Sunday, March 16, 2008
Go Speed Racer
Little-known fact: I'm a graduate of a two-day course at the Skip Barber racing school (what can I say, journalism is a career that will take you on strange detours.) There I learned the basics of race-car driving; I raced Formula 2000 cars and Dodge Vipers on a road course, and learned the basic tactics of minimizing time-around-the-track. I've never done much with the education, but when it comes to racing go-karts, you'd hope the diploma can come in handy.
Today a friend's party brought me to the track at Malibu Grand Prix -- the ultimate testing ground of human bravery. Okay, maybe not the ultimate testing ground, but the toughest testing ground available off of the Seaport exit on 101 in Redwood City. Bottom line: a serious go-kart track. I strapped into a 3/4-scale Indy-style car and took four runs at the track record.
I improved my time on each of the four runs, cutting a decent 64-second debut down to a more-respectable 60.3 seconds. The bad news: a couple of other guys had managed times in the 58-59 second range, leaving me less-than-thrilled with my results. I figured a score in the mid-50s was possible by a really skilled driver who knew the course.
Then I saw the "day's fastest lap" printout -- 42 seconds.
Then I saw the "track record" plaque -- 6.6 seconds.
And that is how much a Skip Barber primer is worth to you on a go-kart track.
In happier news, I spent some time in the arcade and cleared the first two stages of Time Crisis 2 on just one play...proof that at least my coin-up skills aren't withering.