First shock to me, there is no seat belt or safety harness! With me being a stocky 6’2″ tall, that was disconcerting, let me tell you. The 10″ steering wheel (between my knees) serves two purposes. First (obviously) to steer & second, to help you “hang on for dear life” on those hairpin turns and chicanes! The second shock (well, more like an eye-opening surprise), it takes very little actual steering wheel movement (no more than an inch in either direction, I think) to turn. Here’s the track course layout – it’s 1/3 of a mile long and 24 feet wide throughout.
So, I finally got settled in and took the first lap relatively slow as I hadn’t had a chance to pre-walk the course, like at an autocross. When I completed the first warm-up lap, I was given the green flag and starting pushing – myself more the than kart, trying to learn my limits and the machine’s. Suffice it to say, I probably got to about 85% of the kart’s capability. My initial fear melted into a respect of the challenge to learn to go a little bit harder & farther each lap.
Basic operation was easy, the right peddle is “gas” (propane) and left peddle is the brakes. Only one speed, so no shifting to be concerned with. Along the sides of the course there are no run off areas. You have either hay bales or alternating red & white water-filled plastic barriers. Here are 2 pix from the Alamo Karts website, to give you a better idea:
As the laps went by, I noticed my self-talk asking/telling me if I could take this curve different & faster, or could I brush that hay bale or get closer to that barrier. It was nervewracking for about the first 4 minutes or so. Once I settled in, I think I tried slightly different racing lines, trying to figure out the best spot for each turn’s apex. My hands started to get tired and a little sore – this is definately an activity where gloves would be helpful.
The one concept I could not wrap my head around is this: I was out there by myself. I have no idea how I’d react or perform with a couple of other karts out there. It was very good that my first time was solo. Ann Wilson, the Manager, told me they allow a maximum of 8 karts out on the track at the same time.
Before I complete this 3-part series, I want to explain something. When I left Alamo Karts, I was very grateful for having experienced karting, especially at a first class facility and with good people like Ann Wilson. I ejoyed reviewing the slick electronic printout of my lap times results (see below). But I was thinking that I wasn’t necessarily interested in doing it again.
Yesterday, my mind started to change. I logged into the ROC Timing website to see my laptimes as compared to others. I thought, “I was THAT slow? Couldn’t I do any better?”. Plus, I’m sure I’m heavier set and taller than at least 1/2 the kart racers whose results I reviewed, and probably older than more than 1/2 of them, too.
Then I got to thinking, maybe this will incentivise me into really losing some weight, and with practice I could lap faster. I’ll have to talk to some buddies I know that would want to do this – hmmmmm…
I have more ideas to write about this karting experience, but the next few posts will be dedicated to the information I glean from tomorrow’s SPOKES autocross results – the people/cars/ride along reviews, etc.
So, this is my Racing Ready, entry level overview of karting, a first for me! I mentioned 2 days ago that I thought I’d be sore. Well, it was less than I expected. I only had a little soreness in my lower right groin. This was probably from straining to keep my body upright with all the lefthand turns.