Go-Karting in Bangalore

Whenever I visit a new place, I check for karting facilities nearby. A vice that I have been nurturing for long. Many great Formula 1 drivers have started their career on karts, also they are comparatively lesser expensive way of connecting poor people like me to Motorsports.

Like many say they can forget their worries listening to music, I say I forget my worries behind the steering wheel of a kart (wish I could afford more,lol). You take your focus away from the job in hand only to end up in a pile of tires or a cloud of dust. In the last karting place I’d been to, I saw a lady who was trying her hands on go-karting, crash into the dusty tires. Re-affirmation to the importance of focus.

Now to the actual subject…

Google handed me a huge list and it was up to me to select the places. Based on my search here are the 10 places (with useful links)I bookmarked.

Since karting tracks are away from the city and Bangalore being notoriously bad for it’s traffic, I couldn’t visit all of the above mentioned places. Most of them aren’t worth your time and money from the YouTube videos I watched.

Priorities vary depending on people and hence I will put down a quick review of places I have visited. My priorities are simple:

  • Driving experience
  • Condition of go-karts
  • Technicality and condition of the track
  • Customer service
  • Value for money

There are people who kart with their families/friends/cousins/relatives as a weekend getaway or a family outing. My opinion won’t be of much help to them, they probably want to have a good time which is not the primary intention of this post.

Gurukuls Go-Karting: (Rs. 250 for 6 laps)

The place had 4+ stars review in Google. To me this place was a big disappointment. The track was small, karts were below average and nothing great about the staff (two young lads). I went there on a weekday. Also I believe they cheated on the number of laps and I was only allowed 5 laps instead of 6. I couldn’t care less. I’m never going back there.

I would rate this place a 2/5. Make sure you count your laps or have someone counting it for you.

Meco kartopia: (Rs. 750 for 6 mins for Rotax karts and other options…)

My favorite of the lot. They have variety of options in terms of price (differ according to the power of the kart and time); the one I chose was the most powerful Rotax kart, the most expensive option as well. They claim to have 21 horsepower but I doubt that. The track was nice and long, though not very technical. The corners are low to medium to high speed after a long straight which makes it exciting. I visited the place on a weekday and they had one section of this track closed which makes this track very simple. The karts were powerful, would be an understatement. Give it to a person doing this for the first time and see him end up in dirt trail outside the track. I had difficulty fitting in those karts but I take full responsibility of that. My body weight has been on the higher side for the past 1 year due to laziness.

I would rate this place a 3.5/5. Check with the reception and they will give you the lap timings. This place also organizes various autocross events, karting events and I hope someday I can drive in such events.

Karting track, Meco Kartopia
Rotax Kart, Meco kartopia

Red riders sports: (Rs. 650 for 12 laps and other options…)

I have a love-hate relationship with this place. I love the fact that the track had number of corners, but at the same time hate the fact that karts were pathetic. The karts felt absolutely under-powered. Unlike Meco kartopia, there are lack of straight sections where you can go super fast and even if there were, you would been a year older by the time you cleared it.

I would rate this place 2.5/5 for their facility and good staff.

Red riders sports, go kart track

Play Arena: (Rs.240 for 6 laps)

Seriously?

The track is the smallest with lap times less than 20 secs. So you are paying Rs. 240 for 120 secs of fun and the real question… is it really fun? I stood outside the track and wondered, then promptly left the place.

I rate this place 1/5

Go kart track, play arena.
  1. Patels Inn, RT Nagar: (Rs. 140 for 6 laps)

Patels Inn is a resort, so nothing much to expect. The only thing that is positive about the place is price. The track is small and I think I finished 6 laps under 75 secs. Karts are in pathetic condition. Make sure you get the elbow protector (they gave me one without asking) because the rear is not insulated.

I rate this place 1.5/5. The fact that it is cheap made me give it a higher rating other wise it was 1/5 or less.

Patels Inn, Go kart trackThe above mentioned places, I visited personally and these are my thoughts regarding the place. In future, if I happen to visit any of the places that I have missed out or any new place, I shall update them here.

Go-karting in India is mainly a pass time; mostly a weekend fun getaway or a friends meeting spot. Karting deserves much more. Watching the European karting championship is as thrilling as watching a proper race. I hope karting gets bigger and better in India in the coming years.


 

 

Adieu, Auf Wiedersehen, farewell my dearest GTi

Around 3 years before, even before I started this blog, I had bought my first car. Must have cost me 4500$ in total, but was entirely my money. The first car in my life, the first car in our family. My parents don’t use a car even today and we are quite used to that. Motorbikes have always been my first love and somehow that spread to cars as well. I see them as things of passion unlike many who think of them as metal boxes with four tires and airbags. That’s why it hurt a bit lot to see my car go, but alas it had to be done. I had to let go of it and move on with life, so no regrets at all.

