We arrived at the track for the first time on Monday, and boy, it was a sight. The facilities were incredible; the paddock was bigger and packed with more tents than any event I’ve been to before, the track looked beautiful, and the grandstands were big enough that you could see them clearly before you even got to the track. This was the real deal.
After we were done gawking at the scene, we got to work. We put together our shiny, brand new kart without much trouble, and despite getting to the track a little late, we managed to get out for a few sessions before the end of the day.
Getting on the track itself was a whole other experience.
First off, it was the grippiest track I’d ever been to. The asphalt was beautifully smooth, with hardly a bump on the track. The layout was also tons of fun. With all the grip on the track, there were some wildly fast corners, and even in the infield, the track was intense. The corners were challenging for sure, but I could already tell racing on a track like this was going to be a blast.
We only managed to get two sessions by the end, but man, I couldn’t wait to get back on track the next day.
After such a fun yet short day at the track the day before, I was ready to get straight back on track the second day. We got there earlier to get as many sessions out of that day as possible, as we knew that we were a little tight on practice time before racing started. We knew I had to get more time on the track, we had some ideas to try with the setup, so we made sure the kart was all nice and ready and got out for our first session of the day. The session was going well at first; I was starting to get more comfortable with the track, I got some experience going side by side through some of the corners, it was a good session. It didn’t stay that way for long, though.
Towards the end of the session, I noticed as I came around the final set of corners that the throttle pedal felt a little weird. It seemed like all of a sudden it was stuck with almost no travel, but then by the time I got onto the straight it suddenly felt like it came free and I had full travel again. It was a subtle thing, and I almost thought it was just me not being used to the amount of travel with the new engine. But then I got to turn three, one of the fastest corners on the track. I went to take it how I normally would, just a touch on the brakes before turning in, but when I did I realized that the throttle didn’t come back; it was stuck wide open. By the time I realized the kart wasn’t slowing down, I was already too far through the corner, sliding onto the grass.
And then I hit the wall.
That was by far the hardest hit I’ve had to date. Honestly, with all of the adrenaline, it didn’t hurt that much after the first ten seconds or so, but with such a high-speed crash the staff were taking no chances. All the karts came off the track, medical staff came over to examine me there, and after a few minutes I went straight on a stretcher, in an ambulance, and to the hospital. Thankfully, after they ran all of the tests it looked like I had no serious injuries, but in order to be sure, they had to keep me the rest of the day. In the end, I was given the all-clear to leave. I was banged up in a few places and was probably going to have some nasty bruises, but my head felt fine.
As long as it still felt good the next day, it looked like I was going to be able to race the rest of the week.