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Work Underway For An Indoor Karting Track In Chesterfield, VA
Facility News

Sandy Tarant aims to be ready to open Thunderbolt Indoor Karting in April. Work is still being done on the indoor go-kart track in Chesterfield County.














The go-karts — 21 designed for adults, six for juniors — have arrived from Italy, but Sandy Tarant has lots of work left before he opens the doors to Thunderbolt Indoor Karting.

Tarant aims to be ready to open his indoor go-kart operation in April, assuming the Chesterfield County permit process goes smoothly.

The business will occupy 40,000 square feet in the former RoomStore home furnishing store in the Chesterfield Marketplace shopping center on Carmia Way, just east of Chesterfield Towne Center.

A neonatologist, Tarant is a director of newborn intensive care at Southside Regional Medical Center. He’s also a serial entrepreneur.

He owns seven Great Clips hair salon franchises in the Richmond area, he said, and was looking for “something that is mentally and physically challenging” for his next business venture.

On Monday, Tarant showed off his business-to-be.

He’s not a karting junkie, he said, but the enthusiasm of a young friend helped him recognize the profit-making potential of an indoor karting venue. He checked out similar businesses in Arizona and Florida, and “I decided to take the plunge.”

Thunderbolt Indoor Karting is not a franchise. With financing help from Union First Market Bank, Tarant is building this operation from scratch.

Once it is built, the track will snake through seven or eight turns inside the building. Depending on whether or not Tarant straightens out one of the chicanes on the track diagram, one lap will be between a quarter-mile and one-third mile.

The electric karts that customers will use are produced by a factory in northern Italy. The adult karts can approach 50 mph, Tarant said, and can be slowed by remote control to match the junior karts for inter-generation competition.

Scores of energy-absorbing plastic units were stacked in the building Monday, waiting to be set up as interlocking track barriers. They will be weighted with sand to keep them in place and keep the karts on the track path.

In addition to the track and space for a company office, Tarant’s plans call for a 1,000-square-foot conference room, a game room and a snack area.

Without disclosing the exact investment required to launch his venture, Tarant said it will cost more than $1 million to open.

He said some of the expenses were greater than anticipated. For example, he said, eliminating the building’s dropped ceiling and installing brighter lighting — along with a revamped sprinkler system and other overhead details — will cost nearly $100,000.

“Nobody’s going to come in here and say, ‘Wow, look at that great ceiling,’ but the subconscious effect will be important,” Tarant said. “It’s going to be like daylight — full of energy.”

He said the track will serve walk-in customers, planned parties and corporate outings that can combine conferences and team-building exercises.

For individuals, Tarant said, the charge will be about $20 for a 14-lap session, with discounts for subsequent rounds. He said a 14-lap run is a serious workout — the mental and physical challenge he was looking for in a business.

“Honestly,” he said, “when I run that long I need about an hour to settle down and stop twitching. You have to be so focused and alert.”

More information will be available in about at week at www.thunderboltkarting.com, Tarant said.

Thunderbolt Indoor Karting sits next door to the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park that opened in December in a 37,500-square-foot space that previously had been a Linens ‘n Things store.

Tarant said he and the Sky Zone partners, brothers Luke and Will Phillips, lived in the same Chesterfield County neighborhood at one time. Tarant said they have discussed collaborating to offer special prices for joint trampoline-karting outings.

Thunderbolt Indoor Karting won’t be the only area indoor kart track. G-Force Karting, at 4245 Carolina Ave. near Richmond International Raceway in Henrico County, has been in business 13 years.

G-Force, using gas-powered karts from a plant in Belgium, offers its own array of party packages and corporate outings. The business also has laser tag and paintball operations.

BY RANDY HALLMAN Richmond Times-Dispatch
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