More than a thousand people turned out for this weekend's final round of the Wellington Provincial Karting Association's Goldstar series in Hastings.

It's a hobby that also has a well-worn path to international success, says Kartsport Hawke's Bay patron Mark Jenkinson.

"The three guys that podiumed internationally in the last week - Scott Dixon, Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong - have all gone through this gate in karts," he said.

"The majority of our international motorsport stars - the Greg Murphys, the Shane van Gisbergens, the Scott McLaughlins - all started their motorsport careers in karting.


"Then some of us are just silly enough to stay in this a long time."

Kart racers are an even split between children and adults. Racing is extremely competitive because classes have standardised engines and weights. Both driver and machine are weighed after each race.

There's also a social class of karts - vintage karting is about keeping older machines on the track and having fun.

For a motorsport, the family atmosphere of kart racing is striking. Off-track karts are wheeled by hand on special platforms, keeping the pits safe for families.

"Families can go away together, race together," said Bay of Plenty's Darren Walker.

Karting has helped bond Walker's blended family, after he bought 12-year-old Lilly Malone a cart for $8000.

"My dad raced for quite a while," Lilly said.

"He has inspired me to do it. He bought me a kart and I tried it out and I wanted to do it.


"It's fast and fun - I love it. And everyone else is just nice. Yeah, I love it."

Hawke's Bay motoring ace Rob Townsend said karting is especially good with teenagers.

"It's a chance to actually get to spend some time together," he said. "In this day and age it is always hard to get them off technology and bits and pieces. That's where it's fantastic for us."

For Niki Urwin of Tirau, karting was another chance at sporting excellence after an accident ended his professional international motocross career - aged 23.

He switched to karting and was soon competing again at the top level at the Rotax-max go-karting world championships in Italy.

With his wife, former downhill mountain bike champion Vanessa Quinn, karting enables three generations to continue their sporting lifestyle.


"It's great - we love travelling away," Urwin said.

"Half of it is what happens on the track but half of it is the adventures you have along the way, so it's really cool to share that experience with the kids."

While karting may seem a fun family activity, adrenalin is the real drawcard for Hawke's Bay racer James van den Berk.

"I love it - such a thrill every time. It's awesome," he said.

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