Racing icon’s mega go kart center coming to S. Chandler - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Racing icon’s mega go kart center coming to S. Chandler

August 18th, 2021 development
Racing icon’s mega go kart center coming to S. Chandler

By Paul Maryninak 
Executive Editor

A major entertainment venue with ties to an auto racing legend is coming to south Chandler.

Andretti Karting & Games last month shelled out $4.9 million to buy 10.2 acres on the southwest corner of Cooper Road and the Santan Loop 202 Freeway from hotel developer Drury Development Company and DDC Hotels LLL.

Named after racing legend Mario Andretti, the company already operates three venues in Texas, two in Georgia and one in Orlando, Florida.

And when it opens either late next year or early 2023, company spokesman Stan Manousos told the SanTan Sun News, it will offer the same stunning array of hi-tech entertainment options, mostly focused around auto racing.

“We like Chandler and we like the area by the 202,” Manousos said, adding that his company is impressed with the access it gives to the broader Phoenix Metro market.

And, of course, “We like that there are many families living in the area,” he said.

The cornerstone of each venue is high-tech electric go-kart racing on intricately designed tracks that even offer “mini Mario go-karts” for kids as young as 4.

Manousos said that while each track is unique to each venue, they all are built with the features that Andretti Karting boasts for its Marietta, Georgia, venue:

“Experience the adrenaline rush of our electric go kart races with instant acceleration as you put the pedal to the metal around hairpin turns, up and down elevation changes and long straightaways on our indoor climate-controlled tracks.”

Manousos said the sites usually offer two tracks that can be linked together for a different driving experience.

The Orlando, Florida, site, for example, can be rented out and the tracks can be coupled for one big circuit that accommodates 30 to 40 people at a time for a race.

Touting “the best model of electric karts in the industry, the Biz Kart Ecovolt GP,” the website calls the vehicles “powerful, ergonomic, safe and environmentally friendly.”

Beyond the centerpiece attraction, Andretti Indoor Karting sites offer an array of other entertainment options as well as an extensive dining menu with vegan and gluten options.

Besides a pinball and video arcade and “boutique bowling” with black-lit racing-themed lanes, the venue offers a variety of virtual amusements, including racing simulations and games with “advanced graphic technology and full sensory immersion.”

“Andretti’s racing simulators are the most advanced on the market and deliver big-time on thrills and heart-pounding excitement,” the company brags. “It’s so realistic that you actually feel the motion and vibrations of the car, experience the tension in the seatbelt, and hear the sounds of the race track.”

With panoramic screens, the simulators “are the same kind that professional race car drivers use,” the company said, and its “full motion actuators” “give the feel of driving at high speeds.”

Another attraction, called the 7D Xperience, offers “a 3D interactive movie experience with amazing special effects. Up to eight riders at a time compete for the highest score using laser blasters and battling on-screen enemies. You actually feel the earth-rumbling movement and wind,” the website states.

Some venues also offer laser tag, rope climbing and zip lines.

Pricing is similar in all six Andretti venues, which do not charge an admission to enter.

Go-kart racing ranges in price from $23 for a single adult spin along the track on weekdays to a $55 three-race package. Other attractions range in price from $11 for a 10-minute weekday laser tag experience to $30 to $35 for bowling for an hour with up to six people on one lane to a $90 VIP package that combines one race, six other attractions and a $10 game card.

Patrons who posted reviews on travel sites gave various Andretti Indoor Karting Venues generally high marks. While some posts warned of sticker shock, the pricing apparently is no major obstacle: the Orlando, Florida, venue reportedly draws close to a half million guests a year.

Florida developer Eddie Hamann opened the original Andretti Indoor Karting and Games in Roswell in 1999, naming it after his friend Mario Andretti, one of only two drivers to have won races in Formula One, IndyCar, the World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR.

Hamann, who is Manouso’s partner, said he eventually met John Andretti, a nephew of Mario and another champion race car driver.

“We decided to build the first facility in Melbourne, Florida in 1999: an outdoor facility with go-karts, video games, miniature golf, bumper boats, a couple of rides and laser tag,” Hamann told a Florida newspaper.

By the time they opened their first corporate facility in 2001 in Georgia, “the rest of the Andretti family were involved.”

“The Andretti team is aware that customers today are very sophisticated. At a very early age, they start handling social media and cutting-edge technology. It’s just part of their day-to-day life at home,” Hamann added.

Mario Andretti told Georgia newspapers he “did whatever they needed me to do to make it work” and largely provided financial backing for his nephew John and partners.

John died in 2020 after a three-year battle with colon cancer at age 56 and the Andretti Indoor Karting websites all tie into a foundation that supports colon cancer research.

Mario recalled, “John asked myself and Michael if we were interested in joining the venture and as soon as I saw what they were doing, I said, ‘Absolutely.’ You know, we jumped in and helped and, as time went on, it caught on. I mean the community just obviously started coming to it and taking advantage of it and it kept growing.”