The Hippo


Oct 22, 2019








Courtesy of Keith Buffo.

Karting in NH

New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 1122 Rte 106, Loudon, 783-4931,
Canaan Fair Speedway, 18 Orange Road, Canaan,
See a race: NHKA Race 5 is Saturday, July 23, in Canaan; Race 6 is Saturday, Aug. 6, in Loudon; Race 7 is Saturday, Aug. 20, in Canaan; Race 8 is Saturday, Sept. 17, in Loudon; and Race 9 is Saturday, Oct. 1, in Canaan. Pit passes $15, gates open at 7 a.m., practice and qualifying races 8 a.m. to noon, heats and final races 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Not your average go-karts
NH’s karting season in full swing

By Kelly Sennott

 There are still a lot of people in New Hampshire who don’t know much about karting, never mind that the state hosts a nine-race series every year.

The sport involves circuit racing in high-speed go-karts and is often viewed as a stepping stone; lots of NASCAR superstars got their starts karting, and many continued even after they made it big, including Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Jamie McMurray, according to the New Hampshire Karting Association website.
But NHKA race director Mike Camarra said via phone its accessibility is one of its biggest draws. You can know nothing about it and race the first time you visit a course. There are divisions for beginner and advanced racers and for kids as young as 5. Karting demands less financial commitment than other motorsports; race slots cost about $200 per day, and karts go for as little as $1,000 (and as much as $12,000, Camarra said). 
“And there’s not a lot of extra stuff you need,” Camarra said. A kart can fit in the back of a pickup truck, and besides that, all you need is a rolling kart stand and a set of basic tools.
In New Hampshire, races are held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Canaan Fair Speedway April through early October. NHKA adjusts the track the day of the event to cater to the karts, which can go from 15 miles an hour (the kids’ karts) to over 100. (To compare, amusement park style go-karts will not normally go above 40 miles per hour.) There are no cages, no seatbelts, and about 80 to 85 drivers compete at each race, traveling from all over the region to attend. 
Camarra, who’s been kart racing for more than 30 years, said the NHKA first formed in the 1970s, and he and his dad, Lee Camarra, began managing it about seven years ago. 
There’s a lot of camaraderie in the group, which travels all over the country to race. Some have driven on the biggest tracks in the country, from Daytona to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Dave Nadeau has been competing in New Hampshire’s regular race season for five years now. He grew up around racing — downhill skiing, bike racing, motorcycle racing, anything that allowed him to go fast. He took a long break to raise kids, and when he became an empty-nester about five years ago, he found more time on his hands. He called Camarra, who invited him to attend a two-day race in Loudon.
Nadeau liked NHKA’s welcoming environment. He took to the karts quickly and liked their precise handling and the competitive nature of the sport. After his first time on the track, competitors came up, asked how he liked the race and offered tips on how to go faster. He came back the next day, raced in the rain and inquired about purchasing the car he’d rented.
“I was looking for something I could be a part of, something bigger than a sport,” Nadeau said. “I feel like I’m part of a family, a group of people who have your back. But when the helmets go on, they’re great competitors too.”
Dan Dupre is another racer in the New Hampshire karting scene who took up the sport about four years ago. 
“I used to do some motorcycle racing, years and years ago — it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything else. Motorcycle racing is kind of expensive. … Karting is the closest to racing a car you can get,” Dupre said.
Nadeau said he thinks social media has helped the sport’s growth; he and many other members take GoPro videos on their karts and post them online. But there’s no money in it; all you get is a little plastic trophy if you win. People do it for the thrill.
“It’s a very intense experience. Almost everybody puts their heart and soul into it when they’re out there,” Dupre said. 

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