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Orlando Kart Centre - Track Review

The latest track that we’re reviewing is the Orlando Karting Center. The Orlando Karting Center is a track that I'm familiar with, having won the Florida Winter Tour there back in 2011. Some 12 years later, not much has changed at the facility. The first thing you'll recognize when you're on your way to the track is it's like an industrial estate. At no point do you think you're going to be rocking up to a kart track and then behind some pretty dodgy, dicey fencing is a little sign saying Orlando Kart Center and, bang, you're in there.

The track's busy with its rental karting and with a lot of these racetracks that have rental karts as their main focal point, you can see how the rest of the facility's a little bit more rundown because rental karts are wild on the track. They're off track more than they're on track! There's no real reason to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on re-surfacing the layout, because for rental karting it doesn't really matter. So you can see that from when we're walking the track, it's a little bit patchy in some spots, a little bit abrasive in some areas. Some of the exit curbing was a little bit dicey, just quite aggressive.

So I think, from a track point of view, having major races there, it can accommodate big races, having the USPKS races having over 300 drivers. SKUSA had, I think, 230 entries, but the way it races is, it's a lot of carnage at this track. The nature of the layout is, there's a few barricades on a couple of exits of corners, so that if you get out of shape, you're into the barriers quite easily. It's got a sharp hairpin off the back straight, which can cause carnage. It's so tight on the entry and exit, that you see a lot of drivers just basically forcing other drivers off wide.

From driving the track earlier that week at the SKUSA Pro Tour, I was driving with the Rolison Performance Group so a big thanks goes out to Mike, and to Ryan Norberg, whose kart I used for the couple of sessions that I drove. It's a fun track to drive. There are some curbs that you can really attack out front of the out grid, so that's fun, and those technical aspects, with having a tight hairpin corner, and the last sequence of corners, where you can smash these curbs that lead onto to the main straight. The good drivers get to the front of the field, because there's some tough elements out there where if you get them wrong, less experienced, or slower drivers, they're not going to get around there as fast. So, you do see good drivers always making their way to the forefront.

Engine power, it doesn't look like it makes much of a difference at this track, because there's just not many long straights. I just found that, from driving the track, it was a track that you could easily mistake your apex points, because some of the corners there, you think, "Oh, I’ve got to turn in." Suddenly, the apex is a little bit further around, so I was making a few little mistakes early in the session. It's very, very hard to pick up a braking marker into that really tight hairpin. There are just no lines on the track or entry curbing that you can go, "Okay, on this red box, I'm going to hit the brakes." So that was hard to judge. You can see that drivers who are familiar with the track, that muscle memory is straight onto every point hitting the same markers.

The curbing there that you attack just out front of the out grid, we saw a lot on the video coaching that we were doing, the video reviews with our junior drivers at RPG that if you hit it too aggressively, it was literally like all four wheels coming off the racetrack, so there were definitely some clipping points that you had to master there. Even after three or four days, some of these drivers were going a little bit too aggressive and it was really forcing them out wide and then in too tight into the back straight. So again, a technical aspect there those drivers had to be aware of.

From a racing point of view, there's the overtaking at turn one. It can be done but it has a straight where the start finish line has a little kink to the outside, but it turns right, so it kinks left into a fast right-hand corner. It's quite annoying because as soon as you're trying to set up for the overtake, that kink, if the driver in front of you goes dead straight, then it's too tight to overtake. But it's not the fastest way to get around the corner, but they can defend it quite easily.

You get a good opening into the turn three right-hand hairpin, that's a good opportunity to overtake. The following left-hand corner, another good opportunity to overtake. Once you're making your way to that out grid corner, the next tight right-hand corner is a good opportunity to overtake.

Now all these spots, if you over defend, you can see karts getting switched back, so there is an element of, "Oh, I can't just block the inside of the racetrack because if I do it too much, then I'm really going to jeopardize my exit."

The last corner is not really the last corner that you want on a racetrack, because you come through this flat-out chicane, well not in shifter or X30 into a tight left-hand corner. But once you hit that second curb, because you've got to mount those two inside curbs, it already pushes your kart towards the middle of the racetrack, which doesn’t offer too much opportunity to overtake cleanly. So, there's just not many opportunities to open to overtake and I think that's why we saw a lot of that pushing from behind to move that front driver out the way, so that the driver who was trying to overtake could overtake.

But just from driving fast laps in practice, I thought it was quite an enjoyable track to drive. But like I said, just a little bit run down. They've got facilities there to leave your gear there, so we saw quite a few people pitting out of the garages. They've got some shelter right along the out grid there, so that if you wanted to pit there on a race weekend, you can. You can hire out garages, which is cool.

Ryan Norberg's got a new facility happening out there as well, so that's going to be quite cool to see him coaching from that facility. The viewing deck is really cool because it allows you to be really on the circuit itself, on the track, but you're overlooking it, and that's from two different angles. So they've got one along one half of the track, which is... I don't know how long exactly it's in feet, but a very long way that you can view quite a few corners from one section. Or if you want to view the out grid part of the racetrack where the drivers are leaving their mechanics from, they've got another viewing deck there. That one's undercover, which the other one isn't undercover.

I think if it had some money invested on the track surface and some of the runoffs it would have a lot of potential. So, it's unfortunate, it's going to be hard to grow grass when drivers are literally taking advantage of those sections of the racetrack. But where they can put AstroTurf or something down there, I think could work into their favor.

So that's it for Orlando Kart Center. From here on, we're going to be venturing on a car road trip up to Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania as well. So that was a cool road trip in itself. It took about 15 or 16 hours, so it was a long day that we did the road trip on. But if you guys want to know more information about the Orlando Kart Center, you can Google them online. It has their practice schedules, their race schedules, how you can get involved in their rental karting as well.

If you guys want to know how to drive the track fast, we have the exact markers that you need to drive the Orlando Kart Center with our drone footage, pedal cameras & 360-degree footage from our helmet cam as well. This will be in our track guides soon, so stay tuned!

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