Steamboat Springs More than 100 go-kart racers descended upon Steamboat Springs over the weekend for the final event in the inaugural season of the Shockwave Karting Colorado Sprint Championships.
A far cry from the go-karts found at family fun centers, the custom racing karts that scooted around a temporary track in the Meadows parking lot Saturday and Sunday easily reached speeds of 70 mph and higher.
Denver racer Ryan Bailey, 20, has been karting since age 8, and like many of the thousands who participate in sanctioned kart races around the globe, Bailey has aspirations of another sort of open-wheel racing -- Formula One.
"My goal is to get to Formula One," Bailey said Sunday before competing in a Pro-125cc class race. "All you're doing with karting is getting your name out there (for sponsors and racing teams)."
Bailey said his new $9,000 custom kart can reach speeds in excess of 120 mph, and like vehicles in other racing sports, it needs constant upkeep for top performance.
"We're always working on the karts," Bailey said.
The Steamboat Springs Grand Prix first came to the Yampa Valley last year as a result of the effort of local karting enthusiast Byron Radcliff, who organized the weekend event.
About 120 racers competing in 12 classes journeyed to Steamboat for the Grand Prix, Radcliff said, including many of the state's top racers.
The turnout doubled last year's, and judging from reactions to the venue, the popularity of the race will continue to grow.
"It is phenomenal," said Myrna Terrones, a mother and grandmother of kart racers. "You'd have to go a long way to find some other venue as beautiful."
Shockwave Karting owner Doug Welch told a race crowd of about 200 spectators that go-karting is a family affair. The Terrones and MacEwen family is a perfect example.
The Terrones, from Loveland, and the MacEwens, from Fort Collins, travel together to weekend kart events -- five generations brought together by a sport growing in popularity.
"It just allows the whole family to be together," Terrones said while holding the hands of her two youngest grandchildren. Her eldest grandson and her son race go-karts, and the two youngest grandchildren probably will begin next year when they become eligible as 5-year-olds.
Event organizer Radcliff said the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, the city and numerous hotels and condominiums have embraced the karting circuit, offering discounted lodging for visiting racers, which just might help keep families such as the Terroneses and MacEwens coming year after year.
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