Live out your childhood Hot Wheels fantasies with the North Florida Go Karting Club.
The need for speed can be found beyond video games and television here in Jacksonville.
Not intended to be a secret, Jacksonville has a 0.5-mile asphalt go-kart racing track with a 1,000-ft straightaway. Free and open to the public 7 to 7 every day, the North Florida Kart Club hosts regional and national races each year on the grounds.
“It’s true to racing, it’s go as fast as you want, but there’s definitely rules,” said the North Florida Kart Club’s secretary treasurer, Rob Hindery.
When you enter the property at 10244 103rd St., there are five 4×8 inch signs that explain the safety rules and regulations before getting onto the tracks.
“There’s a noise ordinance that you have to adhere to, you have to wear a helmet, a neck brace, gloves, a jacket, closed toes shoes, and long pants,” said Jim Hindery.
This is not only a place for fun and adrenaline, but a place to always be mindful and responsible. Here, people can have fun and be a part of the go karting world.
“It’s free to the public. It makes it one of a kind in the country, where people can just come out here on a Wednesday or whenever,” said Hindery.
For the last five years, Hindery has been volunteering there with his son, Jim Hindery. Jim is also the club’s president and has been for past three years. Since Jim was a child, he and Rob have bonded together through the sport. Now, Jim has his own children, and he is passing on the legacy. Today his five-year-old son and eldest, Blaise, has already won two races speeding at 35 mph. On 103rd Street, the Hindery family have created memories while making great opportunities for those that want to race there as well.
“We do them at least twice a month. Some of our races are during the day and some of the hotter months that we run, you know spring and mid early fall, we’ll even do night races with the lights on. Which is great, it adds the intensity to it,” said Rob.
There’s a fee to participate in these races, non-members are $45 and $35 for members––cash only.
“When we host our local events, it’s $35 (for members) an entry. It’s free to watch from the stands, but if you want to watch from the pits, all you have to do if buy the insurance armband. It’s $10 and that money goes to pay the track workers,” said Jim.
At the racetrack there are different classes based on age, weight, and engine type.
“Sets of tires, a jacket, hats, shirts, sweatshirts. We try to pay back with prizes to at least third place and if it’s been a real big club class, where over 30-35 people have participated, we will try to pay back all the way to 5th place,” said Rob.
In the national races, prizes are bigger. “The most coveted prize in karting is called the Triple Crown. If you win three national championships in one year, you get a full sponsorship to go drive open wheel cars. The Karting Association basically pays you to race a racecar for one year,” said Rob.
Whether wanting to participate regionally or nationally, the doors are open for all at the North Florida Kart Club. In the go karting family, all are truly welcome.
“On a local basis we get on average about 50-60 competitors. But the bigger races, the national races, when they come to town here 2-3 times a year, they’ll draw near to 200-300,” said Jim.
However, not all join the track at the same time.
“Normally there’s no more than 20-30 karts out there at the most,” said Jim.
And with all these people coming together and sharing one passion, they give back as well to the community.
“One of our biggest club charities is “The Spinal Bifida Association”. It’s a six-hour endurance race. Its company hosted and as part of our contribution to Spinal Bifida, we charge $900 to rent the track. For big events like that, $900 a day, we donated three of those days,” said Jim.
All the money that the property receives is always used for good and to keep the racetrack alive.
“We also pay into a trust with the city that allows us to basically have ownership of this place,” said Jim. “And that money that we pay into the trust every year goes into that trust fund. Then with that money, it gets used for the improvement projects.”
A loud, yet unintentionally unknown place like this, is being heard of around the country. It’s time for the locals to know as well. The North Florida Kart Club not only gives opportunities to those interested in the sport but helps the community around it.
“The city loves it because a lot of these people that come from out of state, they stay at the local motels, the restaurants, a lot of the people come in and actually stay at Jax Beach for a week when they come in for a national touring event,” said Jim Hindery.
It’s here, its loud, and its only getting bigger.
“On our website, we got our schedule posted. Just come and have fun. And it doesn’t even have to be a racing go-kart. You can bring a yard kart, something you ride around in someone’s backyard,” said Rob. “As long as you got the proper safety equipment, you’re good to go. And that’s what makes this track so, so cool.”