Imagine being stuck in slow-moving traffic on the streets of Manila. The cars are jammed bumper to bumper as far as you can see. Huge trucks and buses flank you to either side. It seems like an eternity for the light to change from red to green. You seethe in fury as the cars crawl a few inches forward before the light switches to red again. Now imagine being able to speed away with no cares in the world. If you want to try living life in the fast lane, try go-karting.Kart racing or karting is a type of motorsport that makes use of typically small open, four-wheeled vehicles called go-karts which are raced on scaled-down racing circuits. Because the karts only have two pedals (gas and brake), karting is very easy to learn, and people of all ages can try it out.I’ve heard that there are a few places where you can try karting in Manila, but I got to try this out for the first time in Kart City in Tarlac. Located accessibly just in front of SM Tarlac, Kart City is a good stopover choice for groups of friends and families passing through. After watching an instructional video of the safety regulations of karting, we were given a trial round to get a feel of the course and the controls. Since we were in teams, qualifying rounds were done to determine the team’s starting positions on the course.Then it was all systems go as we zoomed through the twisting all-outdoor race course. Normally, visitors get only five rounds, but we were doing a special endurance race where the goal was for teams to have the most number of laps at the end of the time allotted (40 minutes).I felt a sense of purpose wash over me as I stepped behind the wheel of the kart as the first player on my team. Seeing the countdown clock and flag signaling the start of the race felt like being in one of those Fast and the Furious movies. Well, not really, since the maximum speeds of the go-karts felt like only about 60 kph. But zipping by on the track offered a real good rush. The more rounds I went, the higher my confidence level became to make risky maneuvers around other karts, and navigate sharp turns at high speed.While I was speeding off, I had a fleeting vision of someone’s cart spinning around after a near-collision between three of us on the course. Several other drivers crashed into the side or walls of the course (safely cushioned by tires), while a few karts stalled or ran out of gas during their run and drivers had to wait until Kart City staff restarted their karts manually. All too soon, I was being flagged into the entrance area for the next teammate to take over. Since it was getting dark, the whole team time was cut to 30 instead of 40 minutes. It was an exciting race, and everyone was cheering their teammates on while trash-talking the others on the sidelines, whenever someone would stall or have to be rescued.At the end of the day our team (Kart #14) placed second out of all the teams. Not bad considering the wining team had a professional racer as one of their members. After the fun afternoon, we settled down for a night of karaoke and dinner at Kart City’s restaurant, which served a buffet of chill-out party food – pizza, fried chicken, kare-kare, seafood, and my favorite crispy pata. Somewhere in between hoarsely screaming “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and the inevitable “Closing Time,” I got to sneak out for another five rounds on the course. With just two of us on the track, it was great to be able go full-speed. Since I wasn’t afraid of bumping into other carts, I think I was able to go faster during those last few rounds. All in all, it was a pretty fun experience. The place is just great for reunions and parties! (Hmm…kelan kaya ang Lakbay Norte reunion?) :p
KCT Kart City is located in front of SM Tarlac, MacArthur Highway, Tarlac City. Open from 3pm – 12 midnight. Karting costs P120 for five rounds, P200 for 10 rounds. Good for karting, dinner, KTV.