A common misconception when it comes to motorsports, is that anyone can do it, or that it requires little to no effort. After all, you press a few pedals every now and then, turn the wheel, and do it over and over again. But the truth is, as simple as it sounds, motorsports is a very physically demanding sport. The same can be said for go-karting, which is the breeding ground for racing drivers. So much so, that former F1 driver Romain Grosjean believes it is much harder than Formula 1 because “you are always on the limit compared to Formula 1 where drivers are not usually on the limit as they have to manage tires and fuel among others.”
There are many more reasons as to why go-karting is physical. The forces that go-kart drivers feel when hurling the kart around the circuit is immense. These are known as g-forces, which, to put it simply, is the force of gravity or acceleration being put on the body. These g-forces are multiplied when a go-kart is turning. The faster the corner, the more g-forces a driver is put on . Another point of emphasis is how much strength is required to handle a fast go-kart. As mentioned earlier, while go-karting is simply pressing a few pedals and turning the wheel, a lot of physical strength is required in order to so. Without it, you may see yourself losing out on corners of the circuit by a massive margin simply because you lack the strength to turn into a corner. You may also miss your braking points by braking too early or too late, due to the fact that you may not have the strength to apply pressure on the brakes. Lastly, cardiovascular is one of, if not, the most important attribute a go-kart driver must possess. Setting a fast lap is one thing but being able to consistently set quick lap times is what separates good drivers, from great ones, and can ultimately decide whether you win or lose.
So how exactly do go-kart drivers stay fit? For starters, they stay on a diet, as according to one go-kart driver, “weight is everything in motorsports racing.” Being in a certain weight affects how a kart handles and how one handles it. There is also a regulation aspect to it, as drivers must abide to a certain weight limit when competing at the national or international level. Say that you are underweight. Even the smallest difference between weight can drastically affect a go-kart as mentioned earlier. Thus, a driver must have ballasts (a heavy substance) when driving the kart to prevent the driver from gaining an unfair advantage. In some cases, being underweight can disqualify go-kart drivers. On the other hand, being overweight may require you to switch to another class in order to level the playing field, and the possibility of getting disqualified also looms. Drivers also train constantly in order to strengthen their body. Most of them train around 5-6 days, putting emphasis on their cardio, because as mentioned earlier, cardiovascular endurance is key to winning in racing. In terms of what body parts they train, while they focus on all muscle groups, they highlight the importance of training their neck and core muscles. Having a strong core helps because you need to keep the go-kart balanced in order for it to handle well. Without it, your weight will constantly shift, especially when you are turning. This can affect the balance of the kart by either giving you understeer (when a kart turns less than the driver desires) or oversteer (when a kart turns more than the driver desires). Neck muscles also affect the shifting of weight, but not to the extent that the core muscles do. However, having a strong neck helps drivers withstand the g-forces a driver experiences through acceleration, braking, and cornering.
So, the next time you see yourself heading out on track, make sure you prepare for it. Stick to that diet and workout plan, it may help you win on track and bring home some silverware