doesnt matter how big your motor home is it still doesnt
help you when it comes down to race.'
You want to be a racing driver?
The increasing popularity of Formula One and the influx of talented
young drivers like Jenson Button and Kimi Raiknonen have encouraged
a new wave of youngsters to try their hand at kart racing. Many
of them dream of joining the elite men that drive in Formula One,
but of course not all of those dreams will come true, nevertheless
racing karts offer a great way for them to try the sport.
A day at the kart track usually starts at about 7:30am and the pit lane
is usually already bustling with activity. The people rushing around take
racing seriously, its something they really love doing, the atmosphere
of camaraderie, fun and friendly rivalry reflects this.
The race day consists of an early morning practice session, a timed qualifying
period and two pre-finals leading up to the eventual final race. It is
only the final race positions that count towards championship points,
the other sessions give the drivers experience on the track in preparation
for the final.
Circuits like Bayford Meadows in Kent and other tracks scattered around
the country allow people to race karts and see whether the sport interests
them. The drivers are able to turn up with or without a kart depending
on the type of event running.
Race weekends are always hectic especially for the organisers, signing
in the drivers, checking the safety, and getting together the marshals,
the list goes on.
Track manager Ian Ward has been conducting the smooth running of Bayford
Meadows for four years, and in a year he would organise over 400 events
varying from the company days out to owner-driver sprint events. The events
are always busy and attract a lot of interest.
"I think a lot of the drivers are chasing a dream to be in Formula
One but in reality not an awful lot of them are going to get there,"
Money plays an important part of people deciding on whether or not they
want to take up the sport but is it worth the cash?
"Of course I would recommend racing to people thats how I make
my living! But seriously I think its very good for all age groups,
from eight upwards. There are people like myself who are forty and if
they didnt do it when they were young its given them an opportunity
to do it now."
Racing karts is a specialist sport there are certain ways to get into
the sport and be able to get into a good kart club.
"Theres a number of places all over the country, indoor kart
tracks, outdoor kart tracks most areas have got them now that you could
He recommends, "Initially, to start off to find if you really want
to do it is to go along to you local track hire a cart. Have a go and
if you like it most circuits like ourselves organise hire cart events
where you dont need to own your own kart."
He says, "As far as the individual is concerned you can join the
kart club which is basically a club that organises twelve events a year."
As you walk down the pit lane you can see that some people have a lot
of money to spend on racing karts and a lot of people dont. It would
be hard to decide whether it actually has any bearing on the races. "I
dont necessarily believe it makes a difference," He argues,
"When you sitting on the grid you can only take one engine it doesnt
matter how many youve got in the truck and it doesnt matter
how big your motor home is it still doesnt help you when it comes
down to race".
Money is a deciding factor to many people in whether they take up kart
racing or not. The costs rise as you become more and more involved in
the sport but the thrills and excitement hugely outweigh the financial
James Pitcher aged thirteen and Robin Aldridge aged fifteen both race
in the Junior TKM championship at Bayford Meadows.
"It was my friends birthday and he had a party at a track called
Buckmore Park," James explained, "I went along and we got to
race in the little karts, it stated from there."
"Well I started when I was about ten years old when I went to a Raleigh
go-karting track," Robin continued, "I liked it so much I carried
on going. Its a competitive sport and I like getting some aggression
out if Im a bit irritated from the week, the speed is an attraction
as well of course!"
There are a great deal of safety precautions taken by both drivers and
the track owners, but of course it is still a sport and very competitive
so accidents do happen.
There would be no point talking about the danger of kart racing though
because if youre worried about it then you shouldnt be on
the track. Fear can break the concentration and when your racing at high
speed you need to be sharp and have quick reactions.
"It doesnt really bother me because Ive had so many accidents
I know what happens!" Grinned Robin, "I dont know how
many accidents Ive had
uncountable. Ive broke my exhaust
and spun off through the air before, nothing serious though no broken
The price of the karts and the obviously added price of accidents and
replacing equipment doesnt seem to bother the drivers themselves.
(But this could be that its usually their parents that have to bare
the brunt of the money worries - all of them hoping that their sprog will
turn out like those young Kart racers the Shumaker brothers, Michael and
Ralph - whatever
happend to them I wonder?)
"Well as long as you can afford it its all right if you cant
you shouldnt be doing it." James explained, "I dont
think money makes that much of a difference you dont need a big
motor home, just a box trailer will do. You dont even need the best
Robin agreed, "I dont really worry either. If you really enjoy
it you should be willing to pay. It doesnt matter how much money
you have when it actually comes to racing just when youre buying
the karts themselves, but Id recommend anyone to get into it, its
a great sport!"
If youve been tempted by the colourful world of kart racing then
go along and try your hand at racing these powerful machines, although
the world seems costly and even slightly dangerous you get the feeling
from talking to the drivers thats all just a part of the thrill.
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