Buckle up, baby
Race you to the finish line, this wannabe petrol head puts Absolutely Karting Maidenhead through its paces.
Buckle up, baby, and race your to the finish line. We’re off to Absolutely Karting in Maidenhead on the wettest Sunday ever, to show my teenage son that there are some things in life that cannot be taught from a YouTube video.
Absolutely Karting is an indoor go karting venue, a few minutes from Maidenhead train station, on a small industrial estate near Lidl and B&Q – just in case you need to peruse the mystery aisle or grab some paint on the way home. It’s basically catnip for derring-do husbands, gobby teenagers and everyone in between really who has the urge to don a onesie and feel the need for speed.
But as with all sports, I become possessed by a competitive monster who will do whatever it takes to clamber to win. Waaaay too much coffee today. So with my son giving me all the swagger of Lewis Hamilton, we thought we’d settle the matter once and for all on the track. Unflattering boiler suit on, bank robbing balaclava dutifully hiding my rained on hair and we’re race ready.
Don’t be mistaken into thinking karting is for older kids – on the day we went, there were a couple of 8-year-olds, a granddad, his grown up son, as well as me, a youthful *ahem* fortysomething and my eldest, Morgan.
So what to expect? Well, there’s the usual video briefing and chummy instructor, with lots of essential info on flags, lights and expected behaviour on the track. Then, it’s ‘rev her up’ and off you go in a 270cc petrol kart, reaching speeds up 45 mph.
Once you have a helmet on, you’re given your kart number, adult karts in one lane, kids in another. My son is taller than me and was given a kids kart which was amusing to watch has he shoe horned himself into position. Should’ve warned the lovely staff that my son is 5ft 7ins.
I didn’t fare much better as the Velcro on my boiler suit parted company the minute I sat down. I get that it’s not a fashion show, but it doesn’t stop me thinking I look Cameron Diaz at Daytona.
Back to reality. At the start, you’re called up one be one to do a brake test and once you have the thumbs up, you’re off. You’re advised to take it easy for the first couple of laps and then race.
Confidence soaring at the midway point, I was flying around the bends and whizzing through the chicanes, cutting up the kids, and getting roughed up in return. Thank god the go karts have impact absorbing tech.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t make use of the two tiers, which was a real shame and I think it would’ve made the experience a lot more fun and challenging. But it just gives us a reason to go back.
The good news was that after roughly 40 thrilling laps, Captain Slow, sorry, I mean my son Morgan, said it was ‘sick’ (anyone with children will know that this translates as ‘amazing’) and it was like F1, let’s be honest, Monaco/ Maidenhead are easy to mix up. There’s a lot boats in both.
Want to know the all-important finishing spots. Not only is everything displayed on a screen for your pit crew to enjoy, you get a print out too. Now framed in the downstairs loo. Well, I came fourth overall behind two fellas and a child (they’d clearly done it before, just saying), completing 45 laps with an average time of 31.98 seconds. Morgan came 6thout of 7th, with an lap time of 37.37 secs. I’m not one to brag, but EAT MY DUST!
I’d also like to point out that there is disabled access at Absolute Karting Maidenhead, not only is it wheelchair friendly for spectators, the centre has developed a two-seater go kart for disabled kids to experience the adrenaline rush. I love that. In fact, Absolutely Karting has a charitable arm, called Absolutely Together that is committed to helping the disabled, disadvantaged and elderly. Props for that.
What about prices I hear you cry? SORRY, I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE ENGINE NOISE.
OK, well it kind of depends what you’re doing. Arrive ‘N’ Drive (an open timed event) is £30 off peak or £44 peak for adults. Cadets (aged 8-13) £25 peak and £30 off peak. If you become a total petrol head, there’s you can take part in the Iron Man endurance challenge and 2-hour Tag Team Challenges. Or you can just have a laugh with your mates or colleagues. Whether you have 1 or 60 mates, you go bumper to bumper here.
It’s worth noting they do kids parties. I have done this before with my son and it was brilliant. There are party room upstairs, and they serve pizza.
My tip for the top: go on a week day when it’s quieter – Absolutely Karting stays open til 10pm Tuesday to Sunday so there’s plenty of time to get there an hour before for your briefing, and have some dins afterwards.
So rev that engine, because it’s a big thumbs up for Absolute Go Karting. A great day out for kids, families, mates, everyone really – let me know if you go, I think you’ll love it.
Absolutely Karting, The Arena, Stafferton Way, Maidenhead SL6 1AY. Tel: 0300 303 3548