout the race.

These chemicals can be very dangerous, so it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions when using them.

Read also: Best Go-karting Tracks Melbourne

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