Go Karting – Where it all began…

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 No Comments

Strange beginnings – did you know that the original go karts in the UK were made of old sheds, prams and rope?
kart history

In the late 1940s and into the1950s, there was barely any telly(if you were lucky enough to have one in the first place), no mobiles, iPhones or iPlayers, no internet or computer games and no money to spend on flashy toys. Playing for kids was with simple equipment like jacks, marbles, skipping-ropes, conkers on strings, bats, balls and bicycles – and anything they could make themselves out of old stuff they found lying around. That included the first go karts in the UK. The earliest were wooden in construction, with old pram wheels and a rope to steer. The more inventive used the old pram chassis itself, but it didn’t steer so well. They were prized possessions and often raced on the streets to determine who had made the fastest model.

It is unclear who should be credited with making the first go kart, as kids in the UK were very early pioneers in the 40s and 50s. However, the Americans claimed ‘a first’ in 1956 where Art Ingels is given the credit of making the first kart, It was motorised, which was far more sophisticated that the hundreds of street karts already being raced round the streets of Britain, but does that make it a first? Ingels kart had a motor (lawn mower) on the back, and steering from a wheel set in the middle of the kart that was connected to one wheel at the back by a bicycle chain. It was pretty nifty, nevetheless, but the crude brake of a hand lever connected to a plate that he merely hauled up to stop the kart by pressing the plate on the back wheel had variable results in stopping him in anything resembling a straight line. An American manufacturer then started making these motorised karts in kit form in 1957 – with some considerable improvements to the design.
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This new motorised karting made its way to the UK in 1958, brought over by American servicemen, with the first of the outings classed as unofficial races and demonstration events. In late 1959 the RAC officially sanctioned karting, and the first official race was held in November of that year at RAF Lakenheath. This was a two hour race won by the late Graham Hill in a Progress kart with a Villiers engine. Karting, as we now know it, was born in the UK and a continuous development program of improvements has made the modern kart almost unrecognisable from it’s humble shed, pram and rope beginings.
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Discounts & Free Places

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 No Comments

Book a big group with us here at karting nation and you become eligible for free places or a discount.

These offers vary, so ask when you speak to your booking agent.

Groups that take advantage of this offer include Stag and Hens, Corporate Incentive and Team Building organisers.

But you don’t need to be called anything other than a big group to take advantage of this offer – so call now and check out the deal we can offer you.

0844 745 5006


Get the most out of your Karting Experience.

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 No Comments

Go karting is just about the most hair-raising, heart-pounding, blood-pumping, thrill ride that you’ll ever experience, but if you’re not doing it right you’ll never know just how amazing it can be!

And bad news people… most of you aren’t doing it right!

But don’t hang up that helmet just yet, because I’m here to turn you from a karting klutz into a karting king!

This isn’t exactly Formula 1, but just because you’re not borrowing Jenson Button’s car keys doesn’t mean this is easy. Karting, like most sports, is simple to pick up but challenging to master. I’m going to tell you how to do it.

I’ll also be going over some important safety information because you’ll have a hard time winning a race if your kart’s upside down at the edge of the track!


Let’s start with the basics…sitting in the kart! We all know how to sit down. I’ve sat down pretty much every day of my life and so have you! Yet some kart racers aren’t doing it right. The key to a smooth and controlled ride is to sit back comfortably in your seat and resist the temptation to lean forward as this will affect your handling of the kart. These are small, sensitive machines and the slightest imbalance could be the difference between getting around the track and getting around it faster than everybody else.


Maintaining stable control of the steering wheel is equally important. Keep those hands of yours at 10 and 2, or 9 and 3. And remember the secret to a great kart drive is keeping that wheel straight as often as possible.

Ok, so we can’t keep the wheel straight all the time (you’re bound to find a wall before too long) but by mastering an efficient cornering technique, you’ll find your lap times coming down and your excitement levels heading up and up.


