New Indoor Go Kart Race Track Opens to Thrill Seekers
When summer plans are being made, it’s convenient to overlook the indoor activities that we can do year-round. Relishing in the warmth of the sun in amusement parks and outdoor waterparks is a warm-weather privilege in Columbus, but one indoor kart racing and entertainment space in our city opened its doors last month for adventure seekers.
That being said… I am not an adrenaline junkie.
My aversion toward thrill rides and rollercoasters should be an indication of the way I live my life. While I teeter between the edges of living life to the fullest and fearing for worst case scenarios, stepping out of my comfort zone often involves a racing heart and a tough battle against conflicting feelings.
While kart racing may be child’s play to many, as a first timer, I did not know what to expect. The karts in the all-new Grand Prix Karting go as fast as 30 miles per hour, and the race heats are divided between adult and junior kart racers. Adults must be 14 years or older, and junior kart racers are required to be 8 years or older. Both categories have height and weight requirements.
The required safety briefing made the pre-experience less daunting. Anxious and equipped with track knowledge, we made our way to the front track with the understanding that advanced and amateur drivers would be racing together.
“In that briefing, you are taught what the different flags are used on the course and what they mean,” Kim Savon, director of marketing and community development of Grand Prix Karting, said. “One of those flags, what it means when it’s waved, you’ll know when another driver faster than you is coming behind you and just to be prepared for that.”
Prior to entering the arena, the waiting space welcoming all racers is furnished with leather couches and vending machines, accompanied with the registration counter and sports shop.
“We are sophisticated enough to hold the interest of experienced drivers, but we’re also designed for amateurs, just anyone looking to have a great time and a thrilling adrenaline rush experience, and it is very safe because you control your speed,” Savon explained.
Lessons are offered in this facility for racers who desire to refine their karting skills, and it is flexible, according to Savon.
“He (Aaron) would give you some tips, you would go out and do some laps while he is watching you, then you would have another instructional time period where he explains how to improve, then you’ll go out and race again,” Savon said. “He breaks it up so it’s very interactive, and the skill level is depended upon the audience.”
If there is one thing I’ve learned from this karting experience, it’s that I can push my limits here. While safety is a primary concern in this venue- hence, the mandatory safety briefing- acclimatizing to the tracks and the stability of the karts pushed me to go faster and navigate the corners with more ease.
According to Savon, the majority of the visitors of the venue are pleased with the race set-up and the equipment available.
“When people come out to visit, what we hear is, ‘Wow, this is a great, well-done place,’” Savon said. “The facility that was in Columbus 10 years or so ago was much smaller scale and just not as family-oriented or as clean cut, and the other words that we hear over and over is, ‘This place goes on forever.’”
The venue has a front track and a back track, both of which are approximately half a mile each. Together, they form the Super Track, the largest indoor track in the country, which is only currently available on Super Track Days for members only.
Aaron Saez, managing partner at Grand Prix Karting, has been working on this particular venue for a year.
“He’s had a dream of opening a fun, family karting space for about 15 years when he visited one out of state,” Savon said. “That was a back burner dream for a while and then it’s just lots and lots of research and time, and finding the right place to hold it, as well as the right investors to help with the overhead.”
Grand Prix Karting held its grand opening on June 14 after opening its doors to the public for a month. Before the opening, more than 300 annual membership passes were already sold.
“Our mission is to be the largest and number one family entertainment venue,” Savon said, “It is to provide a fun and safe family experience that brings you coming back for more.”
Several updates are still in the works, including an inclusive children’s area with a kiddy kart course and a Putt-Putt golf course.
Grand Prix Karting is located at 1300 Alum Creek Drive, and it is open Tuesdays through Sundays at noon.
For more information, visit www.gpindoor.com.