A Night at the Races

We’re always finding novel ways to put ourselves to the test here at Web Apps, whether it’s trial by paintball, trying to bowl the perfect game, or just walking really far (which we recently did for Mahdlo and was a lot more difficult than it sounds).

It was in this spirit that we bravely elected to go for an evening of go-karting for our Summer 2017 official Webbie event, courtesy of the fantastic TeamSport who are based at the Manchester Arena.

On arrival, after signing all the usual ‘we won’t sue if we crash into a barrier at full speed’ stuff, we were assigned our racing suits and given a short briefing from our instructor, Bruce. It was at this point that I knew we were in for a good evening. Bruce was like a mix of the Stig and a Saturday morning TV host from a bygone era; everything was over the top, everything was loud, and everything was making me feel like I was about to take an Formula 1 car out for a spin in Monaco.

We were excited, we were eager to race, and we were ready to see who had what it took to be crowned the Web Apps Grand Prix Champion.

However, there were more than a few nervous faces in the room. Many of us (including myself) had never been go-karting, and there were some (again including myself) that didn’t even hold a driving licence.

Before we knew it, we had been split into two groups. I found myself walking to the ‘pits’ to pick up a helmet and be taken to my ‘chariot’, which I would soon be driving into battle against my colleagues. After finally finding a helmet that fit, I spent more time than necessary trying to work out how the clip under my chin worked (why are they always so hard to figure out?!) After some assistance I was ready. At least, I looked ready: inside, there was still a mild sense of panic.

We were taken to our cars and told to sit in them, but NOT to press down on the pedals. This didn’t help with the nerves. We were then asked to drive slowly towards our ‘pit chief’ and test out the brakes. After that, we were thrown into the deep end.

I watched as one by one the cars in front of me pulled out full throttle on to the track. Three cars left, two cars left, one car left, none.

I was up. The guy who had no idea how to drive now needed to channel his inner Lewis Hamilton and race.

Slowly, I edged forward, tested my breaks and was given the thumbs up. “Let’s do this,” I thought.

It turns out, through all the nerves and uncertainty, that I LOVE GO-KARTING! Going flat out down a straight, approaching a corner and at the last moment teetering on the brakes and drifting round it; there was no better feeling. I was hooked. In my head, I was already planning my next visit to the track. Birthdays, anniversaries, date nights; the possibilities were endless.

Yet, although I loved every second of it, I wasn’t actually very good. My cornering was heavy-handed, and I had a trigger-happy right foot that at times ignored logic and floored it no matter what. It was exciting, but not particularly pretty to look at.

There were, however, a few people who turned out to be pretty handy on the track. After several time trial laps, it became clear who the favourites were and who would be fighting hard not to pick up the wooden spoon.

After some extremely competitive racing, the odd crash, and a few black penalty flags for dangerous driving (sorry about that), we had our winners. Three from each group had risen above the rest and embraced the Schumacher spirit.

All round, the evening was a huge success. There was some top-notch racing, pizza, and a few refreshing beverages to celebrate.

A massive well done to all of our winners, and a huge thank you to the brilliant staff at TeamSport Manchester for putting on such a great event. A special thank you also goes to the person who trained us, taking us from go-karting novices to racing champions. Bruce, we couldn’t have done it without you.