A Return to Karting
A Familiar Yet Unknown Experience
Entering the first race weekend of the Tri-C Chill Challenge I had no idea what to expect. I hadn’t been in a kart for over a year and my kart hadn’t been driven during all this time. Was I still fit enough to handle the brutal nature of karting? Was the kart ok mechanically? Would my pace still be strong in a kart? After all, the Spec Miata drives very differently.
Back in Business
After my first session everything felt perfect. Despite spending a year away, the kart still fit me and I could still drive it fast. It was a pleasant return. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed karting, from the sense of speed of sitting an inch off the ground, to having an unparalleled view of the track from the seat. The simplicity of karting reminded me of the importance of the bond between man and machine. No confusing electronics, no complex procedures to drive the car, just hop in and go.
Still Got It
During Round 1 my pace was strong and I ended up leading the race at one point. Although I wasn’t fast enough to win the race, I had some really good battles with the current front runners and showed that I still had. And for fun I ran on tires that year and a half old while everyone ran on new tires to give myself a challenge.
Going For The Win
After extensively studying Round 1’s race, I made sure I did everything possible to be quick for Round 2. I brought a new set of tires and prepped the kart the best I could. However between the practice day and race day, I only got 3 hours of sleep, and on top of that, I was sick. As a result, my energy was low and I physically struggled on track. Every straight away I was coughing my lungs out trying to prepare for the upcoming corner. I finished the race P5, had good pace, but couldn't put together what I was hoping for.
Racing in the Rain = Chaos
One of my dreams was to race a kart in the rain. In Southern California, it doesn't happen often. After years of waiting, my opportunity finally came during Round 3. I was unprepared initially. I had only brought one set of rims, and didn't have rain tires or a rain suit either. Luckily I managed to get rain tires and a rain suit and set the kart up just in time before the heat race when the rain came. Due to a complication of my kart’s engine mount I couldn’t run on a full rain setup. With a wide rear track width, the kart was very understeery and slow. Despite that, I managed to lead the heat race multiple times. Racing in the rain was a dream come true.
There’s a famous phrase I reference all the: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Throughout the rainy day, I faced lots of challenges, from soaking wet feet, wet hands, my visor fogging up, a kart that wasn't setup right, and my starter breaking off mid race. These were unforeseen circumstances that many people would call “bad luck.” But the reality is, if I’ve never raced in the rain before, how can I expect to have no problems? I ended up retiring from the Race on Lap 2 due to my engine quitting. But at the end of the day, I didn't feel bad about any of these issues.
Hungry For More
Looking back after experiencing all these issues, I now know how I would have handled the situation differently. And as a result I want to race in the rain again and do this properly. No more wet hands and feet, no more fogged up visor, no more reliability issues, and no more slow kart.
3rd in The Championship
Despite not finishing a single race on the podium, I somehow managed to grab 3rd in the championship. My consistency in both the heat races and main races pays off. Coming home with an unexpected new trophy was a nice surprise!
Concluding my three-race off-season adventure, I can confirm that karting is still the best training platform out there. From a physical, mental, and racecraft view nothing comes close to what you get to experience in a kart. The beauty of karting comes in its simplicity, it's just man and machine, that's it. Now I’m ready to start the 2024 Spec Miata season!
Jan 30, 2024
January 19-20, 2024