Every racer's first step

  • Karun Chandhok
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 01, 2011 16:53 IST

In this week's column, I thought I would look at the most basic form of motorsport  - Go-Karting. When I was 6 year's old, my parents gave me a small cadet kart as a birthday present.

While that undoubtedly set me off in terms of my driving career, at the time we had no karting tracks and no championships so I was pretty much on my own, driving inside our car workshop in between all the customer's cars and giving my grandfather a few extra grey hairs as I got close to creating more damage to the cars that had just come in to be repaired!

Fast forward to March this year, and I finally bought my first go-kart since that cadet one from 1990.

With the current testing regulations in Formula 1, it's difficult to get as much testing mileage as we want in the car.

As a reserve driver for Team Lotus, I'm very involved with the simulator program and am driving the Friday practice sessions but I thought to myself, "I need to get something that's relatively cheap and easy to run, yet quick enough to keep me race sharp," and a racing Rotax kart seemed the best solution.

I have to say it's been the best investment I've made in a long time. Driving a proper kart at a proper kart track is a real challenge. Fortunately in the UK, I live in motorsport valley and my local kart track Whilton Mill is just 20 minutes from home.

I've really enjoyed my days at the track this year - the atmosphere and camaraderie in the karting community is far more relaxed than the F1 paddock and the pleasure of just driving away from the politics and business is a good reminder of why I got into this sport sometimes.

Disadvantage so far
It also serves as a reminder of what a disadvantage it has been for Narain and me to have never raced karts in our formative years. Driving a proper race kart is extremely hard and teaches you all the right techniques for driving cars all the way up to and including Formula 1.

The Schumacher's, Alonso's, Hamilton's and Button's have all done 8-10 years of very competitive kart racing even before they ever sat in an F1 car, which means that they are always ahead of us in terms of racing experience.

In India today thanks to JK Tyre and Amaron over the last few years, karting championships and events are being established across the country so that at least the next generation of Karun's and Narain's can be better prepared.

Motorsport is still battling to attract the masses in India, if the people aren't coming to the sport easily, we have to take the sport to the people and the simplest way is to take karting nationwide and establish centres around the country.


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