Whether you are looking for a great idea for a stag party, a corporate event, an unusual Saturday afternoon, or to rekindle childhood dreams of becoming an F1 driver, go-karting at one of Prague’s fantastic racing facilities should definitely be something you consider. There are a few tracks in and around Prague, but MotoKary Praha, Karta Real, and the longest go-karting track in Europe at Kart Centrum are simply your best options.
Motokáry Praha, located just a short bus ride from Letňany metro station, is the rough and ready go-kart racing experience you are looking for. The company has been operating for 11 years out of the once battle-ready aircraft hangar that houses the viciously demanding 512m (extending to 750m with layout changes every 2-3 years) asphalt concrete track. However, when you’re burning around in a Subaru that generates a massive 7hp and top speeds of up 67km/h, your junkyard first impressions simply don’t matter anymore. This is pure go-karting.
I arrived at Motokáry Praha, with a group of seven men all carrying luggage, on a hot Saturday afternoon. A single man was tending the engine of one of the beasts that would eventually go on to burn the skin right off of my elbow. That’s just a necessary price here in this go-karting basement fight club. The man approached us and simply quoted the price, 200CZK each for 12 minutes of carnage. If we had turned up with 10 people, we would have paid 2000CZK total, and would have received 2 free individual drives into the bargain. So, we bought 14 drives, 2 drives each for each member of our group, which came to 2400CZK including our two free drive bonus, roughly 350CZK each. We paid the man, and moved our gang to the seating area, a tattered marquee next to the track populated with an assortment of garden furniture and decommissioned racing karts (the defunct Honda karts that still appear on their website). Then, the man beckoned the first group of three to take their helmets and choose their weapons…sorry, I mean karts.
I wondered if there was going to be any kind of briefing on safety, driving tips, track information, perhaps the opportunity to use or rent some overalls (akin to the rental of bowling shoes at a bowling alley), or a hair net even. “No,” was the brick wall of an answer to that inquiry. However, the attendant very kindly presented me a laminated sheet of safety instructions in English he dug out of a drawer that I suspect had been languishing there next to some old leftover fighter plane schematics for a number of years. This place was, and is, about driving, and only driving. With my heart in my throat, I ventured up the staircase by the pit lane to seek courage at the bar. The bar is a pleasant space, with a giant projector tracking lap times and enough tables and chairs for a pub-style banquet and small disco. Indeed, as the nice old lady behind the bar confirmed, corporate events and group packages are large sources of income here. Rental for the entire track and prices for these events start at around 14,000 CZK.
Returning to the track heralded my inaugural battle with karting mania. While I chose my helmet from the wooden rack, desperately trying to find one without the padding ripped out of it and with a chinstrap, I remembered the words of the old lady behind the bar. ‘There are no licenses required here,’ she had said. ‘You only have to be 142 centimetres tall and that’s it,’ she had said. Nobody cares if your helmet flies off, (she didn’t say that).
After the race, the winner of which determined by fastest lap times and distributed on printouts directly after the race, I was totally satisfied. There are competitions from September onwards open to anybody, any age, who wishes to compete. The Prague Karting Arena experience is a raw, no frills affair. If that’s your thing, then maybe I’ll see you in the pit.
Address, Contact and Directions:
Toužimská 51, Prague 9, Letňany
Booking number: +420 777 311 856
Phone the track: +420 776 648 189
Take the Metro line C to Letňany. Then, take bus 151, 158, or the Tesco bus to Staré Letňany. Once at the bus stop, look for signs posted on the lamp posts. The track is a 3 minute walk away.
Kart Centrum Radotín
Kart Centrum Radotín, located just a short bus journey from Smíchovské nádraží metro station, is altogether a more clean-cut and professional experience. From the moment you walk in, this place is stunning; bright reception area, pool table, huge leather sofas, and wooden tables. The track is a vast and winding 910m snake, covered by an equally vast canopy which protects the track, yet lets so much light in you feel like you are driving outside. With safety signage everywhere, ornamental rally cars and dune buggies, and video screens adorning the corners, and brand new helmets glinting in the bright light, I felt like I had walked into a Lilliputian Grand Prix. I needed to find out more, so I backtracked and made my way into the bar.
The bar and restaurant easily cater for 200 people, and with the possibility to drive 14 cars on the track at once (compared with only 5 at Prague Karting Arena), it’s no surprise that basically any group event, package, or private competition can be arranged. An example of the price of such an event is 16,000 – 24,000 CZK, for 80 people for 4 hours of racing, eating and drinking. The surroundings of the bar are wonderful, as well as the bar itself. One long wall of the bar is Perspex, so a complete view of the track is there for spectators who are not driving. As standard, there are scoreboards showing lap times, winners and losers, and a large screen for sports entertainment events.
A 10-minute drive in a Subaru-powered 200cc 6hp kart capable of speeds up to 50km/h costs just 150 CZK during the week and 180 CZK at the weekend, and 1500 CZK for 10 drives anytime of the week. With average lap times working out at about 1:30 secs, you can probably get in up to 8 laps. There is also an option to drive a more powerful kart, a 270cc 9hp Subaru monster capable of 80km/h. However, this can only be done if you manage a lap time of 1:24secs in the standard kart, then pay a nominal 50 CZK for a bespoke Kart Centrum Licence.
In karting heaven, it is hard to feel apprehension. Then, I was informed an English speaking racing guide would be along shortly to answer anything I could ask. Just perfect. My first inquiry concerned equipment. The helmets are new and all have pads and chinstraps, the engines have covers on them so burning yourself is pretty difficult, and it is possible to buy a balaclava for 100 CZK to wear under your helmet if you don’t fancy sharing other people’s molecules. The track is modified on weekends for children and there will be a new Kart Centrum built sometime in October or November in Horni Počernice which will be bigger than this one. Oh, and this one is the largest karting halls in Europe at approximately 10000 m2. Well, thank you very much for the information Mr. English-speaking-karting-guide, you are as professional as everything about this entire place. Kart Centrum is a truly professional outfit.
Address, Contact and Directions:
Výpadová 1335, 150 00, Praha 5, Radotín.
Booking Number: (+420) 774 002 001
Take the Metro line B to Smíchovské nádraží. Then take bus 244 or 172 to Přeštínská bus stop. Look for signs to the track. It’s a 3 minute walk from the bus stop.
Karta Real Praha
Karta Real go-karting track, located out by Ikea in Cerny Most, is out of service at the moment. The furniture giant has appropriated the racing space for a makeshift car park while other reconstructions are taking place. Visit the website for further information.
8 Tips for a Safe Karting Experience
- Don’t press the break and the accelerator at the same time, otherwise you will burn the engine and run the risk of damaging the kart.
- Pay attention to instructions from staff.
- Always wear a crash helmet.
- Look for the signal that indicates your last lap.
- Drive kindly, not aggressively. It is a race, but you don’t need to injure anybody.
- Leave your valuables somewhere safe
- Tie back your hair.
- They are not bumper cars!