Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Sunday races

A day at the races... but only go-karts in Gosport, on the speedy indoor track operated by Team Sport franchise.

Negotiating two ferry crossings, and ordering a minibus taxi, planned well by our trip organisers, Stephen and Sally. After signing-in on arrival, a quick orientation for our group of a dozen racers (aged 15 to 70), included brief chat and explanatory video, but safety rules were generally obvious and necessarily basic – if this was going to be any fun at all, despite observable risks of 175cc machines doing 30 mph on a clearly slippery track – featuring a flyover bridge and some hairpin bends. Of the go-kart novices, Brian (a long-time microlight flyer) said he wasn’t especially keen at first, but was persuaded to have a go, anyway – and he actually did very well in the final race.

Team Sport staff were mostly young but seemed cheerfully competent, mindful of the dangerous environment yet keen to ensure that all visitors would enjoy the racing. It appeared turnover of groups was brisk, throughout morning sessions, having several cars always on the go created a quite noisy ambiance, with pit stop downtime limited to routine maintenance and refuelling between races.

Overalls, crash helmets and gloves were supplied in various sizes. However, none of the apparel was in good condition, gloves were sticky or damp, and the clammy full-face helmets (no disposable liners were available) soon became rather smelly, even before the adrenaline heat of actual 15-minute races. Marshalled into the pits, we got into the tiny go-karts, and were off. Skidding around on tight corners proved to be a harder trick to master than I’d thought, and the down-slope off that little bridge was a juddering ride at any speed.

I was slowest during time-trials (I haven’t driven for about two and a half years, is my only excuse), but that put me in starting line’s pole position on reverse-order grid for our main event. The race itself was mostly a crazy blur (don’t think I noticed warning lights on a couple of early laps!), as everyone overtook me, eventually. Chequered flag appeared sooner than expected, but probably just in time...

Reigning champ Dave remained undefeated, as expected. Sally’s friend Carly won 2nd place, and Dave’s girlfriend Rhiane finished third. Prize tokens duly awarded, but where’s the champagne? Group photo-op essential... I’m not really competitive, so was happy enough finishing a barely respectable last (at least I didn’t spin-off into sidings), except for teenage Jake who admitted he kept crashing.

Now weighing over 200 lbs, I’m hardly a suitable candidate for winning this activity. It was an enjoyable distraction, simply great fun. Only slight injuries were sustained, to elbows or egos. Walking off the industrial estate, unwinding in cool afternoon, we then had lunch and beer at nearby Hoeford Inn.

1 comment:

jon hinch said...

who is that good looking guy with his hand up ?
its jonhinch@msn.com
check out S Lee shooting http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uqPdjrM14j0