It’s been a while since we last hit the track. In fact, Junior has sat in the kart exactly twice since our disastrous TKM Festival in August. The plan had been to get out and test the new tyre in plenty of time for the NKC season opener at Whilton Mill this weekend but the weather and Junior’s need to give his boss two week’s notice for any time off of his weekend job (which, considering he’s on a zero hours contract, seems a little ironic) wiped out our chances of getting in some seat time. Not the ideal planning for our venture into non-MSA racing or the harder tyre that will likely take some getting used to. And then there is the engine to run-in. How would you like your steak, Sir? I’ll have mine undercooked!
Personally, I’ve been itching to get back to the track for a month now. Buckmore aside, I’ve had a lengthy spell away but I’ve done all the prep work: new axle, new nuts/bolts/washers, new steering wheel, new bearings, new pipework, new nassau and spent a small fortune on the necessities that will ensure ensure that we can stand on our own two (four?) feet without our friends to rely upon for things like lighting – ’tis true, I’ve never owned lights or a power source! In my defence, we didn’t really ever stay over at the track until last season (ok, that’s not much of a defence).
I still have no idea what to expect from this season; a season without my buddies, whether we will be too ‘MSA’ for the NKC, whether Junior will enjoy the harder tyre that I’ve always craved, what it will be like touring the country with the Bambino Kart Club. I’ve high hopes of low-stress, highly enjoyable weekends. It has to be better than last year, surely!?!
When I watch the cadets racing, I really wish that we had discovered the sport sooner. We stumbled into karting purely by chance: having always looked for something different for Junior to do each birthday, karting was a natural progression from the quad biking party that Junior had when he was ten. He really enjoyed it and we soon started attending the half-term events at TeamSport. As soon as Junior was big enough for an adult kart (his friends had already moved up and he’d been trying to prove to the staff that he really was big enough for some time) we realised that he could drive with adults (i.e. me) and we began a monthly visit to Avonmouth for Sunday evening ‘Unlimited Karting’ (it used to be much more ‘unlimited’ than it is now!). One year on, Junior was up there among the faster drivers and I started looking for something that bit quicker and found that Clay Pigeon Kart Club hosted ‘open days’ where you could get some taster sessions in the club Tal-Ko kart. I had absolutely no intention of purchasing a kart – this was just about getting him a free go in a fast kart. Three months later I was clearing space in my garage…
Getting back to topic, cadet racing is fantastic to watch. Ok, they are prone to the odd red flag (particularly at Clay) but, by and large, it’s good, close racing. I wish we had known about it – it’s the perfect introduction to junior karting. Which brings us to Bambino karting, something I had only ever seen at indoor karting venues (when I thought it was cute) until Llandow started hosting a class a couple of months back (when the bonus races stopped!). Obviously it is all about revenue – for the club (where it is much needed), the MSA (PG licenses – need I say more?) and the manufacturers but, for me, it just doesn’t belong on the MSA scene. A couple of infant school aged children driving around in their own time is just a waste of valuable track time, especially in the winter months. It’s a great introduction to cadets I am sure but the younger kids karting should remain within the confines of the arrive and drive tracks and their Sunday morning kart clubs. MSA karting should begin at eight years old.