Re: Best way to get started.
I suggest you take a look at the PRD engine, and consider starting in LAKC's PRD Senior Pilot class. I've found the PRD to be a very good engine, and the associated maintenance costs have been more than reasonable. The Pilot class is typically well-attended, with entries usually somewhere around 8 to 10 karts per LAKC weekend. By definition, the Pilot class is a starting point, where costs are kept in check through usage of the relatively-inexpensive Bridgestone YKC tires, and where the new and/or budget-conscious racer can have a chance to finish respectably well.
My (adult) son and I both run this class, and we've found everyone to be friendly and decent competitors. While there are a few young guns that I expect will be moving up at the end of the season, a majority of the racers have to be at work on Monday mornings, so.......
If you're out at the race on the 14th, stop by and say hi. We pit way out in the cheap seats, so walk as far as you can away from the starting grid as you can, then look to your right and we'll be there.
#78 PRD Sr. Pilot