It happens all of the time. We want to shave 2-3 seconds off our driver's lap time, so we go shopping for the latest component for the kart. Well, let me be the one to break it to you – that’s not going to work!
You are rarely going to improve lap times by spending more money. Seconds are only achieved by experience. That means A LOT of laps on the track. New drivers and their coaches (dads or moms) rarely want to blame the driver. But in reality, that is where the issue is. It is all between the ears of the driver. He or she needs time in the seat to gain the ideal lap time.
I have seen it in my own son as a driver. When we got started, I wanted to buy all the best stuff, thinking I could shave those seconds right off his times. But amazingly it never happened. But I have good news for you, it can happen, and here is how!
First off, your driver needs to do as many laps as possible on their home track in order to get better. There are a variety of ways to get this practice in without burning your driver out. I recommend taking them out to the track with NO expectations. Let them drive the track for the sheer fun of driving a kart fast! No pressure, no tracking times, no "coaching sessions," just purely driving for the fun of it!
Then pack it all up, head home, and relax!
Secondly, schedule another session where you DO have expectations. Track those times; place cones on the track to show the lines; and have them drive those lines. Over and over and over again – until those tires start to show the cords! Your driver has to learn to trust the kart. They must learn to trust that when making a fast turn, the kart is going to stay on the track! They have to learn how to push to the edge and still stay on the track. This will all take time; there is NO SHORTCUT for experience. Realize that some drivers take longer than others to find their groove.
Another great experience is having your driver race on other tracks. After a while your home track will put your driver in a rut. They will have driven so many laps that it is all the same. They are not learning anything new. But when you go to a new track and race against new drivers, everything is new again. BUT you have to prepare your driver for a different set of expectations. Depending on where you go, the class of drivers may be completely different and you may not be at the top any longer.
We have learned from attending Regional Races that the class of drivers is extraordinary! We’ve seen great races and great times, but most importantly we have come back with a much-improved driver.
I'll leave you with this thought. If you are chasing tenths or hundredths of seconds, they spending on components may be appropriate. (Or you could improve performance by tweaking the setup of the kart.) But rarely are you going to find whole seconds by spending more money!