Learning to drive safely in a controlled environment at a young age can help kids become better drivers down the road.
The kartSTART tour is officially on the road for another season and will make 10 stops in Canadian cities throughout the summer — including a return to Winnipeg from July 19 to 21 at the Red River Exhibition grounds.
Led by Russ Bond, a retired professional race car driver and host of the popular Two-Minute Test Drive segments on TSN’s Motoring TV, kartSTART, presented by Toyota, offers a unique driving-education program designed to give youngsters a real-world understanding of the physics behind driving a motorized vehicle. Since its inception in 2010, the program has helped more than 6,000 kids establish an early foundation for safe and responsible driving.
The half-day course gives kids — 10 years and older — driving experience in go-karts. Participants get behind the wheel of a professional racing kart under the guidance of qualified instructors.
The program, including all the karts and gear, is moved across the country in a semi truck and trailer. Participants are supplied with a Snell-approved helmet and a racing suit, and there is also a catered lunch. Parental supervision is required throughout the program, which runs rain or shine. Last summer, in addition to parents, a number of grandparents brought their grandkids out for a day of fun.
“What’s great about the kartSTART program is kids are not only given the opportunity to experience being behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle, many for the first time, but they’re becoming familiar with driver safety well before they can get a licence,” said Cyril Dimitris, vice-president of sales and marketing for Toyota Canada. “KartSTART is helping create a better, safer future for the drivers of tomorrow.”
New to this year’s program is a professionally designed go-kart made accessible for kids with physical disabilities. The accessible go-kart looks the same as the other karts, but with hand-controlled throttle and braking incorporated into the design of the steering wheel.
Jonak Motorsport, one of Canada’s leading racing fabrication and restoration companies, was tasked with designing, building and testing kartSTART’s accessible go-kart.
The company specializes in high-end projects, from restoring vintage Formula One cars to building safe, quality go-karts. Jonak Motorsport has been a partner of kartSTART for eight years and has been instrumental in developing a specialized fleet of karts for the program.
“I’m thrilled about this year’s additions to the 2018 kartSTART program,” said Bond, who founded kartSTART and is the chief instructor throughout the national tour.
“With the new accessible go-kart, we now have the ability to create a more inclusive environment, where mobility is no longer a barrier for children with physical disabilities.”
The cost of the half-day course is normally $79 plus tax, but program organizers are offering a $20 discount to Free Press readers by simply entering the promo code “Willy.”
You can register at kartstart.ca, or if you have any questions, call 647-401-5153.
New this year at kartSTART is an accessible go-kart, with hand-controlled throttle and braking.