I hit the gas hard this time and feel the rush of the engine at my back. I’m going the fastest as I can, making sure I stay in front of the pack in this track. It was the third and final round of our go kart race with the other media pips and we’re being timed like how professional GPs are done. Then suddenly from behind another car zoomed past me. What the?! We were heading on a sharp bend on the track and I watched how smoothly my competition went through it. I was determined to get my lead back but got too disoriented I lost my bearing on the track. Next I saw my surrounding spinning as my car turned 360 and the smell of burning tires filled the air. I got my composure back after a few seconds and rev up the engine. Can I can still make this?
The Malaysia MotoGP concluded a week before we arrived in Malaysia but there are other reasons to go and visit the Sepang International Circuit. Coming from our breakfast the next day at Park Royal Hotel, Bukit Bintang, we drove almost an hour to reach the racing circuit. About 60km from Kuala Lumpur centre, the F1 circuit is a lot closer to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)
Impressive Museum. The welcome centre where people buy tickets also holds a shop where memorabilia items are sold and also the National Automobile Museum. This two-floor modest-sized museum holds vintage cars like Austin-Healy, E-type, Jaguars and Malaysian brands like Bufori. It has enough glitter, shine and beautiful curved lines to make car enthusiast drool.
On the Tracks. The unusually shaped race track is 5.54 km long raced in a clockwise direction. The circuit was designed by the German, Herman Tilke who also designed similar facilities in Korea, Shanghai, Singapore and Turkey to name a few. The Grandstands can accommodate up to 130,000 spectators. When not used, companies or private individuals can book the circuit for their events.
Behind the Circuit. While the race track and grandstand are impressive, what goes behind the circuit is equally astonishing. There’s the luxurious VIP Suite where the country’s Prime Minister, his family and staffs watch during the game.
We were granted access to the commonly off-limits Monitoring Room where there are more than 35 monitors projecting from cameras on most areas of the track. Then there’s this Media Center with a huge area occupied by rows of desk, wired and connected to what’s happening at the press and each with their own monitors as well.
Not your ordinary Go Kart track. The Go Kart track in Sepang is also designed by Tilke and is considered as the best one in Malaysia. This 1.2km long, 10 meter wide has 11 challenging bends. And it surely made me feel the Go Kart race tracks I tried before was for kids.
What’s better is we get to actually race and timed like a regular F1 race. Racing this track even with Karts definitely was fun. As for the race with the other media pips, I never got my lead back. I was contended to stand on the second place on the mini podium. I mean how the hell can I beat the guy from Baguio who’s so used to driving up Kenon road?
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.