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Layoff drove software executive to go-karting career at Destiny USA
Facility NewsHow does a 30-year veteran of the software industry wind up in the indoor go-karting business? Her first career fell out from under her, that's how.

Karen Davis-Farage hit rock-bottom when the software company that employed her in Jersey City, N.J., downsized her out of her job as vice president for business development soon after the Great Recession struck in 2008.

"I didn't see it coming," said Davis-Farage, now president and co-owner of two Pole Position Raceway go-karting franchises, including the one at the Destiny USA shopping mall in Syracuse. "The CEO didn't give me a heads up. I was absolutely devastated. It was my first time unemployed."

At 52, the Manhattan resident wasn't sure which way to turn because her job prospects in the software business were not good. Her expertise, developed over her 30 years in the industry, was building strategic partnerships to drive revenues.

"There's only one vice president for business development in every company, and most software companies were in survival mode, so they were not expanding," she said. "There were no jobs. It didn't matter how much networking I did."

Making matters worse, her husband Eyal "Alex" Farage's construction business was also feeling the recession's pinch, she said.

But the following summer, while he was dropping their son, Andrew, off at college in California, Eyal and Andrew went to an indoor go-karting facility in Los Angeles. Andrew loved it so much, he suggested his dad go into the business.

When he got back to Manhattan, Eyal suggested the possibility to his wife. But she said she did not think her experience in the software industry would translate well to sporting business.

The more she thought about it, though, the more she thought the go-kart business was for her.

"I had the skills to run the business," she said. "HR, marketing and sales were my expertise."

So she and her husband searched around for an indoor go-kart business that would sell them franchises for the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. They found one -- California-based Pole Position Raceway.

They opened their first Pole Position in an 80,000-square-foot former pharmaceutical warehouse in Jersey City, N.J., in 2010 and opened one in a 43,000-square-foot space on the third floor of Destiny USA in October.

Davis-Farage said they had originally planned to open raceways within a 90-mile radius of New York City but decided their second one would be in Syracuse after being approached by Destiny USA representatives.

Based on her own research and information provided by the manufacturer of her company's karts, she said the raceway at Destiny USA is the first electric kart racetrack in a shopping mall in the U.S.

Since opening, the Syracuse Pole Position has hosted 45,000 races, 15 percent more than her projections, she said. Sixty percent of the track's customers wind up buying a membership, so the raceway gets a lot of repeat business, she said.

Races on the winding, quarter-mile indoor course last 14 laps for adults and 10 for children. They cost $23 for adults and $20 for children. Discounts are available with annual memberships that start at $55.

Pole Position also markets itself to businesses by renting rooms for meetings and employee team-building events.

Davis-Farage said she is looking in Connecticut and Long Island for a location for a third raceway.

"Indoor karting is the new bowling," she said. "There's a skill you learn, but everyone can do it."

Now 56, Davis-Farage said she is finding her venture into entrepreneurship empowering because, unlike her situation in 2008, she's in full control.

"I never thought my skill sets would transfer to another industry, but business skills are business skills," she said. "It's all transferable."

For more information about Pole Position Syracuse, visit
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