Podium Raceway set to open in Kapolei
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JASON GENEGABUS / firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of my favorite memories as a kid growing up on Oahu were days spent at Castle Park, an entertainment mecca on par with Disneyland for those of us who had yet to venture off the island.
Sure, I eventually got to visit sunny SoCal and interact with Mickey Mouse and all his friends. But I still think back fondly on the times I spent in the batting cages at Castle Park, playing video games in the arcade and driving a go-kart long before I was old enough to get my driver’s license.
So when I walked through the doors at Podium Raceway Hawaii, childhood memories of racing with my friends collided head-on with thoughts of a new, grown-up tradition: Kicking butt in an electric kart at Kalaeloa.
The 44,000-square foot facility houses an indoor, quarter-mile track along with an arcade and three private meeting/party rooms. Partners Neil Tsutsui, Mark Jeffries and Warren Cole will open the doors to the general public on New Year’s Day.
“In the Inland Empire, motocross and kart racing go hand in hand,” Jeffries explained on Monday. “Basically, (Podium Raceway) is built off the idea of those mainland tracks. If you were to walk into a mainland track, it looks exactly like this.”
Unlike the noisy and environmentally unfriendly go-karts used at Castle Park back in the day, the 35 machines at Podium Raceway are state-of-the-art electric models with variable speed control. As many as 12 drivers at a time can compete on the indoor track, which features four hairpin turns and two straightaways, at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
Podium Raceway Hawaii track coordinator Daniel Bachmann gives a safety briefing prior to a race.
PRH track coordinator Tyson Jeffries checks the safety harness on one of the karts.
Technology is wisely used throughout the building, from the computerized check-in process to a water bottle refilling system that is free for customers to use. Spend $5.95 to become an annual "Trackpass" member, and you'll gain online access to your race times in addition to notifications about money-saving deals and coupons.
While the track is currently open only for special events and corporate groups, the general public is invited to participate in grand opening festivities on New Year’s Day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
"We are extremely happy with how our facility has turned out, it's a great place for race enthusiasts to come together to enjoy a thrilling and exhilarating experience," said Tsutsui in a press release. "We are also proud of the fact that our facility has become a cornerstone for the change for better in (the) Kalaeloa/Barbers Point area.
“Our goal was to create a thriving, safe, healthy, family environment and we've definitely achieved that from the rehabilitation of our building to our use of the most energy efficient lighting and air conditioning, to our all electric karts.”
Podium Raceway Hawaii
91-1085 Lexington St.
» Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 10 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays
» Cost: $25 general admission (14 laps; $20 for members), $20 for juniors (9 laps, ages 6 and up; $15 for members)
» Info: 682-7223 or www.podiumraceway.com
» Note: Go-karts are available for adults (minimum 55" tall) and juniors ages 6 and up (minimum 48" tall). Covered shoes are required to operate the karts; no drivers will be allowed to race if wearing slippers, sandals, or high heels. Each "Arrive and Drive" session lasts for about 10 minutes and may include one to 12 drivers. First time drivers will receive a mandatory briefing session on rules and safety.