It has been 7 months since I have last been at a racetrack; 7 months since I last pointed my camera at anything resembling a racecar. All of this is thanks to the pandemic that swept the globe and literally pushed pause on our lives.
When I got offered the chance to join the Carbs and Coffee boys at the Rotax Karting Nationals this past weekend at Killarney I couldn’t say yes fast enough… not only to be able to do what I love again, shooting motorsport, but also to experience a full karting event first-hand.
Even though I have been involved with motorsport in some way or form for the last 20 years, I have never attended a full day’s karting event. People don’t traditionally view karting as a spectator sport, which I can now confirm is a great pity.
I have always been more interested in tin-tops racing, full circuit events, rally and rallycross. There’s something about those monsters sliding around on dirt that makes for epic photography. It’s not that I have discarded the importance of karting in motorsport, being the nursery school for most Formula 1 debutants since the dawn of time, but it just never really interested me.
Boy, did I miss out all these years… not only is the racing extremely close with mere hundredths of a second separating the competitors in single lap pace, but there are more position changes then a cabinet reshuffle during an election year. It is fast-paced and exciting, and a bit difficult to photograph to be honest, but it is really worth watching for the adrenaline-pumping action.
It’s not just the action on track that is fast-paced; the pit lane and behind the scenes action is also hectic. I never realised that a kart has so many bolts! Bolts need to be checked and rechecked and tightened between every race. The setup options seem endless: tyre pressure, gear ratios, carburettor jetting and fuel/air mixture…the list goes on.
The setup changes have to be made under time pressure since there are several heats for each class in a day. Drivers work on the karts themselves in many cases, which is exhausting when they are also racing in 4 heats of 15 laps (usually only 3 heats but this was a National).
The off-track action is hectic and that’s before you take into account any racing damage that needs to be fixed.
I would like to encourage anyone with a passion for motorsport to go watch or get involved in karting. You will learn more about racing on and off the track in one event then you would in any other form of motorsport. From the gladiatorial spirit on the track to the camaraderie in the pits, you can clearly see why this sport has been so crucial during the formative years of so many of the legends of motorsport.
I’ve been Added to Kart and I’ll certainly be back for more.