Travel: Why Everyone Should Try 12 Hours Of Endurance-Kart Racing

Why Everyone Should Try 12 Hours Of Endurance-Kart Racing

Avatar By Mike Skinner
December 17, 2015
6 comments

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.

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Brandon Herrera
Brandon Herrera

This looks like a lot of fun. Didn’t even know it existed, thanks.

Alexander Bermudez
Alexander Bermudez

I’ll be there on the 9th for the Super Series as well as the 23rd for Iron Man and Sprint Series… Hopefully I will be able to knock off some rust before my first race in February!!

Maxime, absolutely! everyone is welcome regardless of experience. They have clinics once a month as well as one on one coaching. You should give it a try!

Maxime Veilleux
Maxime Veilleux

Could this be attend by amateurs or is this completely off limits to outsiders?

Again im speaking of the whole genre of Endurance Karting not particularly this event.

Eric Oviatt
Eric Oviatt

The track at CalSpeed in Fontana, CA offers race clinics and practice sessions for amateurs almost every weekend. The karts, equipment, and instruction is all provided for you. Just bring yourself, a few bucks, and a desire to learn! I had entered one race clinic and one sprint series race before attempting the 12 hour race. There was a speed requirement for the race just to make sure people were not going too slow with so many cars on track as that could get dangerous. I think everyone that signed up made it into the race just fine.

Jason Collins
Jason Collins

Calspeed also has the Super Series that runs the first Saturday of every month. You guys should come out and race with us more.

Eric Oviatt
Eric Oviatt

Thanks, I think most all of us are signed up for the first race of the Super, Sprint, and Ironman Series this year.