Electric slide

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 1, 2010, 11:24 PM | comments: 0

We had a team building/morale event today for the devs that report to my manager (and some who have a lead in between), I think 14 of us. We went to an indoor electric go-kart track called K1 Speed, and it was fairly insane.

Electric carts are pretty much all torque, so despite a relatively small course, you went really fast, braked really fast, and really accelerated out of the turns. It's the first time I've ever done something like that where the lateral G's in the turns were something you really had to fight.

I think we all agreed that the cars unfortunately had a lot more variation in them than you'd expect, though not more than their gas-powered cousins. The condition of the batteries and tires made a real difference. During our practice laps, I had a hard time getting a good time, and I wasn't getting much drift at all in the turns. Then in the qualifying laps, the wheels were free and loose and it was like driving a totally different car. My second lap, I smacked the wall so hard at turn one that one of the dudes watching said I had two wheels off the ground. Fortunately there was no one there to get wedged under me. After that, I really settled into a grove, and found my line in all except the first hairpin.

The final race was actually the least interesting part. I had the sixth best time overall, so I was in the top pool, but racing against each other directly on that small course was kind of silly, and even a little dangerous. They did open up the cars another ten miles per hour, so that meant that, yet again, the cars behaved completely differently. The two straights were insane, but you had to brake hard. Because you had so much torque available to you, you could actually come out of the turns a lot more cleanly provided you had the car pointed in the right direction.

There were two crashed, the first of which was scary. Glenn, one of the guys from the forums team, got clipped and hit the wall hard, head on, while Aaron, the guy I pair with the most, got wedged under him. He had some minor scrapes on his arm, but was otherwise OK. The second crash happened in the first hairpin, which was low enough speed anyway that it wasn't that bad.

Eventually, I went from 6th to 4th, but Glenn's car was clearly slower, and me and several others stacked up behind him. As long as he was driving a clean line, there was no getting around him because of the size of the course. Finally, with three laps to go, he took a turn a little too wide and I got around him on the inside headed into the long straight. There was no catching the other two, but I finally got to see how the car would perform at the higher speed, and I had a hint of how well the cars might perform if you were just racing the clock. They weren't my best laps, but again getting a feel for the "new" cars again, I felt like I could've done pretty well. Third place was definitely acceptable, and I got a very heavy trophy.

Most of the time, if there aren't crashes or disadvantaged cars, I suspect the order you qualified in is the order you'll place. I think the race is truly won in the qualifying laps, assuming the cars are equal. That some of the guys with the best times in the practice laps didn't do as well in qualifying, I suspect that's not the case either.

Still, what a blast. It was good to meet some of the cats from the other teams that I hadn't previously. I was physically exhausted, and my back is still killing me from the time I tagged the wall. Most amusing was getting into my car and not being used to power steering! I'd definitely like to do it again, but only if it's people I know. Racing with strangers I doubt would be that interesting.


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