Cart races burn up the 'Boat

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Four years ago, while at a race in Denver, Byron Radcliff asked some fellow go-cart racers whether they would ever race in Steamboat Springs.

"Without a doubt," many of them said.

Now, the Steamboat Springs Grand Prix of Karting is in its fourth year of mixing speed, fun and fierce competition.

"We bring people from all over Colorado here," Radcliff said. "This is such a great sport."

This year, there are racers from Utah and New Mexico, as well.

Radcliff, who works at Action Motor--sports in Steamboat, has been the event organizer since he got the idea for the race to come to the Yampa Valley.

Radcliff estimates that more than 150 racers will compete this year for prizes in 13 classes. The practice races and qualifying races were held Saturday. The real competition is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in the Meadows parking lot.

The Steamboat Springs Grand Prix is part of a racing series that drivers compete in with hopes of winning national or international placement. The National Cup is in September in Grand Junction. The Supernationals are in November in Las Vegas.

Radcliff said go-cart racing is one of the most exciting sports in the motorsport family and that it quickly is growing in popularity.

"This is a great family sport, because everyone gets to travel around together," he said.

Radcliff also said most people are drawn to the sport because it is relatively inexpensive.

"You can get an Indy car race performance for about $8,000 or $9,000," he said. "Plus, these carts are fast."

Most of the carts practicing Saturday reached speeds of about 75 mph, and some carts are capable of reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph, Radcliff said.

Radcliff also said go-cart racing is one of the safest motorsports.

"It is definitely not as scary as it looks," he said. "It's a pretty safe sport."

Radcliff said all racers are required to wear helmets, special racing suits, gloves, shoes and neck braces.

"These go-carts are de----signed to eject you if you are going to roll and keep you in otherwise," he said.

Grand Junction racer Rich--ard Buxman said he enjoys the sport because of its technical aspect and because it attracts women.

"Chicks dig dirt and grease," he said.

Buxman's wife also races with the 30-person team. He hopes to win the prestigious "King of the Mountain" racing title during today's races. He has won the pro title the past two years.

"I'll get it whether I have to throw rocks at the competition or not," he said.

Buxman said coming to Steam----boat to race always is a treat.

"This is absolutely one of my favorite venues," he said. "Everybody gets excited to go."

Kart Sport magazine editor Jeff Franz stationed himself on the track all day Saturday to take photos of the racers and sample some of the excitment.

"These kinds of events are always good for our sport because they bring it to people who might not have ever seen cart racing," he said. "These races always register on our radar."

Franz said this race is the culmination of the many races the drivers have been competing in all summer.

"It'll be an exciting race, for sure," he said.

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