Posted (12/22/2004) -
Recently We made a visit down to Lowe's Motor Speedway to participate in one of Johan Schwartz's Endurance Karting Events.
The last time we visited and competed in one of the Endurance Karting event was 2 years ago at the exact same place.
Although we can say that the track was exactly the same, the weekend long experience has dramatically changed. What was once a very nice, fun weekend of Karting, has now been turned into a full blown, action packed weekend.
Some of the enhancements that Johan has made include:
- Full Rental Gear, from suit, to helmet, to gloves, and neck brace available in all sizes.
- Seat inserts and pedal adapters were available to accommodate different sizes of drivers
- The National Anthem being played before the event
- A LeMans style start, with each starting driver running across the track
- A timing and scoring stand with 2 monitors for racers to view all race long
- Checkered Flag Victory Laps for each class winner
- Pewter Cast Style Trophy Plates for the Top 3 in each class.
- Plus each Team's lap times from the race can now be downloaded from the Endurance Karting web site
As before, Johan's Endurance Karting group did a great job of providing equal Karts for all to compete with in the race. The Karts all have guard bars all around to protect from wheel to wheel action. Additionally, Timing and Scoring is performed via a transponder on each Kart. Each Team is required to make a minimum number of stops to allow each team to rotate the drivers into race at equal lengths of time.
Like Endurance Racing in the ROLEX and ALMS series, the team that comes out on top, is the one that make the fewest mistakes. And in Johan's Endurance Karting, if you spin or damage or kart, or get black flagged, you pay the price. Also, your entire pit strategy is up to the team. There are no rules, guidelines, directions. So each team must come up with a strategy, and sometimes it is required to change that strategy as the race progresses.
The Saturday 6 hour event had 27 Teams competing in the identically prepared Karts. And lets just say that with the laps only taking 1 minute, 27 Karts made for constant action all around. With no mirrors, a driver had to be on full alert at all times. It seemed like you would just get in the Kart, and your 20 minute shift would be over, that action was that exciting.
We kept a very steady, heads up pace, while rotating our 4 drivers through the 6 hours. From our 21st starting position, we rose all the way up to 9th place. We just held off 10th place that was only seconds behind us for the last 15 laps,,,after 6 hours of racing.
After resting up Saturday night, we arrived bright and early Sunday to take on the 3 hour event. This days event was a lot of fun as well, and with only 19 Karts, a bit different traffic situations. On this day we chose to go with a different driver line-up. This line-up allowed us to enter the "Big Boy" class, for a team averaging 195 or more. We ended up winning the class, and were rewarded with a checkered flag victory lap and trophies.
Both days concluded with no Yellow flags, which says a lot for not only Johan's great staff, but for the amount of total track time an individual gets on such a weekend.
For anyone looking for a great racing experience, we would highly recommend an Endurance Karting weekend. At $1480 for the 6 hours, that is only $370 each for a 4 driver line-up. With practice, that is over an hour and ¾ per driver.