Many years ago we had our team Christmas party at a go kart venue that was owned by the Formula One Driver Martin Brundle. I had no idea what to expect as up to that point had only seen the crappy go karts at fun fairs and various attraction parks.
Buckmore Park is where Hamilton and Button learnt their racing skills.
It wasn't our idea as a Christmas party but one of the other managers suggested we race against each other before going out on the town so this was pre drinks. It was a cold wet December evening in the South of England and we had no idea what we had got ourselves into. I knew I was fine as I will drive the wheels off any vehicle and how scary could this be?
The set up was very professional and we were all given racing suits and crash helmets and were talked through the rules by the race master. He explained the things that you obviously shouldn't do and went through the format of racing that would happen. This was proper as we even had to qualify for grid position. There was a scoreboard that lit up giving you the lap times and thee was a device on the back of the car sending the info to the computer.
You can see how it becomes a bun fight very quickly. With no risk of injury everyone is fearless.
It turned out the guy that suggested the racing party was a semi professional go karter himself and just wanted to show off to everybody how good he was. We all had the standard racing suits on but he stood out with all his sponsors on his. He was a total wally and the rules just went out the window. teams become very competitive when they are being screwed and we were going to screw them.
He qualified in pole position as we were still trying to get the hang of the go kart and worked out that sliding the kart into certain corners and not breaking was the quickest way around. These things are virtually impossible to roll even when you are doing 120 km'h going into a corner. You are basically sitting on the ground and the only way to flip one is by riding up the backside of someone else at full speed.
The speed that these things go is incredible and it seems faster because of where you are sitting. You can feel every vibration as the wheels hop around the corners jarring every bone in your body. All part of the fun though and the crazy team I was with filled up the grid behind him. His team were useless except for him and the beauty was he was in front of us and just needed to be tapped into one of the corners and we would all be through.
That was our plan anyway and didn't quite work as we just couldn't quite catch him and the no braking in the corners didn't always work as sometimes you were just going to fast having an eye on him out front. His car had a mechanical though and we all passed him on the 17th of the 30 lap race and took home the prize. His cockiness had caused it as we were all gunning for him and he had to drive flat out to stay ahead. Some corners we just missed him and knew we were aiming to put him into the barriers.
The facility was the only one I have been to and it was impressive. There is an ambulance crewed by staff in case someone gets injured as you are not going slowly around the circuit. Juniors have a cut off speed at 70 km/h which is fast enough for 6-10 year olds. I am not surprised why this is a training ground for future Formula One drivers as it is addictive once you start and being a kid this would be an awesome sport.