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Discussion Starter #1
Need some opinions.

I'm thinking of opening an Indoor Kart track here in Louisville Kentucky. We're the nations 16th largest city and right across the river from southern indiana so there's a fairly large population.

There are indoor tracks in Cincy ohio ( 2 hours away) and Indianapolis ( 2 hours away). A large group of the local autocrossers drive up to cincy every weekend to race.


I know indoor karting is popular in Europe and it's starting to take off here in the US....but how popular do you think it will be? Is it a fad? Is it here to stay?

I'll be using the 9hp karts, 35mph, indoor track...a 50,000 square foot facility, going to cost $2.50 a square foot, permits etc etc, heating and/or cooling....then of course you have the Kart costs I'll be using at *least* ten karts, barrier costs, ROC timing and scoring, computers, upkeep/tires/oil/etc etc.

Louisville only has one gokart track and its 40 minutes away..its an outdoor track 2 mile circuit with pretty slow gokarts....you know, the usual kiddie fare.
Our weather is typically chilly for 5/6 months of the year, the warm months are usually 85-90 degrees and humid.

Im a little scared, I guess I could pay for a feasibility study but those are pricey too.

Any ideas on indoor karting in the US?
 

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OneFastMiata said:

A large group of the local autocrossers drive up to cincy every weekend to race.


Louisville only has one gokart track and its 40 minutes away..its an outdoor track 2 mile circuit with pretty slow gokarts
How well do you know the local autocrossers? Would they consider coming to your track instead of going to Indy?

Does the 'kiddie' track have business? Is it busy? That could be an indicator of the local interest somewhat.

You're close to E-town so you might also draw some business from that area as well.

Off the cuff it sounds neat, the 'novelty' of it might draw some non racers but I think that 'drivers' will support you, hence the local autox people. Might want to consider getting them involved in the track design (within reason) to get them to race on yours more than other tracks.
 

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An acquaintance of mine started an indoor track in Denver, and it's evidently doing alright in that it's still there after several years of being in business. He sold it about a year after he developed it. I know some SCCA folks who go there a few times a year. I understand it's popular with many big companies for informal get-togethers. It sounds like the scale of operation you're looking at.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the comments so far, keep em' coming!

No question they'd use my track just because its a lot closer and they've already said they would, however a local group of 15 or so autocrossers wont pay the rent, not even close. Im more worried about the larger demographic, people who dont currently autocross or race much.

The other track is always busy, its been there 10 years at least but its outdoors, and they have bumper boats and putt putt plus an indoor rock wall.

Im worried that in the summer months noones going to want to kart indoors. Yes I'll have faster karts however the outdoor track ( if they wanted) could invest in faster euro style karts to compete with me in the summer months and they have a GIANT outdoor track.
 

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I think the business model is sound and could be made profitable. A second indoor karting business has opened in this area (SF Bay Area, CA). I think the biggest challenge is convincing potential customers why they should spend what can appear as a large amount of money for 'go-karts'. Definitely target the local car clubs, and corporate outings.

One local place, SpeedRing , put a lot of thought into the interior decor - it's almost Disneyland-like. :) Check out their website, they have a really well put-together business IMHO.
 

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We now have two tracks here in Phoenix and they are in pretty close proximity of each other. I haven't been to the newest one but both are pretty new so I can't tell you much about how long the market will last. I was on a weekly league for a little over a month it was fun but wore off quickly. Their facility is smaller than you're looking at (approx. 25,000 sq ft of track) and you're not able to really race anybody because the track is too tight IMO. You can't make a clean pass you have to push them out of the way to get by. The league was $40/week and for a month that adds up so I began thinking I would rather do other things for the money.


The one I went to is: http://www.speedwayraceway.com

I don't have a link for the new one.
 

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Thats precisely what Im afraid of.. at first it will be a novelty but then what? What about the summer months? Will people want to be in a warehouse driving a kart around or outdoors?


Dunno..we'll see.
 

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This is in Columbus, OH. This is pretty much what you were talking about. It's busy alot, they have leagues & stuff. They have an old retail building that has a kart track and a bar. Weekends it's hard to get track time if you don't call ahead or don't mind waiting an hour or so. They run propane karts. Pretty cool and quite fast feeling. They have full data aquisition on the karts for lap timing & software that automatically does rankings and such.

Speeds Columbus

To be honest i thinkin the next 5-10 years Karting is going to become much more popular. It's cheap speed and I know that C.A.R.T. and other racing series are trying to promote it for American drivers.
 

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There is a novelty aspect. I hope to go to the one in Chicago once a month with some friends.

