Speedrome – the Mind Boggling Experience
Speedrome in Pelawatta is the heart of Go Kart and Pro kart racing in Sri Lanka.
It is the one stop shop for an exhilarating, exciting and thrilling experience of a life time.I met up with Kalum Piyasena, Manager Commercial and Operations at Speedrome and answered my endless questions regarding Speedrome,Go karting and future plans.
Why did you want to start a Pro Karting track in Sri Lanka?
Mainly to promote the young racing talent in Sri Lanka as everyone knows that Go Karting is the foundation of most of the world’s best drivers. The vision is to promote at least 10 young drivers to the racing fraternity every year. In our first year itself we managed to do this and they will be driving, 1300cc formula McLaren’s in Pannala this year.
Why did you select Pelawatta as the venue?
Pelawatta offered a large land area, an important aspect when building an international level Karting Facility. It is also a neutral venue just outside Colombo with easy access to it from Colombo and beyond Colombo, acting as a central location for the Karting enthusiasts.
Were you doubtful about the success about the go karting track considering the huge investment involved? What has the response been like?
We were never in doubt about the success as the demand for Go Karting was visible for a long period of time in Sri Lanka and we knew that a karting facility of this standard would enhance and develop young racers of this country and that is our main goal.
To date SpeeDrome is the only Go Karting Facility available in Sri Lanka and the response towards karting has been remarkable, from race fanatics as well as corporate organizations looking to provide their employees with a never before experienced activity specially for team building or just a day out for their hard working staff.
How would you rate the popularity of Go karting in Sri Lanka?
It’s very high and has been growing since the day we started. When we do outdoor events, especially during Motor show’s in BMICH, Karting is very popular among many Kids and teenagers.
How does an amateur with no experience at all learn this?
Learning the basics of driving a Kart is very simple, it follows very simple mechanics, so simple that even kids of age 10 drive these karts with ease, but learning the basics of racing these karts needs a lot of hard work, focus, commitment and practice. There is a set of techniques and skills that go into kart racing as well and with the support of our staff, even these can be acquired with time.
From where did you’ll get down the go karts and the equipment?
The Karts that we have at the moment have been imported brand new from a company in India who builds Karts for European markets, and now we have our own mechanics who are building our own Karts here in Sri Lanka.
How many cars are there and how many cars can simultaneously drive in the track?
We have 20 Pro Karts with a 55 to 65cc engines, and three Go Kart, with 125cc engine capacities, only allowed to be driven by professional experience drivers.
At a given time on a normal open day we will allow maximum of six karts to run due to the safety measures, however during the races we organize we allow up to 10 karts to run.
Can Karting be done as a profession as well?
You can do karting as a profession, however most of the drivers use Karting to brush up their skills and talents and then move on with other varies of driving. We also have some people use Karting for fun as well because it’s a unique and thrilling new experience to most of the people.
Talks about the track at Speedrome
We have a 500m tarmac track which is laid using tires for safety purposes and we have state of the art flood lights around the track, the very same lights used for the Singapore F1 track. We also have professionally fitted timing system which records each person’s lap times accurately. Speedrome is the only Kart trace in Sri Lanka approved by the Sri Lanka Automobile Sports (SLAS)
Tell us about the tournaments at Speedrome
We have one major Championship which is called “Speedrome All Island Pro Karting Championship” started last year with the main vision to promote 10 young drivers from Speedrome to Pannala Formula driving. This year we are running the championship in three rounds out of which we completed the Round 1 on June 4, announcing three winners in Under 18, Open and Novices event classes. And we are scheduled to run round 2 in August and Round 3 in October.
Apart from the championship we started a series of races organized by Speedrome called TGIRD, meaning Thank God Its Race Day where its open to any racing / Karting fanatic to just put an entry and run the races. We have successfully completed two races already in January and in April 2011 hoping to continue with more during the year.
Do we have professional Pro Karting drivers in Sri Lanka?
Unfortunately we don’t have any professional Karting drivers in Sri Lanka, however we are working on making few professional Karting drivers in years to come.
How much does one have to pay to ride one and what are the times that the track is open?
Our ticket prices are Rs.750 per person for a 10 min’s session. We also have our Happy hours every Tuesday from 3pm to 8pm where tickets can be purchased for Rs.500.
We are open from Tuesday to Friday from 3pm to 10pm and every weekend and poya day’s from 10am to 10pm.
What safety procedures have you’ll take at Speedrome?
We have taken all necessary safety measures during Karting, its mandatory that every participant wears a full face helmet and covered shoes provided to them. We have a professional trained staff who will guide and give you all the necessary safety rules and regulations before you get in to a Kart. And in the middle of the track we have our own track assistance who will attend to you at any given time during the drive.
Rs.750 for a 10 minutes to ride. Isn’t it expensive when you compare to countries like India?
In comparison to India our prices can be higher but however we cannot match the low labor cost they have as well as the fuel cost.
Another factor is duty structure we have in Sri Lanka as we pay 60% - 75% duty on all spare parts imported.
And the perception of people that ten minutes is a very less period of time can also lead them to believe that Rs.750 for ten minutes is a expensive, but if you really come and try it for yourself you will understand that ten minutes itself is a long period of time with the excitement karting provides. And with experience we can say that many people who have said it’s expensive and have completely changed their mind after riding a kart for ten minutes. We can guarantee it will give you ample Value for money.
What are your future objectives?
We want to find a pro kart champion from each province in Sri Lanka. We have already done this in the Southern province together with Ruhunu motor Sports club, where we created a track in Matara town and ran a Pro kart championship.
In the next five to six years we want to run a Pro Kart Championship in each province and announce annual winners from all-around the country.