Karting

Last night a few of us from work went Karting. One of the contractors we use had exclusively booked the Daytona indoor karting circuit at Trafford Park and invited each of his largest customers to bring a team along.

We arrived early and went up to the viewing gallery to see what it was about. There were about a dozen karts whizzing around the track – it turned out to be the Stoke City football club first team on their Christmas Do. It looked fantastic. 😀

We got changed into our regulation fireproof jump suits – I asked for the biggest size, of course, but it was still a bit on the small side and didn’t even have a zipper. Not to worry, I’d manage. We then had to sit through a quick safety briefing where they explain all rules – i.e. no bumping, no using brake and accelerator together, obey the marshalls, etc – and they tell you what the different coloured flags and lights mean. Then it was down to the pits, grab a helmet and out onto the track for a few practice laps.

Wow, those little karts are really quick once you get going. When you get used to the track you can throw yourself into virtually every corner, catching the back end when it slides out. Five or six practice laps then back into the pits so your team mate can have a go, then straight to the race itself: an hour’s endurance, with as many driver changes as you like. 😮

They lined up the karts on the grid and I happened to be put in pole position. I waited an age for everyone to line up behind then… I missed the green light. By the time I’d noticed, about 6 cars had gone by. I floored it along the back straight and thought I’d outbreak them at the first hairpin bend, but the yellow flags were already out – there was a pile up ahead. Remembering the safety briefing I slowed down to half racing speed and didn’t try overtaking. It seems us newbies were the only ones who paid attention to the rules – another four cars flashed past me! 👿

It was obvious that some people had done this many times before – they even brought their own suits and helmets! As they disappeared into the distance, I knew we were out of the running for the top prizes so it was just a matter of beating the others from the college. I lost control a few times trying to push a bit too hard to catch up, but everyone had a few spins. I got a warning from the marshalls – I haven’t a clue what I did wrong – but they didn’t make me come in for a penalty stop.

We had decided beforehand that we would do ten minutes each and then come into the pits to change drivers, so twenty-odd laps later I pulled into the pits in a lowly 10th position (out of 14 cars) but I was still ahead of the other two college teams. I jumped out of the car – well, fell out really, it’s very tricky when you’ve got long legs – and Andy took over. 😯

Andy kept up the pace and we maintained 10th spot right up until a few laps before he was due to come in to swap drivers again. Misreading the noticeboard, he half-decided to come into the pits and half-decided to stay out: result, he ran into the pit wall and had to wait for the marshalls to free his trapped car. Jon and Nick zoomed past as he sat there helpless. 🙁

Not wanting to lose even more time by changing drivers, we decided to change our strategy so Andy stayed out on the track for another 10 minutes, leaving me to do our last stint. Fired up for a last push, I flew out of the pits and down the long straight, only to be clipped by some clown who thought he could squeeze his Kart down the inside. I was spun fully around and found myself facing oncoming traffic at the very fastest part of the circuit! 😯

I could see the accident coming: three cars, side by side, heading straight for me at full speed. The two on the outside would be able to swerve around me easily enough, but the one in the middle had absolutely nowhere to go. I braced myself for the impact. :wacko:

That hurt. And later, once I wasn’t pumped full of adrenaline, it would really, really hurt. 😥

But for now, all that mattered was that I’d been bounced around 180 degrees and I could get on with the race! Foot to the floor and we were off again. I couldn’t catch up with Jon and Nick but at least I managed to stay ahead of Pete and Wayne, who seemed to be having their fair share of accidents too. We finished in 12th place, some 14 laps behind the eventual winner. 😳

It was only when I tried wriggling out of my boiler suit that I realised how sore my shoulders were following my crash; I could barely move my arms. [Edit: I’ve been in agony today at work. I can’t complain too much though: Pete has a couple of suspected cracked ribs as a result of his crash.] 🙄

Injuries aside, we all thoroughly enjoyed it and plan to do it again in a couple of months when we’ve healed. Thanks to Steve and Mark for organising it all, it was a great evening. 🙂