I think their pricing is a bit high and it will come down as demand wanes.

For the summer you really need to focus on outings and not walk-in business.
 

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OneFastMiata said:
Thats precisely what Im afraid of.. at first it will be a novelty but then what? What about the summer months? Will people want to be in a warehouse driving a kart around or outdoors?


They do here. The leagues seem quite busy. It's almost hard to get time when it's not being used by a group or league, kinda like trying to get into a bowling alley on a week night.

A large part of the business is company activities. A welcome change from the typical company function. They provide catering, a meeting room, and set up a race among the employees with heats.
 

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For all you Entrepreneurs out there - This is Ron Morris's webcast. Ron is the Director of Duquesne's Business School's Entrepreneurial Institute. His website is a great source of informantion. And his webcasts are quite funny as well as informative. The accountant he has on the show, David Wilke, is the accountant that's working on my startup. He's got a good website and offers alot of good advice.


The American Entrepreneur Webcast

Here are links to two Louisville Small Business Development Centers. They are funded by the SBA and provide alot of FREE research and advice.

Greater Kentucky SBDC

Louisville SBDC

Jenn, email or IM me if you want more info. I am just finishing up my MBA/MS-MIS and can provide some quick advice/answers & a lot of resources on the web to help provide you more background on starting a business. I've helped out several of my friends with the startup process and am going through it myself right now. Free, of course, unless you ever make it to Pgh, then you can buy me a few beers. :) mmmmm beer....
 

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Here's Boston's version: F1Boston.

The indoor tracks (2) have been open a few years, and they added an outdoor track this season - so perhaps your concern about racing indoors in the summer is a valid concern. To be honest, I have never gone karting during the summer, when the "big car" events are going on.

I suspect that for a venture like this to have continued success, you need to have a fairly-priced league system. Corporate outings and club events will suffice for a while, but you need to develop a core of regulars.

Also, consider whether you can afford to construct a facility that provides additional amenities (F1Boston has pool tables, bar, retail outlet for racing gear, etc.) so that patrons can make an evening of it.

Finally, consider whether you can attract both the "kiddie-kart" crowd and the auto-X/racer crowds by having different karts and "licenses" available.

Good luck.
 

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OneFastMiata said:
Thats precisely what Im afraid of.. at first it will be a novelty but then what? What about the summer months? Will people want to be in a warehouse driving a kart around or outdoors?
Well, it appears to be working around here, where the weather is excellent and rain is scarce. If you're outdoors, it's hotter due to the sun. Indoors, it'll still be hot (since you need to ventilate the track area, which'll bring that to the same temp as outdoors), but you can have air conditioned areas for people to cool off after their run. SpeedRing, for example, has a neat second-story cafe you can sit in and watch the racing below.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Lotus Fury, thanks a million for the info I may PM you soon!

Everyone else too, thanks so much, Im still up in the air but will be deciding here soon. Free laps for anyone visiting Louisville if I start up! ;) :)
 

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What would be really cool if there was a way to put a camera on each cart to record the race. You could do it pretty easily if you had a WiFi camera that send it's signal to a central computer so that you could have a CD or DVD made. It’s sort of like having a souvenir picture from an amusement park. That would be cool. People could use it as a souvenir or for the serious racer to get better.
 

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Hi Jennifer,

We have quite a lot of indoor tracks here.
Mind you our weather is not so good :(


But I think if you've done your homework this should work.
I've done a lot of indoor and outdoor karting.
They're very different from each other.

Indoor tracks tend to be much tighter and twistyer.
This makes them more tiring to drive
which means you would tend to have shorter races.

Keep with the slower karts for indoor use.
They're better suited.

Have you done this sort of thing before ?
Sorry if this is all obvious but

make sure you spend enough time designing the circuit.
Too many get set up that only have one possible passing place :(

Some places run a layout that can be used as one big track or (by rearranging a couple of tirewalls) two smaller tracks.
This gives the advantage of variety.

Keep the karts in good order and plan on replacing them all every year or so. Duff karts quickly give a track a bad reputation.

Kart life can be extended by ensuring all drivers attend a briefing that emphasises that it's a non-contact sport and people seen making contact will be brought in for a penalty.
And make sure you enforce this with consistent marshalling from well trained marshalls.

Offering discounts for local buisnesses who block book the track helps give people a taste for karting. They might then come back with their friends for other events.

Occasionally run more challenging events like a 24 hour endurance race.

I could go on all day, but I'll stop now.
I hope some of this is helpful, if you'd like any more info send me a PM
 
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