“How fast does this thing go?” It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or fully grown looking at a sports car, an ATV, a motorcycle, a jet ski, a boat, a motorized skateboard, or a superfast go-kart (or more accurately, “pro kart”) at Accelerate Speedway & Events. You’ve just gotta ask. You’ve just gotta know.
Well, in the case of the sports car, the top speed on the speedometer can be a little deceptive, and you might not have the guts to push the motorcycle, or the skateboard for that matter, to its limits, but in the case of the go-kart, it’s 50 miles per hour.
And that’s pretty fast when you’re out in the open inches from the ground. In fact, you could say that speed is relative. The smaller the vehicle, the less there is between you and the open air, and the closer to the ground, the faster it feels.
Cruising along a road at 50 mph in a sedan feels much slower than barrelling through the neighborhood on, say, a Big Wheel at the same speed. Impossible? Probably. Then again, if someone like German Cyclist Robert Forstemann can reach speeds up to 50 mph on a bike on a track you’ve gotta wonder how fast he could go on a Big Wheel. Not impressed? Here’s Robert generating enough power to toast a slice of bread.
Pretty crazy. Now, for something even crazier in the name of speed, here’s Denise Mueller-Korenek doing what no man or woman has ever done before–ride a bike at 184 mph!
Of course, all this talk about speed could go on forever, so let’s get back to the point. You know how it feels to go 50 mph in a car. Here’s what 50 mph looks like in one of our go-karts. Not to mention, the turns are tighter, and then there’s all that competition.
Just because a kart can reach speeds up to 50 mph doesn’t mean you will drive your kart at speeds up to 50 mph. So, maybe the even better question is, “How fast are YOU in a 50 MPH go-kart?” And that’s where all the skill comes in.
Here are some tips on how to reach your highest speeds and fullest potential as a kart racer.
Tip 1: Smooth is FAST!
When racing, you are always leaning on the bleeding edge of what your equipment can do in even the best conditions. Only thing is, rarely are the conditions perfect. When you hear smooth is fast, it basically means don’t upset that bleeding edge balance between fast and out of control. Smooth, steady steering inputs along with the smooth application of power and braking will keep your equipment more balanced and less likely to get upset and send you out of control.
That’s not to say smooth is always fast. Smooth can be just smooth, sometimes slow. On the other hand, haphazard, herky-jerky racing with shrieking tires may sound and look fast, but it isn’t. The fastest smooth, where it’s pushed to its limits, usually finishes first.
Tip 2: Drive One Corner Ahead.
You should ALWAYS drive ahead of the track and the vehicle in front of you. If you only plan for the corner in front of you, you will never be able to efficiently set up the driver ahead of you for the pass. Looking one corner ahead will also keep you safe and better prepared to avoid any obstacles that may come your way.
The most elite racers drive fast and think faster, continuously collecting mental snapshots and anticipating all that lies ahead. Watch any high-level series, and you will discover some drivers who just seem to have a knack for missing the big crash or finding a way to win at the end, almost as if they know how the race is going to end long before it’s over. In racing especially, you can often get a good idea of what’s about to happen simply by paying attention to what’s in front of you right now.
Tip 3: Drive Your Line.
No two drivers will ever drive the exact same line. If they did, racing would be boring. It is very easy to get behind someone and follow or start to change your line to get around them, but this is a trap. You caught up to them for a reason: your line was faster. Keep on your line, apply the pressure and wait for a mistake.
There’s a lot of science to racing–aerodynamics, weight displacement, horsepower, and acceleration to name a few. And then there’s the simple art or poetry in finding one’s own line along with the Zen-like concentration to calmly keep it while there’s chaos all around.
There’s no better place to practice than indoors.
With any outdoor track, your fastest smooth, the best way to attack each corner, and your best line are always changing with the weather and track conditions. The track will be dramatically different when it’s wet vs dry, hot vs cold, or day vs night. Not to mention, if the track is fresh, it will feel and drive a lot differently than if it’s got a lot of rubber and debris.
That can make it hard to test different lines and other tactics because what works really well with one set of conditions won’t with another. It’s also why some of the best drivers in the world adapt in real-time to conditions that can change dramatically within the race. Add changes in the car, like tire wear and the changing order of cars in front and behind, and you start to realize why every lap is different.
Because our tracks are indoors and at a consistent temperature and humidity level, they can provide one constant variable to make it easier to get near-instant feedback as you experiment with your line and your edge.
And if you race in other series, whether it’s a dirt track, asphalt, concrete, oval, road, rally, or any other type of racing, you may find that a little practice inside where the feedback is consistent and instant may help you get better everywhere you race.
Lose a second to finish first.