Youth Auto Racing: Everything You Need to Know

Can kids race cars? Absolutely. Youth auto racing in the U.S. exists in many various forms and shapes, from go-karts to quarter midgets and everything in between. Our guide has all you need to know about youth auto racing.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent Laura Walker

UPDATED: Jun 23, 2022

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The Rundown

  • The cost of racing equipment varies depending on age and type of race
  • Children as young as five can enroll in racing classes
  • A competition license is often required for competitive youth racing

Youth racing has become increasingly popular in recent years, with children of all ages joining the ranks. With so many different racing types and organizations across the U.S. it can be daunting to dip your toe into racing. 

Keep reading to learn all there is to know about youth racing and what it takes for your child to begin their racing career. If you’d like to search for affordable auto insurance near you, feel free to enter your ZIP code into our free online quote tool

Can kids race cars?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Kids, just like adults, are very much eligible for auto racing. Some racing tracks in the United States allow children as young as five to race quarter midgets and go-karts.

On that note, four of the most common types of youth auto racing include quarter midgets, go-karts, outlaw sprints, and micro sprints. Out of all these, go-karting is by far the most popular. 

Car racing as a youth is something many kids relish and wish they’d be part of. If your child is showing any signs of wanting to learn to race cars, there are plenty of ways to encourage them in a fun, safe, and supportive environment. Who knows, they might just be the next Michael Schumacher.

Though street racing is illegal, it is still a fascinating form of racing. If you’d like to know eight facts about street racers, consider our article here. 

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How much does it cost to get your kid into auto racing?

Youth auto racing is expensive, but how expensive it can get depends on a variety of factors. The best way to go about investing in racing equipment for kids is to buy equipment in stages. In other words, invest in the sport slowly and progressively. 

Your first priority should be safety equipment. A helmet, racing suit, gloves, and boots are all necessary. It is best to budget for these items first and to buy brand new ones. From there, you can choose how much to spend on your racing vehicle. 

A racing kart, for example, will cost between $1,500 and $2,500, plus $1,000 for a decent set of gear. Up to that point, the total cost is well within the $4,000 mark, which is still quite affordable.

If your child is going to participate in professional events, you’ll have to incur additional costs like travel, entry fees, and consumables like tires, spare parts, and fuel. Your child can comfortably race in competitive events for a whole year for anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands. 

Licensing Requirements for Youth Auto Racing

You do not need a road license to race cars, but you do need a competition license. Generally speaking, your child doesn’t need any form of license to operate a go-kart, quarter midget, outlaw kart, or micro sprint in a non-competition, strictly recreational environment. 

However, if your kid plans to compete in any sanctioned race, they’ll need to obtain a racing license. While there are many different sanctioning bodies that offer licensing for specific types of youth auto racing, the National Auto Sport Association and the Sports Car Club of America are two of the most popular choices. That’s because they offer a wide range of licensing options for kids and adults alike. 

Required Safety Gear for Youth Racers 

Safety gear is an important part to live in the youth auto racing world. The key is using the correct gear. Some people use the wrong safety gear for racing only to endanger themselves in the process. Besides, inappropriate safety gear is never allowed in a professional racing event.

That said, different safety gear costs vary. Here are a few must-have ones, alongside their average pricing:


A helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment for any racers. Good quality racing helmets for kids are often priced between $200 and $500, with high-end options as much as $1,000. Always buy a helmet from a reputable company. 


Most Nike and Adidas shoes today cost around $70-$100, and so does racing footwear for kids. However, if you’re looking for more features or a better design, you’ll part with around $150, which is still very affordable.

Racing suit

You can find a decent racing overall for your child from as low as $60. The red, blue, or black overalls are still very common, but other color choices are now available, ranging from purple and pink to gray and green.

Fire-resistant underwear

Adding fire redundant underwear can greatly increase the level of protection for your child when taking to the tracks. Nomex Underwear retailing for around $100.

Rib protector

This is one of those items your child doesn’t necessarily need when racing, but it’s still a good addition because of the comfort aspect. On average, auto racing rib protectors cost between $80 and $100.


Gloves are incredibly important to your child’s racing gear—and for obvious reasons. They aren’t only worn for better comfort; they can save your kid from being seriously injured during a crash. As for their pricing, actual racing gloves can cost as low as $30 to as high as $200. 

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How do you get your child to like auto racing?

If you’re looking to entice your child into the awesome field of youth auto racing, these handy tips can help.

  • Constantly bring up the topic in their presence and gauge how interested they are
  • Take them to your local go-kart track 
  • Get them a couple of motorsport-themed toys.
  • Introduce your children to motorsport fantasy leagues.
  • Take them to NASCAR, IndyCar, or local short track events
  • Enroll them in a motorsport club
  • Let fun go-karting days be a thing in your household
  • Save money—you’re going to need it for the equipment

However, be careful not to come off as overbearing or heavy-handed. Kids like to venture into activities they like, you can’t force your child to love racing as much as you do. If you want to know more about car safety for teens and adults, consider our article here.

Youth Auto Racing: The Bottom Line

Can kids race cars? Absolutely they can. Youth auto racing has taken many forms today, and it’s up to your kid to choose the one that fascinates them the most. 

Racing is expensive, but it’s important not to cheap out on racing helmets, gloves, and other safety equipment. When you’re ready for your kids to hit the track, head to your local karting track or karting club or reach out to the race series nearest you. 

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