Ryan Norberg saves the day in Orlando (A rental karting review)

I’m in Orlando for biz and, as usual, was planning to head out to kart. However, the obvious choice, Orlando Kart Center (https://orlandokartcenter.com/) is closed mon-tues so indoor karting at an “amusement” facility is what we got to choose from.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this video from Ryan that helped me dodge a bullet (aka K1 speed).

So, Andretti it is. This appears to be one of these multi-level arcade/track facilities that is somewhat silly (corkscrews, uppies-downies, etc). But it’s modern, and, according to Ryan, is twisty enough to require lifting to turn and is pretty slippery. The karts aren’t fast, but the layout supposedly factors this in a bit, and is narrow and twisty to compensate.

Andretti Orlando
image

K1 commits a cardinal sin in that they require you to rent one of their cameras should you wish to record yourself (no thanks). Ryan tells us the karts are slow and the layout is wide and flat, making the whole thing a flat-out bore, assuming you have a modicum of wheel-time under your belt.

K1 Speed Orlando
image

Ideally, I would have loved to go back to OKC and spent the day with a mechanic and one of their speedy karts but alas, they are keeping hairdresser hours so early week is not doable.

So thank you Ryan, for taking the time out of your busy pro racing schedule to post this video for other itinerant racers benefit.

I shall post a lap so y’all can see what Andretti looks like. In the meantime, here’s OKC in all of its glory from last time out. There’s the short rental track on their CRG centurions (I think) and also some footage of their “speedy” karts on the full layout (what they ran recent USPKS race on). The speedy kart is a Honda GX 390 on a regular race chassis with older bodywork. Great fun!

OKC short track on regular GX 270 rental kart:
(Bonus post-race banter and pit-in view)

OKC full track on Speedy kart:
(I am driving gingerly because I broke my spleen corner hopping on rentals previous day.)

One place that Ryan did not consider:

This place seems insane and designed purely for “fun”. Here’s a Google earth view and you’ll see what I mean.

What’s a little alarming is, according to their marketing images, no helmets required. Yikes! One does wonder about the piano wire fencing that separates you from being punted off the top deck and getting decapitated in the process. It’s like being in the 70s again, playing lawn darts with toddlers and smoking unfiltered Camels while drinking mad dog 20-20.

Also, as hardened and experienced kart racers, you will no doubt appreciate the following feature, as advertised on their website: Throttle and brakes allow you to slingshot past fellow drivers to the checkered flag. This kind of attention to detail is what racers can only dream of.

Coming tonight: Andretti video (scroll down)

Cant wait for your thoughts on the place. Im planning on being in Orlando next week and was hoping to either do Orlando Kart center or Andretti kart.

OKC hands down. It’s the real deal. It’s not pretty, surrounded by a junkyard, but the track is super good. The rentals are centurions iirc.

I just got back from 6 sessions at Andretti…

It’s not bad but it’s not really for “us” (racer-types). It’s more of a fun karting place and I was by far the fastest guy there. No competition and you are mainly trying to get ONE clean, uninterrupted lap.

The karts are very nice Bizkarts with hydraulic brakes but they throttle the speed. In the downhill bit, the kart backs off power. So that’s a bit frustrating. Otherwise they drive well and are sharp. The power delivery is a bit wacky and struggles uphill.

The track is good and challenging but has some wierd camber moments but overall is a solid B, maybe B+ (for the indoor rental category).

Passing is a challenge as it’s pretty narrow but I managed to get around most folks without shoving them out of the way (I’m nice like that). But, the skill level is low so trying the outside is a BAD idea as you will be stuffed into the boards by noobs going wide.

They do have some dope looking CXC motion sims running Assetto corsa but I didn’t try those.

Put it this way… it would be a fun place to take some non-racing pals or a girlfriend/boyfriend.

The rental places you want are the places that have racing in their DNA. The rest are pretty cool but a bit like corn syrup. It’s sweet, but nothing compares to cane sugar.

Someday I’d like to see a definitive guide, state by state, of legit rental tracks. Maybe we can make one here.

Another thing: the value proposition at Andretti is not great. The sessions are 7 laps. A decent laptime appears to be 41-43s. One of the fellas working here said his best was 40.9. I was running 42.1. That’s approx 300 seconds of driving, mostly interrupted by pauses as they remove some poor kid from the boards. It ain’t a good deal, relative to the usual 10 lap sessions. This may be an Orlando fleecing you thing but it’s a national chain so I imagine not.

Go to OKC. Totally worth the money.

If you are ever in the New York area, a good indoor facility that’s fun, multi-level and modern is GPNY. https://gpny.com/

When I get home I’ll upload a session so you can get a sense of the “flow” (or lack thereof) of the place. Since it’s narrow and technical, it doesn’t lend itself well to inexperienced drivers and thus has a lot of pauses and lower speed moments.

Final thing: OKC is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, So, plan accordingly. They also have the speedy karts which you can rent for the day if you arrange it with them over the phone ahead of time. The speedies are Tony Karts with a 15 hp 4-stroke Honda industrial engine (GX 390) on medium compounds.

Also, they need places to sit and better communication about when you are “up”. It’s a bit cryptic and easy to miss the session as they make no announcements (Andretti).

Edit: In the final analysis, I had fun. Was it amazeballs? No, but it was a challenging track to hustle and pass on. The karts were good and new. The staff was friendly. It wasn’t totally off-base, pricing wise. So, it’s worth a visit to scratch the itch if OKC is closed.

