At a Halloween party in 2012, Ryan and I were tossing around ideas for drift training closer to home, in between events, where we could also involve our kids. We live in a golf community, so my first plan was to put huge PVC pipe on the rear of a golf car. Cost and fitment were problems, so Ryan talked me into starting simpler with a go-kart. My son had a little electric drift kart from a big named company, but it didn't have enough power to maintain a slide, and I certainly couldn't drive it. So, I decided to build a bigger version.
My first proof-of-concept was done by Thanksgiving, a month later. The kart was electric, slow and only ran for a few minutes. As a birthday present to myself the following week, I converted the kart to gas, and instantly had great fun. Then, my friends wanted one.
But, I was using a readily available frame that was not designed for drifting, so Ryan and I needed to modify it in his garage. Ryan and I built another one for him, changing the pedal placement, steering geometry, motor mount, and more. We made another one for my son, and another for a friend. Still more friends wanted a kart, and Ryan was tired of all the fabrication and welding needed to make a good drifter. It was time to think about larger scale.
At the 2013 new year, I started Khana Karts LLC to make no-hassle, all-fun drift karts for big and small drivers. By March 2013, I designed and built an original tube-frame prototype. It was light-weight and elegant, without complexities of my race karts, but it was too stiff and costly to reproduce. Luckily, another neighborhood friend owns and runs a state-of-the-art computer-aided sheet-metal manufacturing facility. Since production cars long ago migrated to sheet-metal design, why not karts?
Karts have no suspension, except the spring of the frame itself. Modern race karts are designed super-stiff so that in a turn, the inside rear wheel actually lifts from G-forces and loses grip to carve a turn with a solid axle and no differential. A drift kart with plastic sleeves on the rear wheels has almost no rear grip already, so a stiff frame makes control very twitchy. Using a sheet-metal design, I could solve two problems at once: increase chassis flex for easier control and economically manufacture many copies.
By end of July 2013, we made four prototypes of my new computer-based design. They withstood the test of 30 local drifters at a demo event, and we are still playing on them today. In the next three months, given lessons learned, I made several design tweaks resulting in the first production-ready kart designed specifically for drifting and gymkhana.
Our karts safely mix fun between ages, with parents and children driving together.
Like any other form of racing, driving and drifting together builds mutual trust and respect. The sooner kids can start learning to drive, the more those skills can develop. By the time young drivers get a drivers license, Khana kids will have super car control. Plus, it's never too late to learn... adults can join the fun!
Most of us drive cars at least 10% of our waking hours, but have never taken a class in car control. And, most people cannot afford traditional motorsport racing. Khana Karts hopes to bring an intense vehicle dynamics clinic to the masses. Some law enforcement agencies economically train their street patrol using similar techniques. In a Khana Kart, you get hardcore training, at a fraction of the price, while feeling indescribable happiness.
You don't have to run with plastic rear tire sleeves; you can kart around on just tires. Maybe you have little ones that want to work their way up to drifting. That's fine! Our frame design provides a maneuverable and comfortable ride on pure rubber tires. When you are ready, the rear tire sleeves keep speeds slower and excitement higher. Once you try drift-karting, I bet you never switch back.
Letting loose Khana-style teaches skills that will save lives, while being more fun than you can imagine.
Seth leads global backbone network design at Google and earned an Aerospace Engineering degree from UVA. He started amateur sports car racing in 2003, plus go-kart racing in 2010. Currently, he races a 2002 Porsche GT3 Cup, a 1973 Porsche 911 RSR, and drifts a 1995 Nissan 240SX. Seth also instructs performance driving for organizations such as Aston Martin NA, Porsche Club of America, Apex Academy, Corinthians Vintage Auto Racing, BMW CCA, Classic BMW, and BMW Teen Street Survival.