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But what I regret the most is that I couldn’t do a few modifications to the car and enjoy it a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, I loved driving it every single day. Not a day I was bored of it. Yes, there was a lack of power as compared to the bigger cars but the fun factor was there. A bit lighter and this would have been a pocket rocket. Finally when I sorted everything, it was time to give it away. That’s life I guess.

 

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I’ll miss the beautiful engine noise from this old school engine.

 

I'll miss taking pictures of it in the desert
I’ll miss taking pictures of it in the desert

 

I'll miss this steering wheel with no electric steering assist; plain and simple. I'll miss this bomb proof yet butter smooth gearbox.
I’ll miss this steering wheel with no electric steering assist; plain and simple yet handles like a go-kart. I’ll miss this bomb proof yet butter smooth gearbox; precise and slick shifts. Those heel & toes and rev matches, I’ll miss

 

I'll miss seeing the revs fly from 3000 to 6500. So linear and void of any induction.
I’ll miss seeing the revs fly from 3000 to 6500. So linear and void of any forced induction.

 

I'll miss those seats, they give me a warm hug from the back whenever I sit in the car. Was so low to the ground and felt home.
I’ll miss those seats, they give me a warm hug from the back whenever I sit in the car. Was so low to the ground and felt home.

Is there anything I do not miss? No.

I hope the car has found a better parking spot and a better owner than me.

 

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Goodbye GTi!


 

Chapter Porsche – 911

Read the first part here.


I walked up to the reception. Everything looked good until they asked for my Passport. Must be a mandatory requirement for every tourist, they needed to see the originals and not even the copy. I forgot to take the other bag, which I had been taking out every single day except that day. On top of that I forgot to get my IDP (International Drivering Permit) which was in the same bag.

What a mistake! It had completely slipped my mind that I should have carried them both. It was in the requisites that they had communicated clearly in the email but I didn’t double check. All the excitement didn’t help me much. Instead everything backfired. Why is that I have screwed up every single time in my life, when I was expected to deliver?

The gentleman and the young lady at the reception made it clear that there is absolutely no chance I can rent a car without the documents. My fault, but then the guy, checks if there is any other car available after 2 hours. It takes me an hour from PorschePlatz to the place I stay. So he checked all the bookings and told me there was a Targa 4S available and if I were to come back in 2 hours I could drive that. Cayman was out of question. It is one of the most ‘in demand’ model. So I had lost my opportunity to drive a Cayman. Now what, I was sure going back but thinking if I should make my way back to drive a Targa 4S. More than the Targa, I was disappointed by the fact that I couldn’t drive a Cayman.

I reached my place and picked up the Passport and IDP, started messaging my friends if it’s worth going back all the way and paying 69 Euros and getting my 2500 Euros blocked just to drive a Targa.  The answer was to go for it. At the end of the day it’s a Porsche. I returned back and it took me 2 hours to get back, as expected.

I went to the reception and showed them my documents, this time with least excitement. They checked them, took photocopies of whatever they wanted. I waited for around 15-20 mins, while I gave them my credit card so that they can charge the fees and block the credit required. Credit card was also mandatory. Also a drivers license from the country of residency on top of the IDP has to be shown. They take photocopy of that as well.

While the young lady did the documentation, I spoke to the guy. That is when he told me he is a native of Pakistan and his parents migrated to Germany while few of his relatives migrated to Dubai. I asked if I was going to drive the Targa, to which he replied negative.

Then what was I going to drive tn_DSC_0332

The new 911 Carrera coupe, a 3.0L turbo charged engine, 370 hp which 20 hp more than the Cayman. They said that they would give it to me at the price pre-agreed by us, which is 69 Euros, and not charge me the extra 30 Euros which they do for a 911 model.

About the Drive:

I’ll describe it precisely: Out of the world.

I carried a GoPro but the mounting was not proper, hence the videos were useless.

The young lady did a preliminary check of the car with me and we noted all the scratches and dents in the paper she carried with her. Then she quickly explained me about the car since this was the first time I was driving a Porsche. Once all of those things were done, I set off. Few people gathered around to take pics of the car at the signal, proud moment.

The idea was to drive for a bit on Autobahn and then drive through the country side. I entered Autobahn and the speed limit was 120 kmph. People drove at a much higher speed but the last thing I wanted to do was to get flashed. After the battle between brain and heart, I went above 120, at ‘unmentionable’ speeds on and off the autobahn. It would be a crime not to drive the Porsche properly.

