The Karting Arena: Electric Dreams in 9 Turns
What if you could take away the noise of driving a go-kart and the inconvenience of travelling to the end of Singapore to do so? The Karting Arena might just be the answer.
Don’t confuse it with KF1 at the Arena Country Club, though. This track, for one, is located at The Grandstand along Bukit Timah Road, putting it closer to the downtown area than the others in this Singapore karting guide. The other thing that sets it apart is its fully electric go-kart fleet.
What is it like to drive there? Read on to find out.
The Karting Arena experience
The Karting Arena is behind the enormous Grandstand building, close to the Chatuchak SG market and Ristorante Da Valentino. Look out for the shed and the area with blue and white Tecpro barriers. To be sure that it’s not closed for a private event, you should check their calendar on their website.
There is a small amount of “paperwork” when one walks in for a drive for the first time. It costs $5 to become a member who is “licensed” to drive there and to do that, you sign up using the tablet on the left of the counter and take a photograph. If you’re fairly certain about how the weather will turn out, you can book your session online without waiting in line, but you still need to go through the registration process. Needless to say, you can’t drive on a wet track.
As with the other tracks, anyone who doesn’t hold a driving license is restricted to 30 km/h karts. Those who do get the 50km/h steeds (restricted by law). For the simple rental kart sessions, you get 8 minutes to attack the track with the other people who drive the same karts as you. A timing screen at the end of the start-finish straight flashes your best and last lap times. At the end of it, you can even check on a mobile app how you compare with everyone else who has ever driven at The Karting Arena.
Besides fun kart rentals, you can arrange a Grand Prix for four to eight drivers. It has to be booked in advance and comprises simulator, practice and qualifying sessions ahead of a six-lap race. For rainy days or children too young to go out on the circuit, the simulators and the Daytona arcade machines are also available.
A lap of the Karting Arena in an electric go-kart
It’s a short run from the start line to the first corner, a right-hand hairpin. On the first few laps, get some heat into the tyres by tapping the brakes; otherwise, a little throttle lift-off suffices. Get as close to the outside barrier on the exit as you can by getting on the power early.
Turn 2 is also a hairpin but it’s longer and tightens. Some people hug the inside barrier all the way but I prefer a wide entry. That means crossing the white line before aiming for the late apex.
Turn 3 is just a kink that can be taken flat, but keep right for Turn 4, the tightest bend on the track. Don’t get too hot into this; you’ll want to keep it clean and stay in the middle. It leads straight onto Turn 5, another right-hand hairpin, and your exit speed determines the rest of the lap.
Turns 6, 7, 8 and 9 are all flat out and a little corner-clipping won’t hurt. I mean that literally. Cross the pitlane entry to attack 8 and 9 at flat chat, and that a lap of the Karting Arena circuit. If you can dip under 41 seconds on the 50-km/h karts, that’s a decent lap; the record is currently in the low 39s.
You can watch Carrera Cup racer and Karting Arena boss Yuey Tan tackle the circle in this video:
What is it like to drive an electric go-kart?
Given that all the rental go-karts in Singapore are restricted to 50 km/h, it’s fair to say that the electric karts are as much fun as KF1’s Vipers and Birels. With batteries instead of a petrol tank or a hot motor either side of you, though, you’re far less likely to be burnt by accident when you get in or hop out.
Gone is the thrill you get when you hear an internal combustion engine fire up; it’s replaced by the flick of a switch. The incessant, noisy rattling when you open the throttle is now a loud whir that increases with speed and a whine in the background. That said, the power delivery is instantaneous but smooth and user-friendly. It feels its weight but it’ll react in the same way as a normal kart if you overcook it.
While you can keep the throttle pinned in the 30-km/h machines, I wouldn’t recommend it in the faster karts. For the first two or three laps when the tyres are cold, it’s easy to grain them and get the cornering lines wrong, especially in Turns 5 and 6.
Karting Arena address, hours and costs
The Karting Arena
200 Turf Club Rd, #01-01B The Grandstand, Singapore 287994
Open Tue-Sun: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Fun Kart session fees: $30 for children 9 and above, $35 for adults, plus $5 one-off fee (Driving license needed for faster karts)
How to get there
Forget Google Maps. Take the Grandstand shuttle bus from Sixth Avenue or Botanic Gardens MRT stations; check the timetable by clicking on the link.
Alternatively, a number of public buses stop after Swiss Club Road. Follow the road next to the grass field, go past the gates and cut straight across the used car mart to reach The Grandstand. The Karting Arena is on the other side of the building; go around it on the right. ‘After Maple Avenue’ is the bus stop on the opposite side of the road and it is connected via an overhead bridge.