Let's go go-karting on Okinawa!
Whether you live in or are visiting Okinawa, tourists in costumes driving go-karts alongside regular traffic are a common sight. But did you know there is a way to up the ante on regular go-karts with no costume required?
Just a short 10-minute drive from Torii Station or 30 minutes from Camp Foster, you can feed your need for speed on the Kukuru Yomitan Circuit racetrack.
This is a racetrack where drifting, mini motorbike and go-kart competitions often take place on weekends. The rest of the time the track is open to visitors who would like to get a taste of what it feels like to be a Formula 1 or Indy Car driver, albeit in a go-kart.
Since go-karts are not complicated machines, they are easy to maneuver and easy to drive. While sharing the road with regular traffic in a go-kart can be exhilarating, a drive on the racetrack is bound to give you an adrenaline rush.
It is often said that driving a go-kart can feel two to three times faster than its actual speed thanks to the low angle view from the cockpit. At Kukuru Circuit, go-karts can reach a speed of 30 mph, fast enough to get your heart pumping. Plus, there are several hairpins and big curves, where the gravity hits drivers not just vertically but horizontally.
Though prior experience and driving skills can make a difference on the track, they are not essential in making you feel like a professional driver at Kukuru.
The go-karts have great traction, making a steep U-turn easy, giving confidence to first-timers, and, in turn, making a Michael Andretti or Luis Hamilton out of them.
The exhilarating fun of driving the small open-wheels attracts many Americans, according to Rina Onaga, a staffer.
“They have a good time go-karting here,” Onaga said. “Many of them become repeat customers.”
To accommodate American customers, the racetrack has brochures and written instructions in English.
Depending on what type of adrenaline rush you’re searching for, Kukuru offers several programs. The “5-Minute Plan” is an introductory course and most affordable program where adults can drive up to 7 to 8 laps on average.
For those who would like to have more fun and thrills on the track, the “All-You-Can-Ride Plan” might be up their alley, allowing visitors to drive as much as they like within the time limit of 30 minutes or one hour.
Bringing family and friends? The “Rental Race Plan” allows you to tap into your competitive side with a practice run, a time trial and two heats that pits you against others in your party.
Just like a real race, the plan even includes a victory ceremony to present a trophy to the champion and a champagne fight. For this plan, visitors can choose between a sprint race and an endurance race.
Due to the high-speed racing, Kukuru Circuit takes safety seriously. A safety briefing is provided to all riders regardless of which plan was chosen and drivers are required to wear helmets. Six go-karts can compete at the same time in the “Rental Race Plan,” whereas only four cars can run in other plans.
So, let your hair down, bring all your friends and family to the Yomitan Kukuru Circuit to feel like a pro.
Yomitan Kukuru Circuit
GPS Coordinates: 26°24’26.1”N 127°43’12.6”E
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (summer) / 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (winter). Open for go-karting every day except during motor sports event days. *Closed on Mondays
- 5-minute plan (1,250 yen for adult, 950 yen for high school student, 700 yen for child)
* Drivers need to be 140 cm or taller.
* A two-seater ride is available for 1,850 yen. Drivers need to show a driver’s license (stateside or SOFA). Passengers need to be 3 years old or above.
- All-You-Can-Ride-Plan (3,500 yen per person for 30 minutes, 5,500 yen for 1 hour)
* available only on weekdays.
* Drivers must be 18 years old. For this plan, visitors are advised to carry an ID such as driver’s license/sofa license/international driver’s license to prove their age.
- Rental Race Plan (9,300 yen per person for a group of 9 or less/ 7,300 per person for a group of 10 or more)
* The fee covers a trophy, champagne, and insurance. Registration is required at least three days in advance.
* Drunk driving is prohibited on the racetrack.
* The racetrack has go-karts which can go 31to 37 mph. To ride those go-karts, visitors need to take time trial and have a lap time of 28.399 seconds or less.
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