10 tips to take tenths of a second off your lap times.
March 24, 2020
Remember those old gas-powered go karts you drove as a kid? The rattling chain. The steering wheel that felt way too loose. And that wide-open track with all those meandering turns and endless straightaways.
Well, that’ll be just a distant memory once you step onto the custom-engineered, state-of-the-art indoor karting track at Supercharged Entertainment on Route 1 in Wrentham, Massachusetts.
In place of old gas karts, Supercharged Entertainment has state-of-the-art, high-torque electric-powered vehicles. And those wide-open roadside tracks of yesteryear have been replaced by the world’s largest, multi-level indoor track inspired by Formula One racetracks.
Here, smarter beats faster.
Controlling a more powerful kart on a more challenging track comes down to strategy. Understanding the right way to drive – when to accelerate, when to brake, how to take each curve – will give you the best chance to shave tenths of a second (or whole seconds!) off your lap time. And at Supercharged Entertainment, lap times determine how you finish in each heat.
First things first.
1. The best lap time wins.
The driver who finishes first may not have won the heat. Lap time, not finishing position, dictates the winner of the race. So lapping the leader at the end may not necessarily mean you’ve won the race.
2. Get comfortable.
It sounds minor, but your posture can actually make a big difference in how the kart handles and accelerates. Sit comfortably with your back up against the seat, and resist the urge to lean forward as you race. That actually slows you down.
3. Get a grip.
Whether it’s “10 and 2,” “9 and 3,” or “4 and 8,” or another combination, your grip on the steering wheel should be symmetrical. That gives you more control when you turn and maneuver. With a lazy grip, you’ll end up losing time and inertia correcting your path.
Once the race begins:
4. Keep your momentum.
Look ahead of the track to anticipate the moves you’ll be making next. Go karts are low to the ground, making everything appear to move faster. Slow things down by looking one stage ahead. That way, you also avoid unnecessary braking and slow-downs, and will keep your speeds and momentum high.
5. Keep it straight.
The longer you move forward without altering your path, the more likely you’ll be to reach top speeds. Turning and/or swerving around other racers will reduce your speed.
6. Keep things simple.
Braking, swerving, altering acceleration − these cause you to lose momentum and will impact your finish time.
7. Slow down and go wide in the turn.
Take the turn on the outside line and cut in going through the turn. Drifting is fun, but it’ll always slows you down. And because we race by fastest lap time, you want to get the single fastest lap.
Other tips from the track:
8. Brake when you’re going straight.
Braking while turning can cause your tires to lose traction. That could cause a spin-out.
9. Don’t use the brake and accelerator together.
The safety features of the kart are designed to default to brake, so using both together, brake will always win.
10. Follow the leaders.
If you start to trail during the race, follow the path of the faster drivers who are most likely avoiding the slower drivers. Work your way up (still keeping a safe distance), and, at your first opportunity, zip past them!
Being a better F1 driver comes from driving smarter, not harder. So remember:
- Race against the clock, not other drivers.
- Sit back, be comfortable, don’t lean forward.
- Keep hands at “10 and 2.”
- Anticipate what happens next.
- Go straight as long as possible.
- Don’t swerve or slow down unnecessarily.
- Take turns slow and wide.
- Avoid braking while turning.
- Don’t hit the gas and brake simultaneously.
- Follow the faster drivers.