I took a deviation to the country sides.

Oh! The roar of that engine with the rumbling noise while you shift the gear, just mega. I have my strongest doubts that the engine sound is artificial. How can someone make those explosions sound so melodic! Activate the sport mode and then you are in heaven.

I could go on and on and on….but to conclude this, I really enjoyed the drive. Porsche is magic. So much thought and engineering going into that car. I would choose a Porsche over most of the modern day supercars for the reason that Porsche still makes cars for the enthusiasts (though only rich enthusiasts can afford it).

I returned the car in stipulated time, after topping up the fuel from a nearby fuel station. We did the closing formalities and exchanged thank you’s. Their thank you was better than mine. Mine was verbal, but they offered me a free ticket to Porsche museum as well.

Gratitude Porsche, for being so nice to a commoner like me 🙂 Amazing people at the reception, very helpful. A five out of five for their customer service.

Very less time was spent on Photographs, so that I would get more time with the car.

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Christmas tree in the speedometer

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Along the country side
Along the country side

 

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Along the country side
Along the country side

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End of rant.


 

Chapter Porsche – Because every other thing can wait

 

I had never driven a Porsche before, maybe I’ll never drive one after that day… but that day I was allowed to rent one for an hour, clock less a hundred kms. It was kind of a rental thing by Porsche itself.

For this I had to book a month and a half in advance. While searching for rental sports car in Stuttgart, I stumbled upon the website of Porsche and program called Porsche Drive.

Just a quick info, all the sports cars manufactured by Porsche comes from Stuttgart. The global production is from their factory in Stuttgart which itself is very impressive. The factory tour I had been to, calls for a separate post.

So moving on, I had booked for a Porsche Cayman GTS which is one of my favorite cars. The Cayman series are very close to my heart for some reason.

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And I screwed up royally that day as well, as usual, like every other time.

I woke up that morning pretty excited. At the right time I picked up my camera bag and left my room. It was an hour’s journey to Porscheplatz. I reached Porsche Museum and there is it is. Wrapped in blue, it looked an angel. If given a chance I would have licked it all over like little puppy. I had 15 mins more to go to the reception and give my credit card. The cost of an hour of pleasure time was 69 Euros. Bloody Expensive, but again refer to the opening line of this post. No regrets at all.

So all I did for those 15 mins were walk around and take pictures. I looked in through the windows and it’s not a manual gearbox. Sad. It must be a PDK gearbox, which people praise a lot. For me if it’s not a manual gearbox, it’s an automatic…whatever fancy name you call it. In all fairness, the Dual clutch gearbox like PDK, DSG etc are quick shifting and properly fun gearboxes unlike those sad gearboxes which we have in the name of automatics.

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Didn't even want to watermark them and ruin their look. Still the pic belongs to me :D
Didn’t even want to watermark them and ruin their look. Still the pic belongs to me 😀

 

Those large air vents...lordy lord!
Those large air vents…lordy lord!

 

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The pride of Stuttgart!!!

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But then I wasn’t allowed to drive this Cayman GTS…. 😥

The reason …. will soon follow.


(Read the next part here.)

Owning and maintaining an old car – Basic tips and tricks

Dear Sir, 

Today morning I switched on my car to find that the coolant level was way below the minimum. I am afraid I must admit that I was lazy to open the bonnet and keep a track of the coolant. But also the fact that it had returned from garage only 5 days ago made me overlook the regular checks. I had to walk to the petrol station and get a bottle of coolant before I could come to work. I hope you understand my situation and give me attendance for this day even though I’m an hour and ten minutes late. 

Had my boss seen me come late today and had he asked me for a written explanation, this would have been my explanation. He would have promptly replied me back with a simple one liner,

Get a new car or get fired.

Yes, I own an old car which for me, is a masterpiece. The non enthusiasts call it a rusty old car waiting to fall apart (not that it is rusty or will fall apart). Sadist fellows!!!

For the n th time bear with me, let me put those specs down proudly…. it’s a VW Golf GTI with 2.3L (2300 cc), V5 engine, Manual gearbox, 170 hp and it can do a 0-60 mph (0-100 kmph) in 7.6 sec (claimed). I own this car for the past 2 years and I absolutely love it.

Are you one of those people who love your old car but distressed due to the fact that it keeps visiting the garage too often? If yes, let me try and put down some of the things I learnt from my ownership. I am not talking about those classic cars which sit in the garage and is driven out on a weekend, but about cars which can be/are used as daily drivers. Mine is a perfect example of that.

