The bash was at an indoor karting venue in a large warehouse on an industrial estate. When we walked through the doors and out of the brilliant sunshine I had to blink for a bit to get used to the moody lighting inside. Then I looked around. What with the spot lights, the black decor, the hints of chrome and glass, and the burly man at the counter, I felt rather like we were entering the lobby of a trendy nightclub. (Or, at least, a Jumping Jacks.) It felt all wrong going in in broad daylight. I had an urge to leave and head to a bar for a few Sambukas, and then come back later on when the place was pumping. (Not really. That’s just what I imagine a trendy young person would do. Do people still drink Sambuka? I’ve no idea…)
We made it past the lobby (and the burly man,) and inside beside the track it was more like a cross between a Laser Quest and a hip theatre bar. The walls were red and lit atmospherically by the dazzling lights from the track, which was two-storied and all kinds of exciting. I settled myself on a sleazily low, leather sofa by the granite-top bar, and waited for my friends to emerge.
All the racers were required to change into some very swish, black, shiny race suits and black visor-ed helmets before they hit the track. This helped them leave their old, boring street-selves behind in the changing room with their valuables and emerge on the circuit looking cool, aerodynamic, and ready to tear it up. (Yeah!)
The transformation took a little while. I sipped a cocktail.
They eventually came through in dribs and drabs, self-conscious but excited, and with a strange air of confidence that they certainly hadn’t arrived with. I could tell they’d all had a quick squint in the changing room mirror, and knew that they looked the dog’s bollocks. A few of them were actually strutting.
“Hmm, this could be something,” I thought, and picked up the camera.
What is it about the racing look that is so cool? Well, there’s the danger, yes, and that fast car sexiness, I suppose, but I wondered – can that really apply to go-karting? Can go-karting be sexy? I looked around at all the leather, the lights and the slick race photos that adorned the walls. Well, it was definitely trying it’s best.
Real racing drivers like Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are undeniably very cool, (and sexy, obvs,) and many of them started their careers as kiddies on the kart track. I guess it is that sort of Formula One coolness that the creators of indoor karting are going for. And, actually, it’s pretty effective.
As I stared down the long, red-lit corridor that led from the changing rooms to the track I couldn’t help envisioning a double row of nubile young women waiting to clap the racers back from their victorious outings, to complete the F1 fantasy. Perhaps that is something the company can look into implementing in the future. I am sure it would increase bookings substantially. That and a couple of magnums of Champagne to play water fights with at the end of the race.
Between races the guys stood around at the bar, and a few unzipped their suits and tied the top half around their waists, all very cool and casual. And I had to admit, they did look the part. But something else was happening too. The race suits, the fast cars, the stylish bar, that boy racer look…it all kind of worked.
“Oooh,” I thought, snapping away happily. “A trend!”
Or at least, I hope so. I like it. And it’s due. Jumpsuits and playsuits and this-suits and that-suits are plastered all over women’s fashion at the mo, and it struck me that they are now sneaking into a few men’s ranges too. But while leather jumpsuits from Hermes, and some short-leg men’s playsuits you might have noticed, and even a very risque see-through gauzy number from Givenchy all look very exciting on the models on the catwalk, your average Joseph might not feel quite brave enough to try one on for himself.
So maybe this is the answer. If you are a boy and you want to get in on the ‘–suit’ trend, and you don’t feel cut out for the slinky leather jumpsuit, perhaps a much more manly and macho RACE suit is a more accessible option? Judging by the happy swaggers of the chaps at the kart track, I think it might just be.
But could this racer boy look really translate from the track to the streets? Short of nicking the suit from the karting venue and running out of the door I mean. (Which one of my friends actually did do once – very bad behaviour. He was just a reckless fashion rebel who played by his own rules. Swoon…)
When I got home I had a look online, and race suits are available for purchase from all kinds of places. However, if you are not actually going to go racing in them it’s a bit of a serious fashion investment – some suits cost as much as £1400 each. On the other hand, if you don’t mind not being safety checked and race-ready, it’s not difficult to get the look for less, with a bit of ingenuity. And once again, the world of karting is the place to go for a F1-replication experience.
Kart suits, which look just like the real thing to the untrained eye, can be got hold of from many retailers for as little as £40 and in a range of colours and styles. Paired with a hot T and a bad-ass attitude, I am inclined to think they would look pretty damn good, and perfectly wearable down the pub. Just something to think about. But please remember, stealing is always wrong, no matter how much you love your race suit.