Why Everyone Should Try 12 Hours Of Endurance-Kart Racing
Photography by Alexander Bermudez
In 12 hours, 71,000 cars come off of assembly lines, 4 million lightning strikes occur, and 182,500 babies are born…give or take. During the same 12 hours, my friends and I completed 612 laps of CalSpeed Karting’s annual Machismo 12 Hour Team Endurance kart race at the site of world famous Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
Our day started before sunrise.
We loaded every piece of kart gear we owned and headed to Auto Club Speedway in two RVs. Since qualifying was the previous evening, we were able to choose a paddock area with excellent driver visibility for pit board instructions. We managed this race without radios, partly as an exercise in, “playing the hand you’re dealt”: they have a knack for breaking at any moment, so we wanted to simulate pure, old-school team communication.
Due to a recent surgery, I managed race strategy for the event, which was an interesting change for me. Driving for 12 hours creates an adrenaline high that really isn’t there in the same way when managing. Both are definitely still exhausting, but this one is moreso mentally than physically.
Our friend and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long said in a POC driver meeting this year that endurance racing is like walking a tight-rope with a gun to your head. That comment stayed with me during this event. Our driver line up was: Alexander Bermudez (who has been lamenting the importance of kart racing as a strategy for improving our POC seasons), Eric Oviatt, John Cherniack, Kevin Farrar, Kevin Wilson, and Tyson Schmidt. With Eric Oviatt’s help, we designed a race strategy that maximized pace and rest, but also resulted pit and fuel stop efficiencies (that tightrope that Patrick referred to); while at the same time adhered to minimum pit stop requirements as well as minimum and maximum driver time in the kart.
We had many exhilarating moments during the event, which culminated in a close battle for 4th place in our class. Little errors here and there early on added up into massive gaps later on.
That’s the strange part about endurance racing: everything is magnified. One little error, incident, or penalty makes a world of a difference. In the end, we were very happy with our results, yet hungry for more, as Alexander started immediately planning for next years event.