Guide to Go-Karting Experiences
The reason Go-Karting is referred to as an experience is because it IS an experience. Sure, supercars and rally cars are all much faster but do they really have that basic thrill to them?
With Go-Karting you are close to the action. Your kart is just a skeletal frame on wheels, exaggerating all the sensations of the elements and gravity. Cruise around the track for the fun of the driving, or up the ante and compete against friends and rivals. Nothing beats the drama of a fierce kart race full of chases and undertaking.
Years ago it all started out with the soap-box carts (gravity racers) but since then has come so far. Now the vehicles have embraced petrol engines, seatbelts and brakes. Most driving will be done in a 2-stroke kart, but some centres do offer a few laps or even an additional session in a 4-stroke if you really want to power round the track. 4-stroke engines generally rattle out around 15 bhp, with a 2-stroke around 5 to 10.
Go-Karting is a cheaper, alternative way of getting that racing thrill. Who says you have to be in a top end sports car to enjoy a blast round a circuit. Prices start from around £40 and £100 for these experiences but don’t worry – that top end price is for two people to take part.
The junior Karting experiences are the cheapest, as you’d expect, but it’s not much more for an adult session.
So what does the Go-Karting involve?
A typical session comprises of:
- Introductory Briefing
This is session is a run through of safety tips, behaviour requirements, and driving theory. The track might be shorter than a real circuit, but there are still a collection of straights, bends, chicanes and the camber of the road to account for.
- Practice Laps
After your instructions you will generally watch a lap or two from the sidelines to get a feel for the noise and action that the experience has to offer. Many venues will then give you a lap or two in your karts to warm up and allow you to familiarise yourself with the track, before pitting and lining up on the grid.
- Your Turn
Finally you get to go out and enjoy yourself as you feel the wind in your face and the sound of the engines droning round the track. It might be less powerful than supercar racing, but the experience is much more competitive!
Which session is the best?
The best sessions are always the ones with a friend. It’s great going karting, whatever the event, but it’s vastly more entertaining and memorable going with a friend, or even a group of them. By yourself it’s the thrill of the drive alone and there may be a little competition versus other drivers, but against friends it’s a whole different level of action as you vie to be the best of the pack; the star racer.
That said, this philosophy is just subjective. The single-person sessions are more expansive in terms of location, and there’s nothing to say that you and friends can’t each be a single person at these locations, so really it’s just a case of which venue is best for you to travel to and if that’s no issue then read in further depth to decide which experience sounds the most fun.
Due to the relatively limited size of Go-Karting circuits there are a large range of venues all over the UK to choose from.
In Scotland there are venues in Glasgow and Livingston. Move down south to the North East and there are venues in Middlesbrough (Cleveland) as well as in Tyne and Wear and in West Yorkshire.
Over in the North West there is a centre in Wigan (Lancashire), and further west in Northern Ireland sessions are held in Portadown. Head back east into Wales and track days are on offer in Cardiff and Newport (Glamorgan) along the south coast. Keep going east into the West Country and sessions are available in Bristol, Gloucester and Chippenham (Wiltshire).
A significant amount of Karting experiences are on offer in the Midlands, with sessions available in Weobley (Herefordshire), Melton Mowbray (Leicestershire), Lichfield (Staffordshire), Northampton, Wolverhampton and Nottinghamshire. Move into East Anglia and there are two venues with Karting on offer; Cromer (Norfolk) and Ipswich (Suffolk).
In the South East there are events at Brentwood and Thurrock (both Essex), as well as in Chatham (Kent), Camberley (Surrey), Crawley (West Sussex) and London itself.
The last selection of track locations are in the central South, with venues in Berkshire and Hampshire – the latter featuring three venues at Gosport, Andover and Southampton.
Go-Karting is an easy to learn, pure and exciting activity. It may not be as dramatic or risky as full-size racing cars, but the day is a more intimate experience for all involved. If you’re a speed junkie then this isn’t one for you, but if you enjoy racing no matter what the pace, or you like the idea of the competitive nature of Karting then it’s a great opportunity for fun.
The day is also beneficial for kids and young adults. They may not be able to drive cars but they can race karts. All the world’s best racing drivers come through Karting competitions so you could see the next Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel at one of these events. It could even be your child!