By Dan Verner
Are you sick of gridlock and long creeping lines of frustrated motorists? Wanna get your kicks tearing around a track, leaving other racers in the dust? Well, there’s now a way you can do just that…although on a small scale.
Electric go-kart racing has come to Manassas with the opening of the Autobahn Speedway in the 35,000 square-foot space left when Target moved out of Manassas Mall. Autobahn Speedway has ten locations currently open, mostly on the East Coast (and one in Tucson).
The Manassas track, managed by Trey Wann, offers not only racing, but a party room, conference room, video games, snacks and Coke® products. The karts sit over to one side next to the track while rock music pumps through the sound system. Black-shirted team members wait to greet customers as soon as they come into the facility.
In the words of Sean Maher, director of sales and marketing (who is responsible for supporting sales managers at each location and working with their marketing company Exit 10 on public relations, graphic design and media buys), “Electric Indoor karting originated in Europe where they regard karting as a skill requiring some expertise. The karts we use from Italy are the latest models.”
The facility opened in early May 2016 and donated 50 percent of its grand opening proceeds to SERVE of Prince William County. The company plans to open its eleventh track in the Dulles/Sterling area by the end of the year. According to Maher, each adult kart costs $10,000 and the junior karts, $7,000. Four batteries power the adult version, while the junior model uses two.
Autobahn requires junior racers to be 8-12 years old and 48 inches tall. Adults need to be 13 years and older and at least 56 inches tall. All age groups may race, from eight years old on up.
The business provides its visitors with everything they need, including helmets and head socks. This arrangement includes a one-day license per racer.
Safety is important, Maher said. “We have a mandatory safety video that each customer watches followed by a safety briefing from one of our team members. The safety video and briefing instruct a racer on how to operate the kart, what the flags mean and how to have a great time on the track.”
He added, “Safety is our number one concern! Besides the safety video and briefing, we have dedicated team members who are attentive to everything that is going on at the track. Our karts are designed to be safe, secure and comfortable with a four-point safety harness, remote controlled speed, and highend braking system.”
Costs run approximately $26 for the first race, and Autobahn offers discount packages for multiple races.
Over 30 team members are employed at the Manassas location, and Autobahn has more than 300 employees nationwide. Five hundred to 1,000 racers typically visit the track each day.
Autobahn offers its facilities for parties with eight or more people (up to hundreds), which includes a session reviewing of the rules, the use of flags and the operation of the karts.
They also offer packages for businesses interested in team building. The Autobahn website notes, “We’re not in the business of trust falls. We’re in the business of burning rubber and hugging turns at up to 50 mph. Event Captains ensure that organizations will meet their goals while their members enjoy their time at the track.”
“We encourage all of our guests to complete surveys about their experience and to share their experience on our Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Facebook pages,” Maher concluded. And that response has been overwhelmingly positive.
This unique track offers an inexpensive and entertaining option for road-weary residents who want to channel their inner Tony Stewart or Danica Patrick without the risk of a ticket. Ladies and gentlemen, Autobahn offers you that chance. Start your engines!
Dan Verner (email@example.com) is the author of several books and was named “Best Writer in Prince William County (Virginia)” for 2014 and 2015 by readers in a “Best of Prince William” poll taken by Prince William Today newspaper. Find out more about him at danverner.com.