Disclaimer: Please note that my knowledge about cars is very basic and I’m not a very technical person, hence no high hopes please.

The reason why people love old cars is for it’s simplicity and the feel they give. Not to mention that they are damn cheap. I love old cars for all the above reason. Talking about the better things like performance, the cars from those days were void of many electronic aid that we find today. Some people love that, some people don’t. For example the current champion of a car Porsche Cayman GT4, which happens to be my favorite car these days, have a rev-match assist in the sport mode which some people would argue for and against. Good drivers know rev matching, heel and toe and techniques like that from before. So the point is old cars are simple and there is no short cuts aided by electronics. You have to turn your heads and look back while reversing(unless you got a parking cam done from outside).

Here goes the things that I have learnt over these 24+ months of ownership.

  1. Have a back up Japanese car or any car. You can’t just put miles on your old car like you did 5 years back. I did that mistake and I regret not having the money to  not buying another small car so that I could alternate my daily drives between them.
  2. Monitor your cars fluid level (engine oil, radiator coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid) and also monitor tire pressure on a regular basis… say once in 4-5 days.
  3. There are a lot of online forums which discuss about cars and car issues. You need not be a petrol-head and you still can read them and get an idea about the car. Know your car (I do not follow this religiously since I just run to my friends who first yell at me and then help me).
  4. With an old car, it’s probably not worth going to the dealerships. The only reasons the dealerships are there is to steal your money. Period. It will be cheaper and much more financially sensible to find a ‘Friendly Neighborhood Garage’ (a term used for local garage) where people know what they are doing.
  5. Use internet. Most of the issues you face will already be listed there with the solutions. I have been yelled at by my friends for not doing this as well. If you have an idea of what needs to be done in your car, then you can talk to the person fixing your car better. He also gets a vibe that you know stuff and he wouldn’t dupe you ….much.
  6. Again use internet. Many of the problems have easy fixes and you can DIY ‘do it yourself’. Working on our car is one of the most satisfying things. It’s like having pizza but much better. So better to take a spanner and a small bucket and do the engine oil and oil filter change yourself. Have your smart phone handy and follow the experts. Do  small things like replacing Air/AC filter which you feel is less challenging.
  7. Like grocery shopping, always be on parts hunt for your car. You never know when you find something for a massive discount. Keep an eye on the online parts and accessories seller/retailer. They have huge discounts most of the time. Buy things in bulk so that you save on shipping. It’s always better to stock the normally used parts like Oil/Air/AC filters, Brake pads, Engine oil since buying in bulk can fetch you a good discount. I use rockauto or even amazon / ebay to buy parts. For VW these guys make some good videos in YouTube and also you can get the parts from this site. There are a lot of good sites available.
  8. Read through your manual and know which item to change at what interval. Engine mountings need to be changed at 100,ooo kms / 60,000 miles for my car and it is clearly mentioned in the service manual. In old cars, the parts likes gaskets, plugs, rubber hoses and rubber bushes fail the most. It’s better to change them one after the another after say after 150,000 kms. Do it step by step but doing it will save you a lot of headache and heartache in the future. Buy them all online one after another and get them replaced. If you want to save labor costs, see what you can get done in one go. For eg, if you are getting the bumper removed for some engine related works, you can do the valve cover gaskets, manifold gaskets etc done at the same time saving you on labor costs.
  9. Never trust your garage guys completely. Whatever they say, take it with a pinch of salt unless you or your acquaintance that led you there, know the person for a long long time. It’s always better to get opinion from others too especially people who know more about cars. Someone would come up with a better idea. Recently a guy went to Jag dealership with his car and the car wouldn’t slot into 2nd gear. They quoted $4800 (approx) for repairs. He was advised by a friend to go to this local garage. The local garage guy bought 2 clutch plates because the sides were worn out in the car and there you go, problem solved. Everything done for less than $400.
  10. Sometimes we have the tendency of leaving a problem unattended. We just believe that it will get better with time. Human body might, but not cars. Unless it is rattles, better to check what it is and then follow step 5 & 6.
  11. Preventive maintenance is always better than breakdown maintenance. Always.
  12. Have some grease, WD40 or equivalent, spanners, screwdrivers handy. Learn how to use a jack. Know the basic stuff.
  13. Motorbikes are better with fewer parts and complications. I always loved motorbikes anyways 😀

These are some of the things that came into my mind quickly but there are lot more than this. If you think I have missed out on something very important, feel free to use the comment section. If you feel that I have written down something wrong and stupid, again feel free to use the comment section. I would love to hear from you guys.

On that bombshell, ‘Drive safe, have fun’!