Fortunately, there's cheaper way of getting into the sport of testing the limits of man-melded-to-machine than going out and building or buying a full-fledged race car. Yup, go-karts! You want to compete in Formula 1 when you grow up? This is where you start. (For an in-depth look at the sport, check out Autoblog's epic 7-part Introduction To Karting.)
Unfortunately, the shrunken wonders have long been kind of noisy and, perhaps, more than a little dirty. Think smokey two-stroke engines with minimal mufflerage. Now, however, that's beginning to change, and one of those at the forefront of this shift is Rattlesnake Electric Sport. They've launched a line of electric go-karts that are competitive with modern gas-powered machines that can put you neck deep in wheel-to-wheel racing action.
Working with Bridge Service Motor Company, Performance Fabrication and others, this outfit has taken the same components that one would find in the 2013 bikes from Zero Motorcycles, and engineered them to reside, quite contentedly, within a go-kart chassis. Like the bikes, that's good enough for 54 horsepower and 65 pound-feet of torque. Or, in rubber-meeting-road terms, 0-to-60 miles per hour happens in about four seconds and the thrills don't stop until you reach the vicinity of 125 mph. It's little wonder they were faster around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca than all other comers, save for Eric Bostrom on the Brammo Empulse RR, at the recent Refuel SportElectric TT.
There are other electric go-karts out there, of course. But, not only are the Rattlesnakes much faster than than the ones you'd find at, say, K1 Speed indoor karting facilities, they are also built to comply with the new FIA e-Kart regulations. Yes, it seems the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile's involvement with the upcoming Formula E series has opened its eyes to other electric sport categories and it's preparing for future involvement.
While all this is pretty awesome, what we're really excited about is the fact that they've also started
an electric kart racing series. It just makes sense. Why buy a crazy-quick racer without having a place to stretch its legs and, perhaps, test your mettle? The Rattlesnake Electric Sport Championship is already in the midst of its inaugural 10-race season and, while its something of a regional series tied in with Red Line Oil Karting Championship right now, it certainly has the potential to develop into something much bigger over time.
To get a taste of some electric kart-racing action, scroll down for video of a feature from a recent event at the Simraceway Performance Driving Center at Sonoma raceway. As we've got more from Refuel 2013, including this race write-up and our hot laps in a Fiat 500e.