An indoor kart-racing track is moving in March to the Pavilions at Talking Stick, a shopping center long known for its ties to car culture.
Octane Raceway is building a one-third mile, indoor-outdoor track in the former Scottsdale International Auto Museum at the southeastern edge of the Pavilions, just south of Toys “R” Us.
Octane President Scott Sanders said the track is also switching to the latest high-speed electric racing karts from Sodikart of France that travel at speeds up to 45mph.
“I went to France to test drive them and said I’m not going to make the switch unless they are able to deliver the same driving experience (as the gas-engine karts),” Sanders said. “I was really impressed. They’re fast.”
Octane Raceway will join other entertainment venues on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community centered at Loop101 and Indian Bend Road. That includes the Talking Stick Resort and Casino, Salt River Fields, Talking Stick Golf Club and Ultra Star Cinemas.
The Pavilions has hosted an informal Saturday night car show for more than 20 years. The auto museum operated for about a year.
“We are excited to have Octane Raceway open their brand new facility at the Pavilions,” said Chuck Carlise, president of DeRito Partners Development Inc., which owns the shopping center.
“They are basically an Internet-proof business,” he said. “You cannot get the thrill of driving a real car online.”
A decade of kart racing
Octane Raceway, formerly the F1 Race Factory, has operated at 317 S.48th St. for nearly a decade.
The new space includes a 45,000-square-foot building with 20,000 square feet of outdoor space. The outdoor track and patio will be shaded with a steel canopy.
The passageway, 18 feet wide and 8 feet high, will have an “air wall” to keep heated or chilled air within the building, Sanders said.
Racing with electric karts will eliminate the issue of exhaust fumes from internal-combustion engines.
“We’re excited about the green component of the electric karts,” he said.
Other tracks use electric karts but Sanders said Octane Raceway will be the first to use an entire fleet of Sodikart’s new RTX electric karts. Octane invested close to $375,000 in 30 karts.
Target market is nearby offices
The Pavilions location is more convenient for Octane Raceway’s customer base. The venue hosts birthday parties and other social events, along with company meetings and team-building outings.
“This puts us closer to our target clients,” Sanders said.
Octane limits racing to ages 10 and older, although 8- and 9-year-olds can participate if they take a class offered weekly called Raceology101.
Most of the racers “are adults looking for that adrenaline rush,” Sanders said.
The acceleration of the electric karts is faster than conventional engines that have to spool up, he said.
Raceway offers food and beverages in its Trackside Grill and Victory Lounge, billiards, video games and foosball. There is Segway course and a former NASCAR race car is used for a pit-crew challenge competition.
Corporate teams do a four-wheel tire change on the car using pit-crew jacks and air guns. The real pit crews do it in about 12 seconds.
“With our folks, if you do it below a minute you’re killing it,” Sanders said.
Octane Raceway will continue operating in Phoenix through mid-March. No date has been set for the opening at the Pavilions.