“Interview with Singapore Karts’ Shaun Seah and Kenneth Wong
9tro caught up with the organisers to find out more about go-karting, the scene and their newly organised endurance race series.
9tro: Could you tell us more about how the both of you started out in the automotive industry?
Shaun: Frankly I was pretty much born into the automotive industry. My Dad studied Automobile Engineering in the UK and was trained at Alfa Romeo UK. He introduced me to Formula 1 and karting when I was a kid and I was almost immediately hooked. He bought me my first kart shortly after. Over the next few years into my teens, I competed and raced in National, ASEAN and Asian Karting championships around the region. I was eventually invited to the launch of the then new Formula BMW programme but we were unable to afford it. My racing career pretty much died down shortly after due to a lack of funds.
Several years later I joined the NUS Motoring Club and eventually became club President. Throughout my term, I used the club as a platform to promote and grow motorsports and karting among the youths in Singapore. At the same time, I served as a Formula 1 scrutineer in the Singapore Grand Prix for 5 years. I was eventually invited to join the SMSA Karting Commission with the task of helping to regulate and grow karting in Singapore. I have since left the Karting Commission but I still help out in the SMSA as their official trainer for their Karting Driver Licensing programme.
Kenneth: I started karting back in 2005. I subsequently joined the Singapore Grand Prix as a Formula 1 scrutineer and served for 5 years. This is where I first met Shaun. I was also previously active in organising fun kart events for the community between 2009 and 2012. In 2014, I was part of the Lotus F1 Demo Drive Team in the Philippines. Shortly after, I was elected as Vice-President of Karting in the SMSA after having spent 4 years as a member of the Karting Commission. I recently left the SMSA and my post as VP of Karting due to personal reasons.
9tro: How did the event come about?
Shaun and Kenneth: This event came about because we felt that over the years, karting was becoming more expensive and more exclusive a sport. We felt that it was generally unaffordable to a large portion of the public, many of which are serious motoring enthusiasts. We also felt that there was a lack of grassroots development for motorsports in Singapore, thus further alienating a large majority from even getting a foot into the sport.
The purpose behind our event is basically about education and community. We hope to unite the grassroots community and create an affordable way for people to experience and learn more about motorsports. With strength in numbers, we hope to further develop the motorsports industry in Singapore and ultimately make it more accessible to the general public. Our target audience is basically anybody who is interested to learn more about motorsports and karting.
Our race is a team based competition involving 2 hours of non-stop driving. Teams will come up with their own strategies based on the given regulations with their aim being to complete the most laps within the 2 hour time period. Our races will be held over multiple rounds where teams collect points based on their results and one team will eventually be crowned overall champion.
9tro: What can participants expect from the race?
Shaun and Kenneth: We think the most important thing that participants can expect from this race is a very unique and fulfilling experience. Competing in an endurance race requires teamwork, planning, physical and mental fitness and stamina. In comparison to just renting a go-kart and doing 8 to 10 minutes worth of laps, an endurance race exposes participants to the mechanics and structure close to that of a national level race. It is also an excellent social event that fosters relationship bonding and promotes physical fitness.
Cost wise, we have been able to come up with a system that is significantly more affordable, at literally just a fraction of the cost, compared to similar events held in the past. We hope that the community will recognise this and continue to support our initiatives so that we will be able to bring even better things to the community over time.
9tro: What are the advantages in go-karting
Shaun and Kenneth: Apart from providing a very strong foundation in vehicle control and handling, we feel that the biggest advantage of go-karting is the education and character development of the individual. We all know that motorsports is dangerous and therefore, contrary to popular belief, well-trained racing drivers are educated heavily on safety, discipline as well as making mature judgement and decisions. The physical and mental fitness developed from racing go-karts is also at least on par with most other mainstream sports.
9tro: What is the go-karting scene like in Singapore and the region?
Shaun and Kenneth: We personally feel that the go-karting scene in Singapore is still in its infancy despite it having grown steadily over the past few years. Although we now have the infrastructure, the mindset and attitude in Singapore towards karting and motorsports in general is still sorely lacking compared to our neighbours in the region.
Karting is supposed to be the cheapest form of motorsports, but in Singapore it is still rather exclusive and inaccessible to the majority of people in comparison to the other countries in our region. The local authorities regulations on public kart rental is also quite unheard of in the world of motorsports overseas and quite frankly a step backwards even compared to 20 or 30 years ago. In stark contrast, our two closest neighbours have succeeded in producing Formula 1 drivers in the last 15 years. That alone should already speak volumes.
9tro: What is the future of the Singapore Karts Enduro Race?
Shaun and Kenneth: We plan to conduct a yearly championship series with multiple rounds throughout the year. We also aim to conduct our rounds at as many different circuits as possible. Hopefully with increased participation and awareness, we will be able to offer better races and prizes in the future and possibly be a feeder series for higher level racing.
9tro: Any words of advice for people who are interested in go-karting both as a leisure activity and a competitive sport?
Shaun and Kenneth: As a leisure activity, we think it is good to get to know the local leisure karting community. They will be able to offer you great answers and suggestions to your questions as they themselves are enthusiasts. we strongly recommend anyone who is interested to join our SingaporeKarts.com Facebook group and forum where you can post all your questions and meet many like-minded people.
As a competitive sport, first of all we would have to say, be prepared for the financial, emotional, and time investment. After which, physical fitness and finding a good mentor to guide you through your motorsports journey is key to maximising your potential and resources as a racing driver.”