Since a little boy standing inside the pit lane at Silverstone with my dad and brother I have always loved the thrill of the track! So sitting now, helmet (and hairnet) on, sweat dripping from down my back and into any craves it could find, lawnmower engine roaring and the hot sun beating down on me, I could well have been transported to being in the seat of an F1 race car waiting for the lights to go green!
I say to myself, break before the corner, accelerate through it. Find the best racing line and stick too it. Take it easy first lap and then you will know the circuit (no free practice here that´s for wimps). Before I know it an unceremonious kick from the crew of my back tyre and I was shunted around the big tyre holding me in position and I was off with the only words of advice being “right foot goes, left foot breaks never together!”
I had seen a few, what I can only assume, professionals, or realy enthusiastic karters anyway, sliding around whilst I was waiting for my shove off. I thought why they sliding around the corners? As I had been goaded by my son in law to pick the biggest engine kart available we thought we would have an advantage over our Russian rivals in the mid-range karts in the lane next to us. As I gobbled up (well in my eyes), the tarmac of the first straight, I was surprised to see my son in law get up next to me and say “alright mate lets have it” as he zoomed around the first corner I said to myself don´t worry Kieran remember your advice. First lap nice and slow. In fact I was going so slow that when I attempted to take the first corner I lost all control of the kart. It was like shoveling solid rock to turn the wheel. I felt like I had a defective Kart and was going to pull in and complain. Then a straight I though open it up here as the Russians were gaining.
Hairpin bend at the end dont forget break early and accelerate through… woops broke to early three Russians came zooming by, forgetting myself I hit the throttle hard. In my exuberance to uphold British driving tradition I had forgot the golden rule. . . “right foot goes, left foot breaks never together!” SPIN!!! Smoke billowed as the tyres left a Teide sized pile of rubber on the hairpin. I was pleased that I hadn´t needed someone to come pull the cord on my lawnmower though as I had kept it going and kart but not pride fully in tact sped on. I was over taken on the next two corners as well running very wide and going extremely slow. Then I heard someone shout something at me and my heart sank again to see myself being lapped by my son in law.
I had reached a new low as I crossed the start finish line for only the first time as I could hear more lappers hot on my tail. I decided if I couldn´t beat them, I would be a naughty blue flagger. Let them past I don´t think so! As I weaved out wide and tried to undercut the Dad and Matriarch of the Russian family, yep I hit the grass and spun again. Still engine revs were high and I kept going. It wasn´t until about the 4th lap that I managed to over take a few girls and at least one man who I believe was only where he was in an attempt to impress his obviously new girlfriend.
By the time I saw the 1 lap left sign I had the dreaded feeling of being that 12 year old boy who had to walk the 1200meters race at school, as I was doing my LAST LAP I noticed that the track had already emptied of 90% of the other karters. In an attempt to save face I decided to pull out all the stops and it was only now that I realised that if you threw the kart around the corners at high speed they worked a lot better.
As I pulled in and in true top gear style rammed my kart in to the back of my parked son in laws, I realised hey I wasn´t last in. Then two girls and the boyfriend of the year rolled up. It was only whilst returning my helmet that my son in law let me know that he had noticed i had the small size on. Of course I blame this for my poor decision making, maybe a lack of oxygen to the brain? The worst shame was yet to come as we went back up to the bar and gallery where our respective wives and grandchildren were in wait.
Well done dad they said, you come 4th you were well good. I waited to hear good spin or something but before they could speak the fits of laughter coming from my wife said it all. Kieran you didn´t move on that big board, 20th then 17th then 20th then finished 17th. Garry you done right well, whizzed up there. You were 3rd for a while. As I looked at the fastest laps up there for all of the circuit to see I was disappointed to see I was a full 3.6 seconds slower than my son in laws. I had to explain to my wife that even on lawnmowers, that is an eternity.
Without doubt Go Karting was the most fun I have had all year around. Who knows, with the track just down the road, maybe I will become one of the screaming, slider Karters. I better get some practice in though before next years family holiday to Tenerife. Plus I better loose some weight to shave a few seconds off.
Until my next adventure, thats all from me. Check out the blog section for more from “The Excursion Monkey” – Kieran