Endurance racing and the closely related cousin, nicknamed ‘enduro’ by race-goers, are not to be taken lightly as something to enjoy as a get-together with friends. At the age of 15, I took part in my first endurance karting race and honestly, I’m not sure how people can survive a career doing it!
So, what is the difference between ‘enduro’ and ‘endurance’ karting? Endurance kart races typically last around 90 minutes in karts typically reaching around 50mph. Enduro racing features karts in which the drivers lie horizontally alongside six-speed engines that can max out at 90mph.
What really sets apart these two kinds of difficult races is accessibility. Most kart tracks will host endurance race events on a regular basis. Because of how niche enduro races are, you will only be able to find events for this category on road circuits. Keep reading to find out more!
Endurance: Fun for All
As I mentioned before, no matter how tiring and sometimes painful endurance kart racing can be, there’s no doubt that it’s a great thing to do with friends. In fact, a lot of circuits like to organize team endurance races in which you’ll have two drivers that switch to whittle down a number of laps. And this was my first experience in the endurance racing sphere, something which I had a blast doing!
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After hitting the age of 15, I was finally at the minimum age requirement for the ‘grown-up’ karts and therefore, qualified to race in the endurance team events that our local track offered every other week. Racing for years before this meant that I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on this new steering wheel, and my dad was happy to oblige.
We signed up as a pair for the team race and turned up on race day with all of our gear, having been regulars at kart tracks since I could walk, ready to wipe the metaphorical floor with our competition. By all accounts, my dad had done these endurance races before with friends of his, so I was feeling especially confident.
Donned in our own suits, gloves and boots, carrying our own helmets, we seriously devised a strategy to maximise our chances. Surely the best option was to share the race load, so we decided to each race 25 laps at a time to whittle down the 100 laps required.
All of the other racers in their borrowed gear were just glad to be there, deciding to wing the swap strategy altogether. Oh, we totally had this in the bag.
It turned out that while we placed 2nd in the race, second only to the main-stay buddies who attended every race since they began, the podium place was hard-won. Far harder than I’d ever expected. I’d been in sprint races since I could remember and never found something to be so exhausting. Of course, that’s because most sprint races consist of 20 laps tops; especially at younger divisions.
And with all of us in the same types of kart, there was far more close racing than I’d been expecting. So, while I’d been expecting a 1st place, the 2nd place medal put around my neck felt just as sweet.
Not only that, but we’d had a great time! If you brush aside the stressful driver swaps when my dad was yelling to be heard through his helmet and overtop of the roaring engines, that is. Not even my bruised ribs (this event had me begging for a rib protector, funnily enough) ruined the fun of the event for me.
Going from something fun to take part in, let’s move onto something fun to watch instead!
Enduro: An Exclusive Category
This might be an over-exaggeration, I’m sure, but you have to admit that the thought of enduro races are terrifying to say the least. Laying down reminds me of sleep and relaxation, not controlling a high-powered vehicle around a high-speed road track.
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However, there’s something very mesmerizing and exciting about the enduro race category, even if you aren’t a motorsport fan. I’ve never taken part in these races, but I have watched my fair share and you never shake the amazement intermingled with restrained terror for the drivers on the circuit.
The only time you can turn up at an enduro race without gear is when you’re spectating. There’s no such thing as casual enduro drivers, and they all have their own karts, trailers, tools, marquees… you get the picture. The parking lot of the circuit is full of this as opposed to average road cars, the likes of which you’d see at most endurance race events.
This isn’t to say that endurance races don’t have a professional side, but it’s far more common for the events to be available for all; very accessible to the general public.
I imagine that attending and watching enduro races is how people must feel when they’re at Formula events. No matter how small the event might be, the atmosphere is practically electric with tension and something professional-feeling. Observing the drivers get ready is a joy all its own, and you can’t help but feel awed by what they’re about to do.
Clearly, they get enjoyment out of this past-time of theirs, but all you can think about is how scary it would feel to be in their place. And when the race begins, the art of watching is infinitely more exciting than any normal sprinter or endurance thoroughfare.
Perhaps it’s the added respect you feel for those who lay down in their karts to blitz through the drive of their life, but I just couldn’t help thinking that the spectators were the only ones who could properly enjoy this rendition of karting. You know, the people who weren’t flat on their backs being propelled at 90mph around a road track.
I feel like, in terms of go-karting, the best descriptions and definitions of things are grounded in personal experience. Simply picturing either endurance or enduro races doesn’t quite cut the cake, you know? It’s important to think of experiences, and as with any motorsport, the different shapes and sizes that the high-octane past-time can appear in.
There are so many nuances in karting, but it doesn’t change the simple fact that it’s a blast!