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Archive 31

Junior Karting at Castle Combe

Does your son or daughter fancy driving a kart on a
real race track? If the answer's yes, make your way
to Castle Combe in Wiltshire, says Kim Henson

he very mention of karts, cars, bikes, in fact anything with wheels and an engine, is guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of my son Anthony (now 13 years old). So given the opportunity of spending a day at the Castle Combe Karting Junior Racing School (near Chippenham in Wiltshire), there was no hesitation. Like many other youngsters of his age, Anthony has always been keen on karting, and at Castle Combe children between the ages of 10 and 15 can be taught - safely - the thrills and skills of karting, on a challenging 350 metre long twisting outdoor circuit.

   Tuition is given during a three-hour session at the track (adjacent to the famous Castle Combe car race circuit, which can be viewed from the spectator banking alongside).

   An informal, friendly atmosphere    prevails, but great attention is      paid to safety and the    instructors and marshals are top    level Motor Sports Association    (MSA) approved people. They do    their best to ensure that the    youngsters enjoy their day and    get their best from their time at    the track. All are given protective    overalls and helmets and drive    identical 200cc Stratos karts.

   All new drivers are given basic training on the necessary rules: how to control the kart, racing procedures and so on. They initially take to the track on strictly controlled laps, in small groups.

   For enthusiastic drivers, there is the opportunity to return and build both skill levels and confidence (normally over a period of weeks), taking part in practice races. Then, having completed a junior course, they can race with the Combe Karting Young Stars. There are two championships per year for a prize Association of Racing Kart Schools pack and test (regarded as a useful first step towards a career in motor sport, for those so inclined).

   Of course not everyone wants to go into motor sport, but the karting experience can still be great fun. The karts reach speed of over 40 mph and the twisting circuit (surfaced in high tech, grippy 'SMA'), with its tight corners, provides exhilaration a-plenty.

   I watched Anthony (like his fellow participants), listening intently during the detailed instruction session and he was able to put the tuition to good use as he lapped the circuit, initially in a strictly controlled, non-competitive manner, then in 'practice' races with others in small groups. All races are computer-timed, incidentally.

   My son was becoming visibly more confident as he clocked
up the laps; the young drivers
are encouraged to drive enthusiastically, but not recklessly.
For accompanying parents/carers, there is an excellent view of the kart track, also the adjacent skid pan
and the main Castle Combe racing circuit, from the roof of
the 'control room'.

  My overall verdict was that the Junior Racing School was well organised and struck a perfect balance between having fun and doing it all safely (always a concern for us worrying adults). I reckon Anthony summed it up best, though; his verdict, "A brilliant day, Dad". He wants to go again now...

  Combe Karting Junior Race School is located at Castle Combe Circuit, near Chippenham, Wiltshire. Telephone (01249) 783010 or visit their website direct by clicking
Junior Training is 30 per session (adult racing, 40 per session) and participants at the Junior Racing School must be between 10 and 15 years old, and over 4ft 8in tall (both boys and girls can take part). Booking is essential.

Please note that any prices and/or specifications given in
this feature may change at short notice.

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