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TKART magazine Once in a lifetime | A kart challenge over a quarter mile
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20 March 2017
We went to Florida, in the States, to see what it feels like to launch two KZ karts on a drag racing track and hope to set an absolute new record.
We are going tell you exactly how things went, without embellishing. We decide to leave Italy and head to Florida to try the thrill of taking a KZ for a run on an oval. Of all the ovals to choose from - and there are plenty in the USA - we go for one of the best: Daytona. Too bad that when we get to the US, we find out there is just no way we’re setting foot in Daytona: “C’mon, just one lap... ok?” - I plead in my “fluent” English with the guy acting as our middle-man with the venue.

His reply doesn’t leave much room for interpretation: “No” - which means the same thing just about anywhere in the world and in our case means that we went all the way across the ocean for basically nothing.

We pay visit to OTK USA, the American headquarters of OTK (the manufacturer behind brands like Tony Kart, Kosmic, FA Kart...). We are greeted by Andre Martins (the operative manager). Andre is a Brazilian who doesn’t talk or laugh much, who communicates his emotions with the same intensity as a blender, the kind of guy (so you get the idea) whose reaction during an earthquake would probably be: “there’s something shaking”.
Yanek, the director of TKART, leaning against the wheel of the Tony Kart, looking at the ribbon of tarmac of the dragster track in Orlando: a long journey... just a quarter mile long!
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Our “fellow adventurer”: Jan, a former Tony Kart driver and currently a professional stuntman at Disney World
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Yes, we seized up. The stuntman talks about it with our very own Yanek, who lived the “thrill” of pulling the emergency brake at a speed of 150 km/h.
Yanek proudly “shows off” the first results of our quarter mile tests.
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Well, this man turns out to be our savior. He’s the “nut” who comes out and says: “No oval? Let’s go on a dragster track!” 45 minutes later we are at the Orlando Speed World, a dragster track. Amidst dragsters. With a kart, though.

It is a Tony Kart Racer EVK powered by a ROK Shifter - translated, we have 6 gears to spread 45 HP on a quarter mile strip. Yes, this is what it’s all about: wait for the green and charge to high heaven for about 10 seconds. Which is crazy for folks like us, who are used to watching/doing 20 lap races. For us, the start is just the beginning, after that you have to deal with race management, overtakes, fast laps, physical fatigue, tactics, the rear end that slides... Here it’s different, there is none of this, it all comes down to one single moment: the start, precisely. Which is a little bit like taking a girl out hoping to end the evening “in style” and not going farther than the initial handshake. Nice, warm, exciting... but still, just a handshake.

Well, drag races - for those who aren’t familiar - seem to boil down to this, nothing more. Wrong. When we get to that quarter mile of pavement, we change our mind. First of all, we grow respectful for the guys who drive those monsters that can reach up to 10,000 HP (yes, you read right). Then, after watching one of the starts, our feelings shift from respect for the drivers to fear of the monsters. There are all sorts of them, from regular street sport cars to long, skinny, all-engine creatures that, when revving up before the go, scream so loud you think they’re going to explode. Five seconds go by and they’ve done a quarter a mile (about 400 meters), at a speed higher than 400 km/h.
On a regular mid-February Tuesday morning seeing vehicles like this at the Orlando Speed World is as common as catching a taxi in Manhattan.
First push-start: Andre Martins, operative manager of OTK USA, plays the role of mechanic for Yanek, who in turn plays the role of driver.
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