NASKART to debut hand-controlled go-kart for disabled vets, others with mobility impairments

Modified controls on a go cart at NASKART in Montville, Monday, November 6, 2017. Mechanic Ed Miles modified the cart with hand controls to allow anyone with a lower extremity disability to race at the indoor go cart track.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Modified controls on a go cart at NASKART in Montville, Monday, November 6, 2017. Mechanic Ed Miles modified the cart with hand controls to allow anyone with a lower extremity disability to race at the indoor go cart track. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Montville — Veterans and others without use of their legs or feet will now be able to zip around the racetrack at NASKART Indoor Kart Racing and Trampoline Park in a customized go-kart.

The facility modified one of its existing go-karts to be controlled by hand as opposed to pedals. The pedals are still there for support but do not have any use. Handlebars replace the traditional steering wheel, making the kart easier to maneuver.

The new kart will be debuted over the upcoming Veterans Day weekend.

It was an idea that was tossed around not long after the facility — touted as the nation's largest indoor, multi-level go-kart racetrack — opened in January 2017, said Cody Browning, general manager, as a way to make the facility accessible to a wider audience.

Many of NASKART's customers are veterans, and the staff didn't want them, or others with mobility impairments, to not be able to enjoy the facility, which also includes an indoor trampoline park, Browning said.

It took just three days to modify the kart, said Edward Miles, an Army veteran and lead mechanic at the facility, but months of research went into customizing it. Some parts had to be imported from the United Kingdom.

The modified kart, like the existing karts at the facility is electric, so it has to be recharged for a few minutes after each use. If there's enough interest, the facility will modify more karts, Browning said. Its brakes are controlled by hydraulics.

As a veteran himself, Miles is proud to have created something that allows veterans to be "included just like everyone else." He noted the availability of other adaptive sports for disabled vets such as wheelchair basketball, and that many veterans were athletes before they were injured.

A 2015 study found that adaptive sports could help disabled veterans boost their self-esteem and live healthier lives. Nearly 26 percent of all veterans living in Connecticut have a disability, according to 2015 Census data. The number of disabled veterans nationwide has risen as a result of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Veterans who require the modified go-kart will be able to use it for free this weekend as part of Veterans Day. The facility is also offering all veterans a 25 percent discount on admission throughout the weekend.

j.bergman@theday.com

Ed Miles, a mechanic and U.S. Army veteran, shows the modified controls on a go cart at NASKART in Montville Monday, November 6, 2017. Miles modified the cart with hand controls to allow anyone with a lower extremity disability to race at the indoor go cart track.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Ed Miles, a mechanic and U.S. Army veteran, shows the modified controls on a go cart at NASKART in Montville Monday, November 6, 2017. Miles modified the cart with hand controls to allow anyone with a lower extremity disability to race at the indoor go cart track. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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