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April 29, 2006

Racing for Work

Filed under: Games,Work — Bob @ 10:59 am

Last week my company took all the developers to a team-building event at TBC Indoor Kart Racing. About fifty of us descended onto the TBC location for lunch, racing and beer. The beer came after the racing of course.

The organizers got everyone into four-person teams for a two-hour race that had complicated rules about safety, pit-stops for driver changes, and track etiquette. The idea was to get everyone to drive at least a couple of times so there were a minimum number of pit-stops required. Of course there were also rules about bumping and running people into walls and such but pretty much it was a race against time.

These karts go fast – like 30km or more – and you are basically sitting low with your rear end scraping the ground, a gas engine right behind your seat and a full tank of gas between your legs. You get to wear a helmut and a seatbelt for safety.

I’ve done this same thing exactly once before. When I moved to Brussels (for Creo) a number of years ago we also (coincidentally) went to a kart racing track. So I had some experience to bring to the team. It was clear from the introduction that some of my co-workers were far more experienced, but I noticed none of those guys were on my team. Instead we had Tom who has never driven a car before (he has always lived in cities, never had a need to learn, and is from the UK where getting a driving license is not simple nor nearly automatic like it is in Canada and the United States). Everyone was a good sport though and we all wanted to have fun and do well in the race.

After two hours it was clear that our team was the best team on the track. We led the next closest team by four laps and some teams by up to seven or eight laps. We didn’t have the fastest driver (track record for the day went to Luke on a different team with 32.9 seconds for one lap, I had the second spot at 33.5 seconds). But we were very consistent (our average lap time was below 39 seconds over the 180+ laps including pit-stops), we didn’t take penalties for rough driving behavior (which cost time) and we were very efficient in changing drivers.

Driving these karts is very intense and also very strenuous. The track has lots of tight turns and zig-zags that make you turn the wheel very hard. I must have sweated away several pounds! Even the next day I was feeling the pain in my shoulders and upper arms. But it was a lot of fun and the next day at work was filled with everyone reliving every moment of their moments of glory (or defeat) at the track.

I’d highly recommend this sort of event, its not really expensive and the folks at TBC were fantastic. What a great day!

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