Monaco. Indianapolis. Istanbul. Amarillo?
Of all the places you might pick to have a great race track that rivals some of the best tracks in the world, Amarillo, Texas would probably be pretty low on your list.
But last week while doing real work for my actual job that pays the bills, I was given the assignment to go check out a pro go-kart racing event that was coming to town.
It seemed really odd to me that Amarillo would have such an event, because as far as I, and everyone else in town knew, there was no track to have professional go-kart races on.
But roughly 20 miles east of the city, out in the middle of nothing but dirt and windmills, sat a race track just under one-mile long, that was an exact replica of the Intercity Istanbul Park racetrack in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Amarillo Kart Circuit was built in 2012 by a local orthopedic surgeon who didn’t want to be named in the story, and basically he built it so he and his sons, as well as other serious racers in the area, didn’t have to travel 5-plus hours to Dallas where the nearest go-kart tracks were. So they just up built their own, and made it a scale replica of the Istanbul circuit, finishing up at 0.98 miles, while the Istanbul version is around 3.3 miles.
The track is privately owned, was entirely financed by the mystery local owner, and has only a small number of “members” who are allowed on the track.
The picture at the top of this post shows the tracks side-by-side from Google Maps, and yep, they’re the same, aside from Turkey having grass and the Texas Panhandle being nothing but dirt.
According to workers/members at the track, the whole point prior to last weekend’s pro go-kart event was to keep the track a secret, because they didn’t want just any jamoke out there messing around with the track. They wanted it to be for seriously racing only.
The track was so private before this past weekend that it has no website, and only a Facebook page that had under 300 followers when I started doing my research on the track.
Even more bizarre, the racing circuit that came to town, the Texas ProKart Challenge, had heard through the grapevine that the track existed, got nowhere online, and began searching for the track on Google Maps before locating it and setting up the event last week.
And according to the workers at the track, it was a huge hit with all the riders who hit the track for the first time, with some even comparing it to tracks over in Europe.
From the article linked to above:
“Some of the guys out here have driven all over the world and they say they’ve never driven on a track this nice,” track mechanic Barret Hoffman said of the feedback he’s received this week. “And that’s a huge statement to hear from people who have raced in Italy and France and big-name tracks. To come here and think, ‘How is this possible?’ It’s good to know that your hard work goes to something that’s appreciated.”
But if you were hoping to get on the track in the near-future, you’re probably out of luck.
Hoffman said that there are no plans to increase publicity for the track other than hopefully holding more pro go-kart events in the future, and that there are no plans to open it to the public for racing or to add more members.
So yeah, somewhere out the in middle of nowhere Texas is an amazing racetrack, all because a rich guy didn’t want to have to travel anymore for his hobby. That’s pretty cool.
If you missed it earlier, here is the link to my full story on the track: