CHAMPCAR/CART: Gidley Karting Clinic a hit in Hawaii

Gidley puts on New Year's Fireworks Show 3rd Annual Memo Gidley Karting Clinic a Hit with Hawaii's Racers and Spectators HONOLULU, January 11 - The new year commenced with a big bang for Memo Gidley, who staged his third annual Karting Clinic on...

Gidley puts on New Year's Fireworks Show
3rd Annual Memo Gidley Karting Clinic a Hit with Hawaii's Racers and Spectators

HONOLULU, January 11 - The new year commenced with a big bang for Memo Gidley, who staged his third annual Karting Clinic on January 5-6 on Oahu's windward side. The 2002 event took place on a temporary parking lot course at the Windward Mall shopping center in Kaneohe, which succeeded in drawing in a large number of spectators intrigued by the sights and sounds of 40 hp go-karts buzzing around the facility.

As in years past, Gidley spent Saturday teaching junior karting participants about mechanical setup, steering, braking and accelerating, through walking the track, classroom sessions and on-track driving, and then doing the same with adults in the 100cc and shifter classes on Sunday. Gidley placed special emphasis on tracking tire pressures throughout the day and engaged the students in ten-lap "lead-follow" sessions, in which he would alternately drive his own Trackmagic kart ahead and then behind each driver, demonstrating the proper line and then evaluating each karter's performance.

"You can watch on the side of the track and you can pick up certain areas, but you're really only getting one perspective of the corner," Gidley explains. "You're not actually seeing it from a driver's perspective - only one part. So lead-follow really allows you to get behind somebody and see exactly what they're doing not only throughout one particular corner, but around the entire track, so you pick up trends or mistakes they're making. It's a lot easier to assess what's going on if you're able to follow right in back of somebody.

With intermittent showers slowing down the proceedings on Sunday, the adult pilots received the added benefit of experimenting with a rain setup designed by a Champ Car star who loves wet track driving. "This was the first time many people had karted in the rain. The off again, on again showers made some of the things we talked about be a little easier to understand for the class. That worked out really well."

The Clinic serves as the marquee event for the 42-year-old Pacific Karting Club, the organization in charge of karting races on Oahu. But since the previous year's Clinic at Ford Island near Pearl Harbor, the club had sat dormant without a location to conduct further races. Gidley believes this past weekend's efforts may go a long way towards alleviating that situation. "One of the goals of this Clinic is to try and generate enough awareness so that eventually, a couple of people who have the financial resources to possibly build a track and help the club could make that happen. It's such a family sport and gives kids and young people something to really work on and take pride in, and I see that as being very important.

"For the first time the club's really been able to be in front of an audience - in front of people who aren't normally in racing. By having the Clinic at the mall, a lot of people were really interested and excited about it. I think it's not only great to attract people from the outside, but it actually gets people in the club fired up and excited too, because they know there is interest out there and what we're doing is not a waste of time. If we can get more people interested and involved and get a track open, then it's going to be a lot of fun, because there will be a lot of people turning out."

The enthusiasm level spilled over to the spectators lining the street and meandering into the classroom and pits, a fact not lost on Gidley. "They're just so excited when they're coming off the street. They want to know how fast the karts go, how much they cost, where do they race at, how old do you have to be. They were just so excited, and you could feel it when you were out there running out on the track. When I was doing demonstration laps, people just couldn't believe what they were seeing."

Gidley's ten day working vacation allowed him to take in some of Hawaii's wealth of outdoor activities. Besides igniting the requisite fireworks on New Year's Eve, he went dirt biking in Central Oahu and surfed off Waikiki and all over the North Shore, with surfing legend Randy Rarick serving as one of his personal instructors. "Unlike the last couple of years coming out here, when I surfed just a little bit and that was it, this time I surfed for three days straight. It depends on the size of the wave of course, but as far as just getting up and surfing, it's now something I can do pretty easily."

With Gidley now back in California, and a new feature article in the February issue of Road & Track touting his karting skills, Memo's thoughts turn towards the 2002 CART season and what may lie in store.

While other drivers with contracts firmed up begin their Champ Car testing campaigns, Gidley remains ever optimistic. "The earlier you can get out there and test, the better. But it's very important now that I'm going back home and hitting the go-karting very hard. At the tracks where I'm from in California, they have a lot of rubber and a lot of grip, and they're very physical. This time of year, I try to really push hard and build up on what I have so far. I look forward to getting out there, working out really hard, doing some testing for Trackmagic and helping them maybe develop some new frames and hopefully getting into a race car very soon."

- Pacific Karting Club, Hawaii

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Kart
Drivers Memo Gidley