Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Kart Racing Fiasco

So a few days ago I went on a fun trip w/ my colleagues for Go-Karting in Bangalore.  The particular place we went was supposedly one of the good ones in the city.  I've done fun GoKarting more than a few times before while in the US and I rate my skill-level as "average" (possibly wrt. a pretty skewed sample).   However, this time it was very different.

First, we had an unpleasant surprise when we reached the place: the Karts were nothing more than a few pieces of rusted metal awkwardly welded together, and a generator like diesel "engine" stuck behind.  The racing spot was a reasonably sized open area with stacked tires marking the track, and the width of the track for the most part was just enough to fit in two Karts.  The first round was good, as it was lap timing based and not a real-time race (they let one Kart at a time into the track and measure the time to complete the lap).   We found that the Karts despite being so rudimentary and pathetic in their form, were actually capable of going quite fast - easily about 60km/h - kind of dangerous given the nature of the track and the Kart.

The second round was a real race - about 8 Karts were let into the track at the same time (including mine) with their starting points just a couple meters apart.   Of course people were close to each other trying to pass one another in the curves.   In one such curve, my Kart slightly hit another Kart on the side and to our surprise, my Kart just took off in the air and went over the other Kart and brushed over my colleague's shoulder in that Kart.  Luckily he wasn't hurt.  However, this incident was pretty scary in hindsight because when my Kart took off, it could have hit my colleague in his head or something causing serious injury.

Analyzing the cause of the incident, it appeared like the form-factor and the weight of the Karts played an important role; they were not heavy enough to remain stable even for a slightest hit on the side - after all they were just a few pieces of cheap metal welded together. Given this, the GoKarting company should have at least refrained from indulging us in a realtime race if they had even some regard for our safety.  And note: this was the case w/ one of the "good" places for Go-Karting in Bangalore.

Anyway, this was not the first time I've seen a "fun" place in India poorly organized with least regard to safety - a good lesson to scrupulously use "common-sense" before embarking into such so called "fun" ventures in India.