We had no idea what the kart was, only that it had red sidepods and a pretty mean looking engine! As it turns out it was a DAP chassis with a TKM KA100 engine - a full blown 100cc motor. Bearing in mind I was only 10 years old at the time it was an intense first couple of sessions, getting to know what the kart was about.
I'm pretty sure we went away from that day never intending to ever use the kart again, but we gave it another shot and I started to become hooked. Matchams was only a tiny circuit near Ringwood in Dorset but it was a brilliant circuit to learn how to drive. If you could drive fast over the infamous Matchams tree roots then you could drive fast anywhere!
Matchams was a non MSA circuit and so the race meetings were generally pretty 'open' with classes generally just separated into Juniors and Seniors. The grids would have a mix of 100cc engines, from TKMs to full blown Rotary and Reed valves. Because of this we tentatively started to race and get involved with some of the more experienced locals.
After a year of racing at Matchams we decided to join one of the other racers and start racing Piston Port motors in the Junior Clubman class. Clubman was a great class that came about at a similar time to the Rotax Max. It allowed competitiors to use a vareity of different engines / chassis and mixed air cooled JICA engines (With a restrictor) in with water cooled 125cc Iame Leopard engines. The class ran on durable Maxxis HG2 tyres and although it never gained popularity, we ran for two years in the NKRA championship, finishing 2nd in the 2002 National Champs.
In 2003 we made another move, and this one was a big one (and probably a mistake, in hindsight). We entered Super 1 in the JICA category - the premier Junior series in the UK. We were woefully under prepared for a series such as this - turning up to all the rounds with a Ford Galaxy and one kart on-top of a trailer. At the first round at Larkhall we parked up next to the Tonykart wagon and wondered what the hell we were doing! We were sleeping in tents and using their trailer as a wind shield!
Despite a huge learning curve, every time it rained we were reasonably competitive. Probably due to the fact we were running a Mitox chassis that was a couple of years old and so it was soft enough to be competitive in the wet weather. I was running well inside the Top 10 at Clay Pigeon (our home track) before the chain came off and also in the Top 10 at Larkhall in the wet 2nd final. We also ran in Junior Clubman that year where we enjoyed much more success - winning the South West Championship at Dunkeswell and the Lashmore Trophy at a soaking Rissington.
For 2004 we moved up to Seniors and took a punt on staying in Super 1 but joining in the 100 National class - a move we thought would be wiser compared to ICA and Formula A where budgets were MASSIVE. We had one Vortex motor and a Ital System as a spare motor that was one of the first 100cc Water cooled engines when air cooleds were replaced. We spent much of the year keeping everything crossed that the Vortex held together. Once again, aside from a 5th place at Lydd, we found ourselves at the back of the grid, but we enjoyed this year much more than JICA and were generally not far off the pace.
In 2005 I moved back to just compete in Senior Rotax at Clay Pigeon for club rounds. Despite being much more competitive and running in the top 5 at each round, I really didn't enjoy driving the Rotaxs and after some late season accidents and a lack of budget, we sold all our kit and gave up karting.
In 2010, for £100 I bought an old Formula A Vortex VL98 motor off of eBay. At the time these were just sat around doing nothing. We bolted it on a friends 2005 Vanspeed (CRG) chassis and took it for a blast at Rye House. It was mega to get back in a proper kart again, but the next time our at Whilton Mill it blew up. After sporadic outings over the next few years I bought a Senior Max motor and went out a couple of times a year for a play on that, but it didn't scratch the itch (much like in 2005). This year I picked up an old Formula Blue motor which I'm racing in the Aqua series in F100. I also picked up a second hand Vortex Senior OK motor for some speed. The karting bug never leaves you!
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