Dave Forber's website

Getting into cadet karting

Just to be clear, this post is written with the benefit of hindsight, and is just how *we* got into karting.

It actually started in 2013. We went to our local indoor circuit - M4 Karting. The boys - at the time - were 7 and 9 years old. We’d taken William when he was 8, once, and he’d shown what looked like decent pace. So, when Henry was old enough, we took him.

Instant disaster. Henry - our youngest - was pretty good at Need for Speed Nitro on the Wii, but absolutely awful on track. High revs, foot on the brake. It was embarrassing and William went around him several times. It was several months before I plucked up the courage to let him try again. But I was glad we did. There was a marked improvement and the two boys actually raced. And Henry won, much to William’s consternation. We went another two or three times, when one of the lads there - Mike - said, of Henry, that “he was really good, and you should think about racing him properly”.

He gave us the phone number of Des - TP of Veneno Racing, who I phoned after a couple of days. Des talked for a while about stuff that really went over my head at the time, but was really friendly and amenable over the phone. At the end of the conversation I had a list of local tracks, a kart manufacturer and an invitation to Forest Edge to see what happens at a “real race”.

So we went.

And, if I’m honest, it was not the best experience. My wife described it as “cut throat”, and there was an incident at Forest on the grid. We watched a practice, which included an accident on the first lap in front of the platform. Mrs F was far from convinced. We went round to the team awning anyway and tried them both in a full sized non-hire racing kart. As it turned out, it was the kart we’d buy in a few years.

The advice was simple - Henry was too small and should do Bambino, and William’s times were a little inconsistent, so he could do with training or additional practice. So we went.

We enrolled Henry in Buckmore Park‘s Bambino school. We’d tried the school at Whilton Mill once, but Henry didn’t get on with the “follow-my-leader” format and kept bumping the instructor to go faster. Buckmore’s approach was much better. Yes, the first two lessons were basic - focussing on kart control on a small 100m oval circuit, but the lessons were progressive, the tuition good and the staff friendly. Henry graduated and did lesson 3 on their 400m club circuit (the bottom half of the full circuit) and loved it.

William, of course, wanted to do the same, so we enrolled him in their Junior school. Again, he loved it, topping the lap chart, which was a surprise. He didn’t want to be outdone by his brother.

You’ll notice none of these places are anywhere near Bristol.

Anyway, because they’d both qualified, we let them run in Buckmore’s hire kart race series. Henry went first. He came 6th/30 in his first event. He wanted a second go, of course, and William wanted his first. So we went again ... in January. In the rain.

Henry had come 6th last time, so was in the “fast group” this time. He was cold and wet and in tears after the first two heats and refused to go out for the third. When asked, he said it was because he didn’t think he was doing very well because he didn’t overtake anyone. We fed him chips, and Emma - one of the Buckmore staff - offered to send him out in a different group. Henry went, and came home with a third place trophy.

William was racing in the afternoon, so we all went to watch him. No trophy for him, but he did well, finishing 9th in the Rookie club.

If you’re still reading, you might think that I rate Buckmore Park. I do. They were brilliant with the kids, the races were run properly, professionally, and the facilities (barring the Bambino toilets!) were decent.

We raced them both there monthly for around 18 months - from December 2013 until May 2015. Henry moved up from Bambino when he was 8, and they were both invited at the end of the 2014 to the “Junior Rookie of the Year” event. Henry came 1st, William 3rd. We were pretty shocked. And so they graduated up to full Junior club.

They both did well in Junior club, and at that point - in April 2015, we decided it was probably time to give them a go in a racing kart. So we contacted Des again.

We booked a test day at Clay Pigeon Raceway with him after a brief conversation. The day was excellent. Their times at Clay were half-decent - both were in the late 42s by the end of the day, and Des’ method was progressive. They both started slow, and after the first session - which was at half throttle (allegedly) - they both proclaimed that they were in “rocket ships”.

Des had said both were ready for their ARKS test. William wanted to go first, so he took it at Clay and passed. Henry followed two months later in August, at Thruxton. And they’ve been racing - with Des - since.