A Visit to Tamworth - Round 9 TW Steel Daytona DMAX Champioships

So here we are, round 9. I have been racing DMAX Karts once a month since February. The first race seems like a distant memory and there has been a great deal of racing, learning, crashing and losing that has taken place since then. As I have moved my way through this new world of competitive racing I have gained experience, confidence and a certainly a basic awareness of the race craft.

A New Track

Since starting this journey I have learned a great deal about racing tracks I have not visited before, there is always a high level of excitement, and frankly fear, when you arrive at a new track with the knowledge you will be going round it at nearly 60 mph an inch from the ground with no seat belt  within the hour. Over the year the championship has visited well kitted out tracks used by F1 heroes in their younger years, porta-cabin grass roots tracks that offered amazing racing but not such amazing toilets and of course there were the tracks the Daytona themselves own and run. As a karting company Daytona own a number of tracks around the country with one in Manchester, Esher and Milton Keynes but recently they acquired a new one in Tamworth and round 9 saw the drivers and karts head to this brand new and largely unknown track.

Daytona Tamworth

Rather than focus on my racing antics I wanted to actually go into some detail about this new track and what I thought about it. I certainly would not say I was any kind of authority on karting but I feel I can at least offer a view on a track that is supported by some experience and awareness of what makes a good circuit.
The track was originally a lot smaller and run by a local karting company but due to issues relating to finance and the business in general it was closed. The rumour mill was running wild with talk of the track being extended running along side news of all the old karts, kit and workshop equipment being sold off in a "fire sale". To cut a long story short Daytona bought the track and began some much needed work on the clubhouse and they also set about extending the track itself. 

A New Start

The track was opened some time before the DMAX gang headed there for round 9 and some of the really keen drivers travelled up there to get in some early practice. I was invited to a celebrity launch race with a host of famous drivers but sadly wasn't able to make it, the footage certainly looked fun though. 

Race day was, for many of us, the first time we had seen the new facility and personally I was very impressed. The lower levels of motorsport often involves some very basic facilities, and considering the amount of money people spend that's a bit of a shame. Daytona like to make sure they do things differently and that is certainly clear at Tamworth. The club house is smart, tidy and well equipped; there is even ipads set up for people to sign in when they come for arrive and drive sessions. 

The Track

After having our race briefing in a second storey corporate style room I was certainly keen to get out there. The track looked great, and the word around the paddock was that it was a very physical and challenging drive too. The word was right! Daytona Tamworth is jam packed with corners of all shaped and sizes and the final complex just keeps hitting you again and again with corner after corner. If your arms are not up to it you will certainly feel the burn but you will be having so much fun you wont notice. The main straight even has a kink in it, its like a piece of track that is too naughty to sit still and insists on throwing a corner in. As you come out of turn one which is literally 10 meters past the grid you hit the "straight" and just as you get the kart flat out the track sneaks to the left, then there is another dash of straight until a whopping right hander that takes some serious balls to do at full chat. By the time you come out of that corner the back end is either desperately trying to step out or you are off on the grass. It is a matter of keeping control and running nice and wide. I won't beat around the bush here, there was a red flag in the final of the heats and someone had to get some medical help, and you can guess which turn they came off at. Don't get me wrong this corner is brilliant, it is a stroke of genius and honestly I felt like the rest of the track was just as much fun. 

Turn Turn Turn

Sure, there were corners I could not get right, but that is how it should be. No great race track was ever easy and you should never walk away after the first go thinking you got the better of the tarmac beast. No, I made a lot of mistakes and there is one hairpin just before the finish line that is really a bit too much but it is there to challenge and it performs this function perfectly. I actually heard people getting angry about this final turn, I will be honest, I was getting angry about it, but isn't that what it is all about? Shouldn't we just have to get better to beat it not expect the track to be complicit to our whims and inadequacies?

The Race  

The race was great, I made some moves and actually overtook some people. I also made a few mistakes and lost the odd place but I loved the track and I had an amazing day of racing. Due to a very early crash at the wonderful turn 2 I managed to make up a lot of places and I went on to pretty much hold my ground so I finished 14th out of 20 with a faster best lap then everyone behind me. 

I once again did slightly better than terrible, but the overriding memory of the day for me this year was driving a punchy, physically demanding track that I found myself thinking about days afterwards. I know I can do better there and I can't wait until I get another go!

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