Coming Full Circle

Four down, one to go.

It’s taken half a dozen laps of careful, precise driving—not to mention some incredibly good luck—but one by one I’ve managed to slip past Matt, John, Steve, and CJ. I’m alone now, with the rest of the pack fighting for position half a lap behind me. Only Dennis remains, a quarter-lap ahead.

I watch him wind smoothly through each turn, keeping his speed. He’s got a decent car and is driving well; this is gonna be tough. I fight back the urge to fishtail around the turns—frivolity will have to wait for the next race. We’ve only got a few laps left, and if I’m gonna catch Dennis, I gotta get serious.

“It’s all about the turns,” the track owner, Craig, had told me before the race. “You have to keep your speed.” With each lap I’ve studied the formula: where to enter and exit the turn, how much to brake, exactly when to accelerate out. It’s taken lots of trial and error—and several collisions with other karts—but I’ve finally found the sweet spots.

I’ve also found focus. My lines get cleaner, my transitions more fluid. I’m in the groove now; I’ve got my rhythm and am confidently careening down that wafer-thin line between audacity and prudence, chance and certainty. Dennis glances over his shoulder to check my progress. One lap goes by, then another. I inch closer.

Finally he’s is in range. Steering left into a long, gradual bend, I put the pedal to the floor, my adrenaline pumping amid the speed and the ceaseless tug of centrifugal force—another 5 mph and I swear I’ll peel right off the track. Coming abreast of Dennis as we slow for a hairpin turn, I feign a right-side pass. Dennis angles right to block me, but turns a little too wide… this is my chance! Braking hard with my left foot, holding the gas to the floor with my right, I cut the wheel hard left and slip into the space between Dennis and the inside wall. He’s still ahead of me, and mere inches separate our wraparound steel bumpers—but before he can counter and nose me into the wall, I let off the brake and the car lurches forward. My nose passes his and I know I’ve made it.

He knows it too, giving me a sharp look as I pull ahead and cut him off at the next turn. My kart’s faster than his, and fueled by the adrenaline surge of a successful kart-racing coup, I make clean turns and pull farther ahead on the next straightaway. By the time the checkered flag flies, I’m almost a quarter-lap ahead of Dennis. Victory is mine.

One by one we roll to a stop, pile out of our karts, and, smiling like schoolboys, make our way to the lobby to compare lap times. John, a league racer, laid down the fastest individual lap, but took fourth overall; Matt, though finishing a half-lap back, missed best average lap time by only 3/100 of a second. It’s clear that in this sport, every second counts.

I’m still trembling from the rush of heart-pumping speed and intense competition, but as we examine the position graph—a cool chart that recaps who passed whom and when—I gradually wind down. Matt chides me for T-boning him and pinning him to the wall on the second lap (I couldn’t resist), Steve queries as to who slammed his tail and sent him into a costly spin-out (nobody fesses up), and we all praise Dennis for slipping gracefully through our five-car pile-up and snagging the lead halfway through the race. CJ, stuck with the slowest car and saddled with photo duties, patiently endures a group ribbing for slowest overall time. Next time, he says, he’ll leave the camera in the car and kick all our asses.

And then, just as our pulses start to slow and our minds move on to other things, Craig announces that we’re up again. He’s all smiles—you can tell he loves this, whether he’s racing a kart himself or just watching others tear it up on the track he built from the ground up. We strap on our helmets, jump in our karts, and fidget in giddy anticipation of the start. Who’s got the fastest kart this time? Who’ll run the cleanest lines? Who will goof off, taking every opportunity to ram other karts, and who will go for the win? At this point, it’s anybody’s guess. But one thing’s for sure: we’ll all battle for the lead, only to have it snatched away from us in the blink of an eye. And no matter who wins , we’ll all be smiling at the end.

The Whole Kart and Kaboodle
“Arrive and drive” racing is a blast indeed, but Full Circle offers other ways to get your kicks on the track, too. Private parties ensure exclusivity on the racetrack as well as pre- and post-race camaraderie in the conference/party room. Ditto for corporate events—not only is kart racing a great team-building event, but just imagine the joy you’ll feel after T-boning the HR director at 30 mph. There’s also league racing for the more competitive types; one season of regular racing and none of your weekend warrior friends will be able to hang. For more info, call 587-KART (5278) or visit

-Mike England