April 30, 2009

My first, and last, Kart Racing Experience

So last Sunday the guys at work set up a Kart racing outing. If you drive from Tokyo to Chiba, about an hour and a half from where R. and live, out in the boondocks, you can find a small Kart Racing track. I have never been Kart racing before, but R. has, and when we were randomly in Italy for 24 hours (bad -- or good -- planning on my part, don't ask) we saw a Kart race and R. was just enthralled. So I thought we should join the group and give it a go. It would be a fun way to spend an Sunday evening.

We drove out there, taking the really amazing Tokyo Aqualine Tunnel and got there a bit early. I didn't know until then, but R.'s Mini Cooper's GPS unit has a TV tuner. So we watched some TV. Also, it has a remote control. Seriously? It is very hard to get any farther than an arm's length away from the GPS unit in that car even if you tried. But still, a remote control. Wow, we are lazy.

Anyway, we had a total of 19 people. That means we had to split into two groups. The fast group, and the slow group. We determined who was in which group by a time trial. Before that we had a 15 minute practice period. I have never ridden in these little carts before, and I'm bad with motion in general. I get car sick easily, I hate landing on airplanes, basically everything at Disney Land or any of those amusement parks makes me throw up, most elevators make me a bit quesy... So sitting a few inches off the ground, zooming around and making hard turns is probably not something that would be good for me. So on the practice laps I was very slow. I wasn't sure if what would happen on the turns. I was worried that taking one at high speed would mean I would flip over. Scary. By about the tenth time I got passed on a corner though, I began to figure out that maybe I wouldn't flip over if I was going a bit quicker through the corners. So on the time trial I gave it more gas, and promptly spun out. My best lap time in the time trial was the second worst time in the whole group, so I was solidly in the second, slow, group.

R. made it into the first, fast group.

The slow group was first. I finally decided that I might as well try to gun it as much as possible. The race was set up for 22 laps. By the third lap I actually figured out that I basically only had to let up on the gas on two corners. I started actually passing people. I went from second to last to first. With five laps to go, I thought I had it won. Then I spun out and fell back to 3rd place. I was just barely able to make it to first place with 3 laps to go. I am honestly really impressed that I managed to do that. Unfortunately, the last five laps or so I was starting to feel pretty ill what with all the cornering and skidding and fast moving and whatnot. So basically after I finished, took the picture with the flag, I got out and felt like throwing up. I didn't though, and I managed to get some water, and about two days later I was feeling find again.

R. did well for her group, came in 4th. As the winner of the slower group, my best lap time was only better than about half of the best lap times of the people in the first group.

All told though, it was a lot of fun. Except for the sick part. I'm glad I was in the second group and not the first, but I know that is not something I will be doing again.



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