I went Karting last week as part of a team building exercise at work. It was quite a day. It was at a place called Warren’s Ultra Fast Karts, at a place called Barbagallo Raceway north of Perth. We were all excited. The Australian Festival of Speed had been held the previous week which was a once off petrol-head dream showcasing the best of Australian motor sports. Mark Webber had even driven a few laps in his top of the line RB6 Red Bull Formula 1 car.
Now, were were led to believe that we’d be racing on the actual raceway in twin engine super-pro karts at more than 100km/h on the same track that you see the V8 Supercars competing. Something got lost in the translation somewhere, and we ended up on a shorter track in smaller karts. We felt a bit disappointed, but looking back it’s probably just as well we were in smaller underpowered karts.
The marshals explained to us that we were under a mix of official international race rules and house rules, which meant a “strike” system. If you broke some of the “cardinal” rules, you would be shot on sight, no questions asked. These rules included taking your helmet off, getting out of your kart and generally doing something completely unsafe and idiotic. There were also “crash and burn” rules, which involved ignoring directions from the officials, overtaking while under the yellow flag, causing contact. Three of these strikes, and you’d be thrown out on your ear and never invited back. And finally, there were “points rules” which meant race points would be deducted from you for spinning off track and generally making racing mistakes.
The only thing they didn’t explain was scoring. Being a competitive guy that I am, I really wanted to win the respect and admiration of my peers as well as a shiny trophy. If I had known how we were to be scored, it would have changed my whole strategy.
Anyhow, we had a ten minute practice run and five races. The first four races we were lined up on the grid by car number, once in order then once in reverse order. I was in car 20, the highest numbered car and so I started last in the first race. I was cautious as well, because I could remember the last time we did indoor karting. My workmates couldn’t tell the difference between real life and X-box gaming and I wanted to stay clear of everyone. In the second race I started on pole, which was good. In the first race we were all a bit cautious and apprehensive, even with the ten minutes of practice were were given to familiarise ourselves with the cars and track. During the second race you could tell everyone was going hell for leather, pushing the envelope and beyond into the kitty litter. Seeya, suckers. Unfortunately I was involved in an “incident” and managed to bend one of my wheels. Three wheels wasn’t going to cut it. The marshals were unimpressed, citing the “crash and burn” rules and the fact that there was only one more spare car for the entire event so I better take care of it. Man, it wasn’t even my fault! That was on the second to last lap so I didn’t manage to get any more times in.
We pulled in after the second race, and had a look at the results. I came last in the first race and first in the second. Between all of us we kind decided that it was all just a fun, noncompetitive scoring scheme since those who started at the front generally finished in the first three positions, and those who started towards the rear scored only minor points.
We had two more races, again starting in car order then reverse order. I was being pretty cautious because I really didn’t want to wreck another car so I was holding back a bit and not doing much overtaking.
Then for the fifth race we were handicapped according to points. I started third last, and I felt ok about that because I knew I was in the top three racers. Knowing that it was a handicap and remembering how some other guys raced I knew that everyone would bunch up about three quarters of the way around the track and there’d be havoc so I decided to take the last race nice and easy. No way was I getting close to those other Kamikazes. The race ended with more spins than a Dead or Alive song.
After the race the final results were announced. I ended up coming fourth. We also found out that points and positions had been decided by fastest lap times, race by race. Not by finishing order. There were transponders in each car which registered every time the car went over the start/finish line. Man I wish I had known that at the start. I still could have won the last race by holding back for a lap then blasting away at a couple hot laps with nobody in front to slow me down.
It was a good day and we all had fun, but I hope we can try something different next year.