I just did some karting for my birthday, and I have to say.... I’m kinda hooked. I’ve done track days in cars and on motorcycles, and probably log about 100-200 hours a year sim racing. But I’m feeling like karting is going to be my drug of choice for my automotive kicks.
Karting over track days???
Absolutely. I recently did a track day on my motorcycle, and have done track days in cars. For me at least, karting is superior in three very key ways.
1, you crash, generally no big deal (though faster karts/tracks can be pretty sketchy).
2, for me at least, in a kart I feel no inhibition about pushing to the limit right away. At the car track day... well, if you could even call it that; I got 3 laps in a 458 and then a GT-R... I was barely learning the track before my session was over. On my bike I got 7 20 minute sessions during the day, and eventually got pretty comfortable towards the end.... but I still wasn’t getting a knee down. And even with that...
3, karting is so much more convenient & cheap. I am fortunate enough to live in a place that’s overrun with karting tracks, both indoor and out. Not sure how it is in the rest of the country, but I’d bet most major cities have indoor karting tracks. All I have to do is show up in long pants. With my bike track day I had to rent and load a U-Haul with my bike and gear, then unpack, go through tech etc.... and then do the reverse when it was all over. I could just rent a bike, but that would be about $300 per session, and I would need a suit as well. With the car I could just go, but there’s still the issue of possibly balling it up if things go pear shaped. No thanks!
Factoring time in I also think karting is cheaper per minute and is definitely more time efficient as well.
Karting over sim racing?
This is probably a little more obvious. Many of the reasons sim racing isn’t as good as karting are the opposite of the reasons track days aren’t as good. The cost per mile/minute trends to zero and the convenience factor is infinite. However, while I do think a lot more translates from sim racing to real life (Google Jann Mardenborough), there’s still nothing quite like feeling a kart wriggle under you, or feeling those g-loads in a corner. That’s obviously the missing piece that can only come from a serious high tech rig.
Karting can also teach you good habits like looking ahead and the like as well. You can only look so far down the track on a screen :)
It seems pretty obvious. A lot of chowderheads on the internet blab about modern safety features blunting driving skills, but I guarantee they’d be mince meat on a kart track. Messing around on the street is no substitute for track time. The fact that most if not all F1 racers came up in track should count for something as well. It’s also a cheap and safe way to go absolutely balls to the wall on 4 wheels and asphalt (or warehouse floor).
So just do it guys and girls. I love to geek out over the engineering and history of cars too, but at the end of the day they are meant to be driven. Enthusiasts have to be drivers. And there’s no better place to become a better driver than behind the wheel of a kart. I’m pissed that it’s taken me 34 years to realize this.
One thing I will say- kart sickness is legit. I’m OK on big and small boats, and generally don’t get car sick. But I did a kart outing a few years ago and got motion sick for the first time since I played Golden Eye decades ago. Solution? Ginger pills. I took one after I got sick last time and felt better almost instantly. This time I took about 4 before I got on the track and felt absolutely fine. I suppose dramamine may help too, but I’m crunchy and organic and shit and like that ginger root works. Probably not a bad idea. All kart tracks should keep a huge vat of ginger pills on hand.
But yea- go kart!!!!