The karts sit just an inch off the ground. As they speed around the track at up to 40mph, drivers jostle for position. Their eyes are fixed in concentration as they grip the steering wheel, and put the pedal to the metal on TeamSport Indoor Karting’s Gosport track.
Welcome to the world of indoor go karting, an adrenaline-fuelled experience that allows people of all ages and ability to feel what it’s like to be a racing driver.
TeamSport’s Gosport track is a newly-refurbished house of fun that will leave you with an unforgettable buzz.
It offers a range of packages, sessions and formats across its 20 tracks nationwide. Whether you’re a child, adult, apprehensive non-driver or experienced racer, there’s something for everyone.
At Gosport, TeamSport has spent £250,000 and re-designed its multi-level 450m track (along with the rest of the site), which has been given the seal of approval by British racing driver Nic Hamilton, brother of F1 star Lewis.
Phil Dix is general manager and has worked for TeamSport for 16 years. The 40-year-old says if you visit the track you’ll probably get bitten by the karting bug, just like he was back in 1998.
‘When you come here you step into a fast-paced environment, but everyone on the track has an equal right to be there,’ says Phil.
‘In my time at the company I haven’t met many people who didn’t enjoy their experience, even if they were timid at first.
‘People get a buzz from being an inch off the ground, in a kart that can go up to 40mph, on an interesting track.
‘It’s fun, good exercise, and you can see the grins on customers’ faces as they leave having felt the rush and speed of the race.
‘Drivers get print-outs with their average lap times and consistency graphs on, so it’s good in terms of skill development because you have the data to refer to.’
Phil adds: ‘I started karting in 1998 at the former TeamSport Aldershot track and never looked back. I was rubbish the first time I had a go, but I kept going back to hone my skills. I instantly got bitten by the karting bug.
‘A lot of Formula One drivers like Lewis Hamilton started out by go karting. His brother Nic, who is also a racer, likes the re-design of our track.’
TeamSport has been in Gosport for 15 years. The refurbishment started in January and was completed in time for re-opening on February 9. Staff describe the site beforehand as ‘a warehouse with a track inside’, but it’s very different now.
Phil says: ‘The reception area used to be too noisy, we had to raise our voices to speak to customers. It’s now warm, quiet and well-decorated.
‘Our old snack bar wasn’t very inviting, that area has now been turned into a safety briefing room, and our new snack bar area is also a chill out lounge.
‘It’s a place where customers can sit and relax, have a drink and some hot or cold food, and watch other people race. Our track has been re-configured and re-designed, but we’ve kept parts like the flyover that made it one of the top tracks across all our sites.
‘People like it because of the sharp hairpins (180 degree bends), opportunities for overtaking, S bends and testing corners.
‘So far we’ve had 100 per cent positive feedback from our customers. People always come for the go karting, but now because of our new and improved environment they’re wanting to stick around.’
TeamSport allows people to kart from the age of eight and there’s no upper age limit. Races can all be formatted differently and there are packages available to suit individuals and groups of all sizes, such as open timed race sessions, team challenges or mini Grands Prix.
Groups of 12 or more will be split into different teams.
One example of how sessions are suited to format beginners and those faster or more experienced is that in group races, the slowest drivers from each segment of practice can be put together for a runners-up race, and the fastest put together for a grand final – winners of each receive trophies at the presentation afterwards.
For children/teens there are parties and practice sessions, family madness days, junior track days and a children’s academy where youngsters can be taught how to race a go kart.
Phil explains: ‘Customers register at reception and then receive a full safety briefing. They are equipped with gloves, a crash helmet and a race suit.
‘We play music throughout sessions and often commentate so drivers feel like they’re on a real race track.
‘Generally you kart with the group of people you come with, but if you come to the track on your own you could be karting with other customers.’
Neil Wilson, 39, is the managing director of First Contact in Newcastle. He organised a morning at TeamSport in Gosport for 16 of his staff before they set off to a meeting in Eastleigh.
‘I thought go karting would be a good teambuilding exercise because everyone can take something different from it,’ says Neil.
‘It’s very enjoyable and your competitive edge comes out. It doesn’t look like the drivers go that fast, but when you get in the kart yourself you realise that, actually, you are.’
‘Everyone was sweating and smiling afterwards!’.
Thirty-five-year-old Chantelle McDowell was the only female who took part.
She says: ‘I’ve never been go karting before and at first it was a bit daunting racing with 16 lads, but I had so much fun and even beat two of them.
‘It takes a while to get used to the corners, but it’s great once you get a feel for it and get into it. I’d definitely recommend go karting to others.’
This year TeamSport is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Gosport track sees a mix of member and non-member customers, with an average of 750 visitors per week.
Phil says: ‘We want to grow as much as possible. I’m very proud of TeamSport and I enjoy coming to work every single day.’
TeamSport Indoor Karting at Gosport is at Fareham Reach, Fareham Road, PO13 0FW. Call 0844 998 0000 or visit team-sport.co.uk/gosport.
• TeamSport Indoor Karting at Gosport was refurbished from January to February this year
• A total of £250,000 was spent
• The multi-level 450m track has been re-designed, but its best bits kept
• A new fleet of karts have been added
• The old snack bar has been turned into a new briefing room
• The new snack bar area is also a chill-out lounge, complete with tables, a TV and a space to watch others race
I’LL BE BACK:
Competitive by nature, I (Tamara) was more than excited to get in one of the karts on the track, but a little apprehensive about doing so with 16 grown men.
I haven’t karted since I was a child and it took me a few minutes to get used to the kart and get a feel for what I was doing.
But once I’d done that, I didn’t want to stop.
You really do get a rush of adrenaline and a special kind of buzz that makes you want to keep going, especially round those corners and down the flyover.
As a slightly more laid-back driver than some of my competitors, it was still easy to share the track with them as there are opportunities for over-taking.
I’ll definitely be going back.