My Jim Hall Kart Racin’ Monday!

Skipped work yesterday so I could go to Oxnard and learn how to kart race. Yesterday was my second (and final) day of class. It was cool. I won my heat after the guy who really won it got black-flagged on the last lap. I felt just like Fernando Alonso. Here’s a pic:


I went for Day 1 back on 9/29. Day 1 they teach you how to drive the kart (it just has gas and brake, nothing else), what line to take on the track (the line = the fastest way to get around), and — I can’t remember what else. IIRC, there was a lot of trying to drive that line. During the course of those events, though, you sort of learn to trust the kart a little, you learn that you should always be all the way on the gas or all the way off, and that if you brake wrong you spin.

Also, you learn that it’s hard to get in much trouble driving these things. Their center of gravity is so low, you can never flip. The Jim Hall website insists that their insurance rates are on the same basis as those of a tennis school. I broke my wrist playing tennis.

I bruised my ribs karting yesterday.

On Day 2 they get you reacquainted with the kart, then teach you about “trail braking”. It turns out the fastest way through turns is by riding the brake and it was revelatory to me to realize how fast these things can get around a curve if you’re braking right. They then taught us how to pass (this meant applying braking knowledge to take the way-inside path through a few curves) and how to get passed (this meant learning how to accept your fate with apparent dignity). We then had a qualification session followed by a race.

If only I could work a Martin Scorcese slight into this. Did I just misspell his name? Good. He had it comin’.

The race was a little frustrating. I was the fastest qualifier in the slow heat, but for the sake of making things interesting, they inverted the grid order — meaning that the slowest driver had the pole position and I was stuck in the back row. Unfortunately the guy in the green car was fast in the passing zones and enragingly timid everywhere else, meaning you couldn’t get past him, you could only slam his back-bumper during the interesting parts of the track. I got to go off some kerbs in the attempt, though (ergo the bruised ribs).

Then on the last lap, we caught up to the ultimate backmarker (the “pole-sitter” in our heat), which caused confusion for the green car. The blue car decided to make his move on green and purple (and me as I feigned dignity), causing more confusion since we weren’t in a “passing zone”. Happily, this opened up room for me to also pass green and purple. And then the blue car got black-flagged. I just got away with it. Thanked the blue car afterward.

The car, not the driver.

Goes without saying I suppose that my descent into redneckism is progressing steadily. Just wait till I break out the rifles.

Maximum Speed of Vehicle: 65 MPH — and you reach it when you’re on the back straightaway just before braking into Turn 4.

Hardest Turn: #11. I still have no idea what to do with it. And now I may never return.

Size of Engine: 100cc — they’re mostly built by Yamaha.

Length of Track: 0.4 mi.

Worst Thing You Can Do: Turn and *then* brake.

Best Thing About Oxnard: Doesn’t smell like smoke from wildfires. (It smells like onions from onion farms.)

And because I took it, here’s another kart photo — this is the kart I had on Day 1. So many memories.


Next step? Buy my own kart and start running it out in Riverside. Kart should cost a couple Gs. Better than driving to Oxnard (90 miles through deepest, darkest LA and The Valley).


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