How to Win Your Go Kart Races
So, you’ve embarked on a mission to fulfill your need for speed? You made it down to the track, watched your safety instructions, strapped into your go kart, and have your hands on the wheel. You’re revving your engine, ready to push the pedal to the metal and go full force. The light turns to go and you take off at full speed, eager to win your race. Things start off well, but then you run into a problem- you just can’t seem to turn the corner quickly. Other racers start flying past you, and your lead suddenly vanishes.
Getting up to high speeds on the straightaways is easy. The real test comes when you go into the turns. Steering and cornering can make all the difference between being first, and being, well, as Ricky Bobby said- “if you ain’t first, you’re last!” The tight corners and turns on a race track are where champions are crowned, while noobs get left in the dust. So today we’re going to share some secrets to take your go-karting game to the next level, and help you graduate from noob to pro!
1. Be Confident and Smooth
The key to nailing your cornering skills is to approach each turn with confidence and finesse. When cornering (and really at all times when racing) you want to drive smoothly. This means being in full control of your kart and avoiding jerky or sudden movements, as this will slow you down and make it harder to control the kart. Think of it like holding a tray of drinks – steady hands are key to success. This will allow you to take better angles, and drive a faster, more efficient path around the entire track.
2. Slower in, Faster out
When approaching a turn, slow down a bit so you can handle the turn with greater agility. Rather than harshly slamming on the brake pedal, trying just easing off the accelerator a bit. This will allow you to take the turn with greater control and at a higher speed. Then as you approach the apex (midpoint) of the turn, you can hit the gas and accelerate out of it. Even wonder why it looks like some racers are literally shooting out of turns like they just hit a power-up in a video game? Well this is why. The slower you go into the turn, the faster you can come out of it.
As for braking, obviously hit the brakes if you really need to slow down, but it’s much better to brake when you are driving in a straight line before the turn, rather than once your kart is already turning. That’s because braking while the wheels are turning causes unnecessary friction and can make the kart jitter and shake. (Remember tip #1- keep it smooth!)
3. Master the Art of Body Shifting
In a go kart, the position of your body weight plays a crucial role in your cornering ability. While it might feel natural to lean into the direction of the turn, you actually want to do the opposite! Stay centered over the middle of your kart as you start to turn, and then begin shifting your weight away to the outside of the turn as you finish it. This will give you greater grip and control when you come out of the turn. And once you do come out of it, always try to accelerate fully in a straight line.
4. Look Ahead
This one might seem like it goes without saying, but always keep your eyes on the prize (or in this case, the exit of the turn). Not only is this important for being safe and knowing where other racers are in relation to yourself, but this also helps you naturally steer and orient yourself towards your destination. Remember that you want to accelerate as fast as possible in a straight line once you finish your turn, so staying focused on where you’re going helps you achieve this.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Just like anything worth doing, it takes time and practice to get good at it. So hit the track and start putting in the laps! The more you race the better you’ll get. And before you know it, you’ll be winning races and maybe even vying for a championship trophy in one of our leagues.
Mastering the art of cornering will help you take your racing game to the next level. Slow in, fast out, use your body weight to your advantage, steer with care, keep your eyes on the prize, and practice, practice, practice. And above all else, remember to have fun! Because that’s what go kart racing is really about. Happy racing!