Mini pit bikes are small, motorized motorcycle-like vehicles. Commonly found in drag racing, but occasionally used in circle and road track racing venues, mini pit bikes carry drivers and crew members to locations within the pit area. Drivers are required to attend a variety of events, such as drivers' meetings, and the size of many racing parks mandate the use of mini pit bikes to allow the drivers to make it to the meetings on time. Typically referred to as pocket bikes or mini bikes, mini pit bikes are powered by very small gasoline or electric engines. The most common of all of the mini pit bikes utilize a 49cc (cubic centimeter) 2-stroke gasoline engine to power the rider at a rate of speed that is acceptable within the confined area of the pits.
Two-stroke engines use a fuel mixture of gasoline and 2-cycle oil to power the engine. Much like a chainsaw or an older model outboard boat motor, the 2-stroke mini pit bikes often produce excess smoke; depending on the ratio of the gasoline and oil mixture, they can leave a telltale odor in the air as they pass by. The use of mini pit bikes has been made popular in part due to their relatively lightweight and compact size. Easily loaded in the nose or the tail end of a race car transporter, the small vehicles offer a cost-effective method of transportation without the bulky size of a golf cart. Prior to the mini bikes, the golf cart was the primary mode of pit transportation.
In most racing situations, the driver and crew chief use a pit bike to travel the racing circuit in search of information that will aid them in setting up their race car. Track areas of low traction as well as dips and severe bumps serve to disrupt a drag racing vehicle's traction. By locating these areas of concern prior to bringing the racer to the starting line, a crew chief is able to set a clutch to engage fully after the area of concern. This will help the driver to avoid breaking the tires loose in the danger area.
When using mini pit bikes to check a dirt track, the bumps and the consistency of the clay racing surface are easily discovered. Most drivers will use the mini pit bikes to travel onto and around the racing surface prior to every race. This allows the crews to adjust the race car to meet the changing track conditions.