Kart racing is an open wheel motor sport. Go Karts drive around scaled down circuits and is where most professional racecar drivers start their careers.
Over a decade ago, I saw a coupon on the notice board at work giving Safeway employees a discount at the local Vancouver indoor Go Karting course. At the time, Alfonz and I were only dating, and I treated the boys (his best friend Adrian included) to a few laps around the track.
At Indoor Kart Racing @ TBC in Richmond, racers will experience the exhilaration of driving Sodi GT5 karts up to 75 km/hr sitting 2 inches off the ground. The racetrack has 13 turns, and the racer with the most skill gets the fastest times.
That was my first experience with Go Karts and I definitely wanted more. I remember having a blast, and never once hitting the brakes.
Then life got busy, really busy. Alfonz and I got married, had our son, bought a house and moved to the suburbs, had our daughter, bought a business, travelled, sold it all, moved to France and finally karting made it back on my to do list. Yes, I really wanted to Go Kart again, so when the opportunity presented itself, we jumped at the chance.
Karting at Caussiniojouls is not an ordinary Go Karting track. It is a full outdoor course, on a good slope with speeds up to 60 km/hr but the professional karts go far faster. It is in the shape of a two sided s, with tight turns, a good straight away, and an incline.
Superkarts can reach 260km/hr, while GoKart or gearbox/shifter carts for the general public reach speeds between 25-60km/hr depending on age and size.
In circuit racing, teens will race full sized karts that reach up to 125km/hr and the level below 7-11 year olds will reach speeds above 80km/hr. Wow, that is pretty fast!
Daniel gave it a go on a kart with a smaller engine in a group of kids in his age bracket. He took to it quickly and by the second turn he had passed all the kids but one. The other child goes there all the time with his parents, who are both excellent racers as well. Daniel said to me how much he loved it and couldn’t wait to do it again.
Now it was my turn! I am not going to lie. I was scared to race with the big boys. Alfonz is a speed demon, and our friends frequent this establishment. This was my second time ever, and these karts are completely different and I am not 28 years old anymore. What’s the worst that can happen?
The carriage of the vehicle is completely open, no seat belts and my feet can barely reach the pedals. I felt as though I floated in my seat. With Daniel’s helmet on I felt it was as good a time as any, and hit the gas to exit the parking area. It was hard to control my vehicle, where I love to drive my car, this was very physical. Adjusting my weight in my seat as I turned, and reaching for the gas and then the brake on the other side, I had to hold your body in place with your arms. My back ached; yup it took me a few laps to get the rhythm. Once I got it down, I felt the speed and loved it. I looped wide to straighten out the corners, and accelerated on the straightaway. Sometimes I hit the bumpy red and white edges, felt the gravel slip under the kart and I hit the brakes. Once in control, I continued to hit the gas and tried to catch my mates. Yeah right, they were long gone!
If I did not compare myself to the guys that lapped me, (Alfonz twice no less), then I would say it was exciting. However, my ego says I suck at karting. That competitive part of me that hates being second, hated being the last even more!
Determined to go back with more knowledge, I secretly plan my return. First and foremost I will adjust my seat, practice and next time I will add my name to the kamikaze roster, and do better.
In those tiny four wheeled carts, you felt the power under you!
In France, they adjust the car to your level. Little ones can go with a parent in a two-seater kart, then 7 year olds and older can go on the next size up alone, then there are normal 100cc- adult karts and lastly the 125cc karts (kamikaze), the most powerful before the professional level racing karts. In all honesty I should have been in the level below.
The track owners had two of these profession level carts on display for sale at the track, one for 5000€ and the other for 9000€. They were beautiful chromed and shiny, and the boys had their faces pushed up against the window looking at them.
‘Mommy,’ Daniel says, ‘you didn’t do very well. I saw you spin out on the first turn. You were going way too fast! And you didn’t drift at all.’ He was right, I tried so hard to keep up with the boys, that I forgot to brake, and when I reached the first turn I couldn’t stay on the road, and spun around. However, it was fun to spin out of control at those high speeds, and even though a little red faced I was determined to get through the 10 minute run.
Daniel was right, there was loads of room for improvement. My cart was shaking and so were my legs. Slightly too short to reach the pedals that were obviously set to a larger person, and I must have been hitting the gas and break at the same time for a while as I staggered around the track. Yup, I normally rock at this kind of activity yet today fell short and embarrassed Daniel. C’est la Vie! I did my best under the circumstances…
And I was the only lady on the run in those fast karts, and at least I gave it a whirl!
That’s Hamori! Go Karting!