Pro Kart Racing: Hamilton

by | New Zealand, Photography

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

KZ2 Master Glenn Ellis gives a wave to say thanks for the push start as they get underway for qualifying. The KZ2 Masters class is for drivers 40 and over. The younger drivers are in the KZ4 class. This was designed to provide a more controlled and affordable class based on the popular KZ2 shifter class.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Josh and Frazer Parkinson make changes to Josh’s Sodi KZ2 kart. These are not like the karts you and your mates bash around in. They are highly tuned race machines capable of speeds in excess of 140km/h on a short track. 125cc 2 stroke motors with a 6 speed gearbox and 50HP.

Every aspect makes a difference, from tyre pressures, to axle stiffness, ride height and track width. These are highly configurable to suit the driver and the track conditions. The KZ2 is considered the pinnacle of karting with many current F1 drivers opting to drive them to keep fit and maintain sharp reactions and skills.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

No modern sport would be complete without lots of data. The dash on the steering wheel captures rpm, speed, temperatures laptimes and the track itself, which when downloaded can be analysed using special software enabling the driver and mechanics to determine whether their changes helped or hurt and also serve as a coaching aide to help develop the drivers skills.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Jaya (whose name means “victory”) is a minority among the male-dominated sport, even though karting is for everyone. She competes in the Rotax junior class, which is a highly competitive class for drivers from 11-15.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Wayne Bryant warms up his son Dylan’s KZ4 ready for qualifying. Wayne and Dylan are back after many years away from the sport and having a ball.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Competitors on the track and mates off it. Kids in the Vortex Mini Rok class (9-11) share a laugh in between races. While the kids relax, it’s a hive of activity for the mums and dads making changes to the kart before the next heat.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

The kart trailers provide a great place to hang out. Sheltered from the sun, or the rain, and of course, stay up to date with social media “obligations”.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

The KZ2 minimum weight with driver is 175kgs at the end of a race. A light driver means plenty of lead on the kart to make up the weight and a decent workout for dads lifting the kart on and off the trolley about thirty times a weekend. It helps keep the driver fit too.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

There are options that make getting the kart on-and-off a one person affair. Nick Tombleson wheels his kart to the grid for qualifying. You can tell because his tyres are brand new or “green”—as they are known.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Mat Kinsman and Daniel Bray are amongst the most successful drivers in New Zealand karting with well in excess of 20 national titles between them. Mat and Daniel are both former national champions in KZ2 and hot favorites whenever they compete. Both of them have been competing in this class since before some of their younger competitors were even old enough to drive a kart.

Daniel has competed internationally regularly for a factory team and has finished as high as 2nd place in the KZ2 category at the world championships. He has competed against F1 world champion Max Verstappen, lining up alongside for the final. Mat’s dad Michael to the left is himself a former multi-time national champion. The Kinsman family is like royalty in kart circles.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Garry Cullum dons his protective clothing ready to head out the gate. Unlike car racing overalls, kart equipment is designed to protect against abrasion rather than fire. Karts have no seat belts and in the event of an accident, you may end up being thrown from the kart. Ensuring your safety equipment is capable of withstanding a scrape along the tarmac is essential. This is controlled very carefully and only approved equipment is allowed to be used.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Niki Urwin was once a professional motocross rider until an accident ended his career. He turned his talent to karting and has represented New Zealand internationally at the Rotax World finals. He has also successfully coached many drivers to national honours including Josh Parkinson who he helped win two North island and one New Zealand title. Niki’s son Jay (13) now races and has not only gone on to represent New Zealand, but also to become a world champion.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

One day…this will be ME!

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton
Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Rotax Max Junior class is one of the most hotly contested classes in the country. These are a single speed, electric start 125cc water cooled engine. This is the last step before moving to seniors and some of the best racing to watch with large fields and close racing.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Driver, Nick Tombleson.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

KZ2 drivers Nathan Crang, Henry Gelb and Luca Burns warming up their tyres as they prepare to go for a push lap in the hopes of putting it on pole. Heats are determined by qualifying times and the result of the heats determine grid places for the finals.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Brucie is a well loved KartSport official. He has watched the likes of Scott Dixon, Greg Murphy, Mitch Evans, Brendon Hartley, Liam Lawson, go through his gates as he ensures everyone is ready to race. Brucie is the embodiment of karting in New Zealand. A sport for aspiring drivers but run by enthusiastic volunteers who give up their weekends to make it happen.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Live commentary brings an extra element to the entertainment and enables those busy working to keep an ear on what’s happening. Big meetings are often live streamed enabling people not at the track to enjoy the racing from anywhere in the world. Robert Boniface himself a former driver has manned the microphone and his understanding of the drivers, their families and achievements added to the sense of occasion.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Spectators line the paddock. It’s one of three main viewing areas at the Hamilton race track. 

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton
Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Robert Boniface calling the action from the comfort of his air conditioned commentary box, the best seat in the house.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Karts line up to go through the weigh shed at the end of the race. Here they are checked to ensure they meet minimum weight and other rules are checked, like track width, fuel and to ensure the competitor has only the allocated set of tyres and engine for the weekend.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Rotax Max Junior Driver Jay Urwin waits patiently in his kart as the officals inspect the nose cones to see if any have been “pushed back” Any competitor whose nose cone has been pushed back will receive a 5 second penalty. This is to discourage aggressive driving or trying to force a competitor off the track. Jay sports NZ on his number plate. This is the number for a National Schools champion. One of the national titles up for grabs each year. Drivers represent their school, and the winning school will also win the title for that year.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

An official scans the engine seal to ensure it matches the kart. Engines are sealed to prevent tampering and drivers are only allocated a set of tyres for the weekend. These have serial numbers on them and it is therefore easy to ensure that a competitor can only use stipulated tyres. 

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Ryder Nicholson pushes his kart into the weigh shed to have his tyres sand engine scanned and himself and kart weighed. Rotax Max Junior kart and driver needs to be a minimum of 145kgs after the race.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Steve Brown is the promoter and founder of the ProKart series. Steve races in the KZ2 Masters class, but just because he runs the show, doesn’t get him any favours.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

KartSport tech official Robert Duncan checks the nose cones for “push-backs” and notes any indiscretions for penalties. The drivers must remain in their karts until given the all clear to go through the weigh shed for scanning and weight checks.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Through the shed and onto the trolley. There are two types of conversation on the way back– that was awesome or, what went wrong ? Karting helps kids and parents develop good communication skills in order to determine what is needed to make the kart faster. It’s a great team sport and a great way to bond and have fun.

Pro Kart, Kart Sport, Hamilton

Everything must eventually stop for lunch, before it all starts once again.