No driver's licence needed on Singapore's first electric karting track

Reporter Melissa Heng (left) tries an electric go-kart. Eleven-year-olds Ollie Blakey (sitting from left) and Sam Stewart trying out the simulators. The $1.4-million electric karting circuit (above) in Turf City, Bukit Timah, has a 500m-long track wi
The $1.4-million electric karting circuit (above) in Turf City, Bukit Timah, has a 500m-long track with 11 turns.PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Reporter Melissa Heng (left) tries an electric go-kart. Eleven-year-olds Ollie Blakey (sitting from left) and Sam Stewart trying out the simulators. The $1.4-million electric karting circuit (above) in Turf City, Bukit Timah, has a 500m-long track wi
Eleven-year-olds Ollie Blakey (sitting from left) and Sam Stewart trying out the simulators.PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Reporter Melissa Heng (left) tries an electric go-kart. Eleven-year-olds Ollie Blakey (sitting from left) and Sam Stewart trying out the simulators. The $1.4-million electric karting circuit (above) in Turf City, Bukit Timah, has a 500m-long track wi
Reporter Melissa Heng (above) tries an electric go-kart.PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

New track designed specifically for leisure karting allows everyone in the family to enjoy the sport

With the excitement of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix still in the air, those who are hoping to get a taste of what it is like to speed down the tarmac can head to The Karting Arena @ Bukit Timah.

The $1.4-million karting circuit, Singapore's first electric karting track, opened at Turf City, Bukit Timah on Tuesday.

Founder and full-time race car driver Yuey Tan, 33, says that the track, designed specifically for leisure karting, will allow customers to enjoy karting as a social activity - which is something he hopes will help raise awareness of the sport.

"We want everyone in Singapore to enjoy it, but the market generally perceives karting as a competitive and an expensive sport."

The Karting Arena, which has a 500m-long track with 11 turns, offers individual sessions at $25 for eight minutes - approximately seven to 12 laps.

  • Driver's licence not needed to kart

  • It is quiet on the track. All I hear is muffled radio talk from the circuit staff's walkie-talkies and my own breath against my helmet's visor.

    The lights change and a green flag is waved.

    I step on the accelerator - but only halfway - so I do not bump into the kart in front as the six of us make our way out of the pit lane.

    Once we are on the track, the race starts for real.

    The karts accelerate quickly and it is not long before I am flooring the pedal, wishing that I could go faster than the legal 30kmh.

    Since I do not have a driver's licence, that is the fastest I can go. The maximum karting speed is 50kmh.

    But seriously though, there are people who can run faster than 30kmh.

    After the first couple of laps, I do not bother taking my foot off the pedal any more.

    At some turns, the tyres screech. I can also feel and hear the gravel shooting up into my seat and tapping onto my visor.

    All this is not in vain. Each time I race past the scoreboard, I see that I am coming in faster with each lap.

    Just as my hands start to ache a little from gripping the steering wheel, I see the checkered flag signalling that it is my last lap.

    But the driver in front refuses to let me pass and the pedal refuses to budge any further. Just as I am about to overtake him, a black flag signals for us to slow down and pull into the pit lane.

    We climb out of our karts and head over to the scoreboard.

    I was placed second for the last lap - my fastest out of seven.

    As I take off my helmet, I decide to be proud of this, ignoring the fact that an 11-year-old beat me.

    Melissa Heng

    Go to http://str.sg/ZByN to feel the adrenaline rush.

How does this compare to what is on the market in Singapore?

Kartright, a circuit in Upper Jurong, charges adults $35 to $45 for an individual session of 10 minutes. KF1 Karting Circuit, located in Woodlands, charges adults $28 to $45 for the same.

The Karting Arena also offers bookings for corporate and customised events with rates starting from $1,498 an hour.

The new venue uses electric karts, which run on batteries as opposed to petrol like in the more common motorised karts.

"An electric engine means a lot more torque and initial pick-up," Mr Tan says. "So you get better acceleration and a better overall experience."

At the arena, non-licensed drivers have a speed of 30kmh, while licensed drivers have a limit of 50kmh.

Although drivers have to be at least nine years old and 1.4m tall, karting is still something the whole family can enjoy.

"We found out about this place months ago and every week the boys have been asking, 'Are they open? Are they open?' They've really been looking forward to this," said Mrs Jeanine Stewart, a housewife in her 40s. She visited the arena with her two sons, Jack, 13, Sam, 11 and their friend Ollie Blakey, 11.

"It's fun to go fast and race with others," said Jack.

National serviceman Joash Tan, 22, says that karting is definitely something he would try.

"It's a bit pricey but it would be something fun to do with friends. I can drive, but it does not provide the same thrill and adrenaline rush as being able to race on the track."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'Get pumped up on karting Driver's licence not needed to kart'. Print Edition | Subscribe