By Peter Schwartz
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The sport of go-karting has certainly evolved since the first kart was built in 1956. Born in Southern California, go-karting spread rapidly to other countries and has developed a large following in Europe.
But though it began as an outdoor sport, go-karting has moved indoors and has been thriving since the creation of Pole Position Raceway in 2005. Co-founded by Jason Williams and Ken Faught, the company has locations all over the country, and now they have added another metropolitan-area location with the opening of a raceway in Farmingdale on Long Island.
“We looked for two years on Long Island for a space, and we just go so lucky to be part of the community in Farmingdale,” said co-owner Karen Davis-Farage, who also operates other Pole Position locations in Jersey City, Syracuse and Buffalo, with two more on the way in Rochester and Savannah, Georgia.
When looking around for a Long Island location, Davis-Farage and her family found the perfect spot on Daniel Street right off of Route 110. They are right in the middle of Long Island, which makes it easy for both Nassau County and Suffolk County racers to get to.
And when they get there, they will have a great time.
“We like to suggest that we are the most authentic, exhilarating and safe experience you can have outside of real racing,” said Davis-Farage. “Our karts are from Italy. For adults, they go up to 45 miles per hour. We build European race tracks so you’ve got hairpin turns and straightaways.”
Indoor karting has a huge advantage over outdoor karting in that the karts are electric. That has enabled the sport to grow, because karting indoors comes without the emissions and fumes of gas. That makes the sport clean, green and safe.
That’s a big difference from what takes place at outdoor raceways.
“Many are outside and many are gas, and you have to have a non-flammable uniform (and) you have to really take precaution,” said Davis-Farage. “With us, we give you a head sock for sanitary purposes. We give you a helmet, and if you come with open-toe shoes, you can rent sneakers from us for five bucks. You can race in a fancy Bat Mitzvah dress or you can race in shorts for all we care.”
Don’t adjust your computers or tablets — she did say Bat Mitzvah! That’s because Pole Position is not just a facility where you arrive and drive. They host over 1,000 events a year, including personal celebrations such as birthday parties and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
So, if the Jets decide to bring training camp to Farmingdale State College next year, head coach Rex Ryan now has another option for a team outing.
Pole Position welcomes racers young and old. The average age is 35, but it likes to say that it has racers from eight to 80.
“We have a kart designed for juniors, so anyone between 48 and 58 inches and typically eight years old and over can race,” said Davis-Farange.
Pole Position prides itself on safety. If a kart gets hit, it’s immediately pulled off the track and checked out immediately. Each location has a shop with multiple mechanics on duty.
While the main attraction at the raceway is actually getting in the kart and racing, there is more to each location than just the actual sport of go-karting. There’s a high-end arcade and a museum filled with memorabilia from the racing industry. It helps that NASCAR driver Kurt Busch happens to be an investor in the corporate company.
In the three weeks that the Long Island location has been open, it’s been clear that Pole Position has found a very successful venue. It has over 6,000 “likes” on Facebook, and there are two-hour waits to race on weekends.
“The response has been incredible,” said Davis-Farange. “We’re a little overwhelmed. The racing community has come out, as well as people that have never raced at all.”
There is no shortage of entertainment venues on Long Island. From movie theatres to amusement parks, to batting ranges, mini-golf courses and bounce houses, there’s a lot of competition for the entertainment dollar.
But Pole Position Raceway’s newest location in Farmingdale has become a big hit in a matter of weeks. It takes seconds to get around the track and it’s only taken a New York minute for the raceway to become a huge success.
For more information on Pole Position, you can visit their website at www.polepositionraceway.com.
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