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Kiran Thomman » Blog Archive » Initiation to carting!
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Initiation to carting!


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Oct 8th 2007, Monday 8 AM! I wake up cursing Gautam for waking me up after a late night following my wedding anniversary. He wants me to turn up for training, the prelude to the National Carting Championship the following weekend. I’m on two minds to actually do it. At 32 and closing in on 84Kgs I’m not the typical frame for a go cart. Egged on by Dominic of similar vintage but 25 K’s on the lighter side I decide to give it a go. Something I will never regret. I could have easily been singing ‘Time of my Life’ with the cart doing all the dirty dancing.

Iv never driven nor seen a proper cart before except for the crude ones which friends had put together. But these were 12 Bhp carts and a breed apart. Our trainer for the day and a man I am forever grateful for the same was Mazda Watcha. He started off throwing light into proper racing technique specifically the racing line. Something I was totally in the dark about. Surprisingly Id never heard of it before as watching Formula 1 on TV was not something I took a fancy to. They say carting is an initiation into the Formula series. For carting right you need to know the line. I could drive but racing lines were something totally new to me. And Mazda gave us the much needed primer.

Not knowing racing technique specifically the racing line is a major handicap on the circuit. You might seem to drive very fast but unless accompanied by proper racing technique and tactic your lap times will definitely tell you a different story. I had to unlearn most of what I was doing. I had to brake different, accelerate different and approach turns with a difference. Penning down all that I learned seems unnecessary as you can find almost all of it exploring techniques at Drivingfast.net. I found it by googling for ‘Racing Lines’. If you follow technique you will be alarmed that its how good (not hard!) you brake into corners and not acceleration that gets you out faster.

Coming on to the actual drives the first 5 laps was to familiarize us with the cart. Post 5 laps I was hooked. This was mind blowing fun! Others too shared the same opinion. Even people like me who had done an Autocross or two on our regular drives of 100+ horses were shocked that these small machines actually provided equal if not less fun. Then came another 10 laps to familiarize us with the racing lines. This was followed by another 10 teaching us to blip the throttle so that the centrifugal clutch doesn’t slip to neutral at lower RPM while cornering.

Typical go kart is all about shooting curves. Approach on the outer extreme straight. Hit the brakes hard and cut the throttle in one swift motion ease off the brakes turn towards the apex of the turn angling it at 45 degrees or less on the exit you want to take. Easier said than done trust me! You then hit the throttle when you are steered straight in the direction you want to go. It all happens in a second or two with enough rev input to make sure that the centrifugal clutch has enough rpm not to slip into neutral. Calculations vary driver to driver but technique remains more or less the same. In my case I prob had to brake a bit earlier as my higher weight would mean greater momentum approaching a turn. For starters I would suggest sticking to the classic racing line as depicted below.

classic line

Anyway post training and event day was great fun too. I was slower by over 4 secs losing out on the qualifying to experienced and much lighter novices. The only consolation not being caught at the end of the pack. I drove much slower than some who appeared to drive fast trying to get the technique right being my first run. Yet clocked in a very marginal difference in lap time comparison to them proving beyond doubt that technique is the key.

If you get a turn at a cart never miss it for anything. Its the closest you probably will get to actually racing a circuit. And always remember don’t try to be Shumi overnight take it slow get the technique right which eventually will get you faster on the laps eventually.

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One Response to “Initiation to carting!”

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