Despite the government’s best efforts to increase the speed limit for selected motorway sections and the police decision to cut down trees alongside roads for safety, Czech roads will never meet the criteria of high-level racing tracks. So forget about these roads and find a kart circuit if you want to measure your driving skills. There are several indoor kart racing centres in Prague. Waltrovka was the one I visited.
The kart centre found its home inside the premises of Czech engineering firm Walter Engines in Jinonice. It took me a while to find my friends as I entered the industrial complex. The door keepers, two old men, came out of their smoke-filled booth to show me the way. I was surprised to find a modern racing centre in one of the buildings of this otherwise sad-looking abandoned place.
As a competitive sport, karting works best if you go as a group and race each other. Every centre has a computer that will measure your speed and time per lap or in the finish and compare it to the speed of other racers. If you have a problem keeping up with the most ambitious racers, you can set a goal to not let them beat you by more than one lap. That was also my strategy.
I was able to keep my position for maybe the first three laps before being overtaken by other speeding karts. I didn’t really need to use the break so much. You slow down just lifting your foot off the gas pedal when making a turn. Knowing how to make turns is key in kart races. An average racing circuit is about 500 metres long and curves about twenty times. Skilled racers can make 16 laps in 10 minutes, which is the time of one race. The price of one race is CZK 200.
I wasn’t aiming to be the winner. But you will enjoy it better if you have a goal that pushes you to go fast. It is not dangerous. Even a six-year old can compete. All you need is a helmet, concentration, quick reactions and a good amount of competitiveness.
Although it can be performed by small kids, karting attracts all kinds of visitors, including tough guys in lather jackets we saw in Waltrovka. They were members of the motorcycle club Black Dogs, whose members are police and army forces, firefighters and rescuers. It was fun watching them while sipping beer and waiting for our next race.
These days, if you want to go karting in Waltrovka, you would spend long time looking. The centre closed down last year as Walter Engines moved to new premises in Letňany. The old plant will be demolished to make room for a new housing and office space project.
The kart centre plans to reopen this year. In the meantime, you can check out the Karting Arena in Letňany, another favourite indoor track. It is open daily until midnight but it is recommended to always call ahead to make sure the place is not
booked by a company.
Another racing track in Prague is in Horní Měcholupy. But Kartland is an outdoor track and therefore only opened from March until November.