Are Safety Drills Important? And should we be doing them?


It is rare in Outlaw Karts to have a fire while the driver is in the cockpit but it can, and does, happen occasionally – and yes, it has even happened at KAM Kartway in the past.  It has happened a few times, mostly when high mounted gravity style fuel tanks were popular, and the fuel line came out and caught fire.  The situation is always very frightening, not just because it\’s a fire, but because it is usually behind the driver and they are not aware of it right away.  Fuel tanks are still mounted behind the driver on most karts, which makes it out of driver\’s view while he or she is on the track racing (even if mounted on the side, the driver is looking forward while racing and will not notice if a fire breaks out). The fuel tank is not the only fire hazard on a race kart either. The potential fire risk in Motorsports makes us (the track officials) extra alert as we are always on the lookout for flames so that we can action.  Alerting the driver and getting them out of the kart would be the number 1 priority, and putting out fire is 2nd to that.  We are prepared with fire extinguishers in the infield at all times, and it is a KAM rule that all race teams have a fire extinguisher in their race trailer or pit spot area.


I often tell parents, and write about it in blog articles that I post, that the race parent is the Driver\’s COACH when it comes to youth kart racing.  As the Coach, you need to conduct safety drills with your child, and even though the odds are particularly low that a Young Gun or Jr 1 driver will experience a fire – you should still start them as young as possible on safety drills so they know what to do and how to do it in case of an emergency.  In fact, as soon as a child begins to race, safety and safety drills should be enforced as part of their Driver Development plan – it\’s never too early ~ or too late ~ if you haven\’t yet done this with your driver and you\’ve already got a few years under your belt. 

Below is a video I found that depicts what can happen to a racer when a fire breaks out in the cockpit.  While I know it\’s a Spring car, the parameters are just the same for your child in his Race Kart – so don\’t kid yourself that it won\’t ever happen to them.  And like I said, I\’ve seen it happen to one of my KAM Kids her at the track and I was one of those parents who thought it couldn\’t happen in a go kart.  [The driver it happened to did get a cool nickname after it – \”Fireball Roberts\”]  I\’m not trying to scare anyone (especially the Momma Bears out there!), I just want you to understand how serious this is and every driver must be prepared for any probable situation. 

The driver in this video becomes engulfed in flames even though he got out relatively fast, and he knew to \”stop, drop and roll\”.  He was also wearing a Fire Suite –  I strongly encourage all my drivers to own one, even they are only mandatory for the upper Outlaw classes.



Basically you want the driver to get out of the kart as fast as possible to avoid being in direct contact with the flames from any fire. They need to stop their kart as soon as they become aware of any flame, preferably as close to the infield as possible – but safety is the primary concern.   

A Fire Suite only allows for mere 3 to 40 seconds before a possible second degree burn will occur, depending on the SFI rating of the garment.  It is also important to note that the SFI rating is only based on fire RETARDANT capabilities.  The safety gear is not FIRE PROOF – and like I said, they only have seconds until the fire gets to them.  With that said, it is also a good idea to make sure their race gloves, shoes and helmet have fire ratings as well to be safe.  We offer a great helmet by ZAMP that has a fire retardant lining and our UltraShield gloves and shoes (and even the safety belts) have good SFI ratings.  We also suggest Fire resistant underwear – like PXP brand that KAM can special order for you.


Okay, so we know the driver needs to get out as fast as he or she can.  As the Coach you need to prepare your driver for the emergency but in a way that they don\’t panic or fear the possibility.  We need drivers to stay calm and cool headed.  Doing timed drills and watching videos on the subject will help you to make sure they understand that every driver does this and that it\’s a normal part of learning the sport – and you can even make it fun.  Have him compare times with other drivers in his class – make it a competition among the drivers.  

Below is a YouTube video by Tanner Holmes, an Outlaw Kart Racer who posts great videos on his YouTube channel (I recommend that you go and subscribe to his channel and take note for your own Driver Marketing strategy – but that\’s another subject!!).  He and his sister show you how to unbuckle your safety belts & restraints and quickly release your steering wheel with the emphasis being on speed.  Tanner uses a stopwatch to time his sister [she\’s not happy with her results, lol]….and I recommend that you do the same with your driver.  For some reason when a Coach takes out a stopwatch the athlete takes it more seriously – because it becomes a competition then.



Although children learn \”Stop, Drop and Roll\” at an early age in school, you need to re-enforce this procedure should they have flames coming off their suit after they have exited the kart.  While safety and track personnel will be on them like a white on rice, they need to know to drop and roll and not to start running toward the gates to get to a parent – which is what most kids want to do when they are scared and panicked.  Practice this as part of the Safety Drill Exercise – do it in full safety gear [ie: suit, helmet, gloves, neck/helmet restraint, arm restraints].  Tell them not to worry about their helmet because the flame being put out is the most important priority – and in a panic drivers want to remove their helmets first thing after exiting the kart to avoid feeling \”caged in\” and/or to assess damages.  They may not even realize they are on fire, especially if it\’s on the backside of the suit, so being attentive and paying attention to the track officials instead of removing helmet or taking off gloves – or assessing damages like I said [We\’ll put out the fire on the kart as soon as possible!!]- is important in an emergency situation.  This must be stressed to your driver. 

The Safety Drill Exercise isn\’t just specifically for fires only.  Other emergency situations, like a bad crash or kart entanglements that could cause injury, weather conditions, or maybe they are in another class and have to change karts fast so they don\’t miss the race – any of these situations can require the need for a driver to exit his or her kart in a speedy fashion.  

Finally, Parents remember that you can not run onto the track if there is ever an emergency with your driver – you must wait for a track official to signal that it\’s okay for you to come out to be with your driver.  Please understand that this rule is important for your safety and the safety of the other drivers on the track.  And I promise, we will take good care of your child in the event of an emergency situation!!