Karting Group Ready For Roar Of Competition
The sound of racing engines will soon be heard at the Palo Alto County Fairgrounds as a new family-oriented sporting opportunity begins later this month. Competitive go-kart races will be held over the remainder of the summer on selected Sunday afternoons at the Emmetsburg Raceway. The newly formed Emmetsburg Area Kart Club, working in cooperation with the Palo Alto County Fair Association, has constructed a go-kart track on the west edge of the fairgrounds in Emmetsburg.
Kevin Long of Cylinder and Arvin Sidles of Emmetsburg are the organizers of the local group, and also serve respectively as the President and Vice-President of the group. Through their past involvement in go-kart racing over the years, the idea for organized kart racing had long been in the back of their minds. With the closest regular organized kart races being in Forest City or Jackson, Minn., the only local options for kart fans was to travel, usually out of state, to be able to compete.
“We approached the Fair Board last year about having a kart race during the fair, and we put some races together,” Long explained. “The weather scared some people off that day, but we had a great turnout and people asked us if we were going to make a regular deal out of it. A bunch of us got together and talked about it, and we went to the fairboard, who gave us the go-ahead.”
Since then, the Emmetsburg Area Karting Association has incorporated, elected officers and taken on the project of building a racing facility. The track was graded, with banking in the corners, on the west side of the fairgrounds. Fencing was put up for security and safety regulations, and the toughest job, promoting and getting the word out about the races, began.
Now, the finishing touches are being applied to the facility in preparation for the first official race, set for Sunday, June 21.
To operate a kart track requires adherence to numerous rules and regulations. The local group is working under the auspices of the National Karting Federation, (NKF), the primary sanctioning body for go-kart racing in the United States.
“We’ve put in the fencing and barriers in accordance with all the regulations of the NKF,” Long noted, “and every competitor will be covered through the NKF insurance policy when they’re racing.”
A total of five divisions of karts will race at the local track, starting with the youngest beginners, or “Putt-Putt” Class. These karts look just like the regular competition karts, but the engines are highly restricted to limit speed. The drivers are no less than five years of age and no more than eight years old. The class is designed as a training class, to give the youth “seat time” to learn how to drive the karts, which are powered by five-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engines fueled by gasoline.
The Rookie class is for drivers aged eight through 12 using karts which are also powered by five-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engines fueled by gasoline.
Junior I racers are a step up, performance-wise; as the karts are powered by Methanol fueled engines. Drivers are between the ages of eight through 12 years of age and can weigh no more than 235 pounds with their kart.
The Junior II Class is for racers 12 to 16 years of age, weighing no more than 285 pounds with kart and using the Methanol fueled powerplant.
The final class is Adults, where the minimum age is 16. All karts are fueled by Methanol and there is no weight restriction.
Age classifications are determined by the participant’s age on the date of the beginning of the racing season.
All participants are required to wear full-face helmets with face shields that are SNELL 95 rated, along with gloves and neck restraint collars. Driving suits, or denim pants and jackets or leathers are mandatory for all operators, along with shoes. No sandals, clogs or bare feet are allowed. Drivers under the age of 12 are also required to wear chest protectors for safety purposes.
While competitors and pit crews will be required to purchase pit passes to cover their insurance for each event, spectators are welcomed to attend the races free of charge. Limited concessions will be available at the facility on race days.
In order to give the public an idea of what the facility looks like and will feature, an Open House is being planned for Sunday, June 14, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Palo Alto County Fairgrounds. Various karts will be on display, and members of the Association and racers will be on hand to answer questions about their sport. The event will be free to the public.
A total of seven events have been planned to start the season, beginning with races on Sunday, June 21. Races will also be held on Sunday, July 5 and July 19, before a special Fair race during the Palo Alto County Fair on Sunday, July 26. Races will also be held on Sundays in August 2, 16 and 30. Registration will run from 11 a.m. to 12:30, on race days, with hot laps starting at 12:30 p.m. and racing to follow. A racing program will consist of heat, or preliminary flight races, and Feature events, where the top three finishers will receive trophies.
“We’ve put in a lot of hours and a lot of work to get ready,” Arvin Sidles noted. “There are a lot of people talking about this all over the area and we think we could see a lot of karters coming to race here.”
For more information on the Emmetsburg Raceway, contact Kevin Long at 712-298-1288 or Arvin Sidles at 712-480-0266.