Fulfilling Racing Dreams - Sort of

Karting, finally a way to feel like a racer.

Let’s face it, as car enthusiasts most of us either dream of taking cars to their limits on an open track or dream of actually being a racing driver. Sadly, these dreams are somewhat out of reach for us mere mortals. The kind of budget needed to either own a supercar or run a racing car, even a track car is probably more than the GDP of some small countries, so most of us are content to accept it will never happen and just enjoy it all vicariously through a games console or TV. Well, karting might just be the answer. For so many petrol heads it is certainly one of those things they have opinions about but may not have tried, and for other less engine orientated folk it’s just something they tried on a stag do and never think about it again.

Everyone who is interested in motoring and motorsports know that most racing drivers spent time in karts, but they still spent a fortune and ran their own racing outfits. What a lot of people don’t know is that there are whole championships that run each year, and one in particular that provide everything you need to race a full season... yes everything, even down to a suit. Please don’t start thinking it’s a cheap and cheerful muck about either, if you really want to race a season, learn, push and frankly scare yourself then you might want to have a look at the Daytona Motorsport TW Steel DMAX championships.

The championship's 10 race competition offers different weight classes, sprint heats and endurance races as well as a chance to visit different circuits around the country and race in a points system over a season just like the pros.  In 2013 139 drivers took parts in the various race options which is a substantial number, it’s not just hardened racers either, it is for younger people who can’t get into racing through the expensive routes, 30 something’s like me that have always wanted to race and also older folk who perhaps used to race but have long since given up due to cost.

My first time karting.

I first found karting after a fellow car fanatic suggested we give it a when we were on holiday in Le Mans, it suffices to say I was pretty much hooked after 5 minutes. It was loud, hot, sweaty and far more adrenaline pumping than I had expected. I think I had assumed it would be a bit of fun but not in any way physically or mentally challenging; pushing yourself to hang on to the throttle for an extra second when you are sure you have overcooked it already can be quite an intense experience. All of this excitement goes on even before you start looking at and adding lap times to the mix.

Most karting tracks over “arrive and drive” sessions, the basis of which is simply to race against yourself and aim for the fastest lap. Naturally you compare to your fellow racers and have a little on track tussling but these are not perhaps the real races you are dreaming of. To get the thrill of qualifying and grid starts you need to push things up a notch and this is where things get harder to organise. Often the only chance you get to do these “real races” are on expensive group sessions where you need to find 20 friends to all chip in, cue the TW Steel DMAX championships, Now you can have the full race experience with everything laid on, for a full season or a single race!
What is it like to drive a kart and how should you drive one?

Well it rather depends on the type of kart but most tracks offer standard 4 stroke karts with no gears to worry about. Often you can reach speeds of around 40 mph which feel like a lot when you are about an inch off the ground and have no seat belt on. You will notice how easy it easy to slide round the corner like your in the middle of the set of Tokyo drift, and believe me, a lot of people like that so much its all they ever do. Sadly, that is not the fastest way round the track and you will soon start over taking the people pretending they are chucking a 458 around the Top Gear track.

Please expect your arms to feel like your nans jelly trifle after a 15 minute session too, no matter how much of a racer you think you are when it comes to driving your car the direct and very heavy steering of a kart will sap every last bit of strength from even the strongest of drivers. Holding your racing line while constantly correcting for slight oversteer is hard work, so is being thrust from side to side as you take corner after corner. It’s a very physical sport and that makes it even more fun!

Top Tips!

Tip one, never lean round corners. Its almost impossible to avoid but if you can, sit up straight round corners and ideally lean out a little. Due to the way the chassis is set up you actually get more grip by doing this. It’s utterly counter intuitive and the urge to lean in like you are on a  bike but it’s worth learning to do it.

Tip two, the slim and small are finally going to feel good at sport! I was never going to be a rugby player, nor was I going to be an Olympic swimmer, but I’m light and small and that means I have an advantage in a kart. Have a look at how small F1 drivers are...you will be shocked.

Tip three, enjoy it, and push yourself.

On November the 16th the final of the 2014 series will take place amidst lots of excitement and tension from the competitors and followers alike. It will be the culmination for many of the drivers of 10 months of effort. Naturally different people approach racing differently, many keep fit throughout the season, eat well, get early nights before race day, others might take a slightly more James Hunt approach to the task, but either way it has been an exciting season and only builds the interest in the coming 2015 championship.

Next year I will be taking to the track and entering the championship, this may well be a simple exercise in coming last but I am certainly not someone to shy away from a challenge and will be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon with everything I have. To join me simply visit the www.daytonamax.co.uk website and sign up...see you on the grid!

Even if a full championship is perhaps not your thing karting is an amazing way to get your petrochemical kicks, do some exercise and get an adrenalin rush at the same time. So head to your local track and get involved.

At Motor Heads we appreciate every opinion! except SPAM! Comments are moderated, so if you want to link to your motoring site please ensure its relevant to the conversation, otherwise your comment will be removed.

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At Motor Heads we appreciate every opinion! except SPAM! Comments are moderated, so if you want to link to your motoring site please ensure its relevant to the conversation, otherwise your comment will be removed.

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