Waking up in a grubby hotel in Leeds with a mouth like an ashtray and morning sunlight beaming through the cheap curtains is not the best feeling in the world. But to then attempt an endurance Go Kart race of 90 mins is downright sadistic. I’m speaking from experience. After a stag do night out with friends we’d planned a Go Kart race for the following day. PPIK in Leeds is home to the “most innovative circuit in the UK” and it’s far better than the ropey Go-Karting facilities I’ve witnessed in the past.
PPIK included a great circuit with raised pit lane, bridge, tunnel, chicane and hairpin along with an automated lap time monitor to show who was where. I was very impressed, but also very hungover…
Sweating in the Kart waiting to go out for the rolling start gave me a good chance to have a look around the Kart and get used to the smell of Kart engine exhaust fumes while trying to keep the contents of my stomach inside. A slow start behind the safety Kart gave us the chance to get used to the circuit and find a decent line. After two laps the safety car disappears up the pit lane and we’re off!
The Stag Do Element
Inevitably, putting hordes of hungover stag do groups on a Go-Karting circuit is destined for mayhem and it wasn’t long before I jinked past a pair of karts that had taken each other out before I locked up the brakes and skidded elegantly towards a wall… I managed to rescue the situation by booting the throttle and but it wasn’t long before a man dressed in a baby gro overtook me.
The Stag Do element of the Go-Karting was clear to see.
The most dramatic parts of the circuit was going under the bridge. A partially blind left hander made it difficult and if someone had stacked it under there you had better hope the marshall was quick to wave his yellow flag. Coming up out the otherside the track turned right and got bumpy enough to throw me around the kart a bit. Only the seasoned or foolish would nail it here, and 5 laps in; I was both.
After a pit stop I was left to gather my breath and watch from afar. I fancy myself as a fairly decent driver but Go-Karting is very different. One of the members of staff went round taking a different line to most of the other drivers and getting more drive out of corners and at one point bisecting two karts while cornering. The better drivers were clear to see and appeared to be trying less and merely guiding the kart around, rather than chucking it into a corner and bashing into anything that might get in the way.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and a heady mix of adrenaline and the previous nights alcohol got me through OK in the end. I’ve now revised my thoughts on performance cars completely.
Instead of trying to find a decent road car to replace my Honda, I’m looking at a boring diesel and getting a Go Kart as my “fun car” that can be used at weekends. It will be lots cheaper, probably more fun and infinitely more practical. A fast car on today’s UK roads is the ultimate exercise in futility so a dedicated little race machine will provide my thrills. I’m currently on eBay looking at a few different Karts already…