Reading Material To Broaden Your Horizons

POSTED ON: March 4, 2010

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And so, although seat-time plays a fundamental part of the inculcation process of using regular practice to improve one’s skill, perfection comes not through just any form of practice – rather, it is the product of perfect practice. One way to improve one’s practice habits is to take coaching at periodic progression levels so that one’s technique can be analysed, critiqued and improved through expert guidance. However, what other options are available for consideration apart from expert or peer guidance?

Access to reading material is what I consider an important part of an enthusiast’s education into the mechanics of the sport. During the last two years, I have purchased several videos, books and magazines in a bid to improve my knowledge (and therefore my practice time at the circuit) at a pace I was comfortable with. Some of these materials are rubbish and a waste of money and others were just mediocre. A handful of these were genuinely useful and what I’d consider my 5 star reference notes.

There are three must-have books that I would recommend an enthusiast purchase if they take up kart racing.

Bob Bondurant on Race Kart Driving By Bob Bondurant & Ross Bently
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I bought this book sometime after I had been karting. I liked the style of writing. It was very simple and concise and would be a great way to introduce technical concepts such as camber and castor to a beginner. I also liked the attention to detail on even the smallest of things – the book touches on how to enter a kart which the other beginner books I read never actually covered. You can peruse several pages of the book on Google Books via the URL

Secrets of Speed For Two-Cycle Kart Racing By Memo Gidley
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I bought this book before I purchased my first kart. If you do so, then you might find a lot of the material too technical and certain elements of the book may seem confusing. A few months of race karting later, I picked up the booked and everything began to fall into place. Its not a book that someone completely fresh to karting would appreciate but thereafter once you begin karting, there are many little insights in the book that you may have overlooked, and which will prove useful to furthering your understanding about the nuances of the chassis and more specifically the engine – there is a great write-up on carburetion and setting up of the powervalve that is covered in detail in Memo’s books which I encourage people to read. Memo has several other guides dedicated to Four Stroke racing or Shifter racing – I also purchased the guide on Shifter racing which comprises of at least 70% similar reading material with the only differences peculiar to the type of engine being written on.

Speed Secrets – Professional Race Driving Techniques By Ross Bently
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This is one of Ross Bently first books on driving technique and the mental part of driving and race preparation. This is just a great book to read that educates anyone and everyone in driving and race technique. The material is always current and Ross has shared that he has been told that even experienced racers carry this compact handbook to the track for a brief read to remind themselves on the fundamentals of finding more speed on the track. A must buy!

So these were my three most recommended books for karters. In writing this article I felt torn about the fact that Memo Gidley’s book might be too much-too soon for some karters, especially those who were still in the rental kart racing phase. In addition, I can’t help but notice how few karters actually use their data loggers for anything more than to read their timings. And having read, Ross Bently’s Speed Secrets, I felt that some people might benefit from the insight of other “educators”, albeit the material not being specific to karting.

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So having said this, here are a couple more books that may be useful depending on what you are looking for.

Going Faster By Skip Barber
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Anyone searching for workshops or race driving experiences in the US should have come across mention of the Skip Barber training schools and courses that are run in centres across the US. Although much of the material may not be specific to karting, there are several useful concepts applicable to all form of Motorsports that are explained in detail. In addition, the book holds numerous opinions and tips from their various experienced instructors that can be life-changing to your driving technique if you mull over them hard enough. I liked them so much, when I started Karting Singapore, I created the “Talking Karts” to share several of these personal insights.

The Karting Manual By Joao Sanches & Jenson Button
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Now why would I give two stars to a book co-written by Jenson Button. I purchased it about a month back – bear in mind I have already been karting coming to two years. When I had a quick browse through the contents of the book I actually fell asleep. So why am I including it as a possible recommended reading – I do so because this hardcover book has been written with the beginner in mind and does a decent job of explaining in simple language on a broad range of topics related to karting. In addition, as compared to the many other books written in the context of US karting, this book is written in the context of UK and European karting.

The Competition Car Data Logging Manual By Graham Templeman
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Data analytics is an important part of Motorsport. The higher the formula you go, the more analytics play a part of making sense of whats happening in and outside of your vehicle. Graham’s book is my first purchase on data analytic information and whilst it doesn’t actually teach you specific techniques to study data (who would give away their trade secrets anyway?), it does highlight all the different possibilities of how you can utilize sensors and the data analysis software’s to help you understand what you and the car are doing. Buy it only after you’ve done at least a year of race karting. Fortunately, some parts of it are on Google Books via the URL:

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Speed Secrets 2 – More Professional Race Driving Techniques By Ross Bently
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Buy it! This is a great book. Be informed that this is not for fresh enthusiast to racing. Rather, it would be helpful for enthusiasts who have been driving for some time and have reached their own plateau which they have not been able to progress further. If personal coaching is not something within your budget, I would recommend a serious read of this book to help you break past your current limit. A preview at Google Books is via the URL

What I have touched on so far, are books which either provide an introduction to karting, or teach driving and mental technique. For those who wish to keep current with what is happening in the karting world, there are the following alternatives.

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Vroom Magazine / Tkart Magazine: Both of these magazines are Italy-based publications in which an English language international version has been launched. Vroom magazines can be purchased for EUR 2.00 in an online PDF format which is released every month or via 12 month subscription to the hardcopy version which is great for enthusiasts that prefer a physical magazine that they can flip through as well as those that appreciate the beautifully taken photos in colour print. Tkart is likewise available in an online format which can be downloaded as a PDF – however, they do not publish a physical version of the magazine. I feel that although Vroom seems to have better coverage of news on all the karting activities in the world, I personally prefer Tkart because I enjoy the better quality of their technical articles and the Italian to English translation of articles is effected more accurately as well.

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eKartingNews Forum: This is a US-based karting forum but do not feel out of place as you will see many forum posts from around the globe. I treat this as a one-stop location for all forms of news and discussions on karting. There are many sub-forums, several of which are dedicated to discussions on specific engine type – this has proved very useful especially if you are searching for specific information on TAG, 2 stroke or 4 stroke racing. As with any forum, there are idiots, sturborn mules and assholes. If you can sift through the “noise” you can find some very interesting information on the sport.

And finally I cannot complete my article on reading material without encouraging everyone to download the Preparation Of The Delorto Carb that is available via the URL:

http://kartingsingapore.com/wp/?page_id=289

I included this as a must-have download on the KartingSingapore site as few people realize how much the reason a karter is beating another karter on the same engine make, is all down to who understands and sets their carburetion better.

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