By Karting1 ~ August 13th, 2010. Filed under: Kart Racing News, Karting Philosophy.
I was going to start this with a fantastically elaborate metaphor explaining what’s so magic about owning and driving a 100cc kart. How it compared to owning an Alfa Romeo instead of a boring VW Polo or something about a painter over-working a piece of art. However I am not as good as Jeremy Clarkson at doing that, so I won’t. The fact is it’s very simple to describe the way driving and owning a 100cc makes you feel in the modern era of karting – emotional.
Wright/Maxter Formula A – Whilton Mill – The noise is incredible!
You get emotional for several reasons. In terms of driving, it’s ecstasy, it is the perfect driving machine. Nothing connects a driver to a piece of tarmac in a more pure and simplistic way. The less mechanical components between your physical input and the road the better. No clutches, starter motors, batteries or power valves to get in the way of the actual process of driving. But there’s something above that that just makes you literally tingle. You feel it through your feet, your hands and your backside. A Formula A doesn’t have balance gears so the whole kart feels alive, it actually fizzles as it builds up revs. It is something truly very special indeed. The way the kart dances about beneath you brings a sense of satisfaction that’s hard to put into words. It’s light, awesomely fast, and incredibly nourishing – it’s pure emotion.
As the revs rise higher you are not being limited by any electrical devices. Nothing is artificially holding you back. It’s just you and the kart going all out, full pelt. That may end in either you or the kart exploding, but that’s the price you pay for pushing the limits of what’s mechanically possible at 20,000rpm. You could say the emotion you feel is happiness at this stage, but it’s more than that, it’s almost transcends happiness… it’s pure joy and beauty. You are experiencing something more than just driving fast, you’re experiencing bliss! The ascending sound of the screaming engine… it’s giving you every last horsepower it can possibly give. Nothing in the driving world can compare to driving a fully-lit 100cc kart.
Express yourself – It’s all about enjoyment!
At this stage you don’t care about short piston life, or the fact you have to bump start the thing (which is not a hassle). You’re experiencing the same thing that the world’s greatest driver once described as “the purest form of motorsport”. Even for the karting mechanic, everything they do on the kart is focused on going fast and the actual process of driving. No changing batteries or changing clutches just so you can push a button to start on the grid. No wasted time on unnecessary ancillaries.
But with this comes a great sadness. One very respected karter said to me recently “Watching a kart race used to be a beautiful thing” while describing their love for karting. It almost brings grown men to tears. It’s a magical indulgence that doesn’t have to make sense. In the pursuit of normality and wider acceptance, the soul of karting, it’s very heartbeat that is driving purity, has been sold, and for what? Once a sport that stood up and said “This is us. We are mental for doing this but we don’t care. We make no apologies!” has now been relegated to just another ‘recreational activity’.
It fizzles and tingles! Driving perfection!
The demise of 100cc karting as a widely raced class has had a greater emotional impact on karting than anyone could have imagined. Understandably there are many content karters who’ve only ever had the opportunity to experience karting in its modern form, that’s fine, but behind closed doors there’s a feeling of deflation by those who’ve been in the sport for decades. It’s like losing a part of your very being, and it’s very painful. These melancholic karters, including me, are constantly searching for the ‘next big thing’ that can make karting proper again ‘like it used to be back in the day’. But in truth we have to accept nothing really can, no matter how hard we try to fool ourselves . While other karts can be fun of course, nothing can quite replace the untainted version of karting.
So the answer is quite simple. Don’t go around saying ‘bring back 100cc’. I’ve done that for years already. Don’t waste your time, it won’t get you anywhere. The remarkable truth is it hasn’t actually gone away! The ‘purest form of motorsport’ is still very much alive in karters hearts and minds. Spend 5 minutes with anyone in the kart paddock and it won’t be long before you’re talking about the good ol’ days.
Tiny but mighty – The Formula A
So if you are pure at heart find yourself a Formula A or ICA. Don’t feel you have to reject other forms of go-karting. Just put your 100cc motor on a kart with a fresh piston in and take it to the track. This is about you, the kart, and the road! Forget about the politics and complexity of modern karting, just enjoy yourself and flip the bird at anyone that says it’s ‘unreliable and pointless’. Bring your friends along and indulge in something that brings joy. If it explodes who cares, karting isn’t supposed to be rational, it’s supposed to be beautiful! Enjoy it!