Boys and girls, start your engines! KartSTART presented by Toyota, a unique driving education program designed to give youngsters a real-world understanding of the physics behind driving a motorized vehicle, will be making its first stop in Winnipeg from July 19 to 21 in the parking lot of the MTS Iceplex at 3969 Portage Ave.
The kartSTART program is led by Russ Bond, a veteran automobile racer, journalist and host of the popular Two-Minute Test Drive segments on TSN’s Motoring TV.
“We are thrilled to be coming to Winnipeg,” Bond says. “It has been on our radar for a while now and with the ability now to set up mobile tracks, Winnipeg was our first choice to add as a new city.”
The half-day course gives youngsters — 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 and it runs rain or shine.
Bond has thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the program, touring the nation from coast to coast. While he’s quick to point out there is indeed a learning element with kartSTART, there’s also a huge fun factor.
“For sure, the most rewarding aspect is seeing young kids get to drive something on their own for the first time,” he says. “Our goal is to let them have fun in our go-karts while they’re learning. They gain some confidence about driving something themselves. For sure they understand they didn’t master driving in one day, but what they do understand is they got a good first start.”
While Toyota may not be in the business of building go-karts, according to Bond, the automaker has been a perfect partner for kartSTART.
“Toyota is so much more than just a car company; they give back to Canadian communities. Safety is one of the cornerstones of Toyota as a brand. They have taken this program to 1,200 families over any given year.”
Bond added that in each city, about 15 program passes are donated to the local Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
The cost of the half-day course is normally $79 plus tax, but since this is the first time the program has been offered in Winnipeg, Bond is offering a $20 discount to Free Press readers by simply entering the promo code “Willy” (yeah, I twisted his arm a bit for you) when registering. You can register online at kartstart.ca, or by calling 647-401-5153.