The city gets a new go kart track, promising laps of racing fun to motor enthusiasts
The flags fluttering on the side of the Infopark highway at Kakkanad demarcate the location of Kochi’s latest attraction: a go kart track. The small expanse of smoothly paved track makes efficient use of the available area by looping in on itself and throwing up some swooping corners. A couple of karts sit idly in the sun while a few others are hoisted about by track staff for a wash.
Managed by Jos Jacob and Thomas Chacko of Tuner’s Edge Motor Sport Hub, the track, known as Speedway Kochi, has been gathering a fair bit of social media buzz since it opened to public a week ago. The sudden attention is something Jos attributes to the thriving community of motor sports enthusiasts in the city. “There are a lot of people here who enjoy motor racing, with some even travelling to places like Coimbatore to try karting. So a track opening in the city is something they are all happy about,” he says.
While the track is ready for the karts to do their rounds, large sections of the compound are still abuzz with construction activity, as Jos explains there are plans to include a viewing gallery and a food court for those who visit the track. The pit lane area is also cordoned off for the time being as work slowly nears completion. “As of now, the track opens from three in the afternoon to 11 at night, but once work finishes we’ll be open the whole day. Even the karts we use right now are rental karts that provide additional safety so that our visitors can get used to their dynamics and won’t be injured in the event of a crash. Later on, we plan to bring in proper racing karts, provide full racing gear, and have events like endurance racing,” says the 24-year-old, who manages the track with his cousin Thomas, who is a Third Officer in the Merchant Navy.
Step into the tiny machine and the first thought is it is more comfortable than it looks, thanks to the open seating. The all mechanical nature of the steering and its low-set position may take a moment to get used to, as does the stiff accelerator, which offers little feedback before delivering an instantaneous surge of torque when fully depressed. However, go a couple of rounds with the splutter and thrum of the engine in your ears and you would not want anything less. The vibrations are jarring to a point and the weighty steering works the arms, but it offers a level of precision that leaves you smiling in no time flat. Soon, the laps tick by and the primary concern becomes finding a nicer, smoother line around the track to push the kart a little faster.
The recreational karts, which use Indian-made chassis and are powered by Honda engines, are put together in Bangalore. They output around 13bhp, good for speeds up to 70 to 80 kmph. Currently there are five karts on the circuit, but its nine-metre width allows it to accommodate up to 10 karts at a time. “The track is gently sloped to be able to counter any water logging the monsoons may cause, with water being safely drained under the track. The lights also help us carry on into the night without visibility issues.”
Five laps around the track (which is just enough to put you into that zone where you settle down into a steady rhythm) will cost you Rs. 330. The managers are working out a membership system for regulars, with those visitors who are employed at the Infopark getting an extra two laps above the standard five. Jos is also open to renting out the track for private events. “When we founded Tuner’s Edge, the main goal was to create road safety awareness. Now that we have a track, we have the means to allow people to indulge in pushing the limits in a safe and controlled environment,” Jos says.
In the coming months, the track will also host training sessions for children between the ages of eight and 14 under the supervision of trained professionals.