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Benefits of go kart racing

Today we're going to be discussing the benefits of go-kart racing. So, I started back when I was about five-and-a-half years of age, and I sat in a go-kart when I was three years of age. So now at 35, it's over 30 years I've been involved in karting. So, a very, very long time! It now plays a huge part in my day-to-day life. It’s a family-orientated sport for us. My dad was involved, my two cousins were involved and that then grew into a competitive nature because, naturally, when you start to do things, often or not, you want to try and improve your own skills.

Then as you improve, you want to test yourself against other competitors, and suddenly, you're racing. Before you know it, I've travelled now to 17 different countries competing in go-karting, which is something that if I was holidaying around the world, I would never have been to some of these parts of the world. So, let's look at the benefits of karting.

Now, firstly, I would say that it's a family-orientated sport. That's probably one of the big benefits about kart racing is that you can have football, you can have soccer, you can have tennis, and although they're individual sports, same as karting because obviously, you've only got one driver driving the kart. The family-orientated part comes from traveling to the circuits, being a mechanic on your son or daughter's kart, coaching them as well. So, with other sports, they might have their own coaches.

In kart racing, you can still have your own coaches, but realistically, a lot of the time it's just mum and dad offering up their advice and it's learning these skills together. Some parents have never ever been involved in anything motoring or anything engineering, and suddenly, they find themselves changing a sprocket, putting on a chain, changing tires, and this obviously builds relationships. Now whether that's going to have a few arguments along the way, I've got no doubt that's going to happen, but naturally, you're going to end up building these closer and more bonding relationships with your loved ones. So that's probably the first real benefit.

The second benefit that I would like to talk about is our skill development. So it's the hand-eye coordination, it's the reflexes, it's the concentration, it's those motor skills that can be hard to teach. Now where this comes into effect is later on in life, if you've started kart racing at a young age and then you start to look to get your license, your road license, you can drive a car, you're going to have a lot more awareness on what's around you. Now imagine a 16-year-old kid going for his learner's permit or for their license to go on the road, and they've never, ever experienced being behind the wheel of anything. So now you've got to accelerate, you've got to brake, you've got to have awareness of being in your lanes, other cars around you merging onto the freeways, indicating.

Now, not all these things do you do in a go-kart, but the speeds that you travel in a go-kart on a tight circuit against potentially 35 to 40 other competitors at the same time, that starts to slow down what happens on the road. That's super important because road safety, we always want to try and improve on. If drivers have better reflexes, better hand-eye coordination, and can sense what's happening around them, they're going to be much safer drivers on the road. Also, how many times do we see younger drivers who have never experienced motor racing do just dumb stuff on the road? They're trying to do burnouts, they try and drift around corners, they're trying to burn off some of that adrenaline that's in them. Where kart racing, you can go and burn off that steam. You can go and experience it with your mates. You can get that need for speed in a more controlled environment, which is much safer for us as well.

The next cool thing about kart racing and its benefit is the accessibility. So naturally, a lot of these clubs around the place, once you sign up to a club membership, you get either a gate key or a fob key that you can just go and enter in the track hours. Now for a lot of our tracks in Australia and especially Melbourne, they can be accessible from like eight o'clock in the morning till six o'clock at night. Once you've got that gate key, you can access the track basically every day of the year when you want. So, there's not many other sports that you can just rock up to and just do the practice and to hone your skills. But kart racing does have that luxury and it allows you to do that. Not all circuits are open every day and some must work with other sports, whether it's little motorbikes or rental karts and things like that, but the accessibility of just rocking up to the track with hopefully just a small trailer or a van or something like that, and you can go onto the track pretty easily.

Another benefit is it gets your competitive spirit going. So again, at the start, you might just be competing against yourself. You might just be setting some mini goals like you're doing a one-minute lap time. I want to get to a 55-second lap time. So it's that mini goal of I want to compete against myself, I want to improve my own skills, I want to develop my own braking techniques, my own steering techniques, and build that confidence up in myself that I can then just push myself to a 55-second lap time and then all of a sudden you want to compete against other people and enter some club races and just start off small. So now you're competing against other drivers and you're honing your skills against them. So that's always a cool thing to be able to do.

The other thing is that team-building, whether it's just your mum and dad that are spinning the spanners on the kart or whether it's getting involved with the local engine builder to start to develop those skills where you learn how they build engines or how they clean a carburetor, or it's speaking to your local kart shop and it's learning how to change brake pads or change your tires. Suddenly, you're starting to build a network of more people and more friends that you can then start to rely on, whether you need help or you want to support others at the racetrack. That's one of the cool benefits of developing these skills, that not only can you help yourself, you can actually help other people. So that just builds lifelong friendships as well along the way.

The other thing is, it's quite physical to drive a kart. Now, some people might think, you just drive a go-kart, it's like a rental kart. You drive at 50 k's an hour or 30 miles an hour, wherever it is, and it's quite slow. How hard can it be? You put them in a proper racing kart and they're traveling at 120 k's an hour, they're braking quite aggressively. They're cornering at 60 k's an hour with two-and-a-half G-forces going around the corner. You're on a super sticky tire. You've got to keep that core strength up so you can keep your posture and you can keep your neck strength up so that when you're experiencing these G-forces, they're those G-force that you're experiencing.

Now, having that core strength, also that cardio, because races can go between 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The concentration that's required to hit your markers, hit your braking zones, to overtake other competitors, to have those reflexes, to get the start of the race, to when the lights go out, to make those last lap, last corner maneuvers, that takes a lot of mental strength, mental capacity. So if you don't have that cardio endurance going, then you're going to make worse decisions. You're going to get lazy at the end of a race, you're going to make stupid decisions and you could crash. You could just lose your speed because you can't hold onto the steering wheel as much as the first few laps. So, it can be quite physically demanding, which is something that maybe from the sidelines doesn't look that way.

One of the last benefits that we're going to discuss is that it is the introduction to motorsports. So if you're looking to have a successful career in motor racing, whether that's in Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR, Supercars, the majority of those drivers have started their careers in kart racing. Now, the reason is, is that you get to learn the fundamentals of kart racing. So, racing lines, braking markers, steering inputs, overtaking, race starts, at a much cheaper, much more accessible, and much more family-orientated environment.

Now, it's also the cheapest form of motorsport. We know motor racing isn't cheap, let's be honest. It costs money for fuel, for tires, for engine rebuilds, for the karts. But if you are looking to have a career in motor racing, now whether that's engineering or it's being a mechanic or it's being a team principle, if you still learn these skills from kart racing, then you can then take that skills to the next open wheel division, and so on. Whether it's a stock car, whatever it may be.

So, there's plenty of benefits there when it comes to go-kart racing. I hope you guys get to experience some of these benefits if you aren't yet in kart racing, because like I said, for now, being involved, like I said, over 30 years in the sport, I'm now a driver coach. I've coached over a thousand drivers in the last 10 years.

My dad still goes to kart tracks, he helps mechanic on some karts. My cousin owns a kart shop out here in Melbourne, Victoria. So, although we all started together 30 years ago, just going to the track from week to week and from different circuits together as having fun, then we took it to competitively, we travelled overseas, and now we are still all involved some 30 years later in different capacities. But it's been a really, good sport to our family as a whole. I hope more people get to experience the joys of kart racing. If we can help you out when it comes to some of your kart racing needs, whether it's kart setup, it's your driving techniques or it's your mindset, we can help you guys out.

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