Indoor kart racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. Maybe it’s the speed, or maybe it’s because you are so close to the ground, but nothing beats the thrill of driving a go kart through a series of hairpin turns at more than 30 miles per hour. You get the noise, smell of gasoline, and adrenalin of Formula One racing, but without the expensive pit crews and fiery crashes.
There are lots of kart race tracks in Northern California. Some of them are pretty lame! Our Scouts selected Umigo in Livermore for a Saturday morning trip because they had heard Umigo provides all the excitement they wanted – and all the instruction they needed.
Upon arrival, you are greeted by the “Track Officials” who make everyone sit though the mandatory safety video. Then you get fitted out in your racing gear, including a black “face sock” that you can take home at the end of the outing. (Wearing the full outfit makes you look a lot like a ninja!) Scouts then move into the huge race track and get the opportunity to “walk the track.” We try to picture what it’s going to be like during the race – lean left here, brake when you come to the S-curve, accelerate on the straight-away, watch that other driver’s don’t try and pass. And finally, we sit in the cars and find the brake and gas pedals. Ready to go!
Everyone moves sluggishly onto the track. In the beginning, its slow going as we learn how to drive the vehicle without hitting any walls. However, after a few minutes, the noise level increases as gas pedals are pounded and karts accelerate. Then we are moving into a tight curve and your body gets slammed by 25 Gs of force. (Not as much as an astronaut, but enough to get your attention.) Hang on to the steering wheel. Ease up on the gas pedal. Glad no one hit the barrier too hard.
One of the boys gets the Blue and Yellow Flag, which means he is moving too slowly. Dude, let everyone pass while you learn to drive! Black Flag means you did something dangerous, like bump another kart. Get off the track and take a timeout in the “Sin Bin” for punishment. Then, all too soon, the checkered flag. Alex won the race? How did that happen?
There are all kinds of group racing packages, from individual instruction to competitive leagues – not to mention the video games and meeting room that is available for a quiet “Thorns and Roses” session at the end of the outing.
All drivers need a liability release form (3 pages) signed by parents plus a photocopy of their driver’s license showing the same signature. Close-toed shoes are mandatory and drivers must be 4 ft 10 inches tall. The cost depends on how many times you want to drive around the track, but parents can budget $40 to $60 plus food. Check the web site for details. Or send an email to [email protected]. Ask for special Scout Programs.
Umigo Racing in Livermore http://umigoracing.com
A couple of guys racing at Umigo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPbbZqdPns4