Indoor karting track to open at Foxwoods Aug. 3
Mashantucket — It's difficult to clock a competitive time on a European-style indoor karting track when you're zipping around at the same time as three or four NASCAR drivers.
The track has been in the works at Foxwoods Resort Casino for two years, and operator On Track Karting was scrambling the last few weeks to get it ready for the Driving Hope Home fundraiser held by the Joey Logano Foundation, which took place this past Wednesday and Thursday.
If you're reading about Logano, a NASCAR driver from Middletown, you're likely to see the phrases "youngest driver" and "youngest racer" come up a lot in connection to his wins.
On Thursday, he took the karts at Foxwoods out for a spin with fellow drivers Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Ryan Preece.
"Compared to other indoor go-kart tracks, this is a state-of-the-art facility, for sure," Logano said. "Probably the most fun part was the elevation change."
Foxwoods held a media preview Thursday of Monza World-Class Karting, which is set to open to the public Aug. 3.
"Monza World-Class Karting is anything but ordinary, and closer to entry-level racing than your typical go-karting experience," said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
He said its opening fits into the transitioning of Foxwoods "from a gaming-focused facility to a true entertainment destination," and he applauded the late Felix Rappaport, former CEO of Foxwoods, for his vision in opening the facility.
On a test drive, Butler ranked an admirable fifth after four Naskart drivers, coming in with a best lap time of 42.15 seconds, compared to 39.33 for Logano.
This is the second facility for On Track Karting, which opened its first location in Wallingford 12 years ago.
President Chris Tyrrel made several trips to Italy, working with PGK Design on the track layout. Its owner, Paolo Gagliardini, is an Italian national shifter kart champion.
Tyrrel said he found Gagliardini through doing a lot of research on the best tracks in China and Germany; PGK has designed 47 tracks worldwide.
Tyrrel explained that, whereas American karting has long involved driving on flat, outdoor surfaces with minimal safety equipment, "the whole indoor, high-performance thing originated in Europe." With Monza World-Class Karting, he has created what he calls a "motorsport experience."
The facility requires each driver to wear a helmet and neck brace in the kart, which can reach up to 45 mph. The 500-meter course involves navigating tight turns, and going up and down hills.
"It's kind of the closest thing you can do to drive something as fast as you can and not go to jail," Logano joked.
Each ride lasts eight minutes and will cost $30, with membership options available. Depending on the speed of the driver, this allows for about 8-12 laps.
The minimum age to ride is 7, and Monza World-Class Karting will have 40 adult karts and 17 junior karts. Tyrrel said he is hoping that 20 can go at once.
Prior to getting out on the track, drivers go through a brief safety training, in which the respective meanings of the yellow, blue, black and red flags are explained.
Safety precautions for the karts include having an on-site mechanic and also doing preventative maintenance, Tyrrel said. Monza World-Class Karting is still hiring.
The track is named for both the northern Italian city of Monza and Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the home of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix.
If You Go
What: Monza World-Class Karting
Opens: Aug. 3
Where: Below Fox Tower, on level B1, Mashantucket.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week