What???!!! For what reason?

It’s a thing where facilities would like to generate additional revenue by banning the use of personal devices and renting helmet cams. Sucky policy and worth avoiding said facilities if you are a compulsive YouTuber.

Changed verbiage for clarity: they disallow personal video devices but offer you a rental helmet cam should you desire to record.

Are they renting cameras like a GoPro that stick out, or something more to integrated with the helmet.

Some underwriters are still not OK with the GoPro type that protrudes from the helmet.

Plus yes, revenue is nice because bills :laughing:

In the case of k1 it’s an integrated helmet cam (sorta).

Deets:

:eyes: hmmm… McMahon Karting Enterprises next? Personally, I think it’s a great idea to offer this, but a crappy idea to ban personal cams just to force cam rental on the patrons.

I’d hate to see rental karting turn into commercial airlines where everything costs extra. Bah to that.

I am guessing that the young folks punching the tix would not have a clue about Cambox and you’d probably get away with it.

Ahhh ok. I thought you meant you have to rent a camera whether you want to record your session or not :sweat_smile: I was like whatttttt.

GoPro rental is a good idea but I’d never consider stopping someone using their own.

I think you meant GPNY?

Aaarhg you are correct. Thanks!!! Edited.
New York Racquet Club is probably not ideal for karting. Tennis anyone?

I got pitched that exact system a couple of years ago… Probably something we’d include as part of a “premium package”. One issue I see for us is that we run at night a lot and my guess is that the low light performance is maybe not stellar.

Speaking of which, how do you light the track?

The Andretti driving vid and closing thotts

Here’s a few laps in traffic from one of my 12 sessions over two visits. Approximately 100 laps completed, giving me a pretty good feel for the place.

It’s a busy facility, with all sessions but one with 3-11 other drivers on track with me. The young lady behind the counter told me that they have rules where they avoid scheduling you in back-to-back sessions, which is probably a safety thing as the average persons head would fall off after a couple sessions.

The track is pretty grippy in the way indoor surfaces are: shiny but there’s rubber down in the corners, if you look closely. The karts were likely on speed 4 but they appear to reach their top end pretty quickly. In the downhill bit, you expect gravity do it’s thing, but it feels like you hit a limiter. Brakes are strong hydraulic jobbies that have a cool system to accommodate all sizes of folks.

The karts have a boost button. They say that you get to boost once per lap. The employee I was talking to said that actually it’s once every 45 seconds, which means that competent karters will not be able to use it each lap. I had been hitting it just prior to the uphill, figuring the kart could use the help. The quick employee told me that, instead, you want to hit it in the downhill bit, as it overrides the auto-braking that occurs at the bottom of the hill. I did not notice a huge difference in boost vs not, however.

As Ryan mentioned, the karts have canned engine noises, coming from speakers in the seat-back. I found it pretty amusing, actually. The sounds were nice and aggressive and definitely made you feel a lot more “zoomy”. I guess it’s like a modern M3, in that way. Cheesy? Sure. Fun? Yup.

I was hoping to get sub 42 but was not able to, this visit. 42.1 was my repeated best. There’s undoubtedly a second in here, maybe line and maybe some different braking or throttle. It felt like the kart bogs a bit if you make it work too hard, particularly on the uphill corner exits. Rolling momentum is important to keep it happy, but not always easy to do, as the track is twisty and often crowded.

I liked it enough to do a bunch of sessions. It’s a technical layout that requires good driving to be quick. Overdrive the kart and you will push wide and bog on corner exit. Under-drive and you’ll be slow!

Here’s the tale of the leaderboard. I am assuming that the all-time 35s laps are on a different layout, or that there is a secret “KZ” power setting that is not used in general sessions.

Looking closely at this, #2 thru #7 best times of the month are pretty darn close, all 42.1x. #1, however, has us beat by .5s.

Out of curiousity I googled Malcolm Stewart Racing and found this gentleman:

It’s possible we got our butts kicked by a motocross pro who secretly yearns to be a rental kart racer. He fits the bill, being from Florida and his Facebook feed has an instance of going karting at OKC recently. If so, just goes to show that if you are a wheelman, you can hustle anything! Well done, Malcolm.

So, in the final analysis, Andretti Orlando is fun with some limitations as to speed. My main gripe is the lack of seating area in between sessions and the lack of guidance as to when you need to line up for the session. Overall, I stand by my B, B+ rating.

I dunno why but I have a serious victor meldrew dislike for those electric karts that have a speaker making lambo noises :joy: honestly I hate them, feels like a fairground toy car.

Old gits rule hahaha

I was expecting to hate it, too. Oddly I enjoyed it. It does a fairly good job of responding to throttle modulation and when the engine bogs. Ideally, tho, the whine of the electric motor would give better info to the driver.

Victor Meldrew


Victor Meldrew is a fictional character in the BBC One sitcom One Foot in the Grave, created by David Renwick and portrayed by Richard Wilson. The character epitomised the archetypal grumpy old man. Meldrew is a foil for the bothersome aspects of children, cars, animals, power cuts and next-door neighbours. Wikipedia

1 Like

I’m glad I could help!

2 Likes

Elias is gonna go nuts you posted! Thanks for the reviews, was indeed helpful!