With many kart tracks today the designs usually fall into two categories; Fast Track and a Technical Track. Fast Track are ones where you can keep your foot to the floor almost all of the way around the track. Karts can hit top speeds and be very thrilling to race on. Technical tracks are designed for the driver to show his or her ability to hit their marks in both the high speed as well as the tight turns on the track. Technical tracks are also very thrilling to drive on and really challenge the skills of the driver.
With either track design, you also need to keep in mind the safety aspects of the track. There are a number of different safety techniques that can be used to make a track safe; large run off areas, energy absorbing barriers and speed traps filled with soft materials. All of these are viable options that can be used at a karting facility and many of them are. Depending on the design and characterists of your facility, you may need a combination of safety items. Let's go into a little more detail about each of these major safety techniques.
Run Off Areas:
Run Off Areas are large open areas that are adjacent to the race track that would allow a kart that comes off the track, so go into regain control. Many times karts end up going into the run off area because they went into a turn too fast and were not able to complete the turn. Other times it could be the result of contact with another kart. Either way, having large run off area is a good safe way for karts to recover from an unfortunate incident and hopefully resume racing.
Energy Abosrbing Barriers
In many cases, track facilities will have some sort of "obstruction" that needs to be protected should a kart impact it. One example of this is a light pole used to light up the track during night races. Because the light pole needs to be close enough to the track to properly light it up, it also needs to be protected from impact should a kart loose control and collide with it. There are a number of different types of energy absorbing barriers, is one type better than another. I am not here to say that. You will see plastic barriers, tire barriers, water barriers, foam barriers as well as several others. All of which have there benefits and disadvantages.
Speed Traps with Soft Materials:
Speed traps are used in conjunction with Run Off Areas to slow a kart that has come off the track before it impacts and wall or immovable object. You see these used on road courses at the end of a hi speed straightaway leading into a turn. One of the more famous speed traps is the one at the end of Turn 1 at Watkins Glenn International Speedway. The run off area is filled with a material that is used to slow the race car or kart. Materials can vary but some of the more common ones are sand, kitty liter, gravel and cut up tires. Now depending on the race vehicle, some materials are better than others.The primary purpose is to "grab" the vehicle and slow it down for impact.
While these are just a few of the many ways in which safety can be utilized at a racing facility, we want people to be thinking about how can we make our sport safer and even more fun than it already is.
Enjoy your day and I hope to see you at a kart race some day.