Indoor go-kart track set for West Side

on Saturday, 09 August 2014.

Investment is a natural transformation from the past to the future

Speed demons with sufficient skill and nerve will soon be able to stomp the pedal of an electric go-kart and hit 40 mph in 4 seconds as they circle a track inside what was once a Kohl’s store and will soon be Buckeye Raceway.

Owner Rob Conrad is hard at work ripping up tiles and laying down a quarter-mile track inside the 135,000-square-foot building that had been vacant the past few years.

“It’s mostly just me, so it’s going a little slow,” he said.

If things go as planned, Buckeye Raceway will open in mid-October, he said. It will feature 19 Sodikart RTX electric karts, which Conrad considers a step up in terms of speed and technology from gas-powered karts.

“And the track will have twists and turns, and we’ll be able to change the configuration often,” he said. “That makes it more interesting for people.”

Conrad envisions competitions, leagues, corporate events, fundraisers, and birthday and graduation parties at Buckeye Raceway.

Plans call for racers to pay a yearly $5.95 fee to cover the cost of the helmets that drivers are required to wear and the sanitary liners inside the helmets. Races will cost $18 each for 12 to 15 laps, and less per race when packages are purchased, Conrad said.

Columbus is becoming one of the go-to places for go-karting in Ohio. Grand Prix Karting on Alum Creek Drive near I-70 and Rt. 33 opened in June. The karts at Grand Prix are gasoline-powered.

These are the first two local tracks, and there are about 10 other indoor or outdoor kart tracks in Ohio.

Opening a kart track has long been the dream of Conrad, who grew up in Medina and most recently lived in Hilton Head, S.C.

“I looked all over the country for the right place, and this was it,” he said.

The West Side location was the right one for him, he said because of the affordable lease on the building, owned by Texas-based Spigel Properties, combined with the proximity of Hollywood Casino Columbus and its thousands of patrons, as well as the increased pace of commercial development in the area.

“A lot of people are putting money into their businesses around here, and they wouldn’t be if they didn’t see the potential,” Conrad said.

He declined to discuss the lease or how much he has invested in Buckeye Raceway.

A local businessman and leader in redevelopment of the casino-area neighborhood said he’s pleased to see the enterprise move in.

“We have a lot of empty boxes, and this investment is a natural transformation from the past to the future,” said Chris Haydocy of Weston Vision, an economic-development organization on the West Side. He also owns Haydocy Automotive, a Buick and GMC dealership, and a new Airstream dealership at the same site on the West Side.

“We need something unique and different, an entertainment venue that will attract people, and this fits the bill,” he said, adding that he believes Columbus can support two karting tracks.

A car guy at heart, Haydocy said he looks forward to the October opening of Buckeye Raceway.

“I met with Rob,” he said, “and I already asked about discount tickets.”