I drove for the first time when I was about 9 years old.
That’s also when I crashed for the first time, slamming hard into a big blue dumpster after the brakes on my homemade go-kart failed.
Those early days behind the wheel of a go-kart I made with my dad are what sparked my love for cars and my desire for speed (not to mention a hearty appreciation for good brakes). Today, like most responsible adults, my driving is limited to shuttling the kids to school and piano lessons with the inevitable stop at Costco.
Not exactly the stuff of blood-pumping exhilaration, which is why I’m so thankful for two things: the thrill of the track and my son’s go-kart.
Taking your personal car to the track can provide the exhilaration missing from everyday driving. It’s a relatively safe way to open the throttle and carve through turns while imagining you’re the next Andretti. I say “relatively safe” because anytime the combo of amateur drivers and full throttle meet, trouble isn’t far behind.
While you and your car might escape from a track day unscathed, it’s entirely possible you’ll either damage your engine or introduce your front fender to the wall. And unless you carry track insurance, your standard policy won’t cover any of the damage. So if you go, be prepared to go broke, but go broke in style.
If you have a $500 junker, a fun track option is to enter a 24 Hours of LeMons race. If you’ve never checked out the website, do so for a hilarious read. As the site says about racing:
It’s not just for rich idiots, it’s for all the idiots.
If you just prefer the simplicity and innocence of a kid with a go-kart, do what I did. My son has a 6.5-hp, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive go-kart, and I love to watch him realize the thrill of speed. He even routinely makes runs up to the top of the cul-de-sac and back as I time him, trying with each lap to be a little faster than the last.
Watching him realize that the right combination of braking and acceleration results in quicker times is priceless… but putting him on a go-kart with working brakes is even better.
Have you ever taken a personal car to the track? Would you consider it? That LeMons race seems like a hoot!