Tag Archives: go karting

Thrilling, exhilarating, pure ecstasy – the fastest lap

Motor racing might be a rich man’s sport, but for just over £30 you can unleash your inner Lewis Hamilton in a flurry of fast straights, tight corners and daredevil overtaking. 

Go-karting experiences are the cheapest way of taking to the track and testing the limits of your abilities behind the wheel.

And as someone who only recently passed their driving test, I was keen to step out of my comfort zone and see if I have what it takes to beat other racers to the chequered flag.

The venue was Team Sport UK in Acton, west London, where getting briefed, suited and booted to go racing can cost as little as £32.

Football and boxing are more my thing, and I’ve never really understood the appeal of motorsport, but I soon found myself out on the track, trying to overtake other drivers and beat my own lap times.

In the pits

We were scheduled for a 3pm session and I thought it was going to be just me and my girlfriend, but it turned out there were five other racers raring to go at the same time. This brought on the nerves straight away.

We suited up and were then taken into a room to be shown a video explaining all the rules on how to be safe on the track, with a quick talk from one of the staff who calmed some of those nerves.

The track employees struck a good balance between being friendly and approachable while explaining all of the potential hazards and offering tips for getting the most out of our session.

Race One

After making sure our helmets were on properly and we were all comfortable in our karts, it was time for the safety laps.

We were tested on our knowledge of the different flags and whether we could follow instructions on stopping and slowing down, then the first 10-minute race session commenced.

‘I was excited to see how well I’d done in comparison to the others, but it turned out that I’d finished second to last’

The first corner saw my first mistake. As it loomed, I slowed down rapidly to avoid losing control, but lost too much speed and allowed another driver to overtake me.

I instantly realised that your judgement in karting had to be spot on; the slightest hesitation can add seconds to your lap time. It gave me a new-found respect for Formula One drivers. It’s not as easy as it looks…

There was also plenty of times on different turns where I didn’t slow down enough and ended up spinning out of control.

After 10 minutes, we were all called in to discover the results of the first session. I was excited to see how well I’d done in comparison to the others, but it turned out that I’d finished second to last.

This brought out my competitive side, and I wanted to drastically improve in the second race, but you could see from the reaction from the others that they did too.

The mood changed from it being a bit of fun to competitive racing.

Race Two

In the second race, everyone was taking a lot more risks after getting the feel of their karts and the track itself.

A lot more overtaking and a plenty of collisions were happening, which again makes you realise how talented F1 drivers really are.

It’s not just about having the fastest car; there are so many other aspects, like choosing your moment when to overtake and how to approach corners, because if you get it wrong in F1 it is potentially life-threatening.

After coming into the pits for the second time, the results showed that people were getting a lot faster and being a lot more tactical.

I was certainly happy as I went from second to last to 3rd place, and felt a real sense of achievement.

Race Three

The final race session began, but for me it was more about enjoying the moment rather than trying to completely outdo my opponents to win.

As each corner came up, I experimented on how to approach them, seeing what was best, increasing or decreasing the speed, or what angle to take the corner at.

By the end of it, I feel I had worked out how to race on the track to the best of my ability.

The Finish Line

Overall, my go-karting experience was a fantastic one. I was able to learn as I participated, which gave me a new-found respect for F1 as a sport.

It is something I would definitely do again with my friends for a birthday or get-together, and it was worth the money we spent.

For more information about go-karting at one of Team Sport UK’s tracks, visit their website.

Burning rubber at Capital Karts

Let’s be honest, most of us Fast & Furious fans and Need for Speed fans will never get the chance to drift around the streets of London.

Street racing is, of course, dangerous and illegal, but that doesn’t mean the rivalry among me and my friends over who’s the better driver can’t be resolved.

The way we did it was to burn some rubber at the Capital Karts circuit, which is in Barking and open seven days a week.

We booked our session for 5pm and with a selection of offers for track time we chose the exclusive hire option as there were 11 of us. The cost worked out as £60 each.

The exclusive track hire offers over 60 minutes of racing time, and you have to be at least 16 years old – so fresh-faced racers should bring some ID along.

Safety briefing

Capital Karts is the UK’s longest indoor karting track at 1,050 metres. The circuit is designed to replicate F1 venues, with the safety barriers and sharp bends.

Voted Best Indoor Karting Track of 2015 by readers of Karting magazine, Capital Karts also claims to have the fastest go-karts in London – their 270cc machines can hit speeds of up to 45mph.

But before we were let loose behind the wheel, we took part in a safety briefing, received our helmets, and carried out a few practice laps to get a feel for both our karts and the track.

Driving a kart is very different to driving a car. The steering is more sensitive and they are much nippier.

I couldn’t resist a cheeky drift which made me think I was in a Fast & Furious movie for a split second.

A great advantage I had over my friends is that I only weigh 77kg, which allowed my go-kart to hit top speed quicker than my heavier mates.

The disadvantage of me being the lighter racer was that I had less of a grip on the track, so when it came to sharp bends I lost speed, which allowed my mates to catch up.

A valuable lesson I learnt is always find a way past slow drivers as you will only drive as fast as them. The track is tight, so be prepared to come across frustrating situations such as being obstructed.

A great technique I figured out is to get as close as possible to the driver in front then try accelerate past them on the inside when going through a bend.

The more time you spend behind someone, the more you lose touch with the leaders, and the drivers behind you start to catch up.

Racing experience

I finished sixth out of 11 my first race – not bad considering I’d never been karting before, and all the drivers that finished ahead of me had previous experience.

After that, I asked one of the staff for tips which I found that helped me in the second race.

He told me I was losing speed on the bends as I wasn’t braking correctly, and getting overtaken as a consequence.

Most my friends who finished in the top five were the more aggressive drivers; one actually caused someone to spin out when the back of his kart was clipped and eventually he finished last.

However, reckless driving is not tolerated and you will receive a warning before being dismissed.

In my second race, I managed to finish third, putting into practice the advice I’d been given but also being meaner and obstructive to the racers behind me.

Driving as if you have eyes in the back of your head is very important, especially near the end when you want to defend your position on the track.

I highly recommend go-karting if you’re looking for an exhilarating and competitive racing experience with your friends.

If you’re interested in racing at Capital Karts, visit their website.