University is stressful, any third year can relate to that, but for a few laps on Thursday I could be focussed on something other than lectures and reading.
The rain is pouring down and I’m soaked. I’ve only been in the kart for a few laps and already I’ve enough water to fill a small bath.
The kart, a two-stroke Club 100 machine, is squirming around on the surface, the slick tyres looking for grip beneath the puddles, and finding nothing. By the time the wheel-spinning has stopped and I’m able to point the kart in a straight line, I’m already into turn one.
The front tyres have more grip than the rear, but only just. The kart understeers into the corner but needs a poke from my right foot to spin it around.
We got there earlier, hoping the rain would be a mild drizzle. It wasn’t. There were rivers running everywhere over the undulating Buckmore Park circuit, the fastest track the BUKC (British University Karting Championship), calendar
The lakes at the bottom were just waiting for the uninitiated to turn up, panic and slide clumsily into a spin they weren’t prepared for. They will learn soon that in the rain, a heavy left foot is as dangerous as a heavy right foot.
As for those with experience of Buckmore, we know full well that to spin at 60mph and crash is both embarrassing and painful. Memories of several bruised ribs from being hit in the dry remind me of the dangers of panicking.
Today is a day when testing, not racing, is the aim however. For the new drivers its all about getting used to the karts and learning the track. For the experienced, with at least a season of racing, we’re concentrating on shaking off any rust and proving that we deserve the promotion to the top category.
That, at least, is my goal. Our BUKC Captain pulled out so as the senior driver there I also have to keep everyone safe as well as show I’m sufficiently quick to be in the top category. The rain is a blessing with safety rather than speed the deciding factor over who does and who doesn’t get a racing licence
The speed, I will discover, is there but more than that the joy is too and great satisfaction remains in working with the kart; using the wheelspin to slide out of understeer, drifting the rear out on corner exit and daring myself in the braking zone.
At the end of the meeting I’m flooded, not just literally with water and exhaustion but also with love for driving in the BUKC. For a few laps a year I can call myself a racing driver with King’s College London; doing something that looks good, but more importantly, makes me feel good too.
Its similar to my other break from normality, Fast Friday, where for a few hours a week I can call myself a radio presenter.
Update: 24 Hours later I discovered I had attained my racing licence. Now technically a racing driver.