The key is not to get things too muddled up in your brain-box, and we do this by breaking the turn into separate stages and conquering them one at a time.

Stage 1: Braking! We hit the brakes early and firmly, so that the rear wheels lock, and then we release the brake before we reach the apex of the turn.

Stage 2: Steering! We steer into the corner with an even and controlled turn…but we don’t do it too early! This is really important. Too many racers jump into the turn too quickly and then they’re forced to compensate in the other direction which makes the kart go a little crazy. We take an outside line around the corner and keep the wheel straight as long as possible before turning the wheel evenly into the bend and holding this position until the momentum of the kart has pulled it beyond the corner. At which point, we straighten as efficiently as we can.

Stage 3: Accelerating! Once the weight of the kart is evenly distributed across all four wheels again, and we’re straightened up with the next section of the course in front of us, we can hit the accelerator and power into the straight. If we hit the throttle while the weight of the vehicle is still leaning to one side we will unsettle it and make our exit slower and more awkward. We apply firm, even pressure to the pedal with our right foot and we build up as much momentum as we can until we reach the circuit’s next braking zone. Then we repeat stages 1 to 3…and before you know it, we’re hosing down the competition with our celebratory bottle of bubbly, while they feign excitement and wish deep down that they could have cornered as well as we did!

Go karting is such a challenge to perfect because raw speed isn’t enough to make you a great competitor. Flying into the turn will probably leave you flying off course! It’s not how fast you get around it but how fast you blast out on the other side.

Slow into the corner, fast out.

Practice makes perfect (if you’re practicing the right things) and while most karting venues require you to complete practice laps before your race, it is also possible to visit the track for a GP Experience session, in which you pay to hit the circuit for a designated period of time, in a non competitive format. These arrive and drive experiences give you the opportunity to experiment with different driving lines. Hitting the corners later and wider and then narrowing in the straights. You’ll learn how to optimise the effect of the stages and you’ll shave seconds off your time. If you’re interested in a GP Experience drive our helpful Karting Nation staff will be happy to make the necessary arrangement, so don’t hesitate to give them a call.


Now that we’re done with the fun stuff, let’s talk about safety. This is crucial, not only so that we can avoid accidents, but also because the safer and smoother we drive, the better we drive too!

Before we get down to business, it’s time to don our helmets and the rest of our karting gear! This includes a helmet which covers the whole of the face, a set of fireproof overalls, and a pair of gloves, all of which should be provided by the karting facility. Your job is to bring the right footwear. Sorry guys, there’s no room on the kart track for those killer heels! The preferred footwear for racing here is a comfortable training shoe, and it is recommended that the shoe have a thin sole, as this greatly improves the driver’s control over the pedals. Kart pedals are extremely sensitive and the best way to master them is to have total appreciation of this fact…which means no platforms either!

Every karting session is preceded by a short safety briefing, conducted by venue officials. There seems to be a very little known fact about this tutorial…it helps if you actually listen to it! Many of us are ignorant of race rules and procedures before we take the wheel and this information could well be the difference between a really fun and memorable experience and one that you remember for all the wrong reasons.

During your race, venue officials will communicate to drivers using a series of coloured flags, and you’re going to need to know what these flags mean. The flags colours and their meanings are as follows:

  • Green – You guessed it! Green means go! This flag signals the start of the event, though has been replaced at some facilities by a green light.
  • Yellow – Caution! In the event of an accident or a spin, marshals may wave a yellow flag instructing you to slow and approach the obstruction with caution.
  • Blue – Allow a faster driver to overtake by yielding the racing line.
  • Red – Stop! The race has been stopped and all racers must slow and leave the track or follow the instructions of the safety marshal.
  • Black – Disqualification! This flag is used when a serious foul has been committed, usually involving dangerous driving, and results in your ejection from the race. You don’t want to see this one!
  • Black with white circle – A mechanical fault within your kart means that you are required to leave the race.
  • And finally…The Chequered Flag! The one you want to be the first to see! This flag signals the end of the race. Reach this one first and you’ll be stepping higher on the podium than anyone else.

