For many drivers, the 2018 racing season is over. Unless you’re heading down to the United States to compete in the Florida Winter Tour or SKUSA SuperNationals, you’ve probably put your kart into storage, your suit in the closet and are waiting until April to get back out on the race track. Keeping sharp over the winter is important so that come spring, you’re not completely out of it. The question is how?
It might be cold outside, but from the comfort of your home, racing sims are a pretty good way to stay sharp. With a good wheel and set of pedals, your virtual actions are very similar to what you would be doing on the track. In fact, by racing online, you even get to compete against other people, not just AI. However, the physical nature of racing is not something you experience with a simulator. There’s no G-forces. You’re not actually driving. And those competitors you’re racing against aren’t really there. It’s just a simulation. For a real racing experience over the winter, there’s no better way to keep sharp than through indoor karting.
It’s fair to say the nearly all kart racers have been to an indoor track at some point in their life. Whether it was to drive the junior karts as a little kid or for some fun with friends as a teen, indoor tracks have always been very popular. That having been said, not all tracks are created equally.
Many of the older facilities have gas powered karts and need to leave their garage doors open and fans on to counteract the exhaust fumes. When it’s below freezing outside, you’re going to feel it inside the facility. You can end up driving on a very cold track, which doesn’t provide much grip, or a very comfortable experience. I’ve been to many indoor tracks in the winter months, and even with the biggest fans, you taste the exhaust coming off the kart you’re chasing. Not a very pleasant experience.
For me, the only place to race this winter is K1 Speed. You won’t have any of the problems mentioned above, just a great place to race. K1 Speed’s Italian built electric karts are equipped with 20 horsepower motors and slick racing tires. All the karts are new this year and are all prepared equally. The track has an exciting layout with a mix of tight hairpins and flat-out sections, where lap time can be gained and lost in a heartbeat. Every day at the track sees a different set of drivers arrive, all racing hard against each other. Since it opened earlier this year, the K1 Speed overall lap record has been shattered several times, with different drivers holding the honour of being K1 Speed’s quickest.
Simulators are a lot of fun, but there is no substitute for real racing. The OTL karts at K1 Speed have high horsepower and torque, but coupled with the heavy batteries, it makes the electric karts a challenge to maneuver quickly, and an even bigger challenge to do battle in against other racers. Racing at K1 Speed is a great way to work on your racecraft, kart control and generally make sure that you’re your reflexes sharp this winter.
Racers are always looking for competition, and one of the problems many indoor rental tracks suffer from is a lack of serious competitors. That’s what I like about K1 Speed. Sure, the track is kid-friendly when they’re doing laps in the Junior karts. But I’ve competed against professional race car drivers at K1 Speed. On any given night you’ll find kart racers who normally compete in local karting clubs (like TRAK and MIKA) as well as racers from the bigger regional karting events (like the Champion Ron Fellows Karting Challenge). Not only does K1 Speed offer an opportunity to race against strong competition, but you also get to race against your regular rivals. At my last club race of the season, I found myself saying goodbye to my friends, plus Merry Christmas, Happy New Years and Happy Groundhog Day, because I know I won’t see them until next April. At indoor tracks like K1 Speed, I can see my buddies from the outdoor tracks and race against them all winter. Plus, my dad really likes not having to turn wrenches on my kart for a few months.
Along with the daily racing action that takes place at K1 Speed, they put on many special events throughout the year. So far this year the track has hosted the Hot Wheels IndyCar Junior Grand Prix, the September Speed Challenge and the King of Speed event, an elimination tournament where the quickest drivers fought for the fastest lap. At the grand opening of the track there was even an opportunity to race against Canadian IndyCar legend Paul Tracy!
If you’re a competitive kart racer, looking for a challenge this winter, get yourself to an indoor track! It’s easy to get rusty over the winter due to a lack of practice, but if you want to continue competing, or just want to have a little fun while keeping your skills sharp in the off-season, check out K1 Speed.