Getting a Kick out of Karting

My
name is Vicki Kemp.  I was born on the
26th May 1991 in Port Elizabeth,
South Africa. I
am currently in grade 11, attending Pearson
High School in Port Elizabeth. I would describe myself as a
fun-loving adrenaline junkie. My
association with Motor Sport started at the age of 10 when my Dad, Eugene,
started Karting as a hobby. I always went with him to the track, and soon I was
hooked. I persistently nagged my father to be given an opportunity to try it
out, and eventually he agreed.

After
a few laps on the track, I just knew, this was for me! After some thoughtful
and persuasive discussion sessions with my Dad, I was able to convince him that I was serious about racing.  He then bought me my own kart.

Karting
is a form of Motor Sport where the vast majority of current and former Formula
One Grand Prix drivers, started their racing careers.

 At
that time, there were very few girls in Karting, certainly none challenging the
boys for podium positions.

The
karts are all weighted with ballasts, so that when racing, all competitors
including their karts, are weighing the same. 
This is strictly controlled, by Motor Sport South Africa, during races.

Earning
the respect of my fellow male competitors, were no easy task, and that of the
fathers of these competitors, even greater. 
I reverted to the one thing in Motor Sport that is un-disputable:  Defeating them on the track.

Today,
being the 21st century, it is still a fact that women participating in a male
dominated sport, finds it anything but smooth sailing, as one has to deal with
male ego’s both on, and off the track.

It
took us, and I refer to "us", (for the reason being, that Karting is a team
sport as much as any other), one year of commitment, hard work and many laps
behind the steering wheel of my kart, to become competitive at Regional level.
It took us another year and a half to achieve the same at National level.

I
would like to express the reasoning power, why I say Motor Sport is a team
sport.  Without a skilled mechanic and
race engineer, no driver will be able to achieve anything in Motor Sport, but
also for the same, a talented driver is similarly very essential.

Communication
between the driver and race engineer is critical, because in Karting, we are
working and contesting, for one tenth of a second, per lap, and any move on
setup in the wrong direction, can be disastrous. The mechanic’s main purpose is
to affect setup changes on the kart, but his work on the kart is crucial in
guaranteeing reliability.

Being
competitive is one thing, but being able to win and win consistently to take a
National title, is another ball game all together.


 

In
Karting, the National Championships are made up of 4 rounds of 3 heats / round,
being hosted on four different tracks in South Africa.  In 2007 when I won the National Junior Rok
Championships, we had races in Port
Elizabeth, Pietermaritzburg, Vereeniging and
Zwartkops.

Six
years of commitment, determination, hard work, and meticulous preparation, paid
off, and I became the first female in Karting in South Africa, to ever win a
National title.

How
would I describe racing a kart at 120km/h on a track, less than 10mm off the
ground? Well, not so long ago I went bungee jumping at Bloukranz.  The next time I participated in a race,
sitting on the grid with 30 karts around me, waiting for the start flag to
drop, I realized that, jumping off a bridge, does not nearly match the rush one
gets, racing a kart.

Fitness
and exercise forms a vital part to complete the package of racing:  A racing driver needs lots of stamina and
concentration and be alert with a high level of physical fitness, even more-so
for girls which are physically weaker than her male competitors.

I
train with a fitness trainer, and used a sport-psychologist to assist with
mental preparation etc.

Supplements
and nutrition also forms an important part. 
I try to keep my diet more alkaline based and try to avoid acidic foods.

I
love my friends, family and social life; I believe that having fun is what
makes it all worth while, and I have gained so much from Motor Sport – it has
given me the opportunity to have traveled many places – locally and overseas,
meeting interesting people, given me confidence, gained me some maturity,
probably through the many trials I had faced along the way.

Some
highlights of my racing career:

I
qualified to represent South Africa,
in the International Final Rok World Cup in Lonato – Italy in 2005 and 2007, with Engen
and Leatt Brace assisting with sponsorships.

2007
– I was awarded my Provincial Colours for Karting and the Victor Ladorum.

2007
– I was awarded the 2007 SA National Junior ROK Karting Champion.

2007
– I received my National Protea Colours in Motor Sport.

Although,
I am the only female to have qualified to take part in the prestigious CIK KF2
World Championships, due to be held in La Conca, Italy in September 2008, we haven’t
been able to raise sponsorships to make this possible.

As
I am now 17 years old, we have decided to put our efforts into raising sponsors
that will enable me to compete in the Volkswagen Polo Cup National series next
year on the Main Circuit.

Partaking
in a sport is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for teenagers. I believe
it is boredom, a poor self image and a lack of goals that mostly lead to
teenage problems such as alcohol abuse, and drugs among other things.

If
you are a girl and would like to participate in Motor Sport, Karting is the way
to go. The easiest way to convince
your parents is to explain to them that no other sport will allow them to spend
as much time with you, as karting.

If
you are a female in a male dominated sport I have this advice "never give up
your femininity – it is the strongest weapon you have!".

Lastly,
in order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next
time.

Anyone
interested in Motor Sport, please visit the WIM website.

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About the Author:

Kass Naidoo

Kass Naidoo

Passionate sports broadcaster and founder of gsport4girls

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