Speed Raceway


Karting Revs Up Racing Fun

Monday, 21 June 2010 07:35

Last weekend's soggy weather canceled nearly every outdoor race along the Front Range, forcing vroom-vroom enthusiasts to the couch or an unwelcome trip to the shopping mall.

Me? I compromised. I went to Speed Raceway, the relatively new $1.5 million indoor go-kart facility in Centennial. The 55,000-square-foot venue sits in a warehouse area just south of Centennial Airport. It features a challenging, seven- turn, quarter-mile track and accommodates anyone at least 48 inches tall (4 feet).

Located less than a mile from The Track at Centennial — the state's largest outdoor karting facility — Speed Raceway is dominated with green paint for a reason. It's all green — no fuel-powered motors allowed — enhancing the electric atmosphere.

Co-owner Howard Picker opened the facility in February and is already looking to expand to Arvada, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction. The Centennial center is the 20th Speed Raceway in the country but the first in Colorado. All centers operate under Denver- based Raceway Industries.

"We've been very well-received," Picker said. "We want something everybody can be involved with and have fun with it. We want to get kids involved who don't have to buy a kart. We want people with any kind of racing in their blood to come race with us."

Picker was well aware of his competition in Centennial. The Track at Centennial, eight-tenths of a mile with 21 turns, has 24 feet of elevation change. For renters, its age and height requirements are 12 years and 62 inches, respectively.

"We're different venues," Picker said. "We're the precursor to what they're doing. We want to get kids involved at our place and move on to The Track. And without the gas fumes and other elements that you get with an outdoor venue, we always say people can come to our place and still go to dinner."

Speed Raceway's "arrive and drive" prices for a 12-lap segment are $20 for adults and $16 for children, plus an annual registration fee of $5.95. A handful of packages are available for group rental.

Following every race, a full-colored box score is provided to each participant, listing everyone's times and offering comparison grids with the week's quickest laps.

I brought along my 10-year-old son and, although we didn't get to race in the same heat during the public session, we learned it's possible with proper planning. My quickest lap was 26.748 seconds, and my boy ran in the 32-second range in a junior kart, so it was probably best we were split up.

Since it's a Formula-style road course based on short stints, Speed Raceway isn't about taking the checkered flag first. It's about producing the best time. The staggered starts give racers an opportunity to do that with limited passing, depending on ability.