As race tracks go, it’s not particularly long—roughly 2,000 feet from starting point, around to where the checkered flag will fall. Within that distance, however, there are 14 turns, a 300-foot straight, allowing speeds up to 35 miles per hour and always competition for the lead or just one spot ahead of a friend.
Back in 1999, Joe Miller opened the first FastKart Speedway in Spokane, Wash., and a second opened in 2000 in Salt Lake City. In 2004, he moved it to the current Salt Lake indoor facility at 3969 S. 500 West. And it is there he designed a track configuration that can be either two short tracks—1,000 feet each—on busy days or one long track—2,000 feet.
It is, as he points out, “An opportunity for people to race, and to decide if they want to go on and do more racing.’’
Available to customers are about 30 specialty go-karts. The frames have been modified to endure the bumps and grinds of racing competition. The karts are powered by a 6.5-horsepower Honda engine with speed controls removed. There is no transmission, simply a centrifugal clutch that engages when the gas pedal is pushed.
Top speed is actually around 44 or 45 miles per hour. The 300-foot straight however limits speed to around 35, which to the novice racer is plenty fast.
Racing at FastKart at speeds up to 35 mph
At race time Miller limits eight karts when the shorter tracks are used and 14 on the larger track.
Story has it that go-kart racing was founded by a hot rodder in California around 1956. Since, it has grown into a all-out sport, complete with racing circuits and a full range of karts, custom racing suits and digital temperature gauges.
As with everything, the karts evolved from a simple frame and engine to a highly-sophisticated vehicle capable, on some tracks, of 135 mph.
The high-speed karts, however, are quite different from the family-friendly ones used at recreation centers. For example, the recreation engines are typically your standard four-stroke—in the case of FastKart, 6.5 horsepower. The more competitive engines can produce upwards of 90 horsepower for twin 250 cc. The most popular engines, however, are the single ones turning out 125cc.
And therein rest the speeds today’s karters reach, which is well over 100 mph.
Miller says he spent a lot of time racing around the country in the 1980s and 1990s, “and I spent a lot of time go-kart racing.’’ So it seemed only natural he would venture into the go-kart business.
“It’s a venue where people can come and check out their skills. It’s a great racing environment where people can actually race without having to spend a lot of money and have a good time.’’ he says.
He is currently in the process of moving a track from Layton into Ogden.
Kart racing is, in fact, recognized as the most economic form of motorsport racing. And, it is a sport that can be enjoyed by almost anyone in their free time.
Miller’s two Utah tracks are open daily with different opening and closing times (see FastKartSpeedWay.com).
He offers two programs. The first is “Arrive and Drive’’ and the second is “Arrive and Race.’’
Under the “Arrive and Drive’’ karters simply show up and drive 10 minutes and 18 to 22 laps for $20 or 15 minutes (30 to 35 laps) for $25.
The “Arrive and Race” are, in fact, races—40, 60 or 100 laps. Prices are $30, $40 and $60, respectively. The race starts with each driver taking a 5-lap qualifier. From those times the lineup is established and racing is on—from the green flag to the checkered.
These, of course, are not the only tracks in Utah. Miller Motorsports Park north of Tooele has a large outdoor track with cars capable of 40 mph. There are several more tracks, some intended for young children, such as the Boondocks Fun Center and others intended to test race-driving skills.
A list of some of the tracks in Utah
Miller Motorsports Park—Tooele
Rocky Mountain Raceways—West Valley
Desert Thunder Raceway—Price
FastKart Indoor—Salt Lake City
Trafalga Fun Center—Orem & Lehi
Boondocks Fun Center—Kaysville & Draper
Fiesta Family Fun Center—St. George