So, that’s all you need to know to get you started. Karting really is the most fun you can have while zipping along a racetrack at up to 70mph with your butt-cheeks mere inches from the ground.

It’s an adrenaline fuelled activity that anyone can enjoy, but in the right hands, it can be an experience unmatched in speed and skill.

The karting buzzword is ‘smooth’: the smoother the ride the more successful. These nippy little vehicles won’t respond to being manhandled, they’ll skip and spin. If you’re braking too hard, slamming the throttle and wrestling the wheel you’ll never be in total control and you won’t be able to focus on the contours and intricacies of the track. But master a calm and efficient technique and you’ll be able to manage your opponents, and the twists and turns of the circuit.

Zooming around the track feels great, but zooming around first feels better. Enjoy!

Book your karting experience now or call us on 0844 745 5006

Ben’s Stag Weekend Karting

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 2 Comments

“When my best mate told me he was getting married, it was up to me to give him the perfect send off…’cause it was all down hill from there!

We’re a sporty bunch of lads, and I knew he’d want the chance to let loose and act like a bit of a big kid again. I wanted the weekend to be a hundred mile an hour and chock full of laughs and stories to tell. As fans of the Formula 1, go karting was an obvious choice but we still wanted more.

When I spoke to one of the guys at Karting Nation, about places to kart in Birmingham, they suggested we try paintballing too and found places we could do both within half an hour of one another!

They even put us up in a hostel in the city centre which matched our budget. Ok, we were in bunk beds but seeing the groom’s dad try and get on the top bunk after a few beers was worth the money on its own.

Saturday morning, was when battle commenced at the amazing paintball facility in Coventry, just half an hour outside Birmingham! Nothing wakes you up like a bit of fresh air and a hail of paintballs flying right at you! The site was huge, a massive outdoor war zone with 5 different gaming areas, each with their own design and strategy. The games were great! We were split into two teams and each given missions to carry out. It was like being a soldier, ducking for cover while the bullets (well, paintballs) flew past in every direction!

The lads were rolling around in their army gear, like Rambo, getting really carried away. Plus, we’d signed up for the Stag Hunt package, which meant we got more paintballs and even a smoke bomb each! It also meant the stag was in for some special treatment. The poor lad was getting pelted from every direction, but he gave a few good hits back too!

Paintballing is a brilliant idea for a stag weekend. It gives the lads who might not know one another that well a chance to break the ice while storming the enemy base, and it gives the lads who do know each other a chance to splat the hell out of one another for fun!

In the afternoon we headed to the karting place in Birmingham city centre. Paintball was a team sport…but this was every man for himself! We all took part in a massive Grand Prix event, which gave us exclusive use of the facility’s 700m track.

The venue uses the fastest indoor karts in the UK and the adrenaline rush, as I sped around the track, was amazing!

We raced in a series of heats and then the best drivers made it into the grand final. The rest of us cheered on from the spectator’s area and the atmosphere was fantastic! I’d have rather been out there, but I’m no Jenson Button. The lads flew around the circuit and the outcome was really close! The stag even made it on to the podium in 3rd place…and got the winner’s bubbly over his head.

The party continued long after the brakes had been slammed, at the venue’s licensed bar. We all got a print out of our lap times and they all had a good laugh at mine. Then it was off into town with my mate showing off his bronze medal to any girl that would look! Everyone had a great time and the whole weekend was a massive success. If it wasn’t for the guys at Karting Nation and Go Ballistic, I’d have had a much harder time putting the whole thing together, they did all the leg work and I just had to worry about getting all the blokes together on the day.

If another of the lads is soft enough to take the plunge, I won’t hesitate to get in touch with these guys again, and you should definitely do the same!”

Lee – Best Man & Karting Nation Customer.

Are you organising a Stag Weekend? Give the team a call at Karting Nation on 0844 745  5006