Photo Credit: Russell Purcell
kartSTART Presented by Toyota travels to 10 stops nationally during the summer months. The tour typically starts in British Columbia in late June and ends up in Halifax at the end of August.
“The kartSTART program is very unique in several ways,” says Russ Bond, owner of kartSTART Presented by Toyota. “The key is we teach youngsters in vehicles that fit them: our karts. What we teach here is how a vehicle works. What makes it go, what makes it stop, and what makes it turn. We teach our students what is happening to the vehicle as they drive down the road.”
“The program here at kartSTART is very innovative,” Bond adds. “I like to compare it to hockey to make it easier for parents to understand — if you have two 16-year-olds and they want to start playing hockey, but one has been playing since he was 12 years old, and the other one has never been on skates, it’s easy to predict who will be the better hockey player. It’s the same thing with driving. Here, we help kids prepare for the daunting task of driving on today’s roads with the masses. It’s as simple as that.”
“We put together a great group of personnel to help our families get the most out of the day,” Bond says. “Every journey starts with a first step; our job is to make sure that our families’ first step is in the right direction.”
Bond sums it up perfectly: “Driving is a life skill, and we give our students the first step in that process.”
Who is kartSTART owner Russ Bond?
Russ Bond has been involved in the automobile industry for over 30 years. He is a well-respected automotive journalist and host of the popular two-minute test drive on MotoringTV on TSN. Bond is a semi-retired professional racing driver who brings his wealth of experience to helping new drivers get the most out of their first experience behind the wheel. “This is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done. To see the eyes of the kids when they drive for the first time is really, really something special,” he says.
This is the most common question Bond gets asked: “Why should we attend the kartSTART day?” Here is his answer:
To better understand it, I always try to point out that ‘driving’ is more than just driving; it is paramount that you understand what is going on all the time.
Driving is actually a two-part process — there is the driving part, and the rules of the road part. Our area of concern is the driving part; we are not here to teach you the rules of the road. We are here to teach you how a vehicle works so you can better understand what you need to do to maintain control of your vehicle.
Parents that arrive here normally come with one of two mindsets: ‘You have to teach him/her to drive, because he/she will be driving my car soon, and to be honest that scares me.’ Or, ‘I’ve seen him/her drive on Xbox, and there’s no way they’re driving my car.’
This essentially is why the program was born: to fulfill parents’ need to give their kids some driving instruction before they turn 16 and head out in a car. Our karts are the perfect size for kids to get their first experience. It doesn’t weigh 3,000 pounds. It is a basic motorized vehicle that is proportionate to the size of the driver. We show them how the kart works; we put them in the karts with our instructors leading them around the track. They learn about how the steering works, how the throttle works, how the brakes work, and more importantly, they understand how all these things work together.
There’s no nice way to say it, but the problem with driving is accidents — they can kill. It’s a touchy subject that many just don’t want to face, but I like to tackle it head on. With our program, if a driver goes too fast they will spin the kart — but that is all. From everyone’s perspective, it is much, much better for that to happen here in our karts, where we can simply walk over to the driver and talk to them about what happened. In a car, when it leaves the road, there is stuff to hit — lots of it.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that drivers that go through our program will never have an accident, but what I am saying is that for sure they will have a much better understanding of when it is about to happen, and more importantly, know what to do about it before it happens.
That is why you should take our program.
Keep in mind, this is for the whole family. After the kids are in the karts, the parents are in the Toyotas, learning and experiencing the latest safety innovations available in the road cars. Toyota Safety Sense has amazing systems, and we present them in a fun, educational manner.
Our program is a half-day of learning in a fun, customer-friendly environment that helps the whole family.
kartSTART Program Outline
Here is an overview of your day at kartSTART:
8:30 am – Guest arrival, sign in, equipment assignment
9:00 am – Classroom safety briefing from Russ Bond/head instructor; outdoor safety briefing and kart fitting; participants split into groups
9:30 am – Lead-follow sessions in karts (two 15-minute sessions per driver)
11:00 am – Toyota Safety Sense briefing
11:15 am – On track Toyota Safety Sense demonstration (parents and kids)
Noon – Lunch provided for morning groups
12:30 pm – Sign in and lunch provided for afternoon groups
1:15 pm – Classroom safety briefing from Russ Bond/head instructor; outdoor safety briefing and kart fitting; participants split into groups
1:30 pm– Lead-follow sessions in karts (two 15-minute sessions per driver)
3:15 pm – Toyota Safety Sense briefing
3:30 pm – On-track Toyota Safety Sense demonstration (parents and kids)
4:15 pm – Program ends