This year’s annual “Are You Faster Than Jalopnik?” kart-a-palooza in Sterling Heights, Michigan did not disappoint, and, now, we have video to prove it. The setting was a frigid evening in mid-January, when Jalopnik staff and over 100 readers descended upon Kart 2 Kart ahead of the Detroit Auto Show.
One reader drove six hours from Canada to compete; another showed up in a KLR 650 from Kalamazoo. The Jalopnik staff showed up in a 2018 Mercedes-Benz S560 Coupe with a heated steering wheel and massaging seats, because we like cars that are old and uncomfortable.
I hail from the open roads of Southern California, where I would drive my Jeep Grand Cherokee everyday, but, having recently moved to New York, I’d been out of practice, and so the odds were stacked against me.
I needed some pointers, in other words, so I took track marshal Dan Johnson aside to ask him for some advice. “Smooth is fast. Stay smooth, don’t be squealing too much into corners, don’t be losing traction… You don’t want to do too much drifting and you want to keep your wheels behind you, not on the side of you. But fast is always the best.”
A fellow competitor told me something similar. “Go slow first,” Matt West said, “and then you get faster,” assuring me that while it didn’t seem to make sense, it was a good strategy nonetheless. (To this day, I question whether starting slow is the key to winning a race.)
Their advice did, however, put some bigger questions in my mind, like, was this all just about winning? Was this all just about racing? Or was there something deeper going on? This video is our attempt to find out.