Karting is great, karting is amazing, karting is just pure fun. I have written about how expensive it can be to run a vehicle that doesn’t even have suspension in the first place. Option two is going to the local putting range to run drive something that isn’t exactly quick but can provide a few grins. I’m a very lucky boy because option 3 came to me in the form of the GoPro Motorplex, not all too far from where I spend my Holidays.
I’m beginning to notice a trend in kart tracks (indoor or outdoor) like the GoPro Motorplex popping up. With some tracks, I’ve found rent-a-rides in Tag or Rotax powered equipment. While I don’t know if you could consider karting a grassroots motorsport, many tracks have started making it so everyone can participate regardless of the exploding cost. If you really want to form a the basis of your skill, hop in one of these things. I have been guilty of looking for a cheap chassis late at night and thinking of buying a Briggs and Stratton L206, karting is addictive. Even if buying a cheap kart is out of the cards, there are more and more karting tracks out there that offer serious fun in the form of rental karts.
The GoPro Motorplex is located in the motorsports capital of Mooresville, North Carolina. Yes, you will see talent there and yes, they are quick. The circuit is a copy of the Kartodromo Parma in Italy which was demolished in 2009. A shopping center is now in its place, but on a happier note, parts of the curbing are now the steps on the GoPro podium (little things like that are why I love this place). The 11 turn, .7-mile-long track is incredibly quick and a total blast to drive. There are a couple of key corners that you have to work hard to keep your momentum through. If you’re gorilla sized like me, momentum is tough to keep. Turns 1, 2, and 3, are almost flat out in the rental karts. Turns 5 and 6 are a ton of fun, but turn 11 is by far my favorite. You can feel when you take the turn properly and it’s important to carry as much speed as possible through there for the front straight.
The karts are made by Praga and GoPro Motorplex claims you
can reach up to 55 MPH with it on their track and I have to say I believe them. This isn’t a run of the mill fleet you can find at the aforementioned putting range; these things are properly quick and great to drive which makes all the more reason for you to drive in the rental league races and endurance races. If you are like me and worry that you’ll race against a 130 lb rocket of a driver, there are weight classes. You’ll probably still wonder how many 10ths would a prosthesis shave off your time though (right?).
You aren’t restricted to just rental karts. If you own your kart you are welcomed with open arms. There is an on-site kart shop and if you have the funds you can rent your own garage to store your kart, tools, equipment, etc. Track time between rentals and owners are normally split throughout the day. Rental karts get 10 minutes to tool around and owners get 10 minute of their own to practice. Kart owner events are everything ranging from GoPro Motorplex’s own championship to events for the World Karting Association.
I was listening to a recent podcast (Dinner with Racers, check it out, it’s awesome) that featured GPM’s part owner, Justin Marks. When asked how he felt about people bumping each other and intentionally crashing others he responded by saying people can take that elsewhere. It’s totally true, on one of the many nights I was there I saw two people get kicked out after repeated black flags and warning signs saying, “No Bumping.” It’s so great to have a place to go where you just want to drive and the stupid shit isn’t tolerated.
I should add that you don’t have to be quick to have a good time, nor should you worry about being slow. If someone is catching up you, they’ll find a way around you. Just drive in the way you are comfortable with as you learn (okay please don’t crawl because that could be scary). I was slow my self with my first ever lap time being in the 67 second range, my best as of my last visit is 62.284 (still not the fastest by any means). It takes time but you learn and we all know learning is fun.
As long as the GoPro Motorplex will take my money and I can take time away from what I need to do when I’m in North Carolina, I’ll be a loyal customer.
Click here to see a video of me on track, I’m sorry if you find the video a little low on the quality side. I’m new.
Please let us know what other tracks are out there! If you have a favorite place to run rentals or run your own kart, let us know!