A Day At The Races

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One thing about going to Indianapolis, there has never been a shortage of things to do if you are a race fan. But in case you have run out of new things to do – now there is one. Last month, former car-owner and popular driver Sarah Fisher and husband Andy O’Gara opened up Speedway Indoor Karting (SIK) on Main Street in Speedway. It is located directly across the street from Charlie Brown’s Pancake & Steakhouse and next door to her old shop and current home to Ed Carpenter Racing.

Located in the same building is 1911 Grill, also owned by Sarah Fisher. It is aptly named in honor of the Inaugural Indianapolis 500 run in 1911.

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This past Sunday, after meeting Paul Dalbey and his girlfriend Kelli for breakfast at Charlie Brown’s, we all walked across the street to the new facility to do some racing.

These aren’t the karts adjoining your local putt-putt. These are premium karts with adjustable seats and pedals. They aren’t shifter karts, but not far from them. I’ll put it this way – they are more than enough kart for the tight turns of an indoor track.

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The four of us did the combo, which gives you one race on the road course and one on the oval. The road course is two levels and approximately fifteen turns (depending on your definition of a turn). There is a nice mixture of high-speed turns along with a couple of hairpins and a very narrow chicane which is wide enough for only one kart at a time. The oval looks like a miniature version of Bristol. It has 14-degrees of banking, but looks steeper than that.

The karts must have transponders on them. Each lap is timed to a one-thousandth second. For example, my best time on the oval was 7.726 seconds. Paul must have cheated, because even though he outweighs me by a good fifty pounds – his best oval lap was 7.386 seconds. That sounds pretty impressive until you see that Bryan Clauson was in there earlier and turned a lap of 6.700 seconds. There are screens above each track to show you your current lap times. I could never look up long enough, but the printout they give you is interesting to analyse.

The idea is that you race the clock more than the people you are with. Paul and I didn’t follow that thinking at all. We battled each other at every turn. Our significant others were only interested in staying out of our way and maintained a high line all the way around. They unknowingly produced some interesting moments as rolling chicanes. Paul, apparently being a bully as well as a cheater, punted Susan into the outside wall. You should see the bruises along her right side.

You get seven minutes on the road course and five minutes on the oval. To those that say that’s not much time – think again. We did the road course first. It was physical and challenging. By the time we finished with the oval, Paul and I were tired, sore, sweating and out of breath. I was ready to see the checkered flag when they finally waved it.

When you check in, you have to view, along with a few driving tips. Then it’s into the room where you get your head sock and helmet. Be sure and check that your vents are open, otherwise you’ll end up like Susan did on the road course and try seeing through a foggy visor. Then you go to your assigned kart. For whatever reason, I started in the tail end of our foursome on both tracks. Paul probably had something to do with that as well.

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After racing on both tracks, I was tired but exhilarated. It was quite the rush. I don’t know how fast we were going, but it was fast enough. The karts could go faster than the track would allow them to. When I got up off of the kart on the oval, I was tired, but happy. I felt I had gotten my money’s worth.

Speaking of that – the place isn’t cheap. It’s not exorbitant when you consider the overhead, the cost of equipment and the liability involved; but it does cost – just like anything related to racing. And everything there has a first class feel to it. Sarah Fisher did not do this on the cheap.

Before you can race, you must buy a one-year license for $10. We did the combo, which bought us one race each on the road course and oval. Per person, that was thirty dollars. Add in the cost of the license and Sunday cost us $40 each. Paul and I plan to go back this weekend, since we have already invested in the license. There are various pricing options and a good description  of everything on their website.

Since we had just stuffed ourselves at Charlie Brown’s, we didn’t go to the 1911 Grill that is built into the southwest side of the building. Diners can look out the windows and see the racing from their tables. I have heard the food is excellent, from people that I trust.

Paul and I are planning on going back there this weekend – since we already have our license. Maybe afterwards, we can go sample the 1911 Grill. Kelli won’t be there this weekend and I’m not sure Susan is ready to get bruised again, so it may be just the two guys.

Speedway has grown up a lot in the past ten years or so. Speedway Indoor Karting is a very nice addition to what is becoming a bustling Main Street. If you can, I highly recommend that you go check it out.

George Phillips

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9 Responses to “A Day At The Races”

  1. Jack and I go karting here, but it is not close to Sarah Fisher’s experience. I hope to squeeze in some time race weekend for a run at it.

  2. Ron Ford Says:

    I will gladly expose $40 of my tourist bucks to the light of day for such an experience. I am looking forward to it. The karts look good without aero kits.

  3. Yannick Says:

    Get well soon Susan.

  4. Alan Stewart Says:

    I voted other (and I’m sure others are in the same boat as me): I’ve heard of it and I plan to go.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    $30 plus license is about in line with what I see at the indoor karting facilities near me for a pair or races. None of them, however, have an oval track, much less a banked oval track. That is really cool.

    Are the karts are gas/fuel-powered or electric?

  6. I have never carted in my life, but it looks very fast and fun. I will put it on my list of things to do when I finally get to Indy.

  7. Oops, not a shopping cart, but a kart. LOL

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