Racing Rituals

DS1 is now an ardent go kart racer. It all started a year ago, when DH bought our then 9 year old son a go kart (to this day I am sure he used the money he had earmarked for my Christmas gift from the Gold & Diamond park!). Looking back on an emotional karting rollercoaster that has been the past 12 months, I now appreciate how ‘green’ we were going into this karting business! We didn’t really think beyond wanting to give DS1 a chance at a sport where size didn’t matter; the opportunity to do something different which he could possibly do as a hobby or a career when he is older.

Neither DH or I understand much about cars, let alone karting. DH, with the help of Google and the friendly advice of the mechanics and team managers, has picked up a thing or two, but like me, is better off on the sidelines and leaving the technical stuff to the pros.

The atmosphere on race days is electric. The kids are excited and competitive. When not racing, they are bonding over the latest iPad games and exchanging tales of near misses at speeds of up to 100KP. Non-driving siblings seek each other out to escape the long day where the focus is not on them. Spectator parents are nervous. When the drivers get the green light, all thoughts of winning, competition and teams fade away as parents pray for a clean, incident free race.

Early on, when DS1 had not started racing and was just lapping the track to reach competitive times, a lovely mum whose two sons race told me about her race ritual. As her sons lined up on the grid, she couldn’t watch. She would turn her back, light up a cigarette and wait until the racers had passed the first bend. A friend would then signal to her to let her know if all drivers had managed to pass the first bend safely. Then she would return to the gantry to watch the full race. The one time she didn’t do this, her eldest was involved in a crash on the firset bend. At the time I am sure I thought this was a tad excessive….it couldn’t be all that bad, could it???

Fast forward 6 races and I believe I am worse!!! With each race I become even more nervous. I can’t watch. I hide out near the screen where the racers positions are updated via a tracking device on their karts. I pace backwards and forwards in a straight line, repeating a mantra in my head and willing it to be telepathically transported to DS1’s subconscious. Every now and then a collective groan of fear escapes the crowd indicating an incident; a moment when my mantra changes to prayers for everyone’s safety, especially my son’s. DD runs back and forth from the gantry to keep me updated on her twin brother’s progress. My mantra becomes changes depending on how DS1 is doing; becoming longer if he is losing places. If he is doing well, my mantra must be working so I remain consistent! Finn

Indeed it seems I am not the only one who has developed rituals. DS1 has a lucky t-shirt he prefers to wear under his karting suit. The fact that it is snagged in a couple of places and that he has 8 more exactly like it is irrelevant. The snagged one is the one he was wearing when he raced to his first ever podium position. The tyres from his kart in that successful race have taken pride of place in his bedroom!

Even DH has taken to wearing his ‘lucky’ t-shirt…the one that he was wearing when DS1 got his fastest lap time…..whether it has been washed or not!

Now DD wants to get involved in the sport……at this rate, my rituals will last longer than the actual race days!

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