The thrill and excitement of commanding a go-kart is fun at any age, but when you’re not even old enough to drive, the thrill factor is even more intense. kartSTART uses this energy to teach kids as young as 10 the fundamentals of driving skills and safety from behind the wheel of a go-kart.
kartSTART was created by retired professional racing driver Russ Bond and the partnership with Toyota couldn’t be more of a perfect fit. It’s important to establish a solid foundation and appreciation of being behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle at a young age. Toyota kartSTART has been taking their half-day program all across the country for 6 years running. The popular program has been a huge hit for kids ages 10 to 16.
After participants got suited up in racing suits, Russ introduced his team of instructors, which was followed by instructions about go-kart operation and safety. Who knew there’s a right way and a wrong way to get into a go-kart?!
Then it was time to put their helmets on and hit the track. Kids were broken up into 3 groups, each with a delayed start. I have to say this was very well coordinated, considering the number of participants. The drivers followed in single file behind an instructor along the course. Additional instructors were following on ATVs to assist and even provide encouragement and moral support.
Russ made no qualms that it would start off very slow. I was impressed with how quickly the kids picked it up and by the end, they were all cruising about the track like pros. As a parent, I appreciated that the track was configured with tire walls all around in case of any collisions (there were none).
I really loved how the program let the kids and parents enjoy the day together. After go-karting, it was the parent’s turn to take the wheel of a new Toyota vehicle. Having never driven a pick-up, yours truly bolted straight to the Tundra and let me say I was not disappointed. We even got to test-drive the cars on the track with an instructor, who demonstrated the car’s safety ABS features. The adrenaline was real as my instructor booted down the track only to come to a quick stop on a wet track.
We also enjoyed our virtual reality experience “driving” in a Toyota Prius with Silent Steve to demonstrate Toyota’s Safety Sense features (Pre-Collision System, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beam). Even though I knew I was sitting in a motionless car, the Oculus headset sure made it felt like I was sitting in a moving vehicle.
The Toyota kartSTART program is a fantastic way to teach kids road awareness at an early age, before they are of legal age to drive. The program travels next to Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, so sign up while you still can. If you’ve missed kartSTART this summer, be sure to check out the schedule for 2017 to see when it comes to your area next.
About Wendy Morelli
Wendy loves her 2 kids and her iPhone, not necessarily always in that order. She is an app obsessed mom who loves everything tech and is (unfortunately) old enough to remember the brick Motorola cell phone and the Commodore computer. Her love for technology stems back to the 10+ years of working for technology based companies. Wendy's alter ego, "AppHipMom" has been featured in Canadian Family, iVillage, Women in Biz, EverythingMom, BlogHer and Savvy Mom.