How to (Actually) Excel at Go Kart Racing

January 16th, 2018

Earlier in the week, our friend Adrian wrote a very good blog about how you can improve your go kart racing skills with a list of tips.  In his article he also alluded to the fact that he has had a few “shameful performances” on our track in the past and has since turned to the internet racing gods for wisdom.  While all of his tips were valid and spot on when it comes to racing properly and shaving time off your laps, it troubles me to inform our readership that poor Adrian failed to implement his tips for his own racing during our latest outing this week and was instead bested by yours truly.  To be fair, he made drastic improvements since his last session and is still a very capable racer.  All rousing aside, I felt like I should weigh in on the debate of what racers should be doing in order to race extremely well. So here are the 4 things I personally stand by that help me keep ahold of that kick ass medal you see to the left of this paragraph week-in and week-out.

Relax Your Body

As Adrian touched on in his blog, many people go into their first races at Speed Raceway tense and panicking; that’s not the way to race.  Often times racers with track knowledge and adequate racing intellect will falter during the race because they tense up as their body fights against the kart.  If you’ve ever watched a first person video of a professional race car driver during a race, you’ll notice how relaxed their arms are during turns, allowing the steering wheel to take over every once in a while and then easily correcting it.  You almost never see them lock their arms holding the wheel to pull it around a bend and when you do, that is often when bad things happen.  Don’t fight the go kart or try and make it go exactly where you want it to go on command, just relax instead, loosen up and let your body move with the kart.

Don’t Use Your Brakes At All

One point on which I completely disagree with Adrian is the use of brakes during races.  While he states that the use of brakes sparingly is the best route to dominating the track, I believe the best way to decrease your speed is just by letting off the gas at the right moments.  Many great racers will tell you that the best way to brake is to ease up off the gas.  Here’s my reasoning; tapping the brakes (however easily) works to stop the rotation of your tires which in turn kills your momentum and speed, easing off on the acceleration at the correct time allows your tires to continue to rotate and you to enter and exit your turn faster.  Once you know the course (what angles to take on turns and at what speed) then you should know when is best to let up off the gas and roll to and possibly through part of the corner without ever losing momentum by tapping the brakes.

Spend Time Finding the Right Angle

Everyone needs a few practice laps, even the pros.  Do you think F1 drivers take a look at a map the night before a race and are ready?  No, they spend time on the track figuring out where the tough turns are, how to approach them and at what speed to do so.  While you may not be afforded the luxury of having the track to yourself to slowly figure it out like the pros do, you do have a dozen laps at Speed Raceway to clock your best time.  Sacrifice the first few to figure out the angles you need to be taking and the speeds you need to be at when you enter and exit each turn so that you can spend the rest of your time perfecting your laps and working to hit each turn and corner exactly how you want to.  Racing is both an art and science; this trial and error is the science portion.

Take the Time to Figure Out Your Go Kart

While each go kart may have the same specifications and equipment, no kart is identical.  Tires will vary from kart to kart, brakes may be more worn down on some while minor differences in acceleration and power may also be detectable.  While you’re taking your first few laps figuring out your angles and cornering, pay attention to how your kart reacts as well.  You may need to adjust the speed at which you enter turns, reset when you need to put your foot down when leaving corners or maybe take more aggressive angles with a slightly less powerful car.  No matter what deficiency your car may seem to have in your eyes, just remember that cars aren’t the sole reason people win in go kart racing, so make the necessary adjustments to your style each race to make sure you’re getting the most out of your kart.
I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to go kart racing at Speed Raceway, or any other venue for that fact, but I do know that these 4 things have made me successful in my racing over the years.  So the next time you’re at the track and get creamed in the first race, take these tips to heart and I believe you’ll soon be racing your go kart extremely well.