TWO Wimmera Kart Club members at the opposite end of their careers will be part of the action at Dooen on the weekend.
The experienced Remo Luciani has been racing for nearly four decades and knows the track like the back of his hand but shows no sign of slowing down. At the other end of the spectrum is the youngest member of the club, 10-year-old Robbie Turmine who has already been racing for three years.
The moments each racer was introduced to the sport can be precisely pinpointed.
For Remo it was as a young apprentice at Wilson Bolton.
“Horsham Go-Kart Club, as it was called back then, had a demonstration around the showground,” he said. “My mouth just drooled and I wanted a go-kart. I saved up whilst I was as an apprentice, then when I was 20 I was able to afford a $450 go-kart, the rest is history.”
That was in 1980, 37-years later Luciani recently won his 69th state championship and he also has multiple Australian championships to his name.
It all started for Robbie when he was a seven year-old in the workshop of his father Paul.
“A friend of mine rocked up with a go-kart in his trailer, Robbie walked up to him and said ‘can I have a drive of that go-kart?’,” Paul said.
“There was no motor on it, so we had to put a motor on it and then we took him out the Dooen track. Straight away he did 20 laps around the track without going off and he just went quicker and quicker and quicker.”
After getting his first taste for the sport Robbie kept going back. In the space of six weeks – and with the aid of a new engine – his lap time dropped from 48 seconds to 32 seconds. “Now he runs around at about 27 seconds a lap,” Paul said.
The young driver travelled to Swan Hill for his first race at the age of eight and managed to finish third. In his second year of racing he managed to finish fourth racing in a state title round at Mount Gambier, a track that has become one of his favourites.
“I can get really fast starts there,” Robbie said.
While other racers hope for dry days on track, Robbie said his favourite thing to do was race in the rain. One of his best results came on at a wet Hamilton track in 2016.
“He finished third in the Cadet 9 race but came all the way back from 15th,” Paul said. “That was an awesome display. Remo sat there and watched him and couldn’t believe his eyes.”
This year is Robbie’s third year in the Victorian Country Series and he has had to step up to race in the Cadet 12 category.
He is one of the younger racers in the fields each round but still manages to place in the top 15 out of 25 racers.
Both Luciani and Robbie enjoy the friends they have made through racing. Robbie especially likes it when he beats his.
Luciani said he is never bored when he is racing.
“I always get asked the question if you knew today was going to be the last day that you lived would you still be doing it and I’d say ‘yes’,” he said. “I absolutely love it.”
His favourite memory came when he was racing in Western Australia as the reigning Australian champion in 1983. “I was running at the back, I wasn’t doing much good and it wasn’t enjoyable,” he said.
“In the final – between one thing and another – I ended up winning.The moral of the story for me then was to never give up. Too many people just throw the towel in and that day just taught me to fight until the end.”
He said people should not be put off by the large amounts of money some people spend on their karts.
“You can have as much fun as you can with a $400 go-kart as you can with a $10,000 go-kart,” he said.
“The driver education and the discipline you have through the sport is second to none for driver education on the road.”
He encouraged other people in the Wimmera to try the sport.
“Horsham’s only a small place so just ask and we’re only to accommodating to meet anyone at the track and run them through the procedures,” he said. “Hopefully we can give them a go so they can get a taste and become part of the club.”