Thursday, 17 April 2008

Gone Karting

I have just been out for a practice session at Daytona karting in Sandown. It was a fairly cold day with a wet track and it was a brilliant laugh. Slipping and sliding all over the place, several spins, a couple of bumps and dodges, knackered forearms by the time it finished. Everything you could want.

It was the first time I've been outdoor karting. I've done a few laps on the local indoor track but its just not the same thing, especially in the wet. On slicks! The first turn up there is a high speed sweeper and its one of those 'how brave do you want to be' corners, where you just have to fling it in and hope for the best. At the start of the session, it was turn in and watch the kart carry on straight for a bit, but at the end it was scrabbling around for grip the whole way through.

Afterwards (as usual) it put me in the mood for finding out more about racing these things on a regular basis. Every time I try something like this, I want to be a race driver again. So I fire up Google and start surfing. The first thing that hits me is that there are an awful lot of indoor kart tracks around the place and not so many outdoor ones. The second is that if you want to start karting as a sport, all the info out there seems to be from the 90's!

I was staggered by the sheer lack of up to date info there is. Lets start at the top, the organising body for all motorsport in the UK (including karting) is the MSA. Its not too bad to start with, then you get into the karting section and things start to fall apart. You need to complete an ARKS test before you can race so you go to their site to find out about it. Now apart from having a design straight out of the original Ark it seems not too bad. Until you dig a little deeper...

The ARKS page mentions the KCB ProRacer card which along with the Kart Tyro class would seem to be a great way to getting started. So you follow the link to the Kart Control Board to find out more, except it doesn't work. Now I'm not one to be put off easily so I do a little digging. It seems that the Kart Control Board was disbanded in 2003!

So then you can eventually make it to the ABkC website, surely this is better? No, quite frankly, it isn't. Again an ancient design which makes it incredibly hard to see what's going on and almost nothing useful. Especially on the 'getting started' pages which are quite possibly the worst web pages I have seen since 1995.

Surely a better job can be done than this? It shouldn't be that hard to find out what needs to be found out should it? I mean its easy enough to find an arrive and drive karting session (although most of their websites seem to be stuck in the last century again).

Which brings me on to another point. I eventually found out that after buying a kart and race gear I would need to join a club, pay for a test and of course pay the meeting fees for each race. The meeting fees alone are around £45 so why on earth would I do that when I can do a practice and race at an arrive and drive centre for about the same price!

So why is there not a more organised arrive and drive championship? There are plenty of centres that could host championship races, it would encourage people to race more regularly, the competition would help to advertise the centres. I can only see upsides to it, except for the person who has to organise it of course! Maybe its time to start my own championship?