This Just In: Crashing A Kart At 114 Km/h Hurts

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Rising star Evan York shared this on Facebook, noting that the crash was due to “tucking”. But before you start picturing Ted Levine in Silence of the Lambs, let’s figure out what that really means, and why it’s done…

The crash happens because the driver has elected to “tuck” behind the wheel for an aero boost. Nearly every serious kart competitor does this at some point, because the benefits are very real. Even in recreational rental karts, particularly at longer outdoor venues, tucking is the difference between competing and merely observing. I usually tuck by crouching behind the wheel to eye level, but this fellow takes the more aggressive step of putting his head farther down and letting the airflow over the top of his helmet work for, not against him. As a result, he’s doing 114 km/h, which is about 70 mph, when he hits the kart coming out of the pitlane…

…which brings us to the controversial aspect of the video. Most trackday rats think of safe pitlane exits as a shared responsibility between the flagger who waves drivers out onto the track after checking for traffic, the driver entering the track, and the drivers who are already on the front straight and making passing maneuvers. In racing, however, all responsibility is given to the driver who is entering the track. The flagger doesn’t check for safe entrance and the drivers on the track have a right to all the road on their side of the blend line.

I’ve seen situations like this happen in open lapping days too many times to count. Since “tucking” isn’t necessary when you’re driving your GT-R (or Miata) at a track, keep your head up and watch the blend line. It’s made of paint, not Armco, and it won’t keep someone from pulling out in front of you. Even the pros make mistakes…

Join the conversation
2 of 6 comments
  • Majo8 Majo8 on Jan 23, 2013

    In our team's first "24 Hours of LeMons" race last October, one of our drivers got black flagged for crossing over the blend line on his first trip out of the pits -- it was also his first lap ever in a real race. 3/5s of our team didn't know that rule! We do now..... No matter what track you're on, it's a good idea to be extra vigilant when entering the track.

  • Wheeler Wheeler on Jan 24, 2013

    "Tucking" or not, my guess is that when this happens, the severity of injury is gonna vary directly with the difference in speed between blender and (victim). How could they allow this guy to blend at such a slow speed?