Satisfy the daredevil in you with these speedsters in Phnom Penh.
I am always hunting for new things to try in town. So when I heard that there was a go kart circuit in Phnom Penh, you couldn’t keep me away.
Having never driven before, I knew I was in for a challenge. Fortunately, you don’t need a driver’s license to drive a go kart – just a love of adrenaline! As long as you can reach the gas and brake pedal, you’re good. Plus, the conditions are much safer than real roads. So I decided I’d give it a try.
Kambol Kart Raceway
On a regular weekend at Kambol Kart Raceway, a dozen karting maniacs will be whizzing around the 950 meters of winding track on the five hectare site. The cars bolting down the speedways look like flashing lines of red and black chasing each other, accompanied by the roar of the engines.
In a great location outside the hustle and bustle of stressful city life, the circuit at Kambol is surrounded by an oasis of rectangular rice fields dotted with palm trees.
The track was set up in 2014 by the Singaporean go karting enthusiast Barry Yip. The raceway offers two types of kart for rent. Beginner karts for newbies work up speeds of 70 kilometers per hour, or the fast and furious Race Karts fly at 110 kilometers per hour for the experienced racer. However, with the driver’s seat so close to the engine and the ground, you feel like you’re going at almost twice the speed.
Barry told me that though Kambol maintains the karts, they don’t make them themselves. “They are imported from countries like Poland and Belgium, and unexpectedly they are very expensive.”
I bought a ticket for the ride. It was $18, or $15 for students. For regular members of the circuit, a 20, 30, or 50 ticket bundle works out cheaper than a single ticket purchase.
I was simultaneously excited and nervous at the thought that, very soon, I would be racing alongside the joy riders on the track.
I was told to sit in the kart and place my feet on the pedals by the mechanical staff, Mr. Pech Sorphorn. He taught me the basics of how to operate the kart.
“The left pedal is the break and the right one is the gas,” he instructed. “Remember to do the breaking and accelerating as smoothly as you can to avoid sliding and jerking, which will slow you down.”
“Are you ready?” he asked as I prepared to go.
As I was adjusting myself in the seat, the engine roared to life. As soon as it started, I felt like hitting the brakes, since the kart is automatic. I remembered the instructions: don’t hit the gas and brakes at the same time.
Heading straight down the track, I felt more confident. This was fun!
At the first curve of the track, I realized that it would be harder than I imagined to make that beautiful turn round the corner. The steering wheel was heavy.
Gradually, I got used to the kart and with every lap completed the corners felt easier. I remembered my physics lessons: if I accelerated while turning, the outward-pulling force would keep me grounded. With centrifugal force in action, the kart would never overturn.
It was four laps before I finally dared to try accelerating hard at the corner by exerting a lot of force to control the steering wheel. I braced myself and cranked the wheel.
I was successful! The kart didn’t overturn.
“Right now, we are the only karting circuit in Phnom Penh who have a proper track for players. Proper track consists of a specific number of turns and a specific distance of the route,” Barry told me.
After gripping the steering wheel so tightly, my hands were shaking and I felt like a real Formula One racer. For a while, I forgot real life and enjoyed the open road.
I expected a lot of fun riding around the track, but had no idea how much racing improves both your mind and body. It turns out go karting is a great way to kill stress and, just like a full-body workout, it helps to shape and tone muscles.
These speedsters are not only great for wannabe racecar drivers, they can satisfy any thrill seeker. And the bonus is getting that adrenaline fix in a safe environment. Like Barry insists, “I want everybody to bear in mind that if you want to race, race on the track – not on the road.”
BY: Poung Sodanid