Monday 23 April 2012

Kart Tracks Need More Dinosaurs.

When I was young, Rye House was one of my two favourite Kart tracks. (The other was Fulbeck, if you were interested.) The first corner, Stadium it was called, was epic and required what Duke Nukem would call "BALLS OF STEEL!" The turn is a long sweeping right hander that tightens into a very fast "S" bend. It can be done flat and sideways, which is enormous fun, but not really fast enough on race day. Returning to Rye House after about 15 years away was interesting to say the least. There wasn't much there last time I arrived at Rye House, asleep in my dad's VW Transporter with my Junior 100TKM rattling around in the back. It was just a wiggly strip of tarmac next to the Speedway.
This time however, there were dinosaurs.
Rye House has grown.

Some people would argue that dinosaurs are not necessary in today's modern racing facilities. That having a Tyrannosaurus Rex minding the gate at a Karting venue is a little "Over the top". Well, to them I say, don't knock it until you have tried it. I have raced many tracks in front of many people and, I can assure you that, even the most enthusiastic of race fans cannot grab your attention in the same manner as having a Tyrannosaurus Rex leering at you from the boondocks.

For several laps of the qualifying session, I tried different lines through Stadium bend. I figured the Tyrannosaurus Rex had probably seen many a race at Rye House and I hoped that my Jurassic friend might offer me some tips. Perhaps a toothy grin when I got it right or a dismissive wave of the claw when I got it wrong. No such luck. He was poker faced throughout the session. It started to occur to me that this dinosaur might not be a real race fan after all.

The dinosaurs are not the only addition to the Rye House Karting facility. There is a Mini Golf course. There is Laser Tag. There are new pits and a new club house/office/cafe/business centre combination building thing.

The building thing is big. But also quite brilliant. It contains a Kart shop where you can get anything from a balaclava to a complete Kart. Upstairs, there are briefing rooms, changing rooms. There is a cafe that does a fantastic Breakfast roll which, as any F1 driver will tell you, is the cornerstone of any good racing driver's diet.
Outside the cafe is a balcony with tables and chairs and a fantastic view of the track. Back inside, on the far wall, was something else I haven't seen for a good 15 years. No, not that, a Vauxhall Junior race car. The type of car I learnt to race in. The series has long been defunct, although the cars still turn up in open single seater races now and again. This particular car belonged to Gary Paffett. He was on the Zip "Young Guns" team when I started Karting. He is in DTM now.

The corporate safety video is hosted by Charlie Butler Henderson. Everyone would have preferred a video about his sister, Vicki. Alas, beggars can't be perverts or some such proverbial nonsense.

The Pro-Karts at Rye House feel faster than those at other tracks I have visited, but they are probably not. They are fast enough to give you a vast amount of satisfaction when you go through the aforementioned Stadium bend. This alone is worth your race entry fee. It is still the best corner on any Kart track in the country.

I qualified 5th on the grid and, in true Formula One style, after 45 minutes of racing, 5th is where I finished. But still, don't let me ever tell you that circuit racing can be dull to watch. Stand at the fence at Castle Coombe, then try the same thing at your local short track and you decide.

Don't get me wrong, though,  I love track driving, and I certainly still love racing Karts at the all new (new to me anyway) Rye House.
Now with added dinosaur!

***All the crap you see written here is Kelvin's opinion and not that of his associates, race team or marketing partners.***

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