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Everyone says kart racing is the stepping stone to Formula 1. The proof is most definitely there with many a multimillionaire racing driver having passed through the ranks of karting championships before securing their drive with a leading F1 team. Think Lewis Hamilton who started go karting when he was just eight and began winning races pretty soon after that.
Mind you, you don't have to be a budding Hamilton or Button to enjoy the thrills of dashing around a track in a kart. Just centimetres above the ground, the sense of acceleration and speed is intense in these things. It's basically four tyres, a steering wheel and an engine on a chassis with a seat plonked on top. Which explains why they are so light. All that means a 50cc is incredibly quick and can reach hair-raising speeds.
And you need no previous racing skills either. You might have a bit of a juddery start, but you will soon learn that in the go karting game it's all about keeping on your line and knowing when to defend and when to attack your fellow karters. Spatial awareness and a knack for seeking out space on the circuit will also put you in good stead.
Safety is also of paramount importance, with a briefing before each session. The race director will keep a close eye on you along with the team of marshals. These are the crew members who ensure karts are re-filled when they need to be and will give you a hand if you happen to pile into a tyre wall. (It does happen!).
The set ups at our centres around the country are really quite impressive. Big screen displays show your individual standings and lap times so you can strive to better those personal bests with each pass. The karts themselves are easy to drive and fully automatic, with different engine sizes for adults and teens. They might look at bit like Scalectrix toys but they are most definitely not, with even the baby models capable of 30mph.
As for the circuits, well we've got both outdoor and indoor go kart racing tracks for you. The advantages of indoor are obvious; not affected by weather or daylight, with racing at night totally on the cards - as you can see when we went go karting in Newcastle. However, outdoor circuits tend to be a bit longer and you get that open-air feel to the whole event. Whichever you plump for it'll be a whole load of revs and screeching tyre moments for all.
The experiences themselves are either Grand Prix formats with heats, semi-finals and a grand finale race to see who gets a spot on the winner's podium, or it's a case of getting practice in doing laps against the clock, rather than your colleagues. For us it's all about that competitive spirit and trackside staff will encourage you to race within the limits of safety of course.
You'll find the circuits are littered with corners, chicanes and bends. There will also be at least a couple of straights wide enough for you bust out an overtaking manoeuvre. You might even be at a venue with a flyover to whizz over too, how cool is that!
And when it comes to go karting there are tactics. Your start is crucial and your first corner is critical. It's all about jostling for space and keeping your nose clean into the first bend. Perhaps go defensive on the following chicane, or take a chance on going wide on the outside to out-fox your opponents…this is the sheer exhilaration the game of go kart racing is all about!
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