Sunday, March 25, 2007

Well, I just lost about a year off my life...

I took N (7 years old) karting today for the first time. He is tall enough to fit into the "junior" karts, which are similar to adult karts but fit for kids. He did one race in the Kids Karts, which were quite slow, and I got some video of it. He kept spinning the kids kart. We decided to do a father/son race with the real karts, me in a regular kart and him in a Junior kart. We originally planned, and asked for, a session with just the two of us out there so he could get used to the speed and handling of these big karts, but we ended up racing with a bunch of father/son combos, and there were maybe 5 adults and two other older kids on the track.

We race around for a while, and it was tough on him getting used to the kart while surrounded by a bunch of aggressive adults, but he was doing pretty well until he and a bunch of cars all went into a tight turn at the same time. He got pushed into the wall, and hit hard enough to wedge the front of the kart under the barrier. I was right behind him, but going way to fast to stop, and besides, no one gets hurt in karting.

A couple seconds later, after the hairpin, I can look back and all I see is his little helmet slumped against the wheel, and he isn't moving. The yellow flag is out, but I get worried that he wasn't moving, so I start passing cars, going down the straight. By the time I turn and can look again, his head is still slumped over and he still isn't moving. They motion for all the karts to stop, but I blast past them and stop next to my son's kart, where his head is still slumped forward and he still isn't moving. The spectators are waving sort of frantically for the employees to come. Unwelcome visions of Dale Ernhardt and Adam Petty come to mind.

By the time it takes me to throw off my glasses, neck brace, helmet, look down and undo the unfamiliar buckle arrangement and window net, and take off the steering wheel to get out, he still isn't moving. I was doing some heavy praying during this time, as workers come from all over and surround his kart.

As I run over to him, I see him moving a bit, and his head coming back from the wheel.

As it turn out, the impact had stuck his helmet into the steering wheel and somehow wedged it there! Scary for him, because he couldn't raise his head up until it was dislodged, but he was not hurt at all- just scared. Probably not as scared as I was though. No one at the track had ever heard of the helmet getting stuck on the steering wheel before, but I guess we do things first.

He wants to go back, and I'm going to make sure it's just him and me on the track (which was our original plan) till he gets more used to it.

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