Sunday, 4 March 2012
The elusive karting prize I didn't get
THE BLISTERS on both my thumbs proved I’d been giving it everything. Sweaty, light-headed and sore in places I usually wouldn’t be, I was a shadow of my former self.
Apt given that the name I’d chosen for going go-karting was Black Shadow – the name of a very cool motorcycle which, I hoped, was like me in that it’s getting old but is still fast. My rivals, in case you’re interested, had also plucked a selection of odd pseudonyms from obscurity; during the 40 minute sprint I’d arranged as 26th birthday treat I’d be up against The Physicist, Senna Jr, Captain Slow, “Steve”, Lightning, The Mechanic and – best of all – a not-at-all-cocky competitor called simply Dave’s Destoyer.
The track – Elite Karting, which has been carefully crafted over two floors of an old cotton mill a stone’s throw from Wigan Pier – was one of the best I’ve ever raced on. Tricky, narrow and difficult to overtake on, the use of ramps and plenty of tight corners meant you had to use every trick in the book (and a few that probably weren’t) to squeeze through the gaps.
Considering I’ve never chucked a kart through an old cotton mill before I reckon I’d surprisingly well in qualifying; third out of eighth in a grid packed with diehard and very competitive car nuts. A quick lap, we got told, was 50 seconds, so my best of 54.632 was still a way off. The question was all over whether I could shave those crucial seconds off as I got more acquainted during the race itself.
Psyched up, parked up on the main straight behind The Mechanic in first and Dave’s Destroyer in second, the green flag dropped and the 40 minute sprinter race fired into action. I got very into it, looking for every opportunity to eake a little extra speed out of the kart, squeezing past slower racers and – on more than one occasion – getting a warning flag for taking the ramps a little too aggressively. Sure enough, the seconds I’d been looking to shave off the lap times fell away.
I was quick, but not quick enough to win – of the 40 laps my quickest was a 52.468, which for a first race is by no means a bad result but way off the consistent 49 second laps Dave’s Destroyer, the jammy so-and-so, was getting. And while you might not think 2.5 seconds is a big gap, over a 40 minute race it meant he was easily quick enough to lap me. Twice.
In fact, as the chequered flag dropped this is how the race looked:
1) Dave’s Destroyer (best lap 49.036)
2) The Mechanic (best lap 50.928, one lap behind the race leader)
3) Black Shadow (best lap 52.468, two laps behind the race leader)
4) “Steve” (best lap 52.591, three laps behind the race leader)
5) Senna Jr (best lap 52.699, three laps and eight seconds behind the race leader)
6) Lightning ((best lap 54.133, three laps and 17 seconds behind the race leader)
7) Captain Slow (best lap 53.001, three laps and 22 seconds behind the race leader)
8) The Physicist (best lap 55.496, five laps behind the race leader)
So I was fast, but frustratingly not fast enough to defeat to take the overall victory and put Dave’s Destroyer in his place. Still, a podium place first time is no bad result for the birthday boy!
And anyway, I’m sure given how much everyone enjoyed it there’ll be plenty of opportunity to get a few more blistering lap times in time. The Black Shadow will ride again...
For more information about Elite Karting in Wigan check out their website or give them a call on